Independence Day Salute 2013

In honor of American freedom here are a couple pictures of me with old glory. Each picture contains a link to a local website.

Flag # 1 Overlook Park, Great Falls, Montana
This is home of the visitors center, offering many brochures about the Electric City.
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Sparky’s Garage

I can’t speak for the food here, the Automotive memorabilia hanging on the outside of the building is fantastic.These pictures were taken on an early morning fitness walk, before most retail places are open.

Sparky’s Garage is located at the intersection where the US HWY 89 entered the south end of town before Interstate 15 was complete. In the 60’s there was a Standard Oil truck stop at the location. There was a Tastee Freeze just up the street.

Our family usually stopped for lunch in Dillon when we traveled to Utah for visits with my grandparents. Once there was a V W bus of hippies panhandling at the Tastee Freeze. They said they were on the way to a music festival in New York. My dad was skeptical of the bus making it that far. I often wonder if they begged enough gas and food to get there. Everybody who lived the sixties tries to make some connection to Woodstock. I choose to believe I talked to people who were headed there when I was ten.

Scenic Lookout on Mansfield Heritage Route

The stretch of Interstate 15 between Butte and Great Falls is known as Mike and Maureen Mansfield Heritage Highway. Mike Mansfield was a long serving statesman from the State of Montana. When John F. Kennedy traveled to Great Falls in 1963 he had dinner at Mansfield’s childhood home. It was a modest house in an old part of town. The president coming to dinner at the Mansfield’s caused quite a stir in town. The president’s speech at Memorial stadium was an experience a five year old would never forget, though I could not tell you any content.

These pictures are all taken from the Scenic Overlook between exit 244 and 247, accessible from the southbound lane only. Both exits are easy off-on if you are traveling north but would like to stop here. There is a casual staircase to climb to the platform with the best view, but the steel Hardy bridge on the recreation road can be seen from the parking area.

Papa T’s Family Dining, DIllon, Montana

Papa T’s is part of an evolution I see in America. Most bars are transforming into an atmosphere similar to the British pubs. Food prepared to the liking of the locals, and portions to please the Montana appetite.

Where else can I play the original asteroid game for a quarter? The games don’t appear to be restored, just well kept.

Prickly Pear Creek

Heading north on I-15  take the Spring Creek Exit to the recreation road. The sign at the exit says no return to I-15 north. Silly sign, the on ramp is at Wolf Creek a few miles up the road. These pictures are of Prickly Pear Creek, less than a mile up the road. In the photo that looks like two streams, the left one is a beaver pond. I spied the local construction team with this years young a few times while I was here.

The long grass shot is about 50 yards upstream from the pond.

Mormon Pioneer Day Answers My Big Question

I have often wondered about my passion for traveling. I have often lived 50 or more miles from work or school. Driven, walked, bicycled and ridden buses great distances daily. In June I traveled by train and Greyhound bus from Montana to South Carolina, stayed over night, and drove my sisters car back to Montana. I have enjoyed every moment. Where does this come from? Is it an affliction? Is it hereditary? Above is the day my eldest son returned from Afghanistan. now he lives in Hawaii. Second are my nieces sons. They traveled from Arizona to take a boat ride at The Gates of The Mountains about 20 miles north of Helena.

My cousin Matt may have answered the question of this passion for travel today. The State of Utah is celebrating Pioneer Day today. A relative was one of the pioneers with Brigham Young as he crossed America looking for the promised land. Actually my ancestor was not with the group the entire trip. It appears he had my penchant for excess travel as you will read in this excerpt of the message I received today.

Did you know our 3rd great grandfather, Thomas Woolsey (Wolsey) was one of those 120 pioneers who arrived in the valley on July 22nd? He was part of the Mormon Battalion and marched from Iowa to San Diego, then back to Iowa, then on horseback to the valley (as part of that first group), then back to Iowa to help others to the valley, then back to Iowa and back to the valley. During that first trip from Iowa to the valley, he and three other men split off to go to Fort Pueblo, CO to help Mormon Battalion members and Mormons from Mississippi who were sick. He helped bring them back to meet up with that first main group with Brigham Young. Then he arrived in the valley on the 22nd with the rest of that 120.

I don’t understand DNA, but Grampa Woolsey put something in my blood.

Rope-a-Dope

In Montana not many of the homes have central air conditioning. Rarely would anyone need it. It has been especially hot the last few weeks so improvisation is the key to remaining cool. My house has a crawl space with a little door in a room we have always called the office. I don’t know why we call it the office. It has never had a desk, or even an office chair, that I can remember. Most of the time it is just a passage to put decorations in or out of the crawl space as the holidays change through the year.

The crawl space is a good source of cool air. I have a small fan I sometimes leave propping the little door open which cools the lower level of the house quite nicely. The other levels reap some benefit from this as well.

My friend Carl travels for work sometimes, which is common in the construction trades. He has been sleeping in Scott’s room. I still call it Scott’s room even though my son now lives in Kauai. Carl settled in, hit the rack.

