Friday July 26: A quiet morning walk is a good way for me to start the day, taking photos while everything is quiet and in readiness for the beginning of the Hardtimes Bluegrass Festival here in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana. Here and there, other early-birds are walking their dogs or already getting together to jam.
During the day, more and more RV’s arrive… everything from people camping in tents, cars, and vans, to motor homes and travel trailers of all sizes and ages. The smaller rigs go up the mountain to find the best level spots that they can, while the parking area where we are fills up with bigger rigs.
In the early evening, Clifford and I take our folding chairs to the stage area and join my brother Rollie to listen to the bands that will be playing tonight. Over the course of the weekend, there will be many good bands onstage, from local groups to those coming across the country to play here. It is all enjoyable. A big bag of kettlecorn tops off the fun. At sunset, I walk out to the field where great color over the Bitterroot Mountains casts a glow on the field below where day visitors are parked.
Saturday July 27: I have a very restless night because of some unexplained beeping. I get up, but I can’t tell if it is us or one of the RV’s next to us, since we are packed in like sardines. I finally get up and go for a pre-sunrise walk.
The onstage bands start earlier today. My sister Nancy comes to join us for the day. Rollie and his little dog Ninja are already set up when Clifford, Nancy, and I join him. It is hot in the sunshine, but breaks for water and snacks and more popcorn, as well as listening to the bands, make the day quite enjoyable.
In the afternoon, we join Rollie at his motor home as a member of his little impromptu band brings pie and ice cream. What a treat! The evening bands are especially good and it is late by time Nancy leaves and the rest of us back go back to our campers. Jamming continues into the wee hours.
Sunday July 28: I am up early enough to catch sunrise over the Sapphire mountains to the east, squeezing through a gap in the straw bales at the end of the row.
Gospel music starts the day, followed by a raffle and several onstage bands before the event winds down. Clifford, Rollie, and I help with tear down before enjoying a treat of root beer floats with a couple of Rollie’s bluegrass friends. By evening, almost everyone has left and the place is but a ghost of what it was. There are only a handful of us who will linger, staying overnight and leaving in the morning.