Montana


Cruising Waterton Lake

Waterton Glacier International Peace Park

 

Waterton Boat - Full View

 

Tourist season in the village of Waterton Lake, Albert, Canada winds down in mid-September. We’ve hit a pleasant day with sunshine therefore we decide to take the morning cruise on the Historic M.V. International. The 9-mile long lake spans the US/Canadian boarder. The narrated 2-¼-hour trip on Upper Waterton Lake leaves from the townsite, the boat stops at Goat Haunt, Montana for 30 minutes.

 

IMG_0705 - Version 2

 

 Haze from several forest fires in the American west affects our views of the rugged mountains in the backcountry of Waterton Glacier International Peace Park. Ridge after ridge – each becomes fainter.

 

Eagle on Waterton LakeThe crew spots two American Bald Eagles, slows the boat and shuts down the engines. We watch as one of the eagles stands on the stony shore spreading and flapping it’s wings. Our guide informs us that eagles do not have waterproof feathers so if one goes underwater for a fish they must dry their wings before flying again. The second eagle sits high in a pine tree seemingly on lookout.

 

Viewing Deck in the US on Waterton LakeAbout half way down the lake we cross the 49th parallel the boundary between the United States and Canada. Passengers may disembark at Goat Haunt to peruse the open-air visitor center focusing on local wildlife or take the lakeside walk to a viewing platform. Those wishing to hike further into the park must clear US customs – surely one of the most remote of border custom stations. Hikers may return on a later trip this afternoon or the hearty can hike back up the lake to the townsite.

 

With decreased wind and increased sunshine the trip back to Waterton Lakes is uncommonly warm and pleasant, no need for jacket or the shelter of the lower deck. We’ve been on this cruise a couple of times in the summer yet today is the mildest we’ve experienced.

 

Ptince of Wales Hotel

 

The stately Prince of Wales hotel sits above the north end of the lake. Bob hoped to partake of high tea at the hotel but it has closed for the season with the tall lobby windows being boarded up  for winter protection. Last week a snow storm hit the park; we’re incredibly fortunate to have such a lovely September day in the park.

 

 

 


Trail of Cedars

Glacier National Park

 

Bob on Trail od Cedars

 

We love this walk beneath the canopy of old trees along Avalanche Creek on the west side of Glacier National Park. Western red cedar dominate the grove. Black cottonwood with its deeply grooved bark and Western hemlock are also prominent. Many of these trees reach heights of over two hundred feet. The cedars and hemlocks can live to over 1,000 years.

 

Ferns & Logs 0 Trail of Cedars

 

About half of the trail is along a board walk raised about the spongy forest floor covered with decomposing logs, dropped needles and shade tolerant plants. Mosses hang from dying branches. In this moist enclave lichens and moss streak tree trunks. Along the eastern side of the loop trail shaded rocky hills drip with constant water seepage.

 

Reflections - Trail of Cedars

Reflections in Avalanche Creek

Huckleberries and More Huckleberries

Huckleberry Patch - Sign 2

 

Huckleberry Patch Sign

Bob loves seeing that little bear lazing in a huckleberry patch – the logo for a company called the Huckleberry Patch, specializing in that little berry you mustn’t ever call a blueberry.

Huckleberries, designated the state fruit of Idaho, are found in Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The Huckleberry Patch turns them into everything sweet and tasty.

 

We’ve patronized the store in St. Regis, Montana many times when traveling I-90. Today we found ourselves at the company’s motherland in Hungry Horse, Montana located a few miles west of Glacier National Park.

 

Huckleberries are often described as a small blueberry but locals are adamant they should not be called blueberries. We are told they can not be cultivated, that they only grow in the wild. Residents are very territorial about their “secret” patches. In fact this year one Montana man felt someone was intruding into his territory and shots were fired. No one was injured but it gives new perspective to an afternoon of berry picking. The other risk is that bears are quite fond the the small dark purple pearls.

