If we had heard the stories of Butte before going there, maybe we wouldn't have gone at all. And we would have missed out on a lot.
What did we hear?
That it was a town of prostitutes and crack addicts.
That does explain the few "Don't Do Drugs" murals I saw, but I thought nothing of it at the time. I didn't know the rumours yet.
That's not surprising, I guess. It has a past steeped in alcohol and brothels. About 30 years ago their main industry (copper mining) was in decline and it almost became a ghost town, leaving a city of unemployed blue-collar workers. Now, I believe unemployment is still high and the main industry is still copper mining. It's also a university town.
Now why would we bring our kids to camp in a city of prostitutes and crack addicts?
Because we've seen no sign of that. The people have been nothing but great. Two examples:
We were walking around looking lost and admiring the buildings, when a car pulled up and asked us what we were looking for. At the time we were thinking about food (that often the case), and she pointed out some good restaurants we might want to try.
I asked Yvon to go drive down a ledge on the road in order to see some
great buildings on the hill (onto a one-way, wrong-way road too!) and we scraped the bottom of the van fairly badly. I made him do almost the same thing on our 2nd date and he had to have the gas tank replaced. Does he never learn?
We were dripping oil or gas from the bottom of the van and had to stop. A kid in the gas station loaned me his cell phone to call a few places, hoping they'd be open late on a Friday night. He then offered to drive us all anywhere we needed to go if we couldn't get it fixed that night.
Someone else overhead our problem, and we came out of the shop to find him on his back under our van. He correctly diagnosed our problem, called a shop for parts, gave us directions and offered to fix it for us after his shift was over. We bought the parts and the guy at the till offered to fix it right then and there. We must have looked pathetically useless.
I don't know when that's ever happened to me in Edmonton, and I love Edmonton. I love the people of Butte, crack addicts notwithstanding. I never met those guys and I'll continue to visit Butte.