Da Mystery Road Trip Revealed, Part Eleven

Ho, Part Eleven already and we’re not even to our destination yet! But we were about to see an awesome sight, just a few miles away, in the MacDonald Pass area.

McDonald Pass Recreation area on the way to Helena

McDonald Pass Recreation area on the way to Helena

We’re not to a spectacular viewpoint yet; we’re going down a very steep grade. Try look all the snow on the ground! And ho da cold!

Heading towards McDonald Pass

Compared to how warm it was when we started out, this was cold!

Almost to McDonald Pass - Highway 12 - 2:13 p.m.

You can imagine how steep the grade was when they suggest trucks only creep along at 25 mph!

Last September, just eight days before we drove through, there was a terrible forest fire in this area. Eight short days! Until we got home, we had no idea what had happened, other than that there had obviously been a fire. Caused by humans. Really sad to see the damage, though we were very glad to have been able to travel along this road. A week earlier and we couldn’t have…

Nearing McDonald Pass - Highway 12 on the way to Helena

…and we would’ve missed what we saw at the viewpoint. No way were we going to just whiz on by. What an incredible view!

MacDonald Pass. Elevation 6320′.

McDonald Pass viewpoint

We both got out of the car. Ho da wind!!! And because the temperature was so low, the wind chill was ferocious.

McDonald Pass viewpoint

We just feasted our eyes on the magnificent view.

Big Belt Mountains and McDonald Pass

Call me lolo, but I would’ve loved to have been a bird and soared out over the magnificent landscape, swooping down and over all the beauty.

Big Belt Mountains and McDonald Pass

We took lots of photos, but it’s really impossible to capture the vista in still photos. You can see the devastation of the fire in the burned trees below us.

Big Belt Mountains and McDonald Pass

I wanted to ride horses down there with Kikue!

MacDonald Pass viewpoint

It was so cold that we couldn’t stand out there very long. This is the last still photo that we took.


However, that’s not all. We did take a short video! In it, you can hear how hard the wind was blowing as Nolemana turned the camera towards the east. I wish it was longer, but by now we were just freezing!

Milepost 30 after leaving the viewpoint.

Milepost 30 after leaving McDonald Pass

Still heading east on Highway 12 towards Helena.

Heading down from McDonald Pass

Interesting, yeah? Two different speed limits. It must be because of the winding road maybe.

Two different speed limits.  Heading down from McDonald Pass viewpoint

Now we get to the stop I was telling you about before. And a fascinating one it was. Last year at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival I met a really nice wahine named Patti, from Montana, who was there as a vendor. We got to talking, and I told her that we were heading up to Montana in just a couple of weeks. She invited us to stop by her place in West Helena to see her shop; she even gave me, a perfect stranger, her cell phone number so that I’d be able to call when we got close. It meant going a bit out of our way on the way to Auntie’s place, but…fiber! And I figured if we didn’t stay too long we could still make it on time. Anyway, at 70-75 mph most of the time, we were making good time.

I called Patti (I’d already programmed her address into TryLook), and she came out and opened the gate for us. She was opening the shop just for us! I wanted to get some Montana yarn and fiber (to spin), but wasn’t prepared for the whole adventure!

Patti owns Sweet Grass Wool and Wolf Creek Wools. Patti dyes her own yarn and sells it which is the Wolf Creek Wools part of the business. Sweet Grass Wool is fleece grown right there in Montana, and that’s what I was after. I wanted fiber and yarn that I couldn’t get locally.

Patti’s shop is located in an old country church, which was moved there to her property. Which is an interesting combination with Patti’s house, which I’ll tell you about in a minute.

Sweet Grass Yarn and Fiber - Helena - 2:26 p.m.

Inside the shop. Be still my heart! Fiber overload! Sensory overload!

Inside the "church"

I can’t breathe! I was in the middle of an ‘ānuenue! Un arco iris! A rainbow!

Sweet Grass Fibers

And there’s the Montana yarn!

