Saturday, September 1, 2007

#8 - Helena & Bozeman

On Monday, Aug. 27, after a hearty breakfast of bratwurst, eggs and toast, we pulled out of Great Falls and onto I-15 for the 90 mile drive up the Missouri River to "the Queen City" of Helena, Montana’s capital. This was one of the prettiest drives we’ve experienced so far. The freeway followed the river through small scenic valleys as it wound its way from the prairie into the rugged rocky foothills. Dave and Lois Hudson invited us to stay at their home for a couple days. Ron knew Dave from his "working days" in Lynnwood where Dave served on the planning commission for many years. They were terrific hosts and insisted that we relax in the luxury of the guest room of their beautiful home, rather than roughing it in our RV. They showed us around the city and we all relaxed in the evening and watched the Mariners lose.

The Montana state capitol was built about 1902 and still looks great. We took the tour, saw the Mike Mansfield statue, the huge Charlie Russell mural in the Legislature and had lunch in the basement cafeteria. We also spent a couple hours in the Montana Museum and had a nice Mexican dinner with the Hudsons on the outdoor balcony of a restaurant in the historic Last Chance Gulch section of town.

Montana State Capitol - Helena

Another Helena hi-lite was a boat cruise on the Missouri River through the “Gates of the Mountains.” It was a beautiful day to be on the water in such a scenic area and, again, lots of Lewis & Clark history was involved.

The following photos are from the "Gates of the Mountains" boat tour on the Missouri River

Following a quick breakfast with the Hudsons, we departed Helena on Wednesday, Aug. 29. Everyone told us not to miss the Museum of the Rockies if we were in the Bozeman area. So, we stopped in and found that it lived up to its reputation. It specializes in Montana dinosaurs and had all kinds of history, photos, information and displays of actual skeletons and recreations and castings of various types of dinosaurs that were found mostly in eastern Montana. Very interesting and educational. The museum also had a large display of King Tutankhamon artifacts and/or replicas of the actual artifacts, most of which are in a museum in Cairo. Outside the museum was a display of a pioneer farm house and related buildings, with people in period dress playing music on hammer dulcimers, baking bread in the oven of the old cast iron wood stove and discussing life in the olden days with the tourists.