The California Academy of Sciences

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California Academy of Sciences from the De Young Tower

Let me geek out here for a bit. It’s goin to happen. It has in the past. While I was in San Francisco I was able to visit the California Academy of Sciences and it was AWESOME! I may be a bit of a science nerd and this place is just cool in terms of design too. Michele was happy to go check it out one morning so we headed over just before the doors opened to get in line.

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We started with the lower level aquarium. The snakes were right at the base of the stair and freaky as usual. Never my favorite. The anaconda was following people.
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not an anaconda, but still following people. By Michele

The coral reef and tropical fish were beautiful. I think I could have sat in front of one of those windows for quite a while. The jelly fish were cool and I had to touch a starfish.
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The most interesting character down there was an albino alligator. He just hung out while people took picture after picture of him.
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Meet Claude

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Next we went up to see the penguin feeding. So damn cute.  This was Michele’s favorite part I think. Being the polite adult that I am, I allowed those with kids to sit up front and listened to the biologist talk about the what was happening, facts about the colony and individual penguins, etc. I should have become a biologist. Next life.
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I am a huge fan of planetariums, so we grabbed tickets when we arrived for a showing of Fragile Planet. It was one of their older films, so it wasn’t loaded with new information, but it was still interesting. I need to go to the local planetarium more often.

We briefly wandered through the dioramas, though they have never been a huge draw to me. We also checked out the exhibits on color in nature, earthquakes and whales. The Whales exhibit happened to be the same one I saw in New York a few years ago before moving.  Small world.

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Our last major exhibit was the rain forest. We had a short wait in line before being admitted into a large, sealed, climate controlled biosphere. It is full of trees, birds, butterflies, frogs and fish in the water below. It was gorgeous and our main focus became trying to catch a picture of the beautiful butterflies with blue on the backs of its wings.
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Can you see the blue butterfly!?

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At the top where you exit, we went out to the native rooftop garden. The garden is lovely and has a great view. It is here that I will switch into architecture mode. The spheres of the planetarium and biosphere  pop up and help create the undulating hills that cover the roof top. They are spotted with round skylights, some of which open to help regulate the interior climate.  It’s just a really cool space. The interiors too. There is a ton of natural light and space was planned well. I really enjoyed wandering through it.
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If you are in San Francisco, I highly recommend checking the academy out. Give yourself at least a half a day, if not more. It is so interesting and  worth the time and cost. I would get there early if you can, we were told it sells out sometimes. Plus our first hour or so, it wasn’t nearly as crowded as it became later.  I fully intend to check it out again.

Sunday Afternoon Coffee [fifty]

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If we were having coffee this afternoon we would talk about last weekend’s trip to Ennis Lake. My friend Chels decided she would like to celebrate her birthday on the water. We escaped the smoked filled Gallatin Valley for the slightly less smokey Madison Valley. It was bit windy to be floating around on tubes at first, but it let up and we were able to enjoy the water. I had never been to the lake before, but I might need to make friends with people who have boats to go play with.
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If we were having coffee this afternoon, we would talk about how smokey it has been. We had one clear day on Saturday after a storm blew through Friday night. Sunday morning the smoke was already back, so bad we can’t see the Bridgers and ruining biking plans. Hopefully they can get the fires under control soon!

If we were having coffee this afternoon, I would show you this poem. It’s a good one.

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If we were having coffee this afternoon, we would talk about the trip over to Music Ranch outside in Paradise Valley. We took the back roads over and were hoping to sit out side sort of enjoying the old country, but really there for the location and sunset. It had been raining all day, so the outdoor seating was closed so we were forced inside. It was a little awkward at first, but we ended up going outside to check out the sunset. Amazing.

If were were having coffee this afternoon, I would tell you that cannot believe the last Music on Main was two Thursdays ago. Summer is ending! What is happening? I’m not ready. Not yet.

If we were having coffee this afternoon I would tell you that I finally made my way up to Sourdough Canyon. K needed to take her dogs out for an easy walk so we went up there. The trail is an old road. I think I could actually mountain bike on it. It was a beautiful hike even though we  didn’t go all the way to the bridge, 6 miles was enough. Next time.

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If we were having coffee this afternoon, I would tell you that I traded in my hiking boots I got last summer for a pair of Brooks trail running shoes. My boots were starting to rub on my heals causing huge blister. Thanks to REI’s return policy, I was able to trade them. So far, I love the my new ones. Hopefully it stays that way!