Sweet Grass Fibers

Patti also is the lucky owner of a Magnus Drudik spinning wheel; I have wanted one for years! What a work of art. The waiting list has been years, but fortunate owners have their choice of wood. At least they used to. I don’t know if they’re even still being made. My dream would have been to have one made of koa. For ukubillion dollars, too. Thousands. Which is why I don’t own one. Heh heh.

Magnus Drudik wheel

Next to the church/shop were some old steam bath rooms.

The old steam baths

This is Patti’s house.

The old brothel

It’s on the Historic Registry. I hope you can read this. Move up close!

IMG_0660 - Copy

There is something very, very unique about Patti’s residence. But you can’t tell from the outside, and the historic registry information doesn’t tell you this. But it used to be a brothel! Yes. True. Today it looks like a regular dwelling inside, but there are some interesting features to it. Patti gave me permission to take the interior photos.

This is part of Patti’s studio; signs of a true artist with all her equipment.

Inside the old brothel

Another room in the old brothel. Notice the door. I’ll tell you about that, too.

Inside the brothel

The dining room. Notice the door.


Wonderful pocket doors. Half open.


And closed. Cool poster, yeah?


The handle of the bathroom door is only a couple of feet from the floor! Patti didn’t know why it was like this.


Now, about the doors. There were exterior doors from just about every room of the building! Patti is quite sure that the reason for that is so that the politicians, well-known men, “high, upstanding citizens”, could make their entrances and exits to their ladies of choice without anyone else knowing they were there. Heh heh.

There’s even an exterior door from the bathroom!


Here’s a photo of the bath houses in relation to the church/shop.


I took another fast run through the shop; I got some lovely roving to spin, picked up my Montana Targhee yarn, and wished I could stayed longer. As I walked out the door I checked the clock and was totally dismayed! I’d thought it was 2 p.m., but it was 3 p.m.!! Oh no! I’d forgotten to change my watch from Pacific time! And now we were going to be late to Auntie’s!! Quick hugs to Patti along with many thanks for her hospitality, and off we went.

We drove through Helena and saw this beautiful building on our way out of town. It’s Carroll College. Mahalo, Patti for identifying it for me!

Carroll College /  Highway 12 - Helena 3:11 p.m.

Man, we needed to hustle! We saw a train on Highway 12 heading south.


And here’s where we traveled on this leg of the journey.


That’s it for now… I’ll have more great photos for you next time as we zoomed along the highway. Next time, we get to Auntie’s!!

This entry was posted in Da Kine: Sometimes Full-on Pidgin. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Da Mystery Road Trip Revealed, Part Eleven

  1. AFK says:

    How fascinating to have a former church so close to a former brothel! There’s a restaurant in Seattle that is housed in a former brothel, and, some say, also a former mortuary-talk about history. And what a beautiful array of yarns.

    Thanks for taking us along, Moki-chan!

  2. Clare says:

    Love it all! Mahalo planny for sharing the whole journey.

  3. Kikue Mugen says:

    First off that scenic stop was breathtaking! It looked utterly unbelievable in the photo and even in the short clip video, but I know, I know, I KNOW how photos and even videos just don’t do such fine scenes justice!! So even though it was fantastic looking at the photos I could only imagine that these were one of those snap shots your brain takes and you hold onto it for the rest of your life. Oh and plus the cold, bone chilling air just added to it as well. Wow, is all I can say! And YES!!! I thought of riding horse too! LOL.

    What stood out the most in the photos is the contrast of the trees and landscape. It was sort of looking at textures as one would look at a quilt that was stretched out at a fair for all to gawk at and go, “ooo” and “ahhh,” over. Priceless!

    I only smiled when I saw all that yarn and the vintage set up that surrounded you as you were able to poke around and make niele. I noticed that you noticed and found out the little details, such as, “how come so many exits.” Those days the men were ‘gentle’ and their interests were fine women to display their ‘gentleman-ness.’ LOL Also, the pubs, bars, and gentleman’s clubs all were equipped with those, multi-quick-exits.

    Thanks for the tour. As usual I’m really enjoying the ride! Even though this part of it is COLD! LOL

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