The American Road Trip • Part II

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Northern Arizona Route 87AOUR WORK DONE, THE 6′ X 12′ U-Haul trailer safely delivered, unloaded, and returned, the American Road Trip continues northward, a streak of joyous abandon.  No timetable, almost.  Pick a road, any road.  The plan?  End up in Montana to visit a dying friend.  A thousand miles of choices.  I decided on less traveled US-89 for scenic beauty and history.  Sometimes called the National Park Highway, U.S. 89 links seven national parks across the Mountain West.

I roll into Gardiner MT in a few days to Pete’s  small ’30s bungalow tucked against Yellowstone.  Found my friend almost blind and eating discount TV dinners but still defiant. No radio or TV, house not cleaned since his stroke 4 years ago. Naturally, I stayed in the extra room.  What’s a little dirt among bachelors?
Residence Peter Burr Folks Gardiner MT 2014
We consume mass quantities, like old times.  A ’40s Victrola and a stack of wax from the ’20s thru ’50s made our reunion a party.  No wimmin, and he was couch-bound, so I danced with the dog between cranking the Victrola or strumming the guitar.  The 1930’s home was rocking to 1930’s music from a period Victrola.  The memory will forever bring a tear to my eye.

Leave two days later over the Bear Tooth Highway at 7am; snow and clouds encountered but the view was tremendous. Tremendous!  Bear Tooth Highway closes for the year on October 15th at the latest. Bet they close early this year.

6 thoughts on “The American Road Trip • Part II

    Scott said:
    June 30, 2017 at 10:57 am

    I know Pete Folks very well. Met him the first time in 1979. I’m sorry to hear of his stroke and failing vision …. seems like he could use some help. Have not spoke with him since 1998 or 1999. He is the type you keep track of or check on every so often. Sure would like to see him again.

      American Toolbox responded:
      June 30, 2017 at 2:15 pm

      Thanks for commenting! I was in Gardiner over Memorial Day Week 2017 and visited Pete twice. Vision failing, yes. I fried up eggs and toast (yes, I fry toasted bread in butter) then made a big pan of chili from scratch. Also drip coffee with hot milk, something he relished after his usual instant granules. Someone needs to fatten him up.

      I was camping in Mammoth, up the hill. Dawn temperatures were 33˚. At Pete’s house, he’d be sitting in front of the stove when I’d arrive, feeding wood into his cast iron Franklin stove.

      There is a picture of the pump house on Dave Holland’s property in the latest Surefire article. Dave was one of Pete’s buddies and was friendly to me as well.

    Scott said:
    June 30, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    Pete and I had some great times. We both worked in Yellowstone. Pete was a plumber with NPS. A good kind man … Pete IS INDEED …. Last time I was at his house, I too did some cooking …. a large rainbow trout hen on his stove top.

    He lived with Cindy and had a Lab pup who got on well with my dog, “Chuck”. I think of him from time to time and hope to see him again someday. Did he ever tell you about the time……hunting yotes in the Hayden Valley?

      American Toolbox responded:
      June 30, 2017 at 5:35 pm

      Not Hayden, but in ’86 when I stayed with him the summer on Soapsuds Row, he’d go into the Beartooth to work. He’d strap a giant revolver to his belt and go work in the wild for a few days. In ’86 the dog was Burr. The Ford F150 which was new in ’86 is still in front of his house.

    scott said:
    June 30, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    The red one? He also had a Shih Tzu dog for a while.
    Is the Blue Goose still there….The 2 Bit Saloon?

      American Toolbox responded:
      June 30, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      Yep, the red Ford with locking front hubs. Pete has a small dog now, not sure of the breed.

      The ‘Goose is there but not the same, with granite bars and such. It’s lost its small-town charm, gone “upscale”. Gordy sold a while ago and moved, I hear. But he is back in town, at one of the hotels.

      The 2-Bit is there also but I hear that owner sold, relaxed for a bit, then got involved with the people subdividing the Nine Mile Valley outside of town into 40 acre plots. Since he knew which plots had clear artesian water bubbling to the surface, he got the two best lots and was raising alfalfa when I visited in the ’90s.

      There is a Gardiner/Mammoth Community Forum on Facebook. Hey, they let me join, so they’ll let anyone join.

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