Maleficent and the Merry Widow

Maleficent and the Merry Widow

Truly lovely camping

Truly lovely camping

The day before Pony’s birthday (in other words, July 8th), we pulled into the Merry Widow campground and Healthmine, in Basin, Montana.  Basin is pretty much equidistant between Butte and Helena, just off I-15, and small enough where you could miss it if you blinked at the wrong time.  A big selling feature of the Merry Widow campground is the Healthmine.  As I understand it, the mine was originally a source of gold and silver, but those days were played out before the early twentieth century.  Since then, the mine is touted for having curative powers, and as such has become a destination for folks who suffer all manner of maladies.  People come to find relief from arthritis, migraines, and many other complaints.   There is a substantial contingent of evangelical Christians who come to this heathmine, which suggests an element of faith healing.  In this respect, I was somewhat reminded of Lourdes, France, which Pony and I visited a few years back (although, I must say that the Merry Widow Healthmine has not accumulated any of the souvenir shops or other commercial trappings we saw in such abundance at Lourdes).

The campsite has a large, barn-like building that holds the restrooms, shower rooms, and a large Rec Hall.  And as it turned out, there is a potluck dinner held in that Rec Hall every Wednesday evening.  I told the couple who run the camp about my profession, and offered to play a bit for the potluck dinner.  They gladly accepted my offer.

But Wednesday was also Pony’s birthday, so we drove to Helena, where we enjoyed a fine brunch at a place called Steve’s Diner, followed by a visit to Helena’s one and only cinema complex (or so we’re told), where we watched the movie, Maleficent (starring Angelina Jolie).  There were only a handful of folk enjoying the movie with us, and it was a welcome treat.  It’s been months since we’d gone to a movie theater, making the visit that much more enjoyable.

Montana just gets better and better

Montana just gets better and better

With a quick stop for some groceries, we made our way back to camp.  We got back with about half an hour before the scheduled potluck dinner, giving me just enough time to set up my sound system, tune the guitars, and be ready to play.  Pony was suffering from a bit of a migraine, so she elected to have a quiet evening in the RV while I played for a good 90 minutes or more through the dinner.  Mostly, I played some classical guitar and other finger-pickin’ repertoire.  Towards the end, there was a Korean woman who asked if I could accompany her in a rendition of “How Great Thou Art”.  It turned out that the key of G fitted her just fine, and I managed to put something fairly nice behind her singing.  After that, I was asked if I could do something “danceable”, so I played and sang “All of Me”.  Then, for some real novelty, I did my rendition of “The Witch Doctor” (the old Alvin and the Chipmunks song), and wound up the set with “Take Me Home, Country Roads”.  That one got everyone singing along.

It turned out that the Healthmine is owned by a kind, Korean gentleman who lives in Seattle and brings a contingent of folk from the West Coast on a regular basis to partake of the mine’s curative powers.  He was here for the Wednesday potluck, and he ended up buying half a dozen of my CD’s (almost all of which he gave away to his fellow travelers).  Today, when Pony went to pay for our stay here at the camp, the managers had discounted $50 from our bill, in appreciation of the music.

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