Week 2 (continued)  
For many years I've had a strong yen to visit and explore Montana. I think I've been quite influenced by the late John Denver's songs and various feature films over the years based around fishing the Madison River. Whatever the cause, today is special for me as we head into Montana and add it to my list of 29 Yuuuuuuuunited States I've visited during my lifetime.

It's funny but before we've travelled very far into Montana we are indeed experiencing wide grassy valleys between high mountain ranges backed by incredibly blue skies and cloud formations to die for. Folks I couldn't resist playing John Denver's "Montana Skies" piece for you and if your computer's sound is turned on you should hear it soon.

Majestically wide Montana sky

Wide Montana sky in late afternoon

A great blue heron beside a trout stream where we lunched

This was a really HUGE old barn but it's barely standing now

White tailed prairie dogs are found at higher altitudes

"I don't think it would be fair for you to ride this one Brian"

In due course we reached our rented cottage late in the afternoon. We'll be staying here for a week in Virginia City (see route map) with an official population of 132. It's only a mile away from Nevada City (official population 27). Now neither of these villages are really cities and both of those population figures are clearly understated. Furthermore Virginia City is NOT in Virginia and Nevada City is NOT in Nevada. Don't ask me to explain what gives. I think these westerners just like to confuse us out-of-towners!

Both these towns were born as the result of a gold rush and during that time the local population grew to either 9,000 or 30,000 people.... it depends how you Google it and it depends on which liar in which town answers one's questions. Anyhow, the bottom line is that these are preserved old western towns with significant appeal to nostalgia freaks like me. However, the main reason we're staying here for a week is that it's well located for our usual daily exploration forays into this valley or that and up to the top of this mountain or that. The accommodation we've rented turns out to be an impeccably renovated spacious home on a small hill overlooking town. It's absolutely perfect for us. We're very comfortable and happy here. It's either a nice stroke of luck or impeccable research and planning.... take your pick.

Second hand boots for sale. Make sure you give them a smell test

Old fashioned candy shop in Virginia City. I loved the sign.

A stage coach approaches Wells Fargo depot in Virginia City

A preserved grocery store from a much earlier era

These two guys were haggling about the cost of a new saddle.

Brian often picks up the strangest friends

Lynn on the other hand found these boozy mates in a local saloon

Stage driver sound asleep whilst waiting for some passengers

Nevada City's main claim to fame is that the town formed a vigilante group to keep all the miners under control and halt the drunkenness, thieving and killing. But according to history or legend, the vigilante's turned out to be bigger boozers,  thieves and robbers than the people they were supposed to control. This led to one more hanging after another and eventually the vigilantes themselves were lynched. It's all rather gruesome but the locals seem to revel in these stories.

Gold mining town of Nevada City, famous for vigilante hangings

A couple of town folks in Nevada City near Virginia City

Probably the largest lady I've ever met

The crooked Marshall comes looking for trouble

Note Brian's temporary Sheriffs badge.... and sexy knees !!

The end of this webpage but more Montana skies next week

We'll be in Montana for another fortnight but your scribe and webmaster is dragging his feet. Please be patient and as soon as the old man regains some vigour he'll cull a few more thousand photos and crank out another episode. In the meantime you may return to the menu at your option.