A Whimsical Wedding

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I had the pleasure of returning to San Francisco in July this year for the third time to celebrate a wedding. One of my very first New York friends, Iris, invited me to her wonderful whimsical wedding. I was able to catch up with some of my other “original” New York friends and hang out in beautiful city for the weekend.  Here’s a quick recap. Untitled
The majority of our time was spent on Haight Street, or close by in Golden Gate Park. Since I have done the majority of touristy activities, I was happy to just explore one area and spend some time in museums that I had been wanting to visit. Haight Street is an interesting area with all kinds of characters and shops. We found some amazing coffee, enjoyed some great jazz, got our nails done, laughed as a man lying on the sidewalk told police, “I don’t know who I am!” and did some thrift shopping all within blocks of our hotel.

I wanted these so much.

I met my friend Michele at our hotel/hostel/B & B, the Red Victoria. It’s a quirky little place. They have a full kitchen guests can use and a large event/lounge space that people rent out. The rooms are adorable and clean. We were in the Redwood room with a private bath. We had looked into and AirBnb but they were all a bit expensive or not in the area we wanted. I’m glad we went with our friends advice and tried the Red Victoria instead. I loved it. Untitled
Our adorable room

Just down the street that evening was the welcoming party at Club Deluxe. This is one of the couple’s favorite spots. There was a great group of old men playing Jazz music the whole night. It was so fun. I don’t think the couple expected so many people to already be in town. We filled the small place. We met people from all over the world that Iris and Booth had befriended.
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The club had some amazing Italian style pizza. Let’s take a moment to talk about all the amazing food. I forgot how good food is in places like San Francisco. Bozeman’s good, but damn its got nothing on a big city. I completely forgot that I was going to get to eat such good food again and I think my excitement may have scared Michele a bit after the first bite of pizza. I think I tried three different pizzas and had fried okra. From that point on, I was on a mission to make sure we went to places that I couldn’t get close to at home. The next morning we went to Bacon Bacon.

Yes, I drug my vegetarian friend to a cafe dedicated to bacon and her meatless sandwich was still delicious. I had to restrain myself from ordering a bouquet of bacon and stick to a breakfast sandwich. We had lunch at the de Young Museum Cafe. Pricey? Sure. Amazing? Yes. Untitled You can sit outside and enjoy the beautiful weather while nibbling on your macaroons. We ventured over to Oakland to meet a friend of mine for dinner that evening at Burma Superstar. I miss great Asian food. I admit it. It’s hard to come back to limited variety, but I guess that’s the trade off for amazing mountains in a small town. Untitled
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Okay. back at it. The day before the wedding Michele and I explored the de Young Museum and the Academy of Sciences. I had been to the tower and outdoor sculpture garden at the de Young before but not in the actual space. It is a pretty awesome space. Unfortunately, I wasn’t overly excited by any of the exhibits. I know they get some great ones though.
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After a day of education we went to an Athletics game against the Twins.
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The poor A’s tried, but failed to take the Twins. While I don’t care much for baseball, I do enjoying going to the games from time to time. Untitled
Especially now that I can’t go to the them unless I get on a plane to do it. It’s always entertaining to watch the fans and to see whatever “entertainment” happens between innings.

Bobble head race between innings…

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The next day was perfect for a wedding. That morning Michele and I participated in a tradition ceremony with other girl friends of the bride where the groom had to bribe us for his bride. We hid her and her shoes in the apartment for him to find after he answered our questions a paid us all an agreeable sum of money. We made him sing and moved Iris around as he was looking for her. We had a good time before being sent off to get wedding ready.

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The wedding was held in Golden Gate Park. It was so lovely. After the ceremony the band lead us to the conservatory steps for a huge group photo.    Untitled
Everyone sunbathing also took our picture before we headed back to the reception. The food was delicious, the photo booth was a mini Polaroid and there were dogs jumping after the bubbles people were blowing. Whimsical attire was encourage.
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I wasn’t entirely sure how crazy to go, plus I didn’t want to drag my derby hat on the plane, so my outfit was tame compared to some peoples. It was so fun to see the outfits that people came up with and had the balls to wear. I’m just not that cool.
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Hanging in the tree

After the park, we headed back to the couples home were there was a bonfire to warm up by.
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Virginia City [and The Brewery Follies]

UntitledAfter visiting Butte, K and I took a drive down to Virginia City and Nevada City. Both are old mining ghost towns a few miles apart in the Ruby Valley. Virginia City has a few residences but Nevada City is a true preserved ghost town. They an hour and a half from Bozeman and two from Butte. Everyone has said they are one of those places you just have to go see, so we did. The drive from Butte was beautiful. We could have hopped on the interstate for awhile and dropped south, but instead we went on Highway 2 through the mountains. It was beautiful. I had never been back there. We need to see if there is any hiking back in there to check out next.

