Montana – Part 4 – Thompson Falls

The last few days of our trip were spent in Western Montana. One of my dear friends from my days at Northern Youth Programs, Lisa, and her family live in another beautiful part of Montana. The live in a valley between two ridges. As we approached their area, we began noticing more and more dear. It was dusk Sunday evening when we arrived and the dear were everywhere!!

Backing up a bit …

Leaving the Fairfield area, we enjoyed the views of the light covering of snow that was quickly melting.

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Heading southwest we went through an area where houses are few and far between. Lois mentioned that she feels like she might be on the moon. I totally agreed.

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The closer we got to the Roger’s Pass at Continental Divide, the patchier the snow was.

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Until we started climbing to Roger’s Pass, the snow was thick and wet!

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There was pretty much a beauty overload the whole trip!

Check out the overpass below. It is for wildlife to cross the road.

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We could see a little smoke hanging in the air to the west.

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Our only full day in Thompson Falls area, Lisa took us around to see the local area, something both Lois and I love doing!

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There was a lot of vibrant colors in the towns!!

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It was quite amazing to us to see all of the wildlife just wandering around town. How would you like to eat a picnic lunch at the park, surrounded by these?

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Lisa had to drop something off for a friend, and there was a buck in a yard down the street.

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We took a walk on over the area where the hydro dam. We noticed several Bald Eagles flying nearby.

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I noticed an eagle dipping down toward the water and it was one of those moments that I was glad had my camera ready!! You can see the fish toward the bottom left of the photo. I didn’t notice it until I was editing the photos.

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He flew off to enjoy his spoils and soon there was a group of crows around him, offering him help with eating it.

Lisa’s friend, Sadie, invited us over for supper and apple cider making … brewing … pressing. Yeah, that’s it, pressing. I guess that’s how you say it. Either way, we made apple cider after supper. It was an interesting and delicious experience!

The setting of their place is amazing!! This view is from their back porch.

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And they, also, have deer wondering around the place.

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Sadie tried to get the buck to come closer but the extra people around made him a little skittish.

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The cider was SO good!! Here’s a photo of the biggest and smallest apple I could find from the boxes we were processing. This was an off year for Lisa’s trees.

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I wish I could’ve been out during a time when the Milky Way was at the best viewing location. I think this happens in the spring/early summer for the US. This is only a fraction of the Milky Way. The lack of light pollution in the west makes it a great spot to see a maximum number of stars.

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On our way out the next day, I finally saw some bighorn sheep grazing near the road.

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The ladies took us to one more hot springs in Paradise, MT. You can find out more info here: Quinn’s Hot Springs. This has a total of 5 outdoor pools, most of them only a few degrees apart, except for the one pore-closing, hair-standing-on-end one that gripped it’s icy fingers around your ankles (me) or your neck (my cousin Anne who shrieked her way through a dip every once-in-a-while).

(Photo from Visit Montana.com)

 

We flew out of Missoula, relaxed, rested up, and ready to get back home (for the most part). If a vacation feels like it could/should go on longer, it must have been a good one!!

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Montana Part 3 – Glacier National Park

Wow!

There are other longer and more articulate words that would describe our day at GNP but you would probably tire of all the superlatives and adjectives. As mentioned in my previous post, we had planned to do this trip on Saturday but checking the weather forecast was fortuitous since the weather from Friday to Saturday was pretty extreme. Friday: Sunny and 70s. Saturday: Blowing rain and snow 30s.

Carol and Anne and their daughters who are out of school took us on this delightful trip. They live about 2 hours from the NE entrance to GNP. Again, they were gracious at stopping anytime I wanted to capture something of interest.

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The road was pretty straight and the lands fairly bare of trees. Two things southeast Georgia has/is not.

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For being one of the last days that the Going to the Sun Road would be open for the season, and a gorgeous day to boot, it was surprisingly quiet mid-morning. Some of the facilities were already being closed and the road-marker poles for snow were being put in place.

Wild Goose Island!!! While there were no beautiful snow-capped peaks, there was smooth-as-glass water. Search for images of this area and you’ll see very few that are mirror-smooth. The trees in the background center were burned this summer.

Wild Goose Island Pano 2 Pano bb

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We saw very little wildlife on our drive but saw some sheep near the visitors’ center near Logan’s Pass.

