It is hard to fathom that four months have passed by since we launched out on this journey. We have progressed steadily northward but our goal of Glacier NP now looks doubtful as it’s begun snowing up there and we still have a commitment here in the Bitterroot Valley til mid-October. It’s been a really great place to “camp” though and we will find it hard to leave the area. Montana has grown on us for sure. We had originally thought we would be pursuing business interests along the way but that has not really materialized as the last decade or so of work-related stress has slowly melted away. It has been interesting watching the body and mind relax and let down into a less stressful routine. In short, life has become more enjoyable and sharing it with my lovely wife makes it even more so.
Saturday mornings have often taken us into Hamilton to the local Farmers Market where we have enjoyed the local produce and arts & crafts. Rhonda enjoys sampling all the home grown veggies and we end up bringing bags of the stuff home. I am usually happy sampling some baked goods but resist bringing anything home since I spend my money on a pound of locally roasted coffee from Big Creek Roasters. One morning I spent a little bit of time chatting with a local knife maker (Ron Panko) and left wishing that I could find something like that to take up as a retirement “hobby” that would still produce some income. He makes the knives from scrap metal like chain saw blades, barbed wire fencing, steel cables, etc. and they have some very interesting patterns to them. He also makes the handles and leather sheaths. If we end up staying in the area I might have to see about “apprenticing” with him.
On Tuesdays we have a farmers market right here in Darby so there has not been any shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables on the table lately. On the short walks into towns we have visited other local stores as well but choices are limited as Darby is a small town and has not seen much economic prosperity in a while. It is a shame really and somewhat curious as a major US highway runs right through town and there is quite a lot of traffic. What the area needs is some industry. Since the mill shut down there is no significant employer.
Friday nights have recently become more interesting as school is back in session and we are located right next to the high school football field. The Darby Tigers have won the last two games, the most recent one being Homecoming. There was a nice Homecoming Parade that went right down Hwy 93 much to the chagrin of any motorists traveling through. Amongst all the fire engines and other vehicles there was a black 1961 T-Bird which made me think of Dad’s Lost Bird. It overheated right at the end so I was able to get a picture of it cooling down.
Which reminds me…we made a trip up to Helena the other day and stayed overnight in a small community called Deer Lodge. Deer Lodge happens to be the home of the Montana State Prison and they have a museum (several actually) of the old prison and part of it includes an amazing Auto Museum. We toured the auto museum and really enjoyed looking at the 150 plus cars that date back to the beginning of automotive history. It was a bit of a shocking find…apparently it is one of the top ten auto museums in the country. There was totally restored example of Dad’s Lost Bird too. Even the special edition.