A local day trip can be filled with adventure

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 13, 2007

It&8217;s time to really explore Shelby County.

The first stop &045;&045; Lonesome Dove, a Wild West town off Highway 119. You&8217;ll need to call 991-6098 and make a reservation.

Once there, you&8217;ll discover an authentic-looking old Wild West town with a church, saloon, general store, leather shop, Marshall&8217;s office, bunkhouse and grist mill.

Bill Holcombe and his constant Beagle companion, Buddy, will greet you. This 71-year-old is an energetic and enthusiastic cowboy. He will lead you from one building to another as he explains why cowboys almost always walked with their spurs rolling along the floor.

&8220;That was to let the girls know they were young and available,&8221; Holcombe explains.

Every building is filled with memorabilia of the old West; the church pews, the bell, the booze bottles (all empty), lining the saloon bar and costumes to model are all replicas.

There is no charge for anything at Lonesome Dove &045;&045; even the popcorn is free. Satisfaction comes to Cowboy Bill with the smiling faces.

His Inspiration came from 1940s western movies he watched as a child. He wanted to grow up to be a cowboy. &8220;I want Lonesome Dove to remind older people of their childhood and to give younger folks a real taste of the old West.&8221;

You wouldn&8217;t be surprised to see Roy Rogers or Gene Autrey strolling along the street.

The second stop on our one-day trip is Old Towne Helena. Your group will be ready for lunch by now. You&8217;ll find that Big Mountain Coffee Company has, in addition to great coffee, wonderful sandwiches, salads and homemade brownies, while The Depot grills a fine hamburger. Spend the afternoon exploring and shopping in the neat specialty shops. You&8217;ll find treasures in The Gazebo, Eve&8217;s Books, Moshe&8217;s Art Gallery, Bead Biz, Kent&8217;s Framing Shop and others. Before you leave, drive around to appreciate Helena&8217;s historic downtown.

Now, if you&8217;re not already exhausted and it&8217;s a Friday night, you might want to stay for Sundown Cinemas, free outdoor movies in the Old Towne Amphitheatre. It begins at 8 p.m. and always features a family-type movie.

Catherine Legg can be reached at mailto:clegg2@bellsouth.net