Because we came from Butte, we ended up in Nevada City first. We stopped for just a bit. You can wonder down the open shops that are on the main road, but everything else is gated off. If you like can pay to see the rest of the town and reenactments. On top of that you can take the little train ride between the two cities. We were a bit over the ghost town after touring the one at Museum of Mining earlier that morning  and we were short on time so we passed on hanging out and headed to Virginia City.

Most of the little town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As you walk down the street you can read the plaque on each building explaining what it used to be and why it is important. It’s also very much a tourist town. Most buildings have operating shops, restaurants or bars in them. Some are just historic displays, set up as they would have been in the 1860’s. We wondered up and down the street checking out the different shops, galleries, and historic buildings. Untitled
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We found some delicious ice cream. It’s made right there, you can watch it being churned in the barrels. K insulted the owner by saying that she was not a fan of his new flavor, but there were plenty of others she did like and the guy behind her liked the new one, so we made it out alive without spit on our cones. Untitled
 Ice Cream in the making

One of the main draws for us to head to Virginia City was the Brewery Follies at the old brewery. The brewery is tucked down by the creek, off the main road. They left the interiors as is and only modified to add a little stage. Twice a day you can head down for the four person cabaret show. We were told that it was hilarious, a main reason for a “local” to go to Virginia City if you didn’t have kids. We were a bit apprehensive about how good it could really be, but it was hilarious. It was so good, we are planning on returning with a big crew of friends to see the other cast before the season ends. Untitled
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Follies Bar
We were seated right in front of the little space and they serve you drinks before and during the intermission. The actors are your bartenders, so you can’t get anything during the show. We had a great time. The small cast of two guys and girls were really funny. The musician was great as well. It was fun to sometimes watch him to see what was cracking him up this round. For the most part the skits are rehearsed, but there were spot here and there where they were clearly improving. For the most part, it was 2 hours of laughing.

I’m really glad we decided to swing through Virginia City on our way home. It is definitely one of those you gotta see it places. And I highly recommend the Follies, though not if you have kids, unless you use earmuffs.

 

Sunday Afternoon Coffee [forty-nine]

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If were having coffee this afternoon, it would be at Hylite Lake, where I am currently on a hike to. I’ve never been up here, I hear it’s spectacular. I’ll share photos later.

If we were having coffee this afternoon, I would tell you how happy it makes me to have Brooklyn friends in Bozeman. E & S are road tripping across the country to Portland where they are planning to move. They made it to Music on Main, some of the Sweet Pea Festival and a fun night with the Max at the R Bar. They also worked hard trying to get me to move to Portland. We shall see. We shall see.UntitledThe Max

If we were having coffee this afternoon, I would ask you if you had seen this article about trees with email addresses. I love this idea. I would write a letter to my favorite hidden climbing tree at home.

If we were having coffee this afternoon, we would talk about the opening party for the Moonlight Golf Clubhouse this week. My office has been working on this project for a little over a year and it is finally completed. The celebrated with food trucks, an open bar and O.A.R. preforming in the middle of the course. It was rainy at first but the sky cleared and it was an awesome night. I forgot how many of O.A.R.’s song I know. It was a definite designer perk!UntitledEdge of the clubhouse, Beehive Basin, the stage and Lone Peak in the twilight.Untitled

If we were having coffee this afternoon, we would talk about Trainwreck. It was hilarious and I would almost go see it again. While I’m pretty sure I’m not a full on trainwreck, there are definitely moments.

