This is the kind of drive roads were invented for: Highway 89 running through Clyde Park, Wilsall, Ringling (of circus fame) and White Sulphur Springs before plunging into the Little Belt Mountains and the Lewis & Clark National Forest. An unrolling canvas of fall colors and streams reflecting a riot of sunlight is accented by golems of limestone rising from road’s edge into the sapphire blue sky. I have to constantly remind myself to keep my eyes on the road. I keep forgetting.
We stop off in Niehart (pop. 51) for a cold road drink at Bob’s Bar (the marquee read “NEXT BEER STOP 57 MILES” – how could one not stop?). Friendly folks and classic small-town-bar atmosphere. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for a game of pool, I had a reading to get to.
So onward to U.S. 87 and State Hwy 208 taking us from Belt to Great Falls. We checked into a fantastic room at the Hotel Arvon (a suite for the price of a broom-closet), and headed over to the bookstore.
Cassiopeia Books is a gem of a place in a city suffering from the bad karma of the proximity to Malmstrom Air Force Base. Rich book selection, funky location, friendly owner and the crowd was fantastic – one of the best Q&A sessions I’ve had.
Of course, we had to end the night at Great Falls’ other gem: The Sip n Dip Tiki Lounge. Wine and mermaids. What more could one ask for? Except Piano Pat, who was unfortunately off that night. But for our next visit, we’ll make sure she’s playing (and make time for a game of 8-ball at Bob’s).
See you around the next bend.