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a good day and a good start

July 13, 2010

July 12 — Today was a good day, I started to feel like my feet are finally under me. Left the cabin around noon for exploration and errands. Got my PO Box set up in Anaconda, acquired a library card, ordered some books and checked out some videos, including a Marx Brothers collection. I hear that Horse Feathers features a stock-trading reference to the Anaconda Mining Company, of which Anaconda, Montana is historically a company town, and which was responsible for much of Montana’s economy for the better part of the last century — that, and the environmental disaster area that the Clark Fork River, passing through on its way from Butte to Missoula, has been ever since.

The Clark Fork River at its origin, at the Stewart Street crossing near Opportunity, Montana.

Took a drive east toward Wisdom, Montana searching for a highway sign that’s supposed to be out that direction somewhere, with an arrow pointing one direction to Wisdom, another to Opportunity. Found one similar, but with Anaconda instead of Opportunity, which makes sense since Anaconda is the more notable town, but which lacks the ironic punch of the rumored Opportunity version. Followed the lovely Big Hole River up to Interstate 15, past the turnoff to Butte, and connected with Interstate 90 back to Warm Springs Wildlife Management Area (co-managed, weirdly, by ARCO, which inherited responsibility for Anaconda’s waste wake when it bought the company in the 1970s), where I found a viable take-out for a canoe paddle I want to take this week. I plan to start it where Scenic Highway 1, cutting off of I-90, hits a little bridge crossing over Silver Bow Creek, which starts somewhere up near Butte. After exploring a bit, I found another little bridge crossing on Stewart Street out of Opportunity, downstream maybe half a mile but well within sight of the Hwy 1 crossing, that’s signed “Clark Fork.” Somewhere in that stretch is where Silver Bow ends and the Clark Fork River, per se, begins. And that’s where I’m going to start paddling it.

Since I was in the neighborhood I stopped off at Skip’s Mini-Storage to pick up a few straggling boxes of books and research materials. Skip’s wife Millie was in the yard cleaning out a shed when I pulled up. “Moving one deadbeat out and two new deadbeats in,” she told me. I wrote her a check to cover my storage through mid-January, so I’ve got at least six months before I become one of her deadbeats.

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