Our vacation…two nights in Great Falls.

For a group doing “one-night-stands” from Sunday to Wednesday, this is a “vacation” from our vacation.  There’s a laundromat in our hotel and we don’t have to repack in the morning.  We got quarters and gathered on the hotel’s lower level for the fun…always loved the laundromat.

While we were waiting for the machines, we met one of the hotel’s owners, some folks from town here and found a nice wine cellar.

The hotel has only been open for a year.  Beautifully appointed, great service staff and a restaurant right in the building…The Celtic Cowboy, where we will eat tonight (Thursday). Here are some photos of the restored building and our room.


We left Helena Thursday to come to Great Falls after touring the St. Helena’s Cathedral, the capitol building and the mansion district in the morning before our 90 minute drive up US 15 to Great Falls.

The Cathedral is from the early 1900’s and is patterned after one in Cologne, Germany.  Exquisite design makes it a treat to visit and photograph.  Totally empty this morning makes us more reverent.  A huge baptismal font and lots of gilt gates around the altar makes it look a bit like Greek Orthodox/Eastern Rite architecture.  No wonder….St. Helena was the mother of Constantine, who declared his empire Catholic.  We need to talk to someone to fully understand this story.  And, the baptismal font is big enough for a full immersion, Baptist dunking.

The state Capitol building in Helena is a great work of art. The dome, instead of being gilded like many others is made of copper, since MT was the king of copper for many years.  And the art inside is amazing…some by their native son/artist, Charley Russell.  His mural in the House chambers were behind some glass outside of other state official’s offices…should they have asked us to go through a metal detector?

Start with the statue of a famous Irish fighter outside the entry.  And, there’s a whole crazy story about the statue on the top of the dome…for later.

The inside has old treasures throughout…the Charley Russell mural is on of his biggest and he did 4,000 pieces of art and lived in Great Falls, where we are headed for 2 nights.

We wandered the whole building for an hour with no one stopping us.


Then we headed to the mansion district…the houses were built by captains of industry, who were vying to be the “biggest shot” in the new capital city.  Many of the houses are the style and era of our own Wayne, PA.

The drive up from Helena to Great Falls went through some more engaging countryside and across the now-mighty Missouri River.  We have done lots of driving, but in manageable chunks of 150-250 miles and broken up by stops along the way.  Tolerable for sure.

In addition to the river views, we are going across some mountains, seeing some cattle huddled under a field tree and watching the antics of a dog in the back of a trailer, traveling at 80mph.

When we reached our Arvon Hotel, we, of course, needed to find a meal.  The lady at the front desk put us on to “Bert & Ernie’s” only one block away, since we were eating Thursday night at the Celtic Cowboy….a part of the hotel.  After that lunch and before walking a couple of miles to the Charley Russell Museum, we shopped cowboy stuff next door…Hogland’s emporium is enormous.  Butch got some jeans.

Thus to the Museum.  This guy is very prolific and he was a cowboy from the age of 16-24, so he knows the Native Americans really well…lived with them for a while.  And, oddly, they are running a special exhibit of art from Glacier National Park, done by a variety of other Montana artists.

This is handsome Charley, who was self-taught at first and then started hob-knobbing with artists to learn, including some of the Brandywine River artists.

Another local artist here is Bob Scrivener, a sculptor, whose likenesses of Russell and others graces the town and the museum.

So long for now.





Lifelong Philadelphia area Realtor. Now a 13-year citizen of Sanibel, Florida. Married to Nancy for 54 years. Three children (2 in Devon; 1 in Steamboat Springs, CO) and 5 grandkids (1 in college/1 working). We are helping with charities involving poverty, kids and education. Helping to lead Captiva's Chapel by the Sea.


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