Tag archives for Montana trip

Purple lightning rips the heavens from top to bottom, tearing the sky in two. Before I finish counting “one”, a wave of thunder punches down, shaking the land with a terrific rumble. The windshield wipers beat furiously on the glass, but not fast enough. The rain falls like a million white bullets, washing away my…

Like any American child, I used to play “Cowboys & Indians” with notable frequency, especially in the summer months, where backyards became my imagined western wilderness and my brothers and I could act out centuries of cultural incompatibility between the opposing sides. Even today, childhood play (and childish television) fuel some of the same misconceptions…

The river was a mirror of glass—like a silvery puddle of mercury, spilling me forever forward into the wilderness. Odd-shaped cliffs of sparkling white stone framed either side of the channel, with bulging towers and blobs that looked like some child’s dribbled sandcastle. We were utterly alone in the world—just me and Bob, a retired…

It was the longest train journey she had ever been on—36 hours from Minneapolis all the way to Montana. With a year of college under her belt, Minnesota gal Anita Mescher boarded The Great Northern Railroad in the morning and by lunch the next day, she had arrived in the high plains town of Browning.…

I stood ankle-deep in the mountain lake, icy inch-high ripples raced over my naked, chicken skin legs. On the pebbled shore, a fat man in a swimsuit leaned on a pair of crutches, pulling his jumpy German Shepherd on a leash and critiquing my painfully slow descent into the water. “Just jump in, dude!” he…

Though I travel far and wide, it is rare that I get to travel so far back in time (to the Cretaceous period) and walk among the gigantic wildlife (dinosaurs) who once romped along the tropical shores of central Montana. Admittedly, I was once a young boy with a bedroom full of plastic dinosaurs and…

I ran a red light and didn’t get caught. I was walking down Main Street at a good pace—almost 3 miles an hour—when I saw the red light at the intersection. But I just kept going, right through that intersection and on towards the courthouse, then back again. Yep, I ran that red light two…

Meriwether Lewis would never have won the spelling bee. Reading from the American explorer’s journal on the plane made me feel a little better about some of the typo-rich copy I am guilty of punching out (on occasion). In recounting the tale of what is perhaps one of the greatest overland expeditions ever undertaken by…

Bruce is a real cowboy. He has a ranch with horses and a big American flag flying out front, and he has a guitar and he knows how to play it. I met Bruce Anfinson on a sleigh ride up at Lone Mountain Ranch near Big Sky, Montana. A full moon shone through the forest…

Don’t tell me what a place is like—just show me the food. Good food reveals a lot about any destination and nowhere is that more true than good ol’ Montana. Driving from the top of the state down to its southernmost corner, I discovered Montana’s wintertime cuisine has as much heart as the sky is…

It began snowing sideways after midnight, and by dawn, the world was even whiter than the day before. Two inches of new snow lay on the ground, slopped upon the roofs and trees and mailboxes—even the dogs in the street shook their snowy dreadlocked fur and then playfully tumbled back into the drifts. My own…

Sixty-six below zero. That’s the coldest temperature ever recorded in Yellowstone: -66ºF at Madison, near the park’s west entrance at West Yellowstone, Montana. How cold is that? Cold enough to break the thermometer that made the measurement back in 1933. It was fitting then, that we should stop at this momentous site for a break…

Covellite

Never judge a town by its exit ramp . . . . . . because at night, every exit looks the same: fast food beacons and glowing gas stations with trucks steaming in the cold. I spin away from the dark rush of the interstate and down the town’s widest avenue—to the snow-crusted parking lot…

Like people or the movies, snow can be good—or it can be bad.

Bad snow is deceiving: hard and crusty on top yet soft and air-pocked underneath. Bad snow doesn’t hold up under pressure—it breaks apart and shifts and slides. Bad snow causes avalanches.

Inspiration

It’s like riding a bike! This is what everyone says about skiing—that once you learn, you can just jump back on the slopes and swoop down like a champ. I’m not so sure—and I don’t love the comparison. When you learn to ride a bike, you get to have training wheels, and should you fall,…

The Canadians are coming. They’ve invaded America and are taking over our towns and cities one by one. The tiny town of Whitefish, Montana is simply crawling with Canucks. They zip across the 49th parallel to buy up our cheap(er) gas and groceries, and to subvert our peaceful American way of life through seemingly-innocuous cross-border…

I love toponyms (place names), because they reveal so much—and yet so little—about the places they are meant to typify. It was snowing in Minneapolis (Sioux Mni = “water”; Greek polis = “city”) when I boarded a flight for Kalispell, and briefly imagined that Kalispell was the name of some flaxen-haired, rose-lipped pioneer beauty in…