10/3, 4 and 5
Being in this place of such beauty is about like taking a week vacation! In some ways it reminds us of home…at least in the way that we live in the country and have the outdoor lifestyle. Also, while these pines are a different species than the loblolly, slash and longleaf that we have back home, they have a similar look that is reminiscent of our territory. Here they have larch, lodgepole and ponderosa pine along with the quaking aspens and some western cedars that dominate the landscape. The fields of grass in the valley provide a golden touch, and the surrounding mountains dotted with the green of the trees round out a perfect picture. The cabins we are in are spread out at a comfortable and reasonable distance, about 100 yards or so apart. They have a main compound that has the reception, bar and restaurants as well as some of the maintenance and utility buildings…and a separate area they call the “Wilderness Outpost” where the Tour Office was located, and just behind that is the large corral for the horses. In another area they have “Spa Town”, a series of about 7 or 8 white canvas tents that are used mainly for the massages. They have one tent set up with a couple of aerobic machines and a small set of dumb bells. In addition, although we never got to see it, they have another set of tents they call “Tent City” where people can stay. We were told that the capacity was about 100 at present, but they are planning to expand and build some more cabins as well as a proper exercise facility. For outdoor adventures they offer horseback riding, mountain biking, fly-fishing, ATV riding and more. Truly a beautiful, interesting and lovely place.
Rosie and I made our coffee, built a fire in the fireplace and hooked up on the DSL line using my Apple Airport Express that we carry to make it wireless throughout the house. We had booked a horseback ride for 1pm and massages at 4:30, so we had the morning to ourselves just to enjoy the views and do our own things. It was a beautiful day, brisk but not cold. Just a fine “crispy” feel to the air… which as you might imagine is pristinely clean. After our leisurely morning we made our way over to the Trough restaurant on our “mountain buggy” and had something to eat. I went for the breakfast, even though it was about noon. Pancakes, scrambled eggs and crispy bacon. Oh yeah. Rosie opted for a lunch dish, and we were both very happy. We strolled around the facility taking some pictures and just checking things out, then went back to the Panfish Popper to get ready for our horseback ride.
Along with us, Bernard, Lisa Fischer, Helen Knox and Val Adamson were going as well. We all met at the Tour Office and did the necessary paperwork of waivers and charges, then went out to meet our steeds. I was a little embarrassed to be given a horse named “Lollypop”…but he turned out to be a good ride, and not as wimpy as his name implied.
There were three women acting as our guides, all very nice. Loraine, Valerie and ??. After introductions and the expected instructions we mounted up and headed out single file. Rose Lane and I are experienced riders and we really wanted to cut loose, but of course given the situation we understood that we had to go along with the program and keep to a walk and in line. They took us through the valley up to what they call Elk Mountain. The trails had been well established and maintained, but were very natural and not too “obvious”. We wound up and around the mountain, enjoying the scenery and chatting along the way. It turns out that they lease quite a lot of their land from Plum Creek Timber Co., a company that we are very familiar with. As a matter of fact, Plum Creek has a lease on about 200 acres of our land in Ga. and own timberland all throughout the US. We also know some of the people in the company, six of which would be coming to the show. The good stewardship of the land showed, and the woods were nothing short of beautiful. At one point along the way, a deer spooked Lisa’s horse which in turn spooked all the other horses. Lisa did a great job of not getting upset and holing on, regaining control of her ride very quickly and it was a minor incident. We didn’t see any other wildlife, though…except for various birds and squirrels. I did, however, spy a lot of signs….deer droppings and scrapes, bear sign on some fallen trees, and lots of gopher holes. The gophers are hibernating apparently, and don’t come out until spring.
We continued to ride; soaking in the amazing surroundings and feeling the stress melt away. The guides pointed out a spot where there used to be some gold mining going on many years ago…and another place where there used to be a railroad track that connected with the mine. Eventually we came back down into the valley crossing a grass prairie and then up to a bluff where we stopped for a moment to take in the view. No words can really describe it…but it makes you understand the term Big Sky. A fellow bird hunter once told me a little funny phrase about this territory…that it’s so big you can watch your dog run away for three days!
From the bluff we made our way back through the valley to the corral, ending a wonderful two hours. I would have easily been willing to do another two, but was grateful to have had the experience. We dismounted and thanked our guides, and Rosie and I went back to the cabin. There we stoked the fire back up and relaxed for a bit until our massage time. Spa town was only about 500 yards from our place, and we headed over in our golf car to check in. The setup was really cool…with the tents having a heater hung from above as well as electric blankets on the tables to keep you warm and comfortable. The flaps of the tent were open to reveal the view of the valley and mountains, making for a very unique massage experience. We both did an hour each and I could have probably gone on for another hour…. it was truly heaven. We took our time getting up from the tables and after thanking the girls that had worked on us and settling up, we went back to shower up and get ready for cocktails and dinner.
We had our usual one drink each…Rose Lane likes a dry vodka martini with olives, and I go for vodka on the rocks with olive. Blondie Chaplin was the only other person in the bar, and we chatted with him for a bit before walking down to the Pomp. I had the bison steak and Rosie had the beef tenderloin. The Woods showed up again, this time with Charlie Watts and Bernard with them. We enjoyed our steaks and talked to them and to Paul the manager of the restaurant, until we started to feel the activities of the day and drove back to the cabin. Rose Lane poured me a glass of wine, but I don’t think I had but a sip or two as I was fading fast and headed to bed. She stayed up for a while longer…. and we both slept very well!
