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.

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

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Many Glacier Lodge across Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake from Prince of Wales Hotel

Wisdom & Dinner with Farmers in Dell

Dell, Montana – That Is

Wisdom is a small ranching community in southwestern Montana sWisdom Sign for Blogituated in a broad  green valley (at least in June) surrounded by the Bitterroot, Beaverhead and Pioneer Mountains. Big Hole National Battlefield, a segment of Nez Perce National Historical Park, is about 10 miles to the west. Each time we pass through I hope a bit of Wisdom will rub off.

  • Our drive from Spokane, Washington to Idaho Falls, Idaho totaled 530 miles today, mostly under sunny or partly cloudy skies. Rain in the latBitterroots for Bloge afternoon along I-15 in southern Montana and Idaho. We later learned that Idaho Falls had lots of rain, some hail and flooding. Glad we arrived late and after that excitement.
  • Stop in St. Regis, Montana for a late breakfast at the Huckleberry Patch Restaurant in the St. Regis Travel Center. Big Hole National BattlefieldThe huckleberry pancakes were light, fluffy and filled with the sweet/tart berries. Huckleberry fudge and twists were added to the road food collection.
  • The road construction between Hamilton and Lolo, Montana that was such a pain last year is complete. It was smooth sailing from Missoula to Hamilton.
  • The beautiful Bitterroot Valley and Lost Trail Pass entice us to plan to spend more time exploring the region.
  • Wisdom
  • Calf-A Dinner at Yesterday’s Calf-A in Dell, Montana. Each year thousands come to the little red school house for the homemade meals and one-room school atmosphere. We both wanted chicken fried steak. Fortunately I remember the breakfast portions were huge and asked about size. We ordered an extra salad and split a platter sized piece of tender meat accompanied by mashed potatoes and sliced carrots.
  • At last, at rest in the Holiday Inn Express in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

The best laid plans for an interesting return trip to Denver have been scrubbed. We’re on a direct route so that I can fly to Florida for daughter duty.

All Things Huckleberry

Huckleberry oatmeal, huckleberry milkshake, huckleberry BBQ chicken – the menu highlights all things Huckleberry at the Huckleberry (What else?) Patch Huckleberry LemonadeRestaurant in the St. Regis Travel Center. A family tradition has been established; we have to stop at exit 33 when traveling on I90 between Missoula, Montana and Spokane, Washington. At the very least we need a huckleberry lemonade to go.

Our recent visit was well timed for a lunch break starting with a tall glass of the special lemonade. The chilly, rainy day called for hot soup, a rich beef, mushroom, barley. We chose to split a buffalo cheeseburger in an effort to save room for dessert – a crock bubbling over with warm huckleberry rhubarb crisp topped with scoops of vanilla ice cream. YUM! Not a bite was left.

Huckelberry Patch Dessert The menu tells us, “Sweet, tart wild huckleberries grow only in moist mountain areas and cannot be commercially grown. Wild berries are not sprayed with chemicals or fertilizers.” Regional residents tell me natives are very secretive about huckleberry patch locations; they tend to be as territorial as the local bears. Residents, visitors and bears consider the berries a delicacy.

At the Huckleberry Patch, breakfast choices (served all day) include huckleberry flapjacks and huckleberry cream cheese french toast topped with huckleberry syrup, of course. Opt for a huckleberry muffin or bowl of huckleberry oatmeal accompanied by hot huckleberry tea or a huckleberry latte.

At lunch one can enjoy a crisp garden salad with huckleberry vinaigrette dressing and a huckleberry BBQ burger. Dessert selections include pie, ice cream, sundaes, cheesecake, rhubarb and apple crisp – all with huckleberries.

Huckleberry Patch Merchandise If you need something huckleberry for the road Dolly V’s in the gift shop makes homemade huckleberry fudge. One can also purchase huckleberry oatmeal, muffin, cookie and flapjack mixes. Huckleberry candies come in the form of Jelly Bellies, cordials, twists and taffy. For liquid refreshment take along a case of Jackson Hole High Mountain Huckleberry soda.

Looking for gift items? There’s huckleberry lotion, lip balm, bath tea and body spray, probably guaranteed to attract members of the bear family. The extensive gift shop offers a wide selection, especially of Montana souvenirs. How about a Huckleberry Patch mug?

