Friday, August 31, 2007
Kim is at the bottom right of the pic.
A cute bear statue.
Me winning the annual Bigfork bear wrestling championship. OK, it is a statue. That's as close as I'll get to wrestling one of these things.
Cool license plate.
We spent the day shopping in Bigfork, MT and other than our meal, didn’t buy a thing. Bigfork is a nice little town that isn’t trying to be a big town. It is somewhat like Shipshewana with all its shops, yet maintains its dignity and isn’t too commercialized. There are lots of art and artist shops with paintings, sculptures, carvings and some very pretty home decorating shops. Mary Garber would like J. Moore Galleries. It has some really beautiful pieces for home decorating. A $150,000.00 home in northern Indiana brings about 350 – 400 thousand here. The big reason is the climate. Chuck Garber said there are areas in Montana that are great to live in and areas that are just miserable due to the weather. We met a lady today from West Virginia that moved here a year ago and says she likes the mountains and the weather. She said the winters in Bigfork are about the same as West Virginia. This is a surprise to me. I always thought Montana would be a miserable place in the winter but not so. There are some areas here on the west side of the state that are tucked between the mountains that have a nice climate all year. Montana only has one telephone area code (406) for the whole state.
Huckleberries (or ‘hucks’ as the locals call them) are a big thing here. We stopped and got some jam, cider, milkshakes and several other things made from them. They are like blackberries to me. Anyway, they are good. We also have an elk farm half a mile down the road and we sometimes see them out by the road when we pass by. We signed up for a helicopter ride over Glacier national Park and will go when the guy calls and has two others to share the ride and expense with us. I think the tourist season is winding down fast here. The smoke that is present in the mountains from the fires doesn’t help tourism any. The fires are about out but they still put off a lot of smoke.
Pickup trucks sold in Montana must come with one or two big dogs in the back (or front). These people really like their dogs!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
You just don't find signs like this at home.
There are 47 U.S. cities more populated than the state of Montana (just under one million). The speed limits here are intriguing. You can be on a two lane highway with a 70 MPH speed limit. You might go through a town and have to slow only to 55. The people are friendly and common. Most people will look at you and say hello.
Today we went into Glacier National Park from the west. We took our binoculars and stopped at many of the pull-offs and just took some time to scour the mountains. We also stopped to check out a helicopter ride over Glacier national Park. We have tentatively set it up for Friday morning.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Glacier National Park
Beautiful waterfalls at the park
Cows on the open range along the road. This was cool.
Traveling is tiring and at the altitudes we've been at lately, we took today off to veg out and just rest. Kim is reading a book by our good friend, Joe Goeglein and I’m working on the blog between naps. Yesterday was a big day in Glacier National Park. We drove the Miata and saw some very beautiful scenery. Once again, the pictures just don’t do it justice. We hiked on the Sun Rift Gorge and Bearing Falls trails. They were pretty but the water levels are down so the falls are somewhat diminished or not flowing at all.
At the campground we are staying at I spoke with a local man last night and he was talking about how people don’t understand the danger of wild animals. He said one guy wanted to get a picture standing by a wild bison and it was lying down, so he went up to it and grabbed it by the horns and shook it. Not a good move as bison can run 35 MPH and we can only run 15. He said another guy walked up to a grizzly bear with his video camera and tripod. Not smart. Yet another guy told his small child to walk over beside a bull moose so he could get his picture with it.
