11/10/2010 09:47 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Beautiful Butte, Montana

My first thought as we came in for a landing at the Butte, Montana, airport on a gorgeously sunny fall day was...What the heck is that?! What is that giant sculpted hole right next to town that looks like it could spill over and destroy everything in its path? Very soon I would learn the story of that extremely large copper mine--and all the other wonderful highlights of Butte--which is beautiful in an odd sort of way.

The second thing I noticed was a giant white statue of the Virgin Mary looking out over the town from on top of the mountain. She's called our Lady of the Rockies (or, as the locals call her, Your Lady of Our Rockies), and apparently, on foggy night truckers driving through Butte see the lit-up lady high in the sky and think they are having a vision. Butte was getting more and more interesting by the minute.

For the rest of this story and more from Maria Rodale, go to

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