Big Sky Country!

Howdy from Montana!

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I’ve been going non-stop since I drove across the border from Idaho last Wednesday.  The first thing I noticed (in comparison to Idaho) was that the road signs changed from “Game Crossing” to “Wildlife Crossing.”  But before you think Montanans are all touchy-feely, think again.  There are a lot more taxidermy businesses here and I also saw a shop in Darby for skull bleaching.  Didn’t realize that was a separate skill set…  Anyway, the other interesting thing about driving in Montana is you will occasionally see wind socks on bridges.  Yep – that is how windy it gets.

I spent a couple of days in Missoula – parked the MoHo in a cute neighborhood and since no one hassled me the first night, I ended up parking there again a second night.  I visited Garnet Ghost Town – not scary ghosts, just an old mining town that is still well preserved. These buildings were built in 1898 – only 18 years before my house in Oakland was built.  How crazy is that???

I saw the Psychedelic Furs and The Church at The Wilma on Thursday night and it was a total blast – a real throw-back to the 80’s.  I can guarantee the guys in the bands had no idea where they were…  they may have known they were in Montana but since they never said “Thank you, Missoula!” – I’m guessing they were at a loss.  Didn’t matter – they were both great.

After leaving Missoula, I stopped at the National Bison Range.  There were a couple of mini-hikes that I got to do (one with Juno and one without) but the best part was seeing all the bison.

Juno was very interested in the bison – especially when the family was crossing the road in front of us! The father of the family is in the lower right-hand picture.  He was bleating or mooing or barking (whatever you call it) which was cool to hear.

We then made our way up to Glacier National Park and finally finally finally I got a chance to do some hiking and take pictures of something that wasn’t snow and fog.

This first group of pictures was taken on my hike up Avalanche Creek to Avalanche Lake.  It was a beautiful 4 mile R/T hike and I enjoyed every step.  The rainbow in the falls on the way back down was an added bonus (too bad it wasn’t a double rainbow)

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do a hike at Logan’s pass since the parking lot was completely jammed and wouldn’t let any more cars in.  The good news is there were plenty of turnouts along the Going to the Sun road where you could pull out and do mini hikes, take pictures, etc.

The pictures really don’t do it justice.  It’s so big and there’s so much to see.  I do hope I’ll have the chance to go back. The last picture (below) was taken near the St Mary’s gate.  Everyone had come to a halt and was looking up at a meadow.  When I finally got up to the traffic jam, I found out what the hold-up was – a bear!!!  Yes, that tiny brown spot on the left side of the field is a bear.  I swear! National Park Scoreboard: 3-1

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So I’m just about caught up now.  The drive from Glacier to Helena took nearly 3 hours and was filled with rolling hills, fields, cows, and insane wind.  I now understand why Montana is known as Big Sky Country.

Once Juno and I arrived in Helena, we took a train tour around town and I parked on a nice residential street last night. We’ve spent a good chunk of today enjoying the grass, trees and shade at the state capitol building.  The people here are beyond nice (basically the polar opposite of what I experienced in Ketchum) and I’m just happy to have an afternoon relaxing in this charming city.

It’s nearly 2pm and I think it’s time to get my daily allotment of ice cream.  Heading to Bozeman tomorrow and will share more adventures soon.

State count: 5

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