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PingWi-Fi Visits ‘Our Lady’ … Ain’t She A Butte?

August 18th, 2013 · Tags:Cities · Restaurant · Wi-Fi




After a brief return to Fort Worth and Amarillo, fate finds me back in The Big Sky Country of Montana. Ha … after one day back on the job at The Dirty Gig, I had a day off. So, yes I hit the road. Today i drove to Missoula, but passed Butte on the way. Wait … I haven’t posted anything on Butte yet. Let’s do it.

To say Butte is steeped in mining history is an understatement. The college football stadium has Ore Diggers painted on the end zone grass. There is an International Museum of Mining … and of course the city is srounded by mountains and mines. With mining comes wealth .. duh … and with money comes cool houses, great old theaters, etc. Any restaurant or cafe in Butte will tell you to take the Copper King Mansion tour. As for me, I just passed on by, after a quick photo of Mr. Clark’s estate and the awesome little castle he built down the street for his son. The locals say that Mr. William A. Clark was making a million dollars a day during his 15 minutes of fame and fortune and was worth $200 billion in today dollars.


When I first approached the uptown Butte area, it was an interesting welcome. An ambulance stopped behind me at an intersection on an empty street, lights flashing, and insisted I pull into the intersection to let them go by, even though the street was completely empty with all kinds of wide open big sky for them to go around. I soon saw they were in “quite a hurry.” Up the street, one firetruck and two ambulances were already parked. I parked too, to check it out … and watched as a middle-aged woman walked to the ambulance, with the aid of her walker … that was it. Interesting.


I parked away from the “emergency situation” and went “panning for Wi-Fi.”




First stop, Gamers Cafe … Their sign – “Wi-Fi” drew me in like a moth to a flame. Ha … The “Casino” sign caught my eye too, although that is not one of my bad habits.


At Gamers, Stephanie, my new California-friend-staying-in-Butte-for-the-summer, fixed me up with a new favorite – The Evel Knievel omelette, loaded with daredevil peppers, salsa, bacon and mushrooms. Ha. It was too big — I couldn’t make it all the way to the other side safely … since I had already had a warm up breakfast back at the hotel. I saved half  of The Knievel for later.



Another Gamers Cafe waitress told me that Evel Knievel always had Christmas lights out in December, featuring a Santa Claus jumping over the house on a motorcycle. Nice. Had I known about this sort of Knievel heritage, I would have foregone my recent trip to Yellowstone and attended Butte’s Evel Knievel Days.


Evel Knievel Days



So, about this Gamers Wi-Fi … excellent. Got on easy. Didn’t have to track down a waitress, who typically has to ask someone else what the password might be, and no foreign college students hacked into my personal bank accounts to divert funds to an offshore account. None of that happened. It was a glorious Wi-Fi experience, great breakfast, good California-girl smiling service … in Montana – 7 pings.


In addition to the copper mansions, the locals highly recommended a monument overlooking Butte, “Our Lady of the Rockies.”


The attraction reminded me so much of home. That may be hard to explain. Here’s the deal, Our Lady of the Rockies is a white, metal structure (illuminated at night), towering over the area, and is of huge significance to many of the faithful in the area. My neck of the woods, back in Texas has something similar in a giant cross near the town of Groom in the Texas Panhandle. Those of you who have been reading along on this blog know that my family recently lost our mom. That big, big Texas cross back home was my last road trip with my mom. She was so excited for me to see the landmark …


The other thing about Our Lady that reminded me of old home week was the transportation on the winding dirt road up to the top of a mountain overlooking Butte. The transportation is a big old yellow school bus. Have you ever ridden a school bus over rough, rocky country roads? Every time we hit a bump, with me sitting in the back, I would fly up in the air hoping my spine would last me another day. This was quite the flashback to riding my childhood school bus over the ranchland roads out West of Vega, with Coach Miller gunning the bus for all it was worth … Ha … I had much more of an appreciation for bus bumps back then … I digress.


So anyway, it is a 45-minute ride around the sides of the mountain to get to the top to see Our Lady, some 3500 feet higher in elevation than the mile high city of Butte.. On the journey our trusty bus driver informed us that we crossed The Continental Divide six times. She was a trip in her own right, by the way. Pretty funny lady. Very informative … I just wished she wasn’t watching us in the rear view mirror so much while she told her stories, as we teetered on the edge of a 3,000-foot drop off. The driver pointed out all kinds of notable things along the way … such as a defunct indoor marijuana growing operation on the side of the mountain … oh and that huge hole over by Butte.


You see, the excursion has a bird’s eye view of the huge open mine outside Butte. The body of water at the mind has the distinction of being the world’s deepest and widest contaminated body of water. Google and view satellite shots of The Berkeley Pit.


Berkeley Pit


The driver also pointed out the nearby intersections of I-90 and I-15, and mentioned that the two major highways both run coast to coast or border to border, and they intersect at Butte. She also pointed out there is only one other such intersection, in one other U.S. town … where an East-West coat-to-coast intersects a North-South, border-to-border highway. When asked however, the pro-Butte guide couldn’t name the other such town. I could (the kid in he back of the bus, bouncing and raising his hand) … ironically … I believe the answer is Vega, Texas, once billed as “The Crossroads of the Nation” with the intersection of I-40 (Old Route 66) and U.S. 385. Pretty cool, huh? (There may be other cities with such major crossroads … you tell me …)


The climb offers a magnificent view of seven mountain ranges.


If you get a chance, see this attraction in person and by all means, watch the informative video at the gift shop (conveniently placed in the mall) before you go. The video shows the actual construction of the huge white virgin with her outstretched hands. In the video, the first two or three segments of the statue are airlifted over the city and up the mountain by a huge “Sky Crane” helicopter — no prob. But, when the team airlifted in the section of the hands, the winds changed and the portion of the statue started twisting under the chopper. The spinning piece of the monument banged into the parts already assembled and it looked like the copter might go down for a second or two. But they corrected, backed off, and tried again, successfully. Like I say, the actual video of that near accident add a lot to the tour.


Our Lady


The statue is the result of answered prayer and an oath that Bob O’Bill made to the Virgin. Interesting. An Al Beavis, was also instrumental in the project … me of course … I was hoping the video had a Beavis/Butte head joke in there somewhere.


The project took six years, and was completed in 1985. The largest section airlifted to the mountain was 19,000 pounds. Upon completion, the team received a congratulations for a job well done by then President Ronald Reagan. Pretty cool.



There is a guest facility at the top of the mountain, perfect for special events — weddings, corporate meetings, etc. However, no Lady of Wi-Fi detected during my visit — still 6 pings, or one ping for every time we crossed The Continental Divide.


Before I left Butte, I had to try one of the Huckleberry smoothies … (or huckleberry anythings for that matter) so I whipped the rental automobile into the parking lot/drive up window of Florence Coffee in Butte.  The HBerry smoothie was well worth the wait.  Just as all exotic meats “taste like chicken,” I think all new berries “taste like blueberry” … the huckle variety seemed to.  Quite nice.  However, this cute little coffee shop did not have Wi-Fi.  Also a bummer, the nice lady in the drive up window was camera shy … or worried about repercussion for and from her employer.  That’s just silly.  No score.

Know what I sayin?