Sapphires and Clams
Jul 31, 2007
|The campground at Georgetown Lake was so nice
we took a 2.5 mile walk before leaving, seeing the lifestyle of the Montana rich, if not so famous. There are a lot of second homes here and some of them are palatial. You look at them and think of holing up in one for the winter and it sounds attractive.
On the road it was a short drive to the town of Phillipsburg
, where Madolyn wanted to stop and check out the Sapphire Gallery. Montana is one of the leading producers of sapphires in this country, and not far from here is a range called the Sapphire Mountains. The gallery is well known and is a very interesting place.
They have sapphires from all over the world, but they specialize in local gems, which come in every color in the rainbow. In fact some of their jewelry includes the full spectrum of colors and is stunning. Rubies, they told us, are just sapphires with a lot of chromium coloring in them. Most rubies come from other countries, and the woman said that in all her years here she has seen only one Montana sapphire that would qualify as a ruby.
You can buy jewelry made with stones that are already fired, cut and polished, or you can hunt for your own stones in one of several ways, and then have them make a piece especially for you. You can go out to the hills and prospect in the field, or you can buy a bag of gravel from the mines and go though it in the back of the store and see what you find. There were several people doing this and finding some stones, albeit small ones.
Prices on the pieces they show you have a retail price for the piece as it is made, and a 'blank' price which is for the setting, firing, cutting and polishing if you provide your own stone. We had a great time looking around, and while we didn't do any prospecting we did do a little Christmas shopping while we were there.
Adjoining the gallery is a great candy store where we bought some huckleberry fudge, and then we walked the main street and decided to stop for lunch at a colorful old restaurant called Doe Brothers
!. Inside there are many interesting pieces of memorabilia, and the place is funky but clean. Our waitress was a girl named Emma
The first thing on the menu that caught my attention was clam chowder, and not only did they serve it but they claimed it was 'the best clam chowder you've ever tasted! I said to Emma that Montana is pretty far from clam country, and isn't that claim a little audacious? I mean we're from the coast and we know clam chowder. She perked right up and assured us that while the clams may be canned, the woman who makes it is from Washington, and she's an old clam digger who knows her chowder. She blushingly said, "I have her recipe, and it really is the best in the world."
That did it. We both ordered it, and like the Mexican dinner we got in Juneau, Alaska, we had to admit it was great! I told Emma she should consider a career in sales, because anyone who could convince me to order clam chowder in Montana is pretty good! We topped it off with Moose Moss ice cream for me, and a Huckleberry sundae for Madolyn and got back on the road before we burst.
We headed for Missoula where we stopped at Costco for gas and picked up a few other things we needed. South of Missoula we started seeing a lot of smoke, and we passed several fires and a lot of burned out hills along the way. The country is so rugged that it's hard to fight them, and the tinder dry conditions make it nearly hopeless. They fully expect them to burn on until 'the snow flies' and this is only August!
We decided to push on to the Glacier area, where we hoped to find a campsite at a state campground on Flathead Lake, but when we got there the campground was full so we continued on to Kalispell and camped for two nights at an RV park with WiFi and hookups. And that is where we are writing this now!