My hubby hasn't met a back road he didn't love. He loves the twist, dirt roads with hairpin curves. You know - the ones that lead to the middle of the "Great Unknown". The ones that are narrow and climb to the top of the world. Me not so much.
We compromise. Good truck, lots of prayers and closed eyes when warranted.
Sunday we left for Helena, MT to the 7th Annual Indian Education for All Best Practices Conference. Dear Hubby had been looking at the Delorme Atlas & Gazetteer for Montana. It has detailed topographic maps. It even advertises maps of "Back Roads". It is a vintage 2011 edition.
He had been talking about taking the back way to White Sulfur, from there he planned to take a back road to Canyon Ferry Lake and then to Helena, MT. There was a small hitch in his plan - he forgot his map.
As we left White Sulfur, we discussed the next leg of our journey. He was all for going forward. We came to a fork in the road the one with a sign said Townsend. I brought that to his attention - he said he didn't want to go that way.
Shortly a little Prius could be seen on this dirt road. Dear Hubby asked the two teenage males about the road ahead. The young driver timidly stated he "sorta knew the road". As I heard this disclaimer - I thought to myself - this is not a reliable source for directions. But - we go forward, following the youth’s assurance that this WAS the road.
As we traveled on I am silently thinking we should just turn around and use one of those modern two-lane highfalutin paved roads, to get to our destination. Our discussion continues as proof that the land is inhabited comes into view. I suggest we stop and ask directions.
Dear Hubby, “I’m not lost.”
“Honey, why don’t we stop and we can ask which is the way to Canyon Ferry. They will probably tell you that you’re right. And you will prove that I was wrong.”
As we get closer there is a building – on the roof is faded yellow paint with a big arrow. Helena is painted inside the arrow. Beside the arrow are coordinates.
Me, “We’re going in the wrong direction!”
DH, “What makes you say that?”
Me, “The roof – it says Helena that way.”
DH, “Why is it on the roof?”
Me, “Looks like its for a plane. The writing is very large so they can see it from the sky."
I should have taken pictures of the roof then. The light was just right. But I didn’t, I waited.
We turned in at the driveway and drove up to the house. As I got out, the front door opened and a worried lady asks, “Are the twins ok?”
I was a bit perplexed and unsure what she was referring to when she continued, “Our cow had twins this morning, and they are down by the barn. We saw you slow down as you looked in the corral. Are the twins ok?”
Comprehension telegraphed, “Cows – twins – ranch- livelihood.”
“I didn’t notice the twins, we were looking at the roof.”
She laughed, “That was from the barnstorming days. I need to contact the Historical Society to see if there are grants to help preserve it. I don’t know who to call though.”
In my mind I thought "Got that one covered. Out loud I stated “I can help with that.”
I gave her a name and number, exchanged email addresses and told her I would find out. I figured she must have been thinking hard about this problem. You see it has been my good fortune to work as a freelance writer for one of their departments for the last couple of years. I am always amazed with synchronicity.
We go inside, she asks me if we were going ice fishing because they have a pond and we wouldn’t have to go all the way to Canyon Ferry.
I explained that we were on the way to a conference where I would be presenting. She secured a topographic map and started to explain about the roads. I heard “Confederate Gulch” and knew this was not a road I was going to like. I asked her to explain the roads to my husband. So outside we went.
Susan explained that the roads aren’t maintained in winter and they go over the mountain but with 4-Wheel drive and chains we might be able to make it. She encouraged us to come back this summer when the roads would be passable.
Dear Hubby is salivating at the thought of going over those mountains on twisty, hairpin - dirt roads.
I guess I’ll buy him a new map.