Saturday, April 16, 2011

Trust Everyone (and brand your cattle)

K and I left in a snowstorm, but arrived safely in Fairfield, Montana. It really is the land where the deer and the antelope play. It's spring, and the wild animals were quite active, so we got to see a wide variety of things. We were delighted to find out that my sis, A., had driven over from Missoula to meet us at Mom's. She cooked and cleaned and spoiled us while she was there. It just so happened there was a benefit dinner and auction at the Community Hall for a dear friend and classmate who was injured at work in January. We walked over to that to contribute a little and give the poor guy a hug. This is a farming community with about 638 of the finest people you'd ever want to meet. The benefit was a success to the tune of $17,000. I just had to snap a photo of what the town does for a living!

Fine. Take your pictures if you must, but don't expect us to cooperate.

Spring thaw!

On Sunday we attended our Church meetings in my home ward, the Fairfield Ward. Yes, I am a Fairfieldite and I'm proud of that! People always ask me if I am my sister, A., or they say, "Which one are you?" I sat by my seminary teacher, N., during Relief Society. I'm so thankful for all of these people who taught me the Gospel of Jesus Christ by word and deed when I was in high school. Such good folks! In the afternoon, my mom suggested that we all take a drive, so we loaded up and L. drove us to Gibson Dam/Reservoir out of Augusta. It was a pretty day! We saw sheep who couldn't be bothered with our photography (hence, many butts were photographed) and several deer and elk as well. The water was gorgeous, though frozen. It was a nice ride and so fun to hang out with Mom and L. I couldn't convince family members to let me take their pictures, so I don't have any faces to go with the names.

Um, we forgot to bring our camera on our walk around the buffalo jump, but here's a picture of the prairie dog town on top of the jump and another picture of a nearby butte called Square Butte. The butte is not the buffalo jump.

On Monday, we ventured out to the First People's Buffalo Jump near Ulm. It is a state park. It is the largest buffalo jump in North America. Not the highest, but the largest. We received an introduction from Don Fish, the ranger who happens to be a Blackfeet Indian. We learned about Dog Days. We toured the displays in the visitor center and then decided to walk on some of the trails. We were the only visitors there, so we went to our vehicle to drop off our purchases and get our camera for the hike. Someone else drove in and parked their car, but we didn't take much notice. Next thing we knew, this guy was calling out, "Is that Ken? Hi, Ken! Hi, Jody!" They say it's a small world, but really, who were we going to meet at a buffalo jump in Montana on a Monday morning in April? It was Ranger Jake McCoy, a ranger we had both worked with at Timpanogos Cave a few years ago! He is now a permanent Montana State Park Ranger. We had heard he worked in New Mexico and California and Nevada...but this was incredible!

We started off our day at the C. M. Russell Museum in Great Falls. We Montanans just call him Charlie. Charlie Russell captured Montana cowboy and Indian life through his paintings in the 1800's. We viewed his artwork and visited his studio. The Russell Home was there also, but closed. I told K that after seeing John Muir's Scribble Room and Charlie Russell's Art Studio, I would be needing my own room one day. I think I'll shoot for a library, but I guess I may have to become famous or something first. Tuesday was less windy than Monday, and so MANY of the local farmers decided to burn their stubble. We couldn't count all the fires! And let me just mention Mom's and L.'s hospitality. We were fed great meals including T-bone steaks! We are still stuffed!

The mare's name is Leola.

We left Great Falls and met my sis, S., and her husband, L., at the State Historical Museum. We enjoyed the exhibits of Montana history, especially with L.'s commentary. He's a multi-generation native Montanan with ancestors that rode in the calvary, mined, and raised cattle. And he totally looks the part decked out in his everyday duds: crisp jeans, belt and buckle, boots, cowboy shirt, vest, bullrag, and a $550 special-order cowboy hat from Bozeman. I said, "L.!!! You cost more than a prom date!" They took us to lunch at Steve's Cafe and then we all met back at the ranch in Boulder. K and I got re-acquainted with the dogs and cats and walked around outside with the kids to view the goats, peacocks, horses, etc. They also took us to Basin for dinner at the Silver Saddle. We ate Mexican food, but K thought he had died and gone to Heaven when he tasted their butterscotch chocolate pie.

Lime kilns in the mining district.

We hung out with Dad and then took off for town since he was preparing for a trip. We went back to the State Historical Museum to view a couple of additional exhibits we had missed the day before as well as to spend money in the museum's gift shop. We drove around Helena and up Grizzly Gulch near Last Chance to view some lime kilns. We walked around the historic district and resisted purchasing any sweets at the Parrot. We met Dad and P. as well as B. and F. at Taco del Sol for dinner. F. is an exchange student from Germany who thinks peanut butter and Mountain Dew are "amazing." Later, P. beat us all in Phase 10.

We had a slow, lazy morning at Dad's with his dog, Oliver. Dad was upstairs in his office when I emerged from the basement. Oliver stared at me, let me pet him, and then ran upstairs to inform Dad that there was a strange woman in the livingroom. He came back down to interact with me, ran upstairs again to repeat the same urgent message, and then came back down again. Finally, Dad came down to let Oliver know that everything was fine with the strange woman in the house. When we reached Idaho Falls, we contacted S., a former roommate of J. She did not hesitate to drive many miles on short notice from Sugar City to meet us at Frontier Pies. So good to catch up with her for a few minutes! This was after our short walk along the Snake River.

North Crater. I was loving the stark contrast between pure white snow and black lava patches--all against blue sky and white fluffy clouds.

Pahoehoe is the rope-like lava and a'a is the chunky, jagged stuff. But of course, I already knew this. Not because I've lived in Hawai'i...but thanks to Bill Nye the Science Guy. Thanks, Science Guy, you're the best!

This is Ranger Margaret. She and K were classmates in college. Nice to meet you, Margaret!

We had a marvelous time at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho on our way home from Montana. We got out and walked one of the trails (J only "postholed" through the deep snow on the trail twice, comical!). Because of the snow other trails were closed and the road was only open for a half mile, however, they said we could walk the road past the gate, so we did, for quite some distance. Had the place to ourselves. It was a bluebird day!


  1. Jo,
    It was so fun to see your pictures and here the news from out west. I can't believe how big the kids are getting! I think it's neat you guys ran into rangers you know. Also, the big horn sheep were very cool.

  2. Everyone asked about you! The Ranger Family makes the world smaller. It was all a very good time.

  3. Love seeing the pics to go with your trip. The Craters of the Moon look cool with all the snow.

  4. I told K about six times that day, "Thanks for bringing me here in the SNOW!" He says we should go back in June or something, but I don't know if I could handle it hot. He says you get a break by climbing down into the lava caves to cool off.

  5. Did that car in your very first picture...has it run over the toy car?