Made it back from a quick trip to Montana yesterday. It was five days, five towns and five hotel/motels. Next time I take a road trip it would be nice to take my time and stay in one spot a little longer. Changing hotels everyday is a bit of a drag when you are traveling with three women who have a lot of luggage/beauty supplies etc. Lucky for my back the women with me are not only beautiful, but also strong.
The trip overall was great. Went to a wedding at a place near Bozeman Mt. that was very pretty; right at the base of the mountains. It was a beautiful spot and a very nice wedding. The weather was great; a bit of everything, sun, clouds, little rain, thunder, distant lightning. Saw some old friends. Said some goodbyes.
Things are green in Montana now. They have had some rain in June. They are still in a drought and the farmers and ranchers are struggling. Not much, or no, hay in some areas. Some ranchers are getting rid of their cattle now because they can't afford to buy hay to feed them. I sympathize with the folks who's livelihood depends on the weather. Actually farmers and ranchers probably don't want sympathy....they are a tough breed and know what they are getting into (at least those that have farmed for any length of time).
A farmer from North Dakota told me, "Someone asked a farmer once what he'd do if he one the million dollar lottery? He answered, I'd just keep farming until it was all gone."
Not everyone is losing money on farming obviously, but the days of the small family farm are coming to a close. I read that in European countries they would never allow the development of farmland that we do in the U.S. Things are different in the U.S. of course, and given the choice of going broke or not being able to make a decent living on a farm, who would blame someone for getting out and taking the land value by subdividing it into ranchettes or building lots? I guess we are outsourcing our food production since we obviously don't care about keeping the land available for growing food. Take a look at the Gallatin Valley west of Bozemen or the Skagit River Valley North of Seattle.
I think most of us like to see open spaces, not rows of houses, in the countryside. I'm all for small/compact/shared dwellings in concentrated areas in cities. I'd just like to leave the city the city and the country the country if we could. In some ways having Ted Turner or whoever buy up pieces of Montana is a good deal in my book. At least he leaves the land undeveloped. If you like to hike, or hunt or walk or fish or bike or relax there's something to be said for open spaces. I'll get off my antisprawl soapbox now.
Montana has the most beautiful cloud formations. I got this picture from Montana Earth Science Picture of the Week
I love to drive, especially in Montana; hardly any traffic, beautiful sky, clouds, plants and trees, mountains, rivers and some friendly people on the road; who'll give you the old friendly one or two finger wave.
The wild flowers are in bloom now. The most beautiful flowers I saw on the trip were large patches of purple flowers. I think they may be lupine. There's an article about Lewis and Clark seeing them in this Helena Newspaper article. The lupines are small now and very pretty. Here's a picture of some from National Geographic: Lewis & Clark Plants Silky Lupine
This is an oil painting called "Lupine" done by Josephine Hale you can find at The University of Montana, Missoula Museum of Fine Arts--Josephine Hale Paintings
Steinbeck in all his travels, dubbed Montana his favorite state. You can find the Montana quote from Travels with Charlie
“I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it ...”–John Steinbeck, Travels with Charlie
here About Montana | The University of Montana
Traveling around with a dog, and nowadays a digital camera and maybe a laptop sounds pretty good to me.
I found this interesting looking spot while looking for that Steinbeck quote Literary quotes about Montana places - ePodunk.
Of course one of the things that makes Montana so appealing is it's six people per square mile population density. I was going to recommend no one move to Montana, just visit there. Sort of like Emmett Watson used to do when he started a tongue in cheek "lesser Seattle" campaign who's motto was "Keep The Bastards Out". His obituary from May 2001 says he was secretly a Seattle booster which was obvious from his writing about Seattle, a place he loved Lesser Seattle's press secretary Emmett Watson
On the other hand it might be good to buy a house in a little town in Montana that needs your money. Or maybe build a condo for retirees in a town that needs rejuvenating and help get the downtown area revitalized. Then go out and enjoy the wide open spaces and go home to your cozy comfy little house/condo with broadband, flat screen TV and no yard take care of; or maybe a nice flower garden. There's all kinds of little towns in the West/Midwest that would love to have you retire in their town. It's a win-win. We don't keep subdividing farm land and open spaces and you get a great deal on some real estate. Winters are a tad cold, but you could always head to warmer climates in the winter months or use this philosophy from "Dakota Boy" by Rob Woutat
"If you’re wondering why people stay there, why they put up with the winter cold and the floods and the landscape and all the rest of it, it’s because they’ve learned to accept severity, to shrug it off in their stoic, taciturn, North Dakota way, as if it were little more than a nuisance. “Keeps the riffraff out,” they like to say. And because they’re no different from those who continue to live in the paths of hurricanes or forest fires or on faults in the Earth’s crust: they stay there because that’s where they live, where they work, where they pay their mortgages, where they have friends, where their children go to school. The blizzards, floods, grasshoppers and droughts haven’t given them a metaphysical bent; they don’t waste time asking Why. They don’t wring their hands and whine about their condition. “What the hell,” they’d say, “life isn’t supposed to be easy.”
