It is 30 degrees this morning, on this Sunday, August 16th 2009.
I am one wandering always without much information on paths often told to me by locals every now and then near by. I read about our destinations always after experiencing those little Journeys we take. So was the case going to Pony yesterday, just a short ride away. This is one instance I wish I had done some reading on the town’s History and this scenario might change the way I move on in the future, when stumbling on previously to me unknown sights. Sometimes one cannot see much by only observing the cover of a book and such was the case in Pony.
Since our last ride up the Gravelly Range Rd, a space I long for, the weather, well, as they say maybe a “picture is worth 1000 words” or was it 10,000. The storms in Montana are a source of beauty, the patches rarely cover the complete stage, stretches of blue and the dark grays are like a giant mosaic to only a lift of the head looking upward. So we wait, sometimes with much luck, and sometimes not when the somber sets are present more often than the few intermittent rays as a tease when in their short durations.
Teri here had been telling me about the little town of Pony, insisting we would take a ride into it. I kept telling her that we must had most likely ridden through it since it was so close to Ennis, as yes, we are still here and will be till the end of the month. And she kept telling me that no one goes through Pony. One look at the map and realized it was a little community out of the way. With the cold temperatures as we arrived, I started wondering why had we left the warmth left behind to brave this cold air in the middle of this August month. I did not expect anything, still the memories of the Virginia and Nevada Cities crowded avenues were fresh in my mind, and right away this desolate and empty town made me wonder if it’s near future would be of another “Ghost Town”.
How wrong was I! It is hidden, it is tucked away, at the foothills of the Tobacco Root Range of these Montana Rockies, as many other towns, at one time a “gold mining town”. We at first took a run through it, ending up in Deer National Forest, at the base of Hollowtop Mountain. There is a small picnic area, unusually fenced to prevent the bears approach, it is only a mile from town. We had the good fortune to bump into a local resident that has been present for 40 years, much conversation, my interest was growing and with good worth on our side, as another trail to the right was inviting, the one that would go to the top, but, due to recent rains he easily talked me out of it.
Helmet on, helmet off, wool cap on, gloves on and off, not quite shaking, it was the scenario. Mostly thinking about others suffering the 100 degree plus heat somewhere for sure in the country, somewhere where we would not want to be as I will take the cold anytime over extreme heat. So we came back to town, deserted Main Street, a couple tourists with out of State plates quickly turning around when the black top turned into dirt, and our wandering continued after a tender moment with my coatless buddy… who would have guessed these temperatures!!! My tough buddy always confronting the elements without ever a complain, a vocal one that is… his looks always says it all.
And then I read today about the “Bar”. I don’t go to Bars, don’t really have an attraction to them, but this is one Bar I should have entered as the “open” light sign came on as we passed by. “If Pony’s 100 residents are one big family, the Pony Bar is their living room. It’s where ranchers gather after branding. It’s where football fans watch Monday night games. It’s where veterans’ groups meet and hunting buddies tell stories. And the bar has a reputation for welcoming outsiders from all walks of life. Locals will pick up their guitars and start playing. Everybody’s open to everyone. The strangest people come in and people end up talking to them.” Quote
How did I miss that! How would I know? Will be another excuse to go back and test those words above as I have no doubt the space will be welcoming. I started riding around the little town, it was slightly warming up, helmet in the sidecar with cap on, going maybe 100 feet at the time as the local buildings started intriguing me with their mixture of some made of bricks and some seemingly a bit on the thinner wall side of wood for a climate this cold in the winter.
Long gone are numerous businesses, a creamery, two Chinese laundries, a Chinese restaurant, real estate offices, hat and tailor shops, a blacksmith shop, rooming houses, a movie house and an electric power plant. At one time, there were twelve saloons, a slaughter house on the outskirts of town, a music band and a baseball team. Pony’s main claim to fame is that it had electricity before New York City. I liked it the way it is today as I know the residents also do. In 1920, a tragic fire swept through the main part of town. It destroyed the livery stable and many other buildings. The Morris State Bank, the Masonic Building and School survived.
We came back just in time to meet up at the Food Store, the local and only one, with KC and Mia who we had stayed with in Lander, WY, 250 miles away. Good times, great conversations as having dinner again “courtesy” of Teri, always a great cook and Lady. The talk of course was our Friend Ron, the man with the “Home on the Range” on his way to Texas, a few miles a day at the time. His own Blog written by Teri should be up any day, and we should ourselves be able to meet up with him somewhere on the road when we head south. The truth is, I will miss this place when we part. It is not every day that one makes Friends with such as Teri, KC and Mia with the hope always to have their visit in Texas including Ron.
The students of many that have sat on these benches are gone. We are too, we will even be out of this area soon, fortunate to have met some incredible people that will always remain part of this Journey. I wonder if any of the students ever come back, reminisce as we will soon ourselves in the near future. All else is calm here, inviting space always, Life itself seems to have found it’s equilibrium lately, the waters are still and so are we. It is all part of this ride.
You be well, always.
Ara & Spirit