Category Archives: Montana

Carousel – Shelby, Montana

I love the story of how this antique carousel ended up in a northern Montana community of 3,000. Thanks goes to a 87-year-old retired farmer who is obviously a man of vision and talent, Harry Benjamin.

The carousel was a traveling ride for fairs and carnivals when it broke down in 2016. Benjamin was recruited to make repairs. An idea germinated in his head, why not install a permanent carousel for the children (of all ages) of Shelby and travelers. After checking out carousels around the country he learned that the one he had repaired was for sale in Reno, Nevada.

Benjamin purchased the 1936 Allen Herschell creation with his own money and brought it to Shelby. The community, including inmates at a nearby private prison, joined the renovation effort, repainting the carousel animals, constructing a building and raising funds for maintenance. A rest area was established in front of the carousel facility.

One horse stands out in red, white and blue with a bald eagle in flight decorating the saddle. It is dedicated to the Wounded Warrior Project. “No Riders” is requested out of respect.

For travelers headed to or from Glacier National Park on US2 and those traveling to or from Canada on I-15 this makes a perfect stop to get out of the car, stretch the legs, have a snack or picnic lunch at the rest area, ride the carousel and enjoy an ice cream cone.

The ice cream is Wilcoxson’s, a Montana treasure for over a century. It is made in Livingston, MT using fresh local ingredients. We savored scoops of huckleberry and Caramel Sea Salt Truffle during our visit – very, very yummy.

When You Go: Carousel Rest Area of Shelby is located at 441 11th Avenue N, behind the Pizza Hut on US2. From I-15 use exit 363 and head east a few blocks. Check http://www.shelbycarousel.com for hours or call 406-424-8444.

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Greeter – Lewis & Clark National Interpretive Center

As we approach the entrance to the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls, Montana a massive black Newfoundland dog stands and lumbers in our direction, drooling and tail wagging. A volunteer introduces Buddy, the 200-pound official greeter for the center.

We’re reminded that Seaman, a black Newfoundland belonging to Merriwether Lewis accompanied the Corps of Discovery expedition. Seaman was the only animal to complete the entire trip. Along a trail behind the Interpretive Center a bronze sculpture commemorates the dog’s feat.

Eight-year-old Buddy docilely stands in place allowing adoring children and adults to bury their hands deep in his silky coat to pet or scratch. As the visitors move on Buddy flops down to await the next arriving guests.

Waterton Lake National Park – Alberta, Canada

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.

 

 

 

Glacier National Park – Montana


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

Huckleberry Patch – Hungry Horse, Montana

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 that they should not be called blueberries. We are told they can not be cultivated, 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 Chocolates

Don’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.

Garnet, Montana

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.

Missoula, Montana – September 14, 2014

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