The next day was show day. While I know we all would have loved to have another day to explore, duty called. There was a huge buzz throughout the city about the show, and it had been sold out for weeks. All the staff at Paws Up had told us about how excited everyone was, and the folks that I had arranged tickets for had said the same. I don’t think Missoula has ever had a show of this magnitude, and it would be another historic gig for us. We had another leisurely morning and afternoon, having lunch down at the Trough again. The bus to take us to the show left at 3:30. On the bus we all talked about what kind of adventures had been experienced…our horseback ride, and us Darryl had gone fly-fishing and skeet shooting (another activity available). Some had tried the ATVs…. all had huge fun. Bobby Keys had his Stryker F-27C Radio Controlled Airplane. He had a blast flying that thing all around the compound. It flies up to 80 miles per hour, and he buzzed everyone’s house.
At the show I did my thing…. and wrote the set list with a lot of well known numbers as we’ve never played here before and we knew they would appreciate hearing mostly familiar songs unlike in some cities where we’ve played many shows through the years…and even on this tour!
Back stages we met our friends that had come…Terry and Monica Anderson who both work for PERC (Political Economic Research Center) were there. I have given two speeches to PERC over the past five or so years. A great group of folks that do wonderful work for private landowners on all kinds of issues. With them were some of Terry’s family and some friends. Bill Posseil and his wife Claudia were there…Bill is President of the National Forest Foundation which works hand in hand with the US Forest Service on issues concerning our National Forests. Dennis and Brenda Berkheartsmeir that own the Mountain Mudd coffee house chain were also there and kindly gave Rosie and me some Mountain Mudd t-shirts. We spent time with all of them as best we could. One big surprise was when some fellow tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around to see Huey Lewis! I’ve met Huey before, but it had been a long time since I’d seen him. He lives in Montana now for the best part of the year. We have some friends in common…Mike Duke, a great piano player, singer and songwriter originally from Alabama, and Bruce Hornsby. We chatted for a while, and I told him how much we had been enjoying Montana. He said we should buy a place out there…and man, it would be a dream to do that. He also told me that he’d been doing the musical “Chicago” in NY for a couple of years in addition to some scattered shows with his band, so he’s remaining very active with some cool projects. Huey is good people…solid guy, fun to be with…and it was a fantastic surprise to see him. Between all of that going on and the others in the Rattlesnake, it was really a jumpin’ place. Finally we had to say goodbye and get ready for the show.
Backstage we had a little rehearsal in Keith’s room…and this time Mick had agreed to join us. I had pressed him to do so in order for us to go over a couple of potential songs to add in to the mix soon. So we went through She Was Hot and Loving Cup. Hopefully it won’t be long before we can give them a try on the stage.
As we walked to the stage and the lights went down, the crowd roared in anticipation. My keyboard tech, Will Alexander, had told me that they had been going crazy all night…doing the “wave” several times and just dying to see the Stones. We got lucky with the weather…there was a chance for rain but it never really happened…and although it was a little on the cool side, it was ultimately very pleasant. We rocked Grizzly Stadium all night, and the fans were right with us every step of the way. Fabulous show.
The last few hours at Paws Up, and we were all very sad to leave. I got up about 9 and made the coffee, put a fire in the fireplace and did my emails for an hour or so. Rose Lane got up about 45 minutes after me and joined in. Our bags had to be ready by 11, so we both finalized the packing and set them out on the deck for pickup. I held out my workout clothes and went to the little tent that had the exercise equipment. It was extremely limited…one treadmill, one elliptical machine and one set of “Power Block” dumb bells. But there was no one else in there, so I used the dumb bells for working chest, biceps and shoulders. It was great looking out at the view and going through the routine, and afterwards I decided on a run. By then it had warmed up considerably. There was a long road that ran away from the compound…and it looked like a good prospect for a jog. So I took off on it. Man, it was soooo great. Only three or four vehicles passed me…work trucks mainly. And running out in that incredible valley with the views was refreshing for the mind as well as the body. I made a good 50 minute cast out of it, soaking in the scenery.
When I got back to the cabin, Rosie told me that Lisa Fischer had called and invited us to breakfast at her cabin. So we showered and took the mountain buggy over to her place, just about 500 yards from ours. She and Val Adamson had shared a room, and they had a full kitchen…and had scored some groceries from the show the night before…eggs, bacon, bread, tomatoes, and some cheese. Lisa cooked it all up and Bernard, Rosie and me, Val, Caroline Clements and Lisa enjoyed it.
It was a cool groove and a nice way to end our stay. Then we went back to collect our carryon bags and on to the reception to check out. The bill was pretty hefty with the activities and the expensive restaurant/bar charges, but we closed our eyes and signed on the dotted line. It was worth it…a very unique and wonderful three days.
We all talked on the bus and the plane about our experiences at Paws Up, everyone agreeing it had been a great place and a great time.
The flight to Regina was only an hour and twenty minutes, and before we knew it we were at the Radisson hotel. We got to our room and goofed around for 45 minutes or so and decided to check on dinner options. Regina is not exactly known for it’s famous restaurants, though. We settled on an Oriental place called Saigon By Night, but it was a disappointment. Very casual, which is fine….but the food had a good bit of MSG in it, and about halfway through the meal we were both fairly flushed in the face from it. Ah well, you can’t win every time!
That wound up the day, and back at the hotel I was pretty tired and hit the sheets by 11 or so.