Both perfect. The middle school here had “healthy choices” day last week. I was assigned the trip to Bigfork, where – OMG, lucky me – there was a hike along my favorite river – the Swan.
Fall fragrance and warm sun soaked in while I walked. Perfect. I’ve probably posted a dozen pictures from this lovely place. I’ve had all my dogs here and have brought home more rocks, leaves, and other miscellaneous souvenirs than from anywhere else. Fall colors were well underway. The river was flowing fuller and faster than I expected for this time of year – I wish I could relay the music of the water.
There are ripple marks here – out under the flowing water and well up on dry land – from ancient times? Words from Norman Maclean, quoted in A River Runs Through It, come to mind every time I’m here: “The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops.”
Then I took them from this to the bowling alley – odd transition 🙂
I did discover a sweet old cemetery across the road with possibly the best view ever.
Yesterday, a chilly, damp day – equally perfect. Well info fall, out in a wild-looking place enjoying something I never could have imagined as a child growing up in Phoenix – the bison preserve in Moise. It’s roundup time again – it doesn’t seem like a year since I took kids on this trip and the pictures are probably familiar but I can’t help myself from sharing some again.
They called out weights as the big critters were moved from corrals to pens to chutes – most around 2000 lbs. They are mad by the time they’ve been poked and prodded this far (used to be rounded up and brought down to the pens by cowboys on horseback but now by ATVs – who wouldn’t be mad about that?) and it’s noisy with them slamming themselves and their hooves into the strong metal barriers.
Then they’re sent down these corridors and trapped in a scary hydraulic-hose nightmare for blood and hair samples, shots, etc. Some are released into a big fenced pasture to continue living here, some into other corrals to be shared with other preserves or ranches.
Nice they don’t use this barn for slaughtering anymore. They serve food in here…odd…
Then quick lunch at the picnic area. Lots of kids and buses.
I walked down to the pond but there were no swans or signets this year – still just as pretty!
At first I wasn’t thrilled with the offer of a truckload of old fence rails – they have nails to watch for and are tricky to chain saw when the pieces get small – but it was a nice gesture so I accepted it gladly.
I’m maybe half done sawing up the pile, it does make fine firewood!
Then my crafty self started talking to me – old fence rails, gray and mossy! What fun!
I’ve wanted a gate at each end of my pergola for a while – no reason, just for fun, something to maybe decorate, the same reason I put up the pergola 🙂 So I checked out Pinterest and watched around town and started in on my idea. I cut my pieces to hopefully fit the opening, at hopefully the right height.
It came out perfectly, if I do say so myself. I’ve got the pieces for a second one all cut up and ready to go.
There was also a long, old gate. I just couldn’t work it into my yard anywhere and didn’t need a headboard 🙂 Ah! My friend in Missoula wanted it, so, along with some of the rails, she made a matching gate for a pair across her driveway! Now someone’s old fence has new life in new places! Love that!
In need of a day off from reality, I headed up to my favorite spot west of Whitefish. The main lake, Upper Stillwater, is MY lake, has been for 22 years! There are three other lakes nearby, tiny ones nestled in canyon pockets, little gems to come upon after strenuous hikes. Two of them are well marked, I’ve been to them many times with all five of my dogs. But the third one has eluded me. The trail has never been quite clear and I’m a city girl at heart, leery of taking faint trails into true wilderness, “the one less traveled by.” So I studied the aerial map of the area and decided to be brave. Once I got up there it seemed more obvious this time where the trail was. Sadly, this is because more and more people have discovered this secluded area. But off we went. There was a lovely area where some group had recently laid a wonderful log path through a swampy area, where late monkey flowers, asters, and Queen Ann’s lace still bloomed.
After an hour and wondering where we were really going, the deep blue shine of a lake appeared. Well worth the hike. Coop slopped around in the water and I relaxed in the shade.
Then Coop said enough, let’s go! He’s been the model dog lately, a good hiking buddy, I was ready if he was.
Little did he know kayaking was next – not his favorite thing. Aside from having to be drug into the kayak, he rode like a pro, not barking at mergansers, herons, or threatening stumps.
