Montana


Windows and Reflections of Bannack

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While visiting Montana’s Bannack State Park I started noticing the characteristics of windows in the deserted 19th-century buildings. They varied from artistic to simplistic. Some of the panes were the original wavy glass while others were 21st-century replacements.

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Whether peeking into a cabin at a potpourri of tools and paraphernalia deserted decades ago or gazing out while seated at an aged treadle sewing machine the windows seemed to frame Bannack’s past and present.

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Then I became intrigued with how the windows reflected the scenes before them – swaying tree branches, the crowd gathered in front of Hotel Meade or the upstanding Masonic Lodge / Schoolhouse.

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Observing and photographing the windows of Bannack added depth and perspective to out visit to Montana’s past.

When You Go:  Bannack State Park is located 26 miles southwest of Dillon, Montana. From I-15 exit #59 head west on Highway 278 for 20 miles. Turn south on the paved Bannack Road, follow for four miles. Turn left onto the graveled park entrance road. Well placed signs point the way.

Bannack Days

Return to the Old West

 

Morning Coffee The click of spurs on boardwalk accompanies two men down the deserted street, enameled tin cups filled with their morning coffee. Shaded by an old tree in the front yard of Montana’s first governor’s mansion, a spinner adjusts the tension of lanolin rich wool as she draws it into fine strands of yarn. Resting against the front of the combined post office/barbershop the barber and a friend shoot the breeze before the first shave and haircut of the day.

For one weekend each July Bannack, Montana comes to life recalling the 19th-century boom days of gold, growth and government. Frontier live is recreated by hundreds of volunteers for two days theLady with Wool third weekend of July. The wooden boardwalks once again are filled with people, many in period clothing. Bannack Days celebrates the town’s fabled history.

Demonstrations, hands-on activities, music and entertainment fill Bannack Days plus the opportunity to enter dozens of buildings. Start the day with breakfast at Hotel Meade before panning for gold, touring the mill or taking a horseback ride. Simulated shootouts and stagecoach robberies recall the days of highwaymen and a sheriff who ended up swinging from the gallows. Visitors can even rent costumes and become part of the scene. A horse-drawn wagon and Model A Ford truck shuttles tired tourists from one end of town to the other. Food concessions satisfy the hungry and thirsty. Note from Nancy – the hot donuts were the best!

Quilts Today, with designation as a state park, Bannack is preserved as a genuine ghost town not a tourist attraction. During a regular visit tales of the past and a stiff Montana wind may be your only companions.

When You Go: Bannack Days is always scheduled on the third weekend of July. A modest per person entrance fee is charged for the event. Bannack is located 26 miles southwest of Dillon, Montana. From I-15 exit #59 head west on Highway 278 for 20 miles. Turn south on the paved Bannack Road, follow for four miles. Turn left onto the graveled park entrance road. Well placed signs point the way.

Naughty Moose Munching

The name made we smile, the recommendation was glowing, location and timing were perfect for Friday dinner at the Naughty Moose in Conner, Montana. Located in the Bitterroot Mountains of western Montana, Conner is located 76 miles south of Missoula and 21 miles north of Lost Trail Pass – the Continental Divide crossing between Idaho and Montana.

Our B&B host exalted high praise when suggesting the Naughty Moose. From the exterior the log building appears more bar oriented than cuisine centered. Happily we found that not to be the case. Locally-made log furniture and an array of antlers, horns, skins and mounted trophy heads decorated the two dining rooms.

Naughy Moose Salad A very good margarita eased the day’s road pain as we ordered and awaited our salads and “Naughty” buns. The salads were fresh and attractively presented with spring greens, cherry tomato, mandarin orange slices and dried cranberries topped with shredded carrots and cheddar. The house dressing, Naughty Bun a creamy garlic parmesan proved an excellent choice. “Naughty” buns are lightly glazed cinnamon buns. Since they aren’t excessively sweet they made a tasty accompaniment with the salad.

Main courses arrived hot from the kitchen – the Friday night special, all-you-can beer battered cod, for Bob and the 10oz. cowgirl cut prime for Nancy. A very generous 10 ounces presented au jus. The 16oz. cowboy cut is served on the bone. We both had a generous portion of southern style green beans and doctored up large Idaho baked potatoes. The initial four large pieces of cod more than satisfied Bob’s hunger pangs so he turned down the offer of additional pieces. Almost fork tender, my prime rib was served what I consider a degree below medium doneness as ordered. I didn’t send it back and did find it delicious; however, next time I would probably ask for medium well. I heard a waitress tell another table, “The beef tends to be cooked on the rare side.”