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Logan's Pass Pano
Stitched Pano of Logan’s Pass

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The splendor of the King
Clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice

He wraps Himself in light
And darkness tries to hide
It trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice

 

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How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God and all will see
How great, how great is our God

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Age to age, He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the end
Beginning and the end

The Godhead Three in One
Father, Spirit, Son
Lion and the Lamb
Lion and the Lamb

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How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God and all will see
How great, how great is our God

Name above all names
Worthy of our praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God

Read more: Chris Tomlin – How Great Is Our God Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

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GNP Tour Bus

 

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Practicing slow shutter speed at little falls

 

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Stitched Pano of Lake McDonald

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On our way back home we stopped at the Izaak Walton Inn for a late lunch. While we were waiting for our food order, we were give permission to tour one of the train cars that are used for luxury lodging.

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This is the locomotive we got to see.

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And so ended a great day in the mountains!

 

Montana Part 2 – Hot Springs & Ghost Towns

Our cousins had some fun planned for us when we got there. We ladies left on a 2-day excursion to a hot springs near Boulder. They were very gracious and offered to stop any time I saw a scene that I wanted to shoot. I tried not to abuse the offer and shot quite a few as we were on the road as well.

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Butte in the distance

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As we were driving along a fairly busy highway, Carol noticed a coyote running along, about to cross the road. We turned around and observed/chased him for a bit. He stayed along the road so I was able to get some good shots of it.

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Some abandoned buildings that probably had tales to tell.

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We stopped in Helena, the capitol of Montana, for a little shopping and then an ice cream stop at a carousel with hand carved critters.

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We ate a delicious picnic lunch at Tizer Gardens, a lovely setting beside a stream.

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Most of the summer flowers were past and the fall colors were coming in.

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There was a vine climbing all of the place with cottony looking “blooms. Before they turn cottony they look like this:

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This is later. It is a clematis variety.

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There are multiple areas in Montana where this hot mineral water comes out of the ground (between 120 and 182 degrees according to sign above). At this particular spot, an inn was built in the early 1900s. An Olympic-sized pool was constructed and people came to enjoy the warm water. Hot tub water is usually around 105* so they definitely have to cool it off for you to enjoy it. More information on Boulder Hot Springs.

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Each room is decorated or themed differently. We stayed in a room with a queen bed and a day bed with a trundle bed with a private bath.

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Lest you wonder if we swam in this pond … we didn’t. 🙂 They have several indoor pools. One was around 105* and the other was a chilly ??* degrees. I didn’t take any indoor pictures because the humidity was crazy and I didn’t want to subject any of my electronics to it.

There was an outdoor pool that was the perfect temperature to enjoy for a long time without getting too warm. Later that night we were in the pool for several hours after dark. We heard an elk bugle in the distance.

We grabbed supper in nearby Boulder at one of the 2 or 3 restaurants open that evening. The burger doesn’t look all that big or marvelous in the picture but it was about 5″ across and was very good!!

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Here’s how big the calzones are!

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Here we were introduced to the huckleberry flavor. The soda machines in the corner there include a cream soda machine. I don’t know what other cream soda flavors they have because I’m sure the huckleberry flavor stood head and shoulders over any other contenders. We kept our eyes open for anything huckleberry after this. They are small berries looking similar to blueberries. They grow in the mountains and apparently like higher altitudes best. I’m sure you have to watch out for bears when you pick, as they love berries best! Too bad the berries like cold weather. I think they are much better than blueberries!

Back to the inn … this is what’s left of the original Olympic-sized pool. An earthquake damaged it in the 1930s.

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We had breakfast included with our lodging. They are all about health and had this fresh fruit, yogurt and organic granola for the start of our meal. We then each had a loaded omelette.

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It was fairly quiet while we there (middle of the week) and we were some of the few who stayed overnight. I’m sure weekends and summers the place is humming. The following weekend they were expecting a busload of people. Lots of locals come and enjoy the pools without the lodging.

I so wanted to see a ghost town while were out west and found out about one that wasn’t too far away, Elkhorn. It had been a silver mine that had 2,500 at the peak of its existence. It was a fairly well-established town. Several epidemics hit the mining town and we were able to go to see the grave yard which was high up the mountain overlooking the town. Not sure why they had it there.

