Friday, March 2, 2012

Thar She Blows!

Thought for the day:  Just as converts make the best Catholics, so newcomers make the most rabidly possessive Montanans. Everyone who moves to Montana wants to be the last one allowed in.  [Glenn Law]

After reading about Montana and looking at a ton of gorgeous pictures, I certainly understand the sentiments behind that thought for the day. I mean, the Treasure State may have gotten its nickname because of a wealth of gold, silver, and sapphires, but its true treasures lie in all those big wide open spaces and beautiful scenery. Big Sky country, huh? Big mountains, too. Not to mention caverns, rock formations, lakes, dinosaur fossils, and ghost towns. And more species of mammals than any other state in the whole durned country. This big 'ol state has a population of only six people per square mile, and boasts a larger number of elk, deer, and antelope than people. Sound like heaven? Well, they DO have grizzlies, too.

And skijoing. Ever hear of that? (Me, neither.) As you can see in the picture, in this sport, a horse and rider pulls a skier ... and they maneuver through an obstacle course that includes jumps and gates. Pretty cool, huh? (Actually, pretty cold ...) But it sure sounds like fun!

Okay, a few quick tidbits before we look at some pictures. In 1961, Evel Knievel hitchhiked all the way from Butte to Washington, D.C., while carrying a 54" rack of elk antlers. His goal? To draw attention to ... and end ... elk culling  in Yellowstone National Park. This was one of his acts of derring-do that actually paid off. The culling stopped, and he didn't break a single bone. I already mentioned the gold, silver, and sapphires, but how about this? A Montana sapphire is actually included in England's Crown Jewels. And it's the only U.S. gem in the lot. Ever hear of a buffalo jump? Nope, it isn't one of the skijoring obstacles. A buffalo jump was a hunting ploy used by American Indians. Imagine an Indian hunting party chasing some buffalo faster and faster toward a steep cliff. (You see where this is going, don't you?) The buffalo run off the cliff, and voila! Meat for the tribe. Montana's buffalo jump is called Wahkpe Chu'gn, which translates to Too Close For Comfort. There, tourists can imagine what a buffalo hunt was like, while trying their hand at throwing an Indian hunting stickCanadians are a little more descriptive with the name of their buffalo jump. It's called Head-Smashed-In. I kid you not (And it's okay if you laughed.)

Okay, picture time.

In our virtual tours of other states, we've seen a lot of world's largest stuff. The difference with this world's largest steer is it isn't made of concrete or steel. This was an actual living, breathing behemoth. At 3980 pounds, he weighed in at just under two tons, stood five feet, nine inches tall, and stretched a full ten feet, four inches long. Dubbed Steer Montana, this fella, born in 1923,  lived for more than fifteen years, and his taxidermied self is now permanently housed in the O'Fallon Museum in Baker.

Looking at stuffed dead animals not your thing? Maybe you'd prefer this museum. The Charles M. Russell Museum holds the world's largest collection of Russell's painting and bronze sculptures. His work is said to be the art and soul of the West.

Then there's Yellowstone National Park, which straddles the state line between Montana and Wyoming. Would you believe it has  more than 10,000 geothermal features? Of course, Old Faithful is the most famous, and that kick-butt geyser erupts about every minute and a half. By the way, Yellowstone was the first National Park in the country.

Technically, Old Faithful is actually located in Wyoming, but still ...

(Why let a technicality stop us from seeing it?)
Pompei's Pillar

Montana has some neat-looking rock formations. The national monument here is called Pompey's Pillar, and there, you can see ancient Native American petroglyphs, as well as the honest-to-goodness signature of William Clark, of the famed Lewis and Clark expedition. His signature is dated July 25, 1806, and since then, many others have defaced the rock by etching their names into it. (But I didn't think you'd much care that Mary loved Billy in 1890.)

Pictograph Cave

Along Dinosaur Trail, you'll find fifteen museums, in which you can ooh and ah over some of the many fossils found in the area.

Right on schedule! Ninety-one seconds ...

You like ghost towns?
In the picture above is one of the best-preserved ghost towns in the country, located  in Bannack, Montana.                           Care to take a quick tour?

