Burger Bob's, Bozeman, MT: This place hasn't changed a bit since I was here last ten years ago, from the MSU Bobcats helmets on the walls to the beer bottles chilling in a tub of ice. I admire any place confident enough to use self-deprecation to stand out in the fierce food service competition.
Burger Bob's, Bozeman, MT: Bob's lives up to their promise, plus I get one of the best burgers I've had in months. I imagine the beef coming from a field around the corner rather than from around the world.
Downtown Bozeman, MT: Bozeman's downtown is filled with art made by "local" artists, many having moved here from other places for the "quality of life" Montana's mountain towns offer. Many locals view this influx as detrimental to the character of these places (as well as an increase in property taxes).
Highway 287 toward Ennis, MT, south of Three Forks, MT: Beyond the curve of this highway the road is hemmed in by the 10,000 foot peaks of the Madison Range on the left and the Tobacco Root Mountains on the right. I have never been to Ennis and am stunned at the beauty of this highway. I can hardly believe I've never seen this stretch of road before and wonder what other treasures I've missed sticking to the interstate for all those years.
Highway 287 toward Ennis, MT, south of Three Forks, MT: The arid conditions spared this old ranch cabin, preserving a glimpse of a hard way of life that still exists for cattlemen. Ranchers in this area are known for still doing much of their work by hand or on horseback. I imagine that, for the ranch-hands that lived in this cabin a century ago, seeing the rugged beauty of the Tobacco Root Range right out the front door may have taken some of the bite out of the ever-present wind scouring the valley floor.
Top of the pass near Eight-Mile Creek, Hwy 287, Overlooking Ennis, MT: Homage to the trusty Toyota I borrowed for this trip. It is a joy to drive on the twisty backroads and its large windows offer excellent visibility as I gape at the mountains drifting by.
Virginia City, MT: These pumps and boarded up station sit at the edge of one of Montana's most famous ghost towns, Virginia City. Though most of the gold rush buildings are being restored, this historical late-comer sits decaying. Much of Montana's rural history is visible in rusting heaps along its roadways. Barns and machinery in various states of degradation, populate the open spaces between communities. Broken down farm trucks become archeological stratification: 1960's Chevy next to a 1950's International next to a 1940's Dodge next to a 1930's...
Nevada City, MT: Nevada City is another famed ghost town. Unlike Virginia City a few miles away, Nevada City almost disappeared before being reassembled from period buildings found and shipped in from around the state. This sign commemorates the vigilante actions that gave the old west some of its "wild" reputation. This reputation lives on in the largely self-reliant towns along western back roads.