I guess I’ve never been there at exactly this time of year as there was a bloom of flowers I’ve never seen before – so many it looked like snow on the water. The weather was perfect and, despite more visitors to the area, I only saw one canoe in all our time on the water.
As a treat each time I go, I pay a visit to “my homestead.” It’s deteriorating rapidly, a whole wall falling over since the last time I visited. Overgrown now with trees and suffering through many brutal winters, it will be more a part of the earth soon than of man-made things and its story will be lost.
We did it! We kayaked on the big lake, Flathead. We didn’t stay long, it was kind of a trial run. Coop did great! For most of it 🙂
We left the dock fine. We looked at houses. And then he saw it –
He went into warning mode, head down, growling. As we got closer to the killer stump the big wimp backed up as far as he could in my lap, scared silly. We spent some time with the dead thing, touching and sniffing, relaxing a bit, and then came the buoy of terror. Quite silly, really, but we mastered one buoy and I decided we’d skip the matching one on the other side of the kayak.
He didn’t mind some waves when a big boat went by. He enjoyed looking at more houses.
And thank Goodness we made it back safe and sound. Notch that kayak for another thrilling adventure!
Now that it’s just the two of us, we are trying new things. Today’s adventure was kayaking!
I’d taken Cooper once a long time ago, before Sara, and he didn’t like it much, rocking the boat, barking at stumps, fretting over falling out. But I need a kayaking buddy so we gave it another try. I thought the little lake where I live was a good starting place, small and calm. It’s that perfect time of year, that transition between spring and summer. Birds are active, turtles are snoozing in the sun, and everything is still lush. Right off we saw turtles. Coop looked here, then over there…
We saw yellow-headed blackbirds and ruddy ducks. We startled a merganser with a bunch of fuzz-ball babies that went hysterical and I couldn’t get a picture.
We saw turtles and more turtles.
Cooper was like a kid, checking everything out, head cocked, ears alert. He definitely seemed to enjoy the ride more this time, and we’ll be brave and try the big lake next time. Stay tuned…
School is over for the year. Now that it’s over it seemed to go by quickly, though there were days when I thought it would never end 🙂 My final field trip was, once again, to Glacier Park, this time dropping kids off for a night’s stay at the Glacier Institute just outside the west end of the Park. The property sits at the confluence of Big Creek and the North Fork of the Flathead River, in one of the Wild and Scenic River areas of Western Montana. The original building here was used by the Forest Service, and other buildings have come and gone, as a firefighters base and now as a learning center. It’s right out of a movie with two bunk houses and a kitchen with a screened-in porch. The library is a rustic, hands-on affair where kids can learn about the local flora and fauna. They receive lessons in orienteering and fire science. And some of the kids, like the ones I picked up to take home after their night’s stay, get to see wolves!!!
Camas Creek is a lovely, lightly traveled road, and 9 times out of 10 I’ve seen bears along here. In fact, the kids that I picked up had seen a sow and 2 cubs on the way up the day before. This day I slowed the bus when I saw something big in the road up ahead. It was in no hurry to cross and as we got closer we knew we were seeing a wolf. One of the teachers practically trampled students getting up close to the windshield as this big animal moved off into the brush (that teacher had worked in Glacier 12 years and never saw a wolf – seeing her joy this day was half the fun). With no traffic we stopped and stared, hoping for more and, sure enough, another one stepped out behind the bus. The bus practically exploded with our excitement. A couple of oncoming cars put an end to our momentary, overwhelming experience as the second wolf casually decided to leave the road but it’s not something any of us will be forgetting. And my life’s bucket list is now complete – I’ve been to Alaska, I’ve ridden a bike in New England in the fall, and now I’ve seen wolves. Life can be good!
For turtles to be basking on logs and swimming in the now-warm water!
For doggies to be swimming and poking around for turtles!
For kids to be out in the sun learning new things, like during ag day at the fairgrounds, where bus drivers get to pet baby sheep 🙂
And River Honoring with the local tribes down by the Flathead River, where the bus drivers get to hike around and enjoy the scenery (this may look familiar from similar pics from last year) and see more rescued raptors!
For new things to replace the old – in nature, in life, and maybe in our perspectives?