How cool was that? It'd be pretty easy to get lost in the history of that town, wouldn't it? Or do you prefer a ghost town with more visuals, so you can really immerse yourself in the experience? Virginia City, founded in 1863, still has more than 100 structures, containing artifacts and furnishings, but what it also has is people. There are approximately 150 year-round residents in this ghost town, and I'm thinking it'd be a lot of fun to step back in time with them. Check it out:

WOW! Can you just imagine how this must look in person? This is Glenn's Lake, located at Glacier National Park, along Montana's northern border. The park adjoins Canada's Waterton Lakes National Park, and together, they form the world's first International Peace Park. 

 Thar she blows again! (You missed some while you were watching those videos.)

Overview of Little Bighorn Cemetery

The Battle of Little Bighorn took place on June 25, 1876. AKA Custer's Last Stand,


But as the marker above indicates, the actual remains were moved and buried in mass graves near this memorial marker.

And in more recent years, the following sculpture, created by Native American Colleen Cutschall,  was added to the battlefield.

As well as some of THESE markers, to remind us that soldiers aren't the only ones who perished in that battle. The words on this marker provide some good persepective, too.

Have you ever seen a tent as cool as this? You can find them at a unique resort called Paws Up. But don't worry; you wouldn't HAVE to stay in a tent. There's all kinds of accommodations there. Wanta know what's unique about this resort? It caters to you ... and your dog. Located in Greenough, this place has 37,000 acres of playground for you and your favorite pup to roam. People and doggie get-togethers and grooming sessions. Wine-tasting parties. In fact, one of the highlights of the year at this place is an annual Wine & Bitch getaway. 

Story time: In 1936, with his trusty dog Shep by his side, a sick shepherd went to Ft. Benton to see a doctor. After the man died a couple days later, poor ol' Shep watched men load his master's body into a train. His master's remains traveled back east to relatives, but Shep maintained his vigil at the train station, waiting for his master to return. For five and a half years, he greeted every train. Every day. For five and a half years, he watched for his master to step off of one of those trains. Two and a half years into his vigil,  Ripley's Believe it or Not featured Shep's story, and after that, travelers went out of their way to visit Ft. Benton just so they could see this amazing dog waiting at the station to meet their train. When Shep died in 1942, both wire services carried his obituary, and his funeral, attended by hundreds of people, featured an honor guard and pall bearers. The town's mayor even read the poem Eulogy on the Dog in Shep's honor. The faithful dog was buried on the town bluff, looking down on the train depot, and the Great Northern Railroad put up a simple obelisk with a painted wooden cut-out of Shep, which was illuminated at night. Later, the site was renovated, and now a steel figure of the loyal dog stands vigil.

See him up there on the hill? 

In 1994, the town of Ft. Benton unveiled another tribute to Old Shep. A larger than life bronze sculpture shows him with both feet on a train rail. It's entitled Forever Faithful.

Talking about faithful ... (I'll stop now.)

Okay, time to move on to those laws. Let's see what's left on the books in the grand state of Montana.

  • One may not pretend to abuse an animal in the presence of a minor. (None of that sissy pretend stuff. buster!)
  • It's illegal to have a sheep in the cab of your truck without a chaperon. (After all, ewe don't want to risk tainting her reputation.)
  • It's a felony for a woman to open her husband's mail. (So she'd better not get caught!)
  • It's a misdemeanor to show movies that depict felonious crimes. (They must show a lot of Disney flicks.)
  • It's against the law for married women to go fishing alone on Sundays, and for unmarried women to fish alone at all. (I oughta drop a line to the bozo who came up with this one.)
  • Seven or more Indians are considered a raiding or war party, and it's legal to shoot them. (But it'd be much more fun to shoot craps at their casino.)
  • It's against the law to have more than one alarm clock go off at once. 
  • In Billings, it's illegal to raise pet rats. (Oh ... darn?)
  • And bands who play in clubs where alcohol is served may not leave the stage while performing.
  • It's also against the law there to use speed-dial with the city's phone system.
  • In Excelsior Springs, it's illegal to worry squirrels. (Better not tell them about the nut shortage.)
  • And it's also against the law to throw balls within city limits. (No Little League?)
  • In Helena, you mustn't annoy passersby with a revolving water sprinkler. (Oh, but that sounds like so much FUN!)
  • And you can't play folf after dark. (That was a new one one me ... folf is Frisbee golf.)
  • And you also aren't allowed to throw anything across the street. (Can ya throw caution to the wind?)
  • And my favorite one for Helena: A woman can't dance on a saloon table unless her clothing weighs more than 3 pounds, 2 ounces. (Do belts and boots count?)
  • And finally, in Whitehall, it's illegal to operate a vehicle with ice picks attached to the wheels. (How about fly swatters?)