On the brighter side, he said David Letterman has a home out here in Montana and the locals don’t bother him. He said people just don’t care. To show his appreciation, David hired Willie Nelson to play at their county fair and gave away 3500 free tickets.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
There are lots of fires going on here in the West due to the lack of rain. Chuck and Mary Garber said it sounds like a train coming when the fires come down over the mountain. They said the trees “explode” because of the heat. This sounds scary. I have read that when a fire gets large enough, it takes on its own identity. Things just explode into flames because of the heat. This is called “firestorm”. I think in house fires – something like 1300 degrees causes many things to catch on fire just because of the heat. I think tissue paper is around 300 degrees. People used to think of fires as catastrophic to the forest. Now they are beginning to realize it is a process of nature. In Yellowstone, a naturally caused fire is now allowed to burn out on its own. There are still times when the fire should be put out. Every year there are fires that need to be fought. The “Incident Bases” as they are called are somber to pass by (see picture). There seem to be general incident bases and then the air bases where the helicopters fly out of. We also saw two very large planes scoop up the water on the go to take and apply where needed. I’ve been told that the “tree huggers” (conservationist beyond reason) fight any logging in the mountains and have succeeded in some areas to do so. Consequently when a fire does occur it is fueled by wood that wouldn’t be there if it were logged. Ironic, isn’t it. It seems wasteful to me that rather than log the land and use the timber, they wait for a fire to ultimately waste it. This is new and interesting to us.
There are many irrigation systems here in MT. Without them the grass is brown. It is interesting and very pretty to round a bend of a mountain from brown plants to a lush green valley – always irrigated. The water is regulated and divided by an extensive canal system. It is interesting to see. Mostly the ranchers use the sideroll irrigations (pictured above) due to lower purchasing cost and flexibility. There are many irregular shaped fields because of the mountains and rivers and the farmer simply disconnects unneeded lengths when an obstacle presents itself. There are some center pivots, but not many. Farmers say flood irrigation is a thing of the past.
A couple of demonstrations on how NOT to leave a bull. The Bullfighters (look like clowns) were really gutsy and saved several cowboys from harm. And I think I have a tough time getting health insurance.
Hang on man!
The clown had a lot of witty things to say, such as: “There were two gals with false eyelashes and fingernails, dyed hair and they were talking about how there are no “real men” left. He also commented on a bull rider wearing a helmet. He said it is a “device designed to protect the brain of a man that thinks it’s OK to ride a Brahma bull”. We had a great time and moved to West Glacier today and plan to be here 2 weeks. According to Tammy Moser, my cousin Jim was chased by a bear here while hiking. I guess I’ll have to send Kim down the trails ahead of me.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
The beautiful river in the Sawtooth Mountains. We traveled beside this for a day and a half.
We spent two days traveling from Arco, ID to Hamilton, MT. The mountains were beautiful and pictures just don’t do them justice. Most of the drive we paralleled a beautiful river. I’ve never fished but it looks like a lot of fun and a great hobby. We crossed the 45th parallel which is halfway between the equator and the North Pole. We passed a creek named “Up the Creek Creek”. Here in Hamilton we met with Chuck and Mary Garber. Chuck built our home in Indiana 14 years ago. We went out to eat and had a great time. They have invited us to their home to eat tonight. We will be here three nights and then move on to Glacier National Park. We hope to spend some time there.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
See the dirt on the road? It is blowing like waves of snow.
Billings MT and Idaho seem to allow ATVs on the road. We were at a stoplight in Billings and an ATV pulled up beside us. Our son Ben would love it! Here's a picture of some parked in the town of West Yellowstone. This was very common.
Here's a little electric cart we bought and I don't think I told you about it. It's called a Cricket. It goes 12 MPH, travels 15 miles before needing recharged and charges in 8 hours. We use it in large campgrounds to meet people and also could have driven it around town in some places. It fits in the side door of the trailer nicely.
Kim got upset that I was posting all pictures of her. Here's a shot of me so you know I'm still on the trip with her.
We were above the snow line and the directory said to dress warm as it could snow any month at that at that altitude. We crested the mountains at 10,947 feet. There were lots of motorcycles and the riders were all bundled up. Some even had full faced ski masks with just a small opening to see out. It brought back memories of our traveling by cycle days. We traveled with our front vent windows open to let the fresh air in and so we could hear the water dashing the rocks in the streams. It is amazing how many miles we traveled beside streams that were clear and flowing rapidly. It was good to stop and get out a lot. This trip is so different than our other “vacations” because we aren’t ever in a hurry. We talk to other travelers who are hurrying through their trip to get home and we realize we used to do that. We even stopped at one scenic outlook and took a one hour nap and then I woke up and made a root beer float. Yep, we like the motorhome.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Here are a few more pics of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. These pics are of our hike. We went to a cowboy museum this evening. One of the most interesting and saddest things was how we destroyed the buffalo to defeat the Native Americans. The railroads gave the white men a way to get the pelts back east and from there they could be shipped to Europe.