Or you could hop on the old Greyhound headed South and sing Everybodys Talkin
"I'm going where the sun keeps shining
Through the pouring rain
Going where the weather suits my clothes
Banking off of the Northeast winds
Sailing on summer breeze
Skipping over the ocean like a storm"
Writer: Fred Neil
Performed by: Harry Nilsson
In any event Montana's a great state. Probably like the place you live in; great that is.
We rented a Crown Victoria for this trip. I'd buy one of those cars. It was quiet, had a big trunk, comfy leather seats and best of all SIRIUS Satellite Radio
Satellite radio is really great. You can listen to most any kind of music or talk you want, commercial free and mostly uninterrupted. The only time I lost the signal was for short periods where big trees were near the road. If I was going to do much driving I'd really look into that radio. I might get one just for going to work and using at home. I think it's a good idea. Not sure about where you live, but where I live FM radio is, in general, terrible. Mostly commercials and Clear Channel's choice of music...which isn't mine. Sirius has old country, rock, standards, jazz, big band, classical, hip-hop, pop, NPR, liberal, sports and conservative talk. I'd pay 10 bucks a month for it. I couldn't carry enough CD's with me for a long trip. I'll turn off my Sirius commercial now.
I'm looking forward to the 4th of July. When I was a little boy I had a small record player and my favorite song was It's a Grand Old Flag. I still remember marching around my room singing along with that song. I was a weird kid. I know a couple of Yankee Doodle Dandies who were lucky enough to be born on the 4th of July.
Like most boys, and some girls, I used to love firecrackers. When we were little, my cousin and I once used some genuine silver dollars (this was after they had quit minting them) to buy firecrackers. I imagine the fireworks man was happy to see us. I couldn't wait for the stands to open up so I could peer in and see all that great stuff in the Firework Stand. One time when I was about 4 I had some cracker balls (they were a little more powerful then the little white ones you get in the store now). You are supposed to throw them at the sidewalk and they pop.
I'm not sure now exactly why, but I put a cracker ball in by mouth and popped it with my front teeth. It turned one of my front teeth a nice shade of grey (I think it killed the tooth). Luckily it wasn't a permanent tooth. I think I did it either to show-off to someone or just as an experiment. Probably both.
We used to love to see what we could blow up with firecrackers. They weren't big ones; just the inch and a quarter; Black Cat type. You could have one go off in your hand and it would burn you a little but not do any serious damage. Not like some of the big dangerous ones available nowadays. I had some silver salutes or something years back and was having a few cocktails and made a few divots in my lawn with some of those bigger firecrackers. Another year a friend of mine and I stuck bottle rockets in our hats and were lighting them....shot some over the neighbors house because I thought they (the neighbors) were making too much noise....shot some into my own garage. Glad I'm off the sauce sometimes...most times.
In the city where I live, they used to have a heck of a lot of firecrackers going off in the neighborhood. I remember my father in law came to visit and he was joking about being in the DMZ. You could literally have bottle rockets, fire crackers popping around your car for blocks as you drove up into my neighborhood. It's a working class town and people like to celebrate the fourth.
One year they made a huge production about setting off a big fire work rocket that was called "Big Bertha". They set off the public fireworks on a little deserted, brushy island, just out in the bay, called Jetty Island. Anyway...Big Betha misfired; got a little ways off the ground came down and set Jetty Island on fire for about a week of smouldering/smoke. That plus a number of house/garage fires and any number of fireworks related injuries eventually led to the complete outlawing of fireworks in our city.
You can however, drive up to "Boom City" on the reservation about 10 miles north and get, and set off any number of fire crackers and fireworks. They have, I believe, over a hundred stands up there. Probably worth looking at if you are a fireworks afficianado.
I gave up fireworks when one of my daughters got burned with a stupid 10 cent rocket that misfired and hit her and then blew up. It burned her and she ended up going to the hospital. Luckily she was fine after a few days. It hurt and could of hit her in the eye....so I decided that fireworks were best left in the hands of the professionals. I enjoy the fireworks shows if I can stay up late enough.
Have a a safe and sane or insane if you prefer, 4th.
In any event have fun and be good to yourself and each other.