As I was about to dose off I heard Carl making a clunk clunk noise. I thought he was restless, not being in his own bed. A few minutes went by and I had heard the noise several times. Clunk clunk clunk. Sometimes twice, sometimes three or maybe just once. Nothing steady to it, I may have gone to sleep if it was rhythmic. I turned a few times and tried to divert my attention. Sometimes at night I listen to some Chinese traditional music to relax. That did the trick. Then at three thirty six, clunk, softly, just barely audible. What is Carl doing down there?

In the morning I heard Carl leave for work. I soon got up and took my shower. As I was getting dressed I heard clunk clunk. I descended the stairs and found this fitness jump rope swinging lightly in the breeze on the office door.

I apologized to Carl about the rope clunking all night. “No” he said, ” Never heard a thing. What are you talking about?”

Nevermore, clunk clunk, nevermore.

What Time Is It?

I am a marathoner. That means I like to run, and/or, walk 26.2 miles. While I do this someone, whom I have paid money to, provides me with water, snacks, toilets, and encouragement. All the while they keep track of the time it takes me to cover twenty-six miles, three hundred eighty-five yards.

Being a marathoner requires obsessive behavior. Preparing yourself, mind and body, takes an inordinate amount of dedication.  Obsessing about the time it takes to cover this distance stops your conscious mind from realizing, this torture would have gotten a murder conviction overturned for cruel and unusual punishment. This time obsession is so common organizers feel compelled to offer badges of honor predicting finish times. Runners multiply predicted pace by 26.2 miles and pin these on shirts to show the spectators how well they know their bodies.

The Nashville Country Music Marathon starts a bit later in the day than most. I recognized an opportunity to practice another pastime of mine, sarcasm.  The world record is just over two hours. Four and a half hours is a good goal for a first timer with a training plan. Many walkers and slow joggers take between six and seven hours, my category. I pinned on a 3:30 badge and strutted to the start line.

Nashville is a scenic race through the old mansion district. I had a great run and felt good throughout. I asked the nuns at the convent to pray for me climbing the hill, not revealing my Mormon upbringing. At about mile eight I passed one of the Kenyan runners. I went by like he was standing still. Poor little bugger was standing still, on the curb with a broken ankle. The course follows a path along the river. After a walk in the park, around a lake it ends up at the football stadium.

John Bingham is a tireless spokesman for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Team in Training. He is also a race announcer. I approached the finish line, in just under seven hours elapsed time.

He asked “What happened to 3:30?”

I responded, “What time is it?”

John said, “uhh, it’s about 3:12 PM.”

My simple reply was “I’m early.”

In the parking lot one of John’s coworkers told me John laughed so hard he nearly fell off the announcer’s stand. I’m pretty sure that young man had been sent to verify my ignorance.

A Walk in the Rain

I rode the Honda 750 to Crow Creek Rd. I took a hike from the campground. This is in the Elkhorn mountains about 4 miles from Radersburg.

To get to Radersburg turn off of Highway 12 at The Bunkhouse Bar and go 9 miles. As you turn off the main road there is a sign Radersburg 9 miles. As you get to Radersburg there it is, mile marker 9 right at the edge of town. You don’t accidentally get to Radersburg. You need a reason to go, and there are not many reasons. The locals like it that way. It has no bar or post office. I am not sure how the town incorporated in Montana, as those are the two prerequisites. There are two semi-trailers parked on Main Street advertising moving companies that are long since defunct. They have been parked for over 9 years.

It was a sunny, hot day as I arrived at the campground. I changed into my workout gear. I wore two shirts and a jacket on the ride up, but planned to wear just the dri-fit shirt. The shirt I was leaving behind was damp from being worn, so I decided to hang it on the handlebars because I wanted a dry shirt to put on after my workout.   I stowed my other clothes and Stanley vacuum bottle of coffee in the saddle bag.

As I got about 4 miles from the motorcycle I heard thunder in the distance. It started clouding up. A storm was imminent. A few dirt bikers came by and asked if I had rain gear. I indicated I was Okay. Some people in a Powerstroke offered me a ride down the mountain. They were perplexed by my response that if I got wet I was sure I would dry off. I never told them that had I taken the ride I’d have been standing, shivering until the rain subsided.

I like walking in the rain. A lightning storm in the mountains is a spectacular display when you get past the what if it hits me worries. I had dry clothes to put on back at the bike. So I walked as the rain let up and ducked under trees to wait out the heaviest downpours. The rain had let up as I hit a nearly level stretch in the road. I thought this would be a good place to run a bit. I had seen a snake on the way up the road and merely stepped around as it slithered off to the side. This time I was moving faster and it was a rattlesnake. When already running it is not easy to make your foot go an extra distance before hitting the ground. Somehow I managed to do so. The snake poised to strike as I jumped sideways up and back in one motion. I don’t know if snakes can laugh, but that had to be a sight.

As my life flashed before my eyes in that instant one picture stood out. Me hanging my shirt to dry on the handlebars before this torrential rainstorm. Walking down the trail I sang to myself “