Sunday, 27 September 2015

Drivin' and Pickin'. . .

Little Red
Maria's Pass:  Spectaculr Vista, No Matter Where You Look
Let's start where every story should start, at the beginning. Last year, Eric and I toured a bit of southern Alberta and Montana.  We loved Montana so much we thought we should delve a little deeper.  For Eric, it's an opportunity for him to takeLittle Red out on the road for a run and the more winding and twisting those roads, the better.  The downside to Little Red is that there isn't much luggage space, which doesn't necessarily compliment Eric's latest hobby.  

Eric likes to 'pick' but that word has different connotations to different people.  To me, a 'picker' is a full time scavenger of other peoples' cast-offs.  In my mind, he's more of a  collector of the odd and unusual of anything that catches his fancy.  He was born with the 'dicker' gene. His mother had a good eye for collectibles and the ability to strike a handsome bargain and Eric is cut from that same cloth.  This past summer, he has made a handsome profit by picking up interesting items at bargain basement prices and recycling them through a couple of annual garage sales he hosts with his buddy.  Little Red, however, is not necessarily a compatible mate for this new found hobby but Eric is undaunted.

When we began our road trip, I realized very early on that Eric would not be swayed from his proposed overnight destination of Hungry Horse, Montana and since our little road trip was in celebration of his big Six OHHHH birthday, I had to acquiesce.  I love road trips and it's not like I am overly familiar with Montana.  However, I am one of those people that never likes to take the same road twice if I can help it,  and, with a little searching, I found Maria's Pass, a more southern route through Glacier National Park that didn't take oodles of more time and held the promise of tight turns and bedazzling scenery.  It was a total winner.  Not only did it provide the driving challenges that excites Eric, there was very little traffic, allowing for those 25 mph curves to be taken at speeds that occasionally left the right-side upholstery with the marks of a white knuckle passenger.  And I had forgotten my Atavan. . . what was I thinking?

It was upon our arrival at Hungry Horse that I discovered Eric's true mission.  When we passed through last year, we came across an old house filled to the rafters with antiques and collectibles.  Owned and operated by an elderly couple who informed us that their children had been after them to downsize, this year, the message had a little more impetus behind it, as they shared that their daughter recently spent an entire month with them with the focus of helping them accomplish this daunting task.  There were a couple of items that Eric had spied last year that would make worthy additions to his personal collection in the man-cave.   While he may not have gotten any screaming deal, at the end of our 2-hour visit, he came away with his purchases and perhaps this lovely couple's children will be somewhat pacified to know that their dad doesn't always hold out for the best price.

It was at this point that I knew I needed to throw down a few ground rules or I was going to find myself travelling the rest of our 7-day journey holding all my luggage on my lap!  Rule #1:  If it can't fit in your pocket, you can't take it home.

Our mornings began early and, while we didn't rush from our room at 7am, we were generally on the road before 9, which means there was little opportunity to explore the commercial side of any of our overnight communities.  By mid afternoon we would be thinking our next bed for the night.  Once we were settled in, we like to sit for a while, have a drink, clean up a bit, reflect on our day and the day ahead.  By the time we would go out for dinner, it was usually early evening.  In Montana, as so many stores in smaller communities are owner operated, stores hours are generally 10am - 6pm, Monday to Saturday.  Don't even think about shopping on a Sunday.

Not For Sale
One might think that would put a damper on Eric's purchasing power but not so.  You see, he has a penchance for signage. His man cave is filled to the rafters with every kind of sign one might be able to imagine and I don't even want to know how they were acquired. This trip was no different than many others.  It all started at dinner in West Yellowstone, when we were seated under a porcelain Texaco sign in pretty decent condition.  While a sign perhaps doesn't exactly fit in one's pocket, it wouldn't be terribly difficult to pack; it simply goes on the bottom of everything else. Rule #2.  Items that can be easily packed may be considered for transport in Little Red.  Sadly, the sign was not for sale.  In case you're wondering, this type of sign in terrible condition can easily fetch $500CA.  I suspect the value of this sign would be at least $1,000CA. 

Montana Local Brews
When we arrived in Livingston, we stopped into a quaint little bar for dinner and, of course, there were signs representing some pretty interesting local brews.  It didn't take long before Eric was chatting up the staff about buying a sign. Good news! The owner should be around shortly and he could discuss potential purchases. Upon finishing our meal, when there was still no sign of the owner, the staff had a tip; down the street, there was an old pub which had many signs and who knows, they might be prepared to sell some of them.

Livingstone, Montana

Vegas Vickie
It was a cold and windy evening in Livingston but it was easy to see that this small Montana town oozes charm. Shopping is not my thing but lovely old structures sporting plenty of neon definitely is.  I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to photograph some of it.  For good reason, Eric's interest was waning; in an effort to divert his goal of returning to the motel, I suggested we stop into the recommended pub and see what there was to see.  He agreed, but only if we stayed long enough for him to warm up. Not a problem.  Well, didn't we have a lot to feast our eyes on! Upon entering, you are graced with the sight of Vegas Vickie.  While in Vegas, Vickie advertises the Girls of Glitter Gulch Strip Club.  While in Livingston she just likes to show of her legs with her high kicks.   

Signs, Signs, Everywhere!  Signs
When Eric once again expressed an interest in purchasing a particular sign to the staff, as  luck would have it, one of the owners of the pub was working that evening.  It wasn't long before were were ushered into a large back room where the owners had amassed all of the items they were looking to dispose of.  Eric thought he had died and gone to Heaven!  It was at this point that I began to seriously consider what the remaining 900km ride was going to be like for me.  It was then that I began to chant Rule #1, no purchases that can't fit in your pocket, as if it were a mantra.  While I wasn't intent on dimming Eric's excitement, I was determined to ensure myself a comfortable ride home. . . and not on a bus.

It was a mix of sadness, satisfaction and relief that we left Livingstone.  Sadness that Little Red was not even remotely capable of carrying all that treasure; satisfaction that, with precision packing, additional purchases were possible even though the items transcended Rules #1 and #2; and relief on my part that there was not even a hint that perhaps I should be taking a bus home.

Full Load
The opportunity to be out and about in Little Red is getting nearing the end for this calendar year.  Hopefully, we'll get some beautiful October weather and can squeeze in a little day trip between working and hunting.  Then it will be time to buff him up and tuck him into his blankets for his annual winter nap in the comfort of Eric's man cave.  

I wonder how Little Red would fair pulling a small trailer. . . . hmmm.