 

Huckleberry Patch - Candy
Huckleberry Patch - Jars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Would you like your huckleberries in the form of syrup, honey, jam, preserves, jelly, vinaigrette, pie filling, barbecue sauce, or daiquiri mix. And, then there are the candies – huckleberry caramels, jelly beans, licorice, taffy, gummy bears, swirls or chocolate covered. Or, how about fudge – huckleberry, huckleberry walnut, or huckleberry chocolate?

 

Huckleberry Patch - Fudge

 

Huckleberry ChocolatesDon’t overlook the huckleberry truffles in milk or dark chocolate. Decadent, but oh, so good. What a great gift they would be for a special someone back home.

 

Skipping right pass the soups, salads and sandwiches we made lunch on a slice of warm huckleberry pie a la mode, the ice cream choice being huckleberry – of course. One can even order an entire pie over the Internet it you need a fix once you’re home.

 

Huckleberry Patch - Pie

When traveling in the Northwest be sure to try huckleberries in some form. Bob was sure today that he was in Huckleberry Heaven – as happy as that little bear in the logo.

Trip to the Past

Garnet, Montana

Garnet, MT Townsite

Finding ourselves with a free afternoon we took the advice of the desk clerk at our Missoula hotel and headed to the hills for a trip into Montana’s past. Prospectors in search of gold first came to the Garnet Range (named for the semi-precious stone found here) in the early 1860s.

 

Garnet, MT StorefrontsThe mining camp named Garnet has gone through several cycles of boom and bust. Many of the original settlers had moved on by 1870. After repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1895 the town once again prospered supporting four stores, four hotels, three livery stables, two barber shops, a union hall, butcher shop, candy shop, doctor’s office, assay office, a school and thirteen saloons. By 1905 only 150 residents remained.

 

Garnet, MT DoorsThe final boom came in the mid 1930s with decline brought on by World War II. The post office closed in 1942. More than two dozen structures remain in Garnet, a few with private ownership but most are owned by the public and managed by the BLM which stabilizes and preserves the buildings.

 

During the summer BLM staff offer guided tours rich with stories of Garnet life through the ages. No staff was on site this September day but informative signs and a free pamphlet filled in with some of the historic tales.

 

We noted the variety of pines, firs and spruce in the forest and heights we don’t see in Colorado. Nearing the end of summer the ground covers and grasses presented a colorful contrast to the deep greens of the trees.

 

Garnet, MT Foliage

Getting There: The best access is from State Highway 200, from I-90 take exit 109, drive east on MT200 for 22 miles to a sign pointing south to Garnet Ghost Town. The 11 mile route passes through an experimental forest and the first three miles are paved with the last eight a wide, level gravel road.

 

 

We were amazed at how smooth this road was, no ruts or ripples, major streets in our town have more potholes. We started to return by the southern route but this road is much rougher, narrower, poorer maintained and marked. After a few miles we decided we were too old and the car too new for such an adventure. After a harrowing turn around we really appreciated the well graded route to highway 200.

A Carousel for Missoula – and, Bob

Bob at Missoula Carousel

When we travel we like to ride historic and/or hand-carved carousels, from New York state to Oregon we’ve visited these artistic creations. It took four years and over 100,000 hours of volunteer effort before the Carousel for Missoula took it’s first spin in 1995, truly a community effort and labor of love.

 

We’ve visited this Missoula treasure at least a half-dozen times when traveling through the area. When Bob made his bucket list for this trip high on that list was the Carousel for Missoula. We took two separate spins this afternoon – around and around at a pretty good clip. Afterwards we learned it is the second fastest carousel  in the United States. Bob’s smile was every bit as large as a three-year-old’s. The price was certainly right – 75 cents for seniors. We agree with their motto, “Where happiness comes full circle.”

 

Next on the carousel checklist is the one in Spokane’s Riverside Park. Check back in a few days.

 

Missoula Carousel Door

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.

Windows 26

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.

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