Many of the buildings were gone or in the process of going. This one section of the mining operation.

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Another mine entrance:

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The town more or less died when the railroad ceased to service this area and later all the track was taken up.

There are still people living here and there modest houses with green metal roofs that had us wondering if we had the right place for a brief minute.

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Looking down on the town on our way to the graveyard.

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One tombstone only said “Mother”.

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There were several buildings we could go into. They’ve been preserved

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Look at the layers of wallpaper!

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We were told there was a resident who could tell you all about the history of the town. We didn’t take time to talk to him but we saw his interesting place.

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On the scenic ride out of the ghost town.

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We arrived home so very relaxed and rested! It was a delightful 2 days!

 

Montana Part 1 – Life on the Ranch

So after all that talk about travel in the fall in years past, you were probably wondering if this would be there for a trip, weren’t you? Yeah, you probably weren’t. But either way, we did take a vacation in the fall, once more. It’s been a tough 18 months, from losing Daddy very quickly and unexpectedly and then barely 5 months later hearing the word cancer that can turn your life upsidedown even further. Where the shortness of life had already been pressed on my mind, it was pounded. So this summer when treatment was over and a clean bill of health was given, we began planning a vacation. It’s been years since we visited our cousins in Montana so that was our destination, plus a dear friend who lives in a different part of Montana, but close enough to include in our week. Thanks to air miles, our flight was free!

We flew into Great Falls, about a half-hour from where our cousins live. We took a scenic route via Seattle, this took us over the mountains twice and I love seeing interesting places from the air.

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There’s no way to tell how tall these mountains really are!

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Western Montana had quite a few fires. Here the smoke is quite visible.

 

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One of the only snow-capped mountains we saw.

 

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Downtown Seattle from the air

It’s hard to think of Seattle without thinking of fish and chips. We were there in 2008. I thought I had blogged out our delightful week in Washington but now I can’t anything in the archives. Anyway there’s this fish and chip truck in Victoria down by the water in front of the Empress and they had the most amazing fish and chips. I think they’re still there because a friend went through there recently and said they had some food from a little similar place. So, while we were at the Seattle airport my sister dashed to the food court and found a restaurant selling the desired food. The downside was that we had to board sooner than we thought and she carried the fish and chips onto the very small plane! Yes, we were THOSE travelers! Kind of like the time Christy and I were traveling back from a wedding shoot in Alberta and we carried Italian food onto the plane. Garlic, anyone!? 🙂

 

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Great Falls, Montana

The weather was deliciously low-humidity! Our September had been slightly cooler than usual so it wasn’t quite the shock to get to 70s weather as some years may have been. We can still have 90s weather in October.

Our cousin Anne lives with her family on a ranch. We grew up with a large family on a farm so it was fun to enjoy a part of farm life again.

 

 

 

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Feeding the chickens

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If you struggle to grow tomatoes like we do, you may want to avert your eyes and skip this next part to avoid garden rage. They were expecting a frost that weekend, the first hard one of the fall so we collected the tomatoes for Anne.

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The plants might look like toast but each plant still had several dozen tomatoes on them. They only get about 12″ of rain a year so everything has to be watered. This is the 4th picking like this for these plants!! I told you it might make you mad!

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She probably had 4 bushels of green and ripe tomatoes when we were finished! And enjoyed them several meals while were there!

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We also enjoyed an elk roast for Sunday dinner, as well as other delicious meals!

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She has some functional antiques which I love, including this butter churn which finished up the job after the Bosch mixer didn’t quite get it turned to butter.

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Coming back from a day of checking on the cows:

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I love this old yellow dumptruck!

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We had beautiful, mild weather most of the time we were there but on Saturday it turned windy and cold and rainy. Eventually it turned to snow, although it wasn’t cold enough for it really stick.

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My cousin Carol and her daughters were going to host a tea party for us outside but the weather ruled that out. They had an amazing tea party/luncheon prepared for us!

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That’s a real flower below, btw. 🙂

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I just noticed that almost everyone has blue or purple on except me. Guess I didn’t get the memo. I did, however, get the bright pink memo, apparently!

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She provides a tea party once a month for a local retirement center. I imagine it’s something they look forward to all month!

Don’t worry, I have way more pictures to show you!