The travel center also houses a convenience store, gas station and Montana-style casino. Make a stop in St. Regis for a huckleberry good time.

St. Regis Travel Center - Huckleberry Patch Restaurant, Montana
St. Regis Travel Center – Huckleberry Patch Restaurant, Montana

Helena, Montana – Spokane, Washington

  • Wet and cold – morning in Helena  was chilly and rainy, Bob said he observed occasional snowflakes in the air. Wanting to deny the possibility I called them white raindrops. Climbing MacDonald Pass those white drops accumulated on the windshield but fortunately not on the highway. The rest of the way across Montana and most of the Idaho panhandle we saw rain from light mist to Huckleberry Patch Merchandiseheavy downpours. West of Coeur ‘d Alene we finally began to see patches of blue sky - the first in a couple of days.
  • The Huckleberry Patch in the St. Regis Travel Center at I90 – exit 33 – has become a family tradition. It’s a must stop for Yackels. Everything huckleberry one can image is on the menu and gift shelves. Watch for a posting on the Huckleberry Patch soon.
  • Smiles and hugs greeted our safe arrival in Spokane.

We’ve Had Better Days

Yellowstone National Park to Helena, Montana

  • Bad night – Bob’s not feeling well.
  • Day is cloudy - the sky’s the same color as the steam and sprayfrom the geysers and fumaroles, forecast includes rain.
  • Breakfast at Old Faithful Inn Dining Room.
  • Nancy snaps a few pictures, watches Old Faithful one more time and goes to the temporary visitors center – the new one is taking shape.
  • Grazing BisonWe see a couple of bison grazing very close to the road, also a larger bison herds in meadows plus elk, a pair of nesting bald eagles and a muskrat swimming down the river.
  • Before leaving the park we stop at the Junior Ranger Cabin near Madison Junction.
  • Route US191 from West Yellowstone to Belgrade, goes through the extreme western portion of the park, then follows the Gallatine River for miles and miles.
  • Route US287 from west of Three Forks to Helena - broad valley with mountains in all directions, lots of wheat fields irrigated from the wide Missouri (River).
  • Wingate Hotel, Helena – this is a good facility and good value.
  • No prime rib at Silver Star Steak Company tonight, no Great Northern Carousel ride, no fun!

Wrapping Up 2008

  • passkeyBest Pork Sandwich – Pass Key’s, Pueblo, Colorado — This is a must stop whenever we’re driving through Pueblo and they’re open. Anyone who grew up near Pueblo or spent time there salivates when you mention the Pass Key Special. It’s an Italian sausage patty and cheese sandwich hot off the grill served with peperoncini and fries. The handful of shredded lettuce may be the only healthy aspect but once in a while we have to indulge.

  • dougBest Piano Bar Entertainer – Doug Montgomery at Vanessie’s in Santa Fe, New Mexico — I and every woman I know who has ever seen Doug perform loves this guy. Fingers that caress the keyboard, charm and carisma all wrapped up in one cute package. His repretoire seems unlimited. After nineteen years at Vanessie’s Doug has a loyal following of Santa Fe locals and tourists.

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  • Wrapping Up 2008

    Everyone seems to be making lists this week. I’ve looked back over this year’s travel experiences and put together highlights and favorites. We didn’t travel as much as usual in 2008 but many fine memories were made along the way.

    • elk-mountain-inn3Best Historic Inn - Elk Mountain Hotel in Elk Mountain, Wyoming — A superbly restored 1905 historic hotel combining the elegance of a by-gone era with the comforts and amenities of the 21st century. Three miles from Interstate 80 but a world away, surrounded by ranchland, this was the best escape we could have imagined. A graduate of  l’Ecole de Cordon Bleu in Paris, Owner/Chef Susan Prescott-Havers, presents an incredible fine dining experience. Susan and husband Arthur are congenial hosts with fascinating backgrounds. An amazing retreat we plan to repeat.

    • water-street-inn2Dream Room – Water Street Inn, Santa Fe, New Mexico – Room 4—We’ve slept around at this Inn for years, staying in many different rooms. This year we found the one I’ll want on every future visit. All the best features we’ve come to expect at our favorite Santa Fe lodging  plus spacious room, kiva fireplace, king four-poster bed, sleeping banco, and chaise lounge create my idea of perfection.

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