Which would lead us to discussing our current reading selections. My list has become an interesting (somewhat) accidental lesson in happiness and choices. A couple months ago, a friend lent me A Map of Enough by Molly Mae because she thought I could relate. I was/am faltering a bit about what it is I am doing, choices made, when I thought those days were behind me. And I don’t seem to be the only person I know at this stage. Two lines that stick out from the book are: “We were steeped in choices. We might go crazy with the options. We were intoxicated by what could be.” and “It takes courage to love one person, one anything. This was the man I would walk through the mess of life with. It was a vertical choice made long ago by me, by us, one of the few choices that came for me with no doubt.” Then I borrowed Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl.  Great stories, some totally relatable, some not so much, about making decisions, life, love etc. Another friend is reading Happiness Pursuit, which I will probably read in the near future. In our discussions about the book, we have decided I am a bitchy closet optimist, but I would never say that out loud. Finally, in discussion the happiness something with my coworker, she suggested I read The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. It is aptly subtitled “One Grumps Search for the Happiest Places in the World” and I am currently in the middle of it. One line that has stuck with me so far is: “Maybe this is happiness: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being something else.” Then in an Elle article this week I read this line: “She’s trying to get at the idea that being in love ‘is not a feeling, it’s a choice. My point is, to choose someone is very scary. It sometimes means hurting other people, and it means taking a chance.'” The last two books are loaded with scientific research and studies which are fascinating to me. Much of what I’ve read talks about or comes back to this idea of choice. I semi agree with the Elle quote. I think we have the choice of deciding how far we want to go with a person, but there must be an emotional attraction as well, otherwise why would you want to choose that person to begin with? If there is not some emotional pull to a place or job, is it somewhere you really want to be or something you really want to do? Part of me feels like I am not the one who actually needed to read these, but the person who threw me into this turmoil of spinning. I continually read lines that I want to send to them and some times think about just making a nice little package of books and anonymously dropping it off. I will do neither of these things. I am still unsure of what I am doing. Still, I think reading these stories, studies, etc. helps me in the sense that perhaps I am not crazy, maybe I need to not be afraid of making a choice, taking a chance. You can change your mind. They have also helped me understand that person just a little bit more, (or made me even more frustrated with them), even if it is unlikely I will ever agree with their decision.

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If we were having coffee this afternoon I would tell you that I went to Tahoe last weekend and it was amazing. There will be more on the trip later, but I spent the majority of the time on a paddle board.  We alternated between moving along the lake or napping. It was amazing. I should have stayed just a little bit longer.
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Natural Bridge

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Back in Mayish a friend did a little solo road trip over to the Natural Bridge on the Boulder River about two hours away.  She posted beautiful pictures of the back road she drove instead of the interstate. K, J and I decided we should do the same trip. The bridge itself had been on my to do list for awhile and after showing people images, it was easy to get them to go along too for the day.

We went in June to make sure everything was green. Swingley Road was absolutely gorgeous. The mountain views were amazing. I have done the interstate route time and time again and it has become a bit boring. It was good to travel a new route and renew my appreciation of those mountains. We did the road both ways, both times it was different and amazing.
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Once we arrived at the bridge, we walked all over the place. There is a beautiful wood bride in place now to cross the river.
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View from wood bridge of water disappearing below ground.

We went on the trails, but then we ventured down into the canyon and got as close to the opening as we dared.
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From the far rim of the canyon.
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Climbing down was pretty fun, there are climbing routes set up too!
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We walked along the top of the canyon until we were cut off by private property.
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Of course we wondered down on the bridge itself.
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This is the side the water comes out, you can’t see much, but it’s still cool.

The bridge as it is now will end up with water flowing over it when the water is high enough. There used to be another section of bridge that collapsed that was the original land bridge. That would have been pretty cool to see. Even so, for just being a hole in the wall where water comes out, the natural bridge is still a sweet site to visit.

Butte [And the Montana Music Festival]

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Butte, Montana is an interesting place. In its glory days it was on par with New York and San Francisco and now it is home to one of the largest superfund sites. It has a crazy mining history and beautiful historic building district begging for someone to save it. Once a year it hosts the Montana Folk Festival.  My friend K and I had never been to Butte, but had been told time and time again we needed to visit it just once. So the weekend of the festival we packed a car and went on a little adventure.

We started with and underground tour of the historic uptown. We learned all kinds of interesting facts about Butte, here are a few that I remember weeks later:

  • it had electricity five years before New York
  • it  had over 100,000 people living there in the 1920’s and had the second largest red district in the US
  • It had an “underground city.”  Below street level was a second sidewalk with store fronts all along it. Most of these have been filled in sadly. You can see find areas of glass block in the existing sidewalk, it was used to get light down to the lower level.
  • the prison was open until the 1970’s where it was finally shut down by the Federal government and deemed a dungeon
  • There are hundreds of miles of mining tunnels under the city. This is an amazing graphic representation.