Okeydoke, you ready, boys and girls? It's time for (ta-DA!)

The Weirdest News Stories of the Week

Um, sorry, no it isn't. I've run out of time to do research, and haven't come up with much. It's now Thursday morning, and I'm going in for minor surgery in a couple hours, and will probably  be in  la-la-land for a while  afterwards. (Don't worry. Nothing serious. Just getting my esophagus stretched with a balloon.Yippee.) So, you're getting something a little different this week.

A quickie mention of an unusual artist.

***  Think you could wear shoes that looked like THAT? Germany's Iris Shieferstein designs what she calls taxidermy fashions. (only she probably says it in German.) She uses hooves, various animal parts, and even ...

... whole stuffed birds!

It isn't clear whether she designs these things as some sort of artistic statement, or if she actually expects people to put them on their feet. Not ME! (Can you imagine trying to scrub the kitchen floor with those things on your feet???)


                                     Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.



  1. Looks like a gorgeous part of the US!

  2. Thanks for a delightful and informative post. Best wishes on your surgery too. I've acquired some bionic bits over the years that will shortly need servicing. Will try to sound as brave as you do.

  3. Love Montana. If I could really be comfortable in the Mountains, that's where I'd go. But I still love my ocean too much.

    Hope you're feeling better today.

  4. Once again, you've highlighted a state I'd like to visit. The story of the faithful dog made me a bit teary ... but those shoes are just creepy!

  5. Gorgeous scenery and I really enjoyed the first video of the ghost town. That old hotel was creepy. Poor Shep...I shed tears over him. Now I feel like some rule breaking. Where's my fishing pole and my frisbee?

  6. Awwwww, Shep was so loyal. What a great story. You can always reel me in with a dog. However, chasing the buffalo over the cliff kind of freaks me out and I absolutely refuse to wear dead birds on my feet. I can imagine my dogs jumping at my feet as I walked, easily able to catch the birds . . .


  7. During my fly fishing days I had dreams of moving to Montana. The big sky, the mountains, the open space, all beckoned to me. Then I thought of the long winters, the cold, and especially the solitude and realized that dreams are never the real thing. I was born in the Bronx and all that magnificence of Montana might do me in.

    Hope you are feeling better today. Every now and then we need a little tune-up. I got mine last week and I expect not to have to return for another 10,000 miles.

    Don't overdue anything for awhile and take good care of yourself.

  8. Okay, the Shep story made me blub. How you find all these stories and stuff... amazes me. And much more about Montana than I ever knew!

    Rest, rest, rest and make everyone else do things- like talk- for you.

  9. One of my critique partners live in Montana, and loves it. I can see why, though the winters there are a bit long to suit me. I've heard summers there usually last for a few weeks in July. ;)

  10. My husband's grandparents were from Montana--the first people I'd met who filled their larder by hunting.

    My husband remembers visiting them in August and having a blizzard while they were there. I love snow, but that's a bit much.

  11. Poor old Shep. If only his master had known how faithful he was. Very sad tale.

  12. There was a movie that I saw a few years ago staring Richard Gere called Hachi, a Dogs Tale (I wonder what clever? person came up with that title). Although the movie took place in the US, it is based on a Japanese true story and movie. There also was another movie years ago about a dog who guarded his late master's grave. There is a statue in Scotland to honor this loyal dog named Bobby.

    I cried pools of tears at both of them.

    It is just more proof that dog is man's best friend.

  13. Al- You should know. It looks about as wide open and untamed as I imagine Australia to be. (Only no platypuses, darn it.)

    Geo- Glad you liked it, and thanks for the good wishes. I'm okay. Just a little sore.

    Anne- I know what you mean. If someone asked me if I liked the mountains ... or the ocean ... I'd have to say YES. Both are so beautiful. And thanks, I am feeling better.

    Dianne- Glad to hear it. If I make you laugh, bring you to tears, or make your skin crawl, well that just makes my day!