The panfried chicken dinners were extremely tempting, longing to once again savor fried chicken like my Aunt Ellen’s. Because the chicken is panfried the old-fashioned way, orders take at least 45 minutes. We were too hungry and still had too many miles to drive to wait.

Totally satisfied after our entrees we passed on the dessert offerings. Or, to stop in the bar and listen to the live music. A trio, Code of the West, was playing and I believe we would have enjoyed hearing a set. By the time we left the dining rooms were nearly full, many of the tables taken by three generations of families starting their holiday weekend.

Hopefully our return trip through Montana will include another tasty meal  at the Naughty Moose – perhaps the panfried chicken.

When You Go: Naughty Moose, Mile Marker 21, Highway 93 South, Conner, Montana, 406-821-9955.Open Daily 2-9pm, Breakfast Sat. & Sun. 9-noon. Full bar, beer and wine. Prime rib served nightly.

 

Visitor Centers and Information Resources

Glacier National Park

St[1]. Mary VC No matter how much pre-planning I’ve done before a National Park visit once I arrive one of our first stops is usually the nearest visitor center. Whether it’s watching an introductory film, learning from interpretive displays, getting answers to specific questions or purchasing a hiking guide or detailed map an official visitor center provides the orientation and background for a successful park experience.

Three centers provide information and visitor services in Glacier. St. Mary Visitor Center welcome those entering the park from the east, Apgar Visitor Center serves those arriving through West Glacier and Logan  Pass Visitor Center stands atop the Continental Divide on Going-to-the-Sun Road. The parking lot for Logan Pass VC often fills to capacity mid-day in the summer. To ensure access plan to arrive early morning or late afternoon.

Logan Pass VC

Logan Pass Parking Lot

During our most recent visit to Glacier we found the rangers and information desk staff especially friendly and helpful. They were eager to share the latest trail conditions, wildlife sightings and even where to get the best cinnamon roll in Montana.

The Apgar center is extremely busy yet the personnel stayed cheerful and responsive to each individual’s specific questions. I recall the pleasingly plumb lady in front of me inquiring about a hike. She was from Ohio and had a four year old with her, the family clad in sandals. She had already Apgar VC selected a particular trail, insisting that she could walk at a rate of 5 miles per hour. The ranger tried his best to explain that altitude, elevation gain and trail conditions were not the same as circling a track in Ohio. He suggested attractive alternatives but she wasn’t budging from her decision. I only wished I could have applied a tracking collar to see how far she got.

Many Glacier Ranger Station In addition to the visitor centers there are two staffed ranger stations to provide information on specific areas, backcountry permits and book/map sales -Many Glacier, Two Medicine. Both are open from late May to late September, 7am-5pm. Backcountry permits are also available at the Polebridge Ranger Station.

Glacier joins with across-the-border neighbor Waterton Lakes National Park to form the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Parks Canada operates a Waterton Visitor Center.

Take advantage of the visitor centers and ranger stations during your Glacier National Park visit. You too may be directed to an appropriate trail or enjoy a yummy cinnamon roll.

GNP Sign

National Treasure

Glacier National Park at 100

 

The grandeur of Glacier National Park ranks as one of our valued national treasures.The natural wonders of peaks, lakes, forests. flora and fauna in northwestern Montana were set aside as a National Park in 1910. A century later thankful visitors can experience the park in a multitude of activities and awe-inspiring scenery.

Glacier Road Tunnel

In the coming days I’ll share photographs and useful details for planning a Glacier visit:Bear Grass

  • Lodging Overview
  • Glacier Park Lodge
  • Lake McDonald Lodge
  • Many Glacier Hotel
  • Prince of Wales Hotel
  • Going To The Sun Highway
  • Red Bus Tours
  • Boat Tours
  • Activities
  • Ranger Programs
  • Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park

Nearby: Boat on Many Glacier

  • Izaak Walton Inn, Essex
  • Polebridge Merchantile, Polebridge

Red Bus

 

 

 

Water and Moss

 

 

 

Many Glacier Lodge across Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake from Prince of Wales Hotel

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