Three Dopes in Three Forks

As you can see by today’s “fun fact,” not a lot going on in Bozeman. However, we thoroughly enjoyed our day in Bozeman. We nodded off to sleep watching Chapters 12 & 13 of a geology video series that Earl purchased so as to entertain us in the evening after the scenery has faded to black. Also, in his view, nothing on television is worth watching. We learned about the volcanic nature of the Hawaiian and Yellowstone hot spots.

This morning was downright lackadaisical. Earl projected an 11am departure for Helena, and we were all ready by 9:00. We were so happy chit-chatting that Barbara and I had forgotten to go on our walk/run (respectively.) We hit the road at our leisure, and I got my first introduction to conducting 17,000 lbs of steel, foam, and formica down a two-lane highway. I was surprised at how easy-going it was. A half-hour down the road yielded and unplanned visit to Madison Buffalo Jump State Park. A five mile, rutted, gravel road leads to intermittent cliffs, one of which was used by Shoshone Indians as a buffalo jump. The interpretive displays were FANTASTIC. They clued us into the strategy behind the process, how the hunters used the collected carcasses, and our favorite part was a detailed description of the seasonal lives of Native Americans. Very well laid out.

Missouri Headwaters State Park in Three Forks, MT was the main event of the day. The Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin Rivers confluence to form the longest river in the continental US. Earl and Barbara dropped me off at the first stop (confluence of the Jefferson and Madison), and they proceeded on to the main picnic area for lunch. I took a brief hike (30 minutes, with stops) to a few overlooks of the Gallatin River, the surrounding mountains, and Lewis Rock, the overlook that Meriweather Lewis climbed to survey the land, and to decide which river might be the Missouri. Imagine what went through his head, climbing to the top, surrounded by mountains, realizing that he was not far from the Continental Divide. If memory serves, he believed himself to be within 100 miles of the headwaters (of what he considered the Missouri, in this case the Jefferson). In fact, he was much closer.

Earl took the wheel after Three Forks, and chauffeured us to Helena. Mom’s goal of visiting all the state capitol buildings en route was “capital” in our minds. Parking the motorhome in this hilly, downtown area was a bit of a challenge, but Earl’s patience paid off, landing us just two blocks from the bronze(?)-domed building. With great suggestions from the entry guard, we saw the House and Senate chambers, and were actually able to enter the Old Supreme Court chamber. We had a great time looking at the murals throughout, trying to guess what landmark “Montana moment” they were trying to depict. One painting still perplexes us. “The Signing of the Enabling Act” seems (underscore “seems”) to feature Wilson, T Roosevelt, and Taft signing something. After a little probing, we discovered that Montana gained statehood in 1889, so there was NO WAY that those three guys were signing anything pertaining to Montana statehood. (And given relations between the three, do you think that any three of them would want anything to do with one another???) So, all you readers out there!! Get on Wikipedia and make something up about the Enabling Act so that Barbara and I can satisfy our curiosity.

The paintings throughout the building were impressive, expressive of the frontier mentality of the typical Montanan (I can’t say “Joe” Montana, lest it be misunderstood as THE Joe Montana). In fact, the painting adorning the House Lobby is the very same painting on the front cover of my copy of “Undaunted Courage”, Paxson’s “Lewis and Clark at Three Forks.” What struck us both about the capitol is the vibrant colors throughout the main arcade: green, red, and gold. The gold, perhaps for much-prized Montana Gold, but Barbara suggested that the bright colors give it a “Wild West saloon” feel. Whether that was their intention or not, her description is on the money.

We are spending the night in Helena, next to a Class A (the big kind of motorhome) that, for one reason or another, has situated a large (3 ft tall) stuffed goose in his front windshield. Is this the equivalent of pink flamingoes on the front lawn?

I am doubtful that Glacier NP will have WiFi access (Grizzlies often eat the routers), so if we stay in the park, we’ll go silent for three days. But if we stay in West Glacier, we may just be in touch. I’m beginning to like this kind of living:

Q: Where will we stay tomorrow?
A: Somewhere north of here.

Updated pics to the right.

One thought on “Three Dopes in Three Forks

  1. The painting must have depicted the Enabling Act for the Montana Constitutional Convention of 1889. To wit, “This occasional paper republishes, as amended, the act adopted by Congress February 22, 1889 which enabled the people of North and South Dakota, Washington, and Montana to form constitutions prior to being admitted into the Union [appeared in the Revised codes of Montana, annotated, 1947, v. 1, pt. 1]”I don’t think Roosevelt, Taft, or Wilson were involved. Benjamin Harrison was president in 1889. Poetic license, perhaps?Happy trails to Glacier.Jean

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