The American Indians needed the buffalo to sustain life. They used all of the buffalo and nothing was wasted. They only killed what they needed and there were much more buffalo that they could use. Congressman James Throckmorton from Texas stated, “It would be a great step forward in the civilization of the Indians and the preservation of peace on the border if there was not a buffalo in existence.” The destruction of the buffalo had its desired effect. In three years alone, buffalo hunters killed between 4 and 5 million buffalo. Many were killed and not even used for the skin. Native people of the plains were moved to reservations or reserves. In some cases they were forced to move to avoid starvation. Their primary food source, the buffalo was no longer in existence. By 1883, only 300 buffalo in North America and Canada survived the slaughter. One general believed that the buffalo hunters “did more to defeat the Indian nations in a few years than soldiers did in 50.”
Today we went to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The park encompasses 70,477 acres. We saw about 100 bison and a lot of prairie dogs. The prairie dogs have “towns” that are just feet from the road. We stopped and took a lot of time and just watched them. I read one time that people at the zoo spend only 20 seconds looking at each exhibit. This is the first time I had nowhere to go except back to the RV. We really took our time and enjoyed the park. We hiked and had a picnic on a cliff above a river where bison were sunbathing just below us. The badlands are just too beautiful to explain. We bought a national parks yearly pass. It allows us into any national parks in the country.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
Sue and Rob Holland, owners of Holland Harvesting and really, really nice people.
Three combines dumping at once. The elevator was slow so it slowed things a bit in the field too.
Thys and his grain cart.
Supper Time. Sue brings a welcome hot meal in the evening. the workers are very appreciative of the evening meal. They all speak highly of Rob and Sue.
Today is our son Ben’s 24th birthday. I miss him a lot. It brings back memories of being in the delivery room with Kim when he was born. What a wonderful experience! Happy Birthday Ben!
When I left Indiana, I never thought I’d get to spend some time with the guys on the wheat harvest. Yesterday I went out and rode with several of the truckers and Rob in the combine, all with the Holland Harvesting group. I also spent some time at the elevator waiting for a driver to pick me up and take me to the field. It was very enjoyable. Here’s some statistics I picked up from Rob. They hope to harvest 2 million bushels of grain in six months. Their combines have 36 foot platforms that are made in Canada. Some of their other header attachments stay with the farmers in certain areas that need them. The platforms float and have a lot of design and engineering. They also fold to go down the road sideways on a few minutes. Rob’s wife Sue has a degree in agronomy. Their grain carts hold 1100 bushels – more than enough to fill a semi. They have 7 combines, 2 grain carts with tractors, 2 maintenance trucks, several housing trailers and a cook trailer and I don’t even know what else. I’m sure they have several picks and the trailers that hold the tractor and grain cart hooked up. The longest Thys (Tise) from Holland, who runs one of the grain carts said he drove the tractor 185 miles without trailering once. He said it took 9.5 hours. He has a scale on the cart and logs how much is harvested and also can load a truck legally (or illegally) using the scale. I rode with Thys in the grain cart, “Patty” from Ireland and BJ from Australia in semis and Rob in the combine. It takes some concentration to understand Patty, but I love to hear him talk. Patty said Rob has trouble understanding him on the radios. Patty also said that the first time he ever drove on the right side of the road is when he took his CDL license test. Sue said some of the guys who work for them and then go back to their countries where they drive on the left say it is harder to adjust back to left than it was to adjust to right hand driving. When I left for the day, BJ (Australia), I shook his hand and thanked him. He said, “No worries”. It made me thing of Crocodile Dundee. He always said that. It was a truly good day.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Heading out to the fields
One of their two service trucks