    Delores- I'll grab my rod and go fishing with you, but I'd better skip the Frisbee. Never did get the hang of catching one of those things, let alone try to catch it at night. Yeah, that Shep story is something else, isn't it?

    Janie- Our cats enjoy jumping on me for sport as it is; God help me if I had those birds on my feet.

    Arleen- Neat that you did fly fishing. (Not in the Bronx, I take it ...) I've done lots of fishing before, but never tried my hand at fly fishing. Am feeling pretty good today, thanks. Let's hope we're both good for at least another 10,000 miles.

    Laura- Sorry to make you blubber, but I have a lot of fun finding those kinds of stories to share. No problem talking, as long as I don't raise my voice or try to sing. Swallowing and coughing kinda suck, but getting better all the time.

    Linda- Yeah, I'm not sure I can handle those long brutal winters, either.

    Connie- Yeah, having snow fall in August would be a little demoralizing. Thanks, but no thanks.

    Cro- Yeah, it is a sad story, but how neat that the town memorialized him, and continues to tell his story today.

  14. Arleen- I never saw either of those movies, but I'm sure they'd make me blubber like a big baby. You're right about dogs being man's best friend. (CAVEAT: My cats just gave me a dirty look, so let me add that CATS are man's best friends, too, when they wanta be.)

  15. Ah, the Great American West, I love it!

  16. Montana always seems like one of those places that would be great to visit but a little less than a great place to live, especially in winter.

  17. Ok, Montana was interesting, but the dog story about turned me into a bawling, blubbering mess. I said about... Musta been some dust in my eyes...

    And congratulations on the post-surgery survival, and welcome to the GRD club! I had the esophageal-stretchie thing done almost ten years ago and have had no problems since -- just take omeprazole every day, and can even still eat the spicy food I love.


  18. Karen- Yeah, me too. In fact, I'm becoming pretty enamored with all the states.

    Mr. C- Gonna let a little snow scare you off? (Yeah, me too.)

    Chris- Yeah, that story made some dust blow into my eyes, too. Thanks, and I'm sooooo glad to hear of your success with that procedure. I was sick to death of food getting stuck in there, and the doc told me this was only a temporary fix ... that it might have to be done again in a matter of months, or as long as two years from now. But ten years? That would be totally awesome! Thanks for the reassurance. I really appreciate it.

    I hope y'all have a super weekend.

  19. omg, those shoes are...horrific. I shudder to think of wearing them. Loved the videos :)

    I now want to visit Montana!

  20. Hi, Marcie. Yeah, I can't imagine anyone wanting to put those things on their feet. (Allegedly, the designer wears them around her house, though.) Glad you liked the videos. Take care, and have a super weekend.

  21. I've been to Montana a few times, and the site of The Little Big Horn is really something to see.

    And I've seen variations on those shoes before. WTH? *shakes head*

  22. Wow. What a fun post. I have to be honest, I didn't read the whole thing. I'm just trying to respond to comments, and since your email doesn't show, I darted over here. Believe me, I'll be back. I skimmed this, and you my new friend, have a sense of humor so close to mine that we'd probably break the comedy meter if we teamed up...
    Thanks for your thoughtful comment on my post at the A-Z.
    Tina @ Life is Good
    Co-Host of the April A to Z Challenge
    Twitter: @AprilA2Z #atozchallenge

  23. Oh wow! Those images are amazing. I've never been to Montana. Would love to now.

  24. L.G.- Wow, you've been to some really amazing places, haven't you? As for those shoes, I wouldn't hoof it half a block to get a pair of 'em for FREE!

    Tina- Thanks for stopping by. I do appreciate it, and will look forward to hearing from you again. We with the weirdo humor gene must stick together.

    Madeleine- Glad you liked 'em. As for visiting Montana someday, me and you both, kiddo. (Let's make it during the summertime, though.)

  25. Hi Susan .. amazing collection - love the skiing idea - good for horses (not sure?!); Loved the Indian sculpture - that's amazing .. and yes the stone does tell the other side doesn't it ..

    Great pics - and I'd love to visit Montana one day!! Cheers Hilary

  26. Hilary- Thanks so much for taking the time to catch up on some of my earlier posts. I really do appreciate it. Glad you enjoyed it, and cheers back atcha!