Posted in Blogging from A toZ April Challenge, Blogging From A-Z 2015, Challenges and Contests, Just for Fun!, Life Writing

A Quiet Quarry: #atozchallenge, Day 20

Have you ever been someplace where the sounds of man fade away, and all that remains is nature?

During the years we worked and lived in Yellowstone National Park, we often talked about going to visit some of the caves in the more easterly part of Montana. The problem was that we tended to keep our travel more local – day hikes and Grand Loop travels in the park, and trips to nearby (relatively speaking, in Big Sky Country terms, where we lived 80 miles from Bozeman, the nearest city of significant size) – like Jackson Hole and Cody, Wyoming, or the Grizzly Discovery Center in West Yellowstone

And when our season ended, and we were off for several weeks – the caves were already closed for the season, as well.

Finally, we decided to use a long weekend to our advantage. The Lewis and Clark Caverns were on the way to Missoula, where I wanted to see the handmade carousel. So we packed up old Gus and the young Bunko-dog, planning to find a place along the way to camp.

An intriguing hole in a rocky wall…the quarry near Lewis and Clark Caverns, eastern Montana, c. 2000. Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.

We were nearing the caverns, late into the afternoon, when we spotted a large cave on the side of an outcropping. It was too late to explore it that day, since it was a good way from the parking area – but we found several fire rings, a sure sign that camping was acceptable, and that’s where we made our beds that night.

In the morning, while my Accomplice and the dog saw to breakfast (the perks of marrying a chef!), I took a notebook and pen and walked out along a trail a ways to write. I was struck by the absence of human sounds – and just sat there for a while, listening to a world that existed as though humans weren’t a part of it. I became intimately aware of how much noise-clutter we seem to add to everything around us with all of our busyness…

Somewhere, I still have the notebook, and the entry, for that morning….

Inside-Out viewpoint…Old Quarry near Lewis and Clark Caverns, Montana, c. 2000. Photo by Shan Jeniah Burton.

I returned, and we explored what turned out to be an abandoned quarry. We had the place all to ourselves; we’d left the Bunko-dog bedded down in the back of the truck. We scrambled and perched on trails that made me more than a bit nervous, as you can probably see by my rather forced. let’s-just-get-this-over-with-okay? expression…

Way past the edge of my comfort zone. Outside the Quiet Quarry, Eastern Montana, c.2000. Photo by James Bedford Burton (My Accomplice).

We did make it to the caverns, that day, and joined a group of other tourists on a guided tour. Then we went on to Missoula, and had fun playing on the carousel, and exploring the exhibits from the woodworking shop where horses were made and repaired.

Stalagmite Skyscrapers in Lewis and Clark Caverns, Montana. Photo by Shan jeniah Burton, c.2000.

But, for me, the part of the trip that stands out the most was a quiet quarry and the sound of silence….

This post is part of the #atozchallenge. For more quiet, querulous, quixotic posts, click the banner.

And now it’s your turn. Do you have a favorite quiet memory? Does silence make you feel like I did, up on that ledge? Have you ever taken a trip where the thing you remember most wasn’t even part of the plan? Leave a quiet (or not so quiet) comment, and tell us about it!



I am myself. I own my life, and live with three other people who own theirs. My intention is to do only those things that bring me joy, and to give myself wholly to those things I do. Writing has been my passion throughout my life, and this will become the home for my writing life...because it brings me great joy!

2 thoughts on “A Quiet Quarry: #atozchallenge, Day 20

  1. Beautiful photos! You’re amazing for posing for that photo! I love that kind of vacation with some quality “quiet time.” I have many good memories of these things. I remember one in particular in Ucluelet, BC, where we stayed in this amazing “cabin” with a balcony which looked out into the rain forest. You could hear the ocean, but not see it. I read the entire Hunger Games series during our stay there, sitting on that deck.

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