It was about an hour and a half tour that took us down to one of the old store fronts that first a shoe store and then a barber shop.
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We then went back above ground to the city’s first skyscraper and another building that was the sister hotel to New York’s Waldorf Hotel. My little brain was going crazy with all the detail and buildings that were there that were just empty and all the things you could do with those buildings if you had the population to support them again. It’s amazing.

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The Finlen Hotel, complete  with copper railing

Anyway, we continued to the jail, also below ground. It was in operation until the 1970’s and had many tripping features designed in to make sure no one going in came out unbruised. The stories of corrupt police made you cringe a bit as I was the tour guest picked to sit in the interrogation chair.  Hands and feet tied down, in the dark with an old salon hair dryer over your head (what was it for? not sure…) in a basement is no where I care to end up again.
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Metal beds below steam pipes
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Interrogation chair- photo by K

After the jail, we crossed the ally to a forgotten speak easy that was found in 2004. It had a door in the bathroom so that the city mayor and police chief could sneak out when the fed arrived. The flooring and walls were beautiful stone with a heavy wooden bar. I think K was probably ready to kill me with all my architecture talk and picture taking.UntitledUntitled Untitled Untitled Untitled

Our friend, Dusty, was heading through town and so we headed to a coffee shop to meet him called the Hummingbird. To be fair, we headed to said cafe because the yelp reviews said the food was good, but people kept complaining about the staff’s “hipster attitude.”  We needed to see what this meant in Butte terms and we are still unsure. Was it a place that would probably be more at home in Bozeman? A little hippy and alternative in style? Yes. It was delightful and delicious and the staff was perfectly pleasant. We enjoyed our lunch and returned the next day for coffee on our way out of town.

After this we went to check out the music. There were several stages set up all over uptown as well as vendors. We would stop at one, listen for a bit and head on to the next. The best stage was the main stage or “Original Stage” set up under a headframe near the top of the hill.
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Surrounding it were old mining buildings you could go in and see all the equipment that was used. Pretty cool.  I will say that the music was fine, but none of it really wowed us. This may be because none of us are super into folk music, but I was kind of excited for a Cajun band that was playing and they were not as energetic or as exciting as I expected. It was still fun to hang out on the hill side and watch all the different people.

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We are still not sure what Dusty is doing here.

K and I were staying the night, continuing our adventure the next day in another mining town. From the way people spoke of the festival, we didn’t think we would be able to get a camp site at the park near by, but we had no trouble at all. We could hear the last of the music drifting down the hill as we hung out in our tent and watched Our Lady of the Rockies light up. We wanted to hike up or drive up to it, but the only way is on a 3 hour bus tour. No thank you.
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That little light on the top of the hill is the statue. It’s the 3rd largest in the US and was lifted in place by helicopter in sections.

The next morning we had breakfast at the Cafe at Park & Main. We split a huge caramel roll while we waited for our egg dishes. All was delicious and we were able to sit outside, though the weather was not fully cooperating that morning.

We wanted to try and do the underground mining tour as well at the World Museum of Mining but the morning tour we could make was full. We went the the museum anyway.

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And once we were past the bizarre doll collection, we we fascinated by the replicated town and the Orphan Girl mining yard. There are thousand of artifacts all over and you can just walk pretty much where ever. They have installed a stair on the headframe so you can walk up the top and see the old elevator that brought the ore and miner up and down. It was another day of sensory overload for me, but I still want to go back and take the underground mine tour as well.

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The last thing we did before heading out of town was check out the Berkeley Pit.
Most of the mining in Butte was underground until the 1950’s. The Berkeley Pit was opened in 1955 and was in operation until the 1980’s. It is a huge hole in the earth, around one mile by a half mile wide and 1700 feet deep.  At that time they stopped pumping the water away from the pit and let it fill. This water is toxic due to all the heavy metals and chemicals that have leached out from the rock. It’s a massive superfund that will eventually reach the level of natural ground water and start to pump it’s toxic water into the ground water instead of vice versa. It’s amazing the kind of damage we can inflict on the earth that eventually comes back to harm us.
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Butte is a very interesting place. Although, if the festival had not been in full swing, I don’t think we would have hung out for as long as we did. You could easily do it as a day trip. It was a sensory overload for me both days though. Not sure I could do both the underground uptown tour and mining tour in one day. But I’m not normal, so most people would probably love it all in one go. I highly recommend stopping to check it out instead of blowing right past on the interstate if you have the time.