Montana, but more specifically, BUTTE!


First off:  one of my favorite things about this area of America:

ESPRESSO SHACKS!!!  They are everywhere. Every town with more than thirty residents has at least one of these things.  Tiny little shacks in parking lots where you drive up and get real coffee!  They have sweet stuff too and frappacinos, but the normal plain coffee they have is usually brilliant!  I want one in my driveway.  If I had a driveway.

After being frozen alive in parkland, we headed to Bozeman, Montana.  It was warm there!  It’s a nicely situated town with mountains all around it, and we enjoyed taking warm showers and having some wine downtown.  But to be honest, it was a little too cutesy.  It was a welcomed break, but it reminded me of a lot of the other smaller cities in the area. Really cool brewery there though (don’t worry, there will be a separate post with all of the breweries we’ve stopped at.  As there have been a good few).

We were going to head off to have lunch in a city called Butte – a friend had done a presentation about some time he spent there and it looked pretty cool, old west style decrepid, so we thought we’d stop in.  Many of our readers know we have a penchant for depressing cities no one else likes, and this would be no exception.  Once we got there and looked around town, we knew we would have to stay the night.  Butte is awesome.  When you drive in it looks like a weird old mining town, which it was.  Butte was a boomtown back in the day, and I’m not going to give you the history here but you can read about it here.  Needless to say, Butte is not a boomtown anymore, but it is so fun to see places like this that have been pretty well preserved, with the cast of characters from the old days still living there.  We had some lunch at a an awesome place that used to be the absolute hub for Butte, open 24-7, and then out of nowhere, a touring BARBERSHOP QUARTET STARTED SINGING!  They weren’t part of the restaurant or weren’t asked to do it or dressed up or anything, but it was a cool impromptu concert. After lunch, we then checked out the Berkely Pit, which is now a Superfund site, but was a very rich hill indeed during the mining days.  After that we headed downtown again to Quarry Brewing.  We had amazing beer, learned about Montana’s very stupid brewery rules(three pints per person per day at a brewery, close at 8 p.m.!), and talked to some locals who were amazingly friendly and helpful and gave us so many tips of where to go, geology lessons, tour ideas, etc.  We even met the husband of a espresso shack owner, who graciously hooked us up with coffee and extras the next day! Stop by when you’re in the area, it’s a great espresso shack! We had very much fun there.  You can’t get their beer in many places at the moment but they’re moving to a bigger location soon so maybe you’ll be able to try some Butte, MT beer!  We checked into our hotel after that-it was modeled after the Hostel Astor in NYC, but the owner ran out of money so it didn’t get to have two towers like the NYC version.  But it was amazing nonetheless, and cheap too! 

The next stop was a chinese place, the Peking Noodle Parlor.  It is a crazy place, orange booths with curtains around it – the lore is that it was a “house of ill-repute” at one point, since there were many in Butte, but apparently that is incorrect.   We got talking to the bartender and another local from the mines here and heard some brilliant stories about the boom times and what it is like to work in that field. Wouldn’t like to do it.  I’m too dainty.  We hit a few more local haunts before calling it a day.  It was a pretty spectacular day, we were only there for a day but I feel like we really got to know a good few people and get a sense of what Butte is now, and what it was before. I love Butte.

The next morning we did a fun walking tour that highlighted the speakeasies that were underground.  It was a great tour and I never miss the chance to catch some speakeasies.  I think I am going to put one in my new apartment when I get one. (PS that pictures is the Peking Noodle Parlour, not a speakeasy!)  After Butte, we took a very scenic route to go towards Missoula, but since we didn’t like Bozeman as much , we figured we would bypass Missoula and head right to Idaho to camp.  The road gave us some great views and some great little towns and shops such as this gem:

We got to a campsite in Idaho and it had finally stopped raining (the weather hasn’t been so helpful since we left Buffalo) and we were totally in the middle of nowhere near a raging river and lots of wildlife.  And two border collies that tried to kill Danger.  That wasn’t very nice. I might have cried a bit after that.  But everyone made up and it was good until it started raining again.  I didn’t much care about the rain, because the next two days were Walla Walla Washington and wine country!!

Here are tones more pictures of Butte, because it’s that cool!

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