Monday, October 01, 2007

The Pause That Refreshes

Every once in a while we just need a change of scenery to recharge the batteries. Such was the week end just past.

Ever since reading about how the Red Hat Ladies from the local ranches often have their monthly gatherings at the Two Dot Bar I had a hankering to visit the place.

Hub, being the practical one, planned our get away around this visit knowing full well Two Dot was not likely to be worth the gas! So off we went. After a short swing through the galleries in Bozeman we headed on to Livingston for their last art walk of the year. Something we had been meaning to do for months. The galleries are quite good actually. The art ranges from western to funky to the misty elegance of Russell Chatham, who calls Livingston home.

Livingston had an added dimension to the walk that I found quite wonderful. Main Street was blocked to traffic and non-profits had set up for fund raising. This time was animal causes. One of the restaurants was having a spaghetti feed for the Humane Society, a draft horse rescue group had one of its charges there, even a gallery hosting a silent auction for another group. The atmosphere was open, friendly and definitely fun. What a way to draw a diverse portion of the folks into town! And we know we'll always get a superb meal at the Second Street Bistro.

Saturday morning we headed off to our first stop. Two Dot. Population 26. The bar was closed. In Montana, that surprised us. I surely got a good laugh at the turn off where the sign pointed the way to the "World Famous" Two Dot Bar. It is the closet place to civilization for many of the far flung ranches so I understand it's draw as a gathering spot! Hub was right, of course, Two Dot would not have warranted the trip.

So on to his choice destination. The Bair Family Museum. Charles Bair is one of those Montanans of which legends are made. He made his fortune in sheep ranching. After the death of he and his wife, the daughters took over the homestead with the idea of turning it into a museum for the people of Montana.

The barn has been converted into a visitors center and museum store. The house itself is the museum. Added to as needed, it is a sprawling 1940s dwelling filled with a lifetime of collecting. Louie XV furniture is beautifully interspersed with eighteenth century silver, bead work from the Crow Indians, Russell paintings, Dutch and German porcelains and Chinese snuff bottles! The feeling between the sisters was this would provide an opportunity for Montanans to see these beautiful examples of art and craftsmanship that they might not have otherwise. The house is as they lived and entertained in it. I have rarely seen such an eclectic collection handled with such deftness. They liked to shop! In Europe. They had the means to do so. And what a wonderful gift it is.

Great Falls and the Charles M. Russell Museum took most of the afternoon with a quick jaunt up to Fort Benton so Bacchus could see the statue of Shep. After his master, a sheepherder, had died Shep followed along to the railroad station where his master was shipped elsewhere for burial. For the rest of his life he was at the station greeting every train, waiting for his master's return.

We continued on north hoping to catch the Museum of the Plains Indians in Browning but it was closed. Indian time. Not to worry, the trip around Glacier was Montana autumn at it's best.

This is what I write when I haven't read a newspaper for three days. I don't know about you, but it sure has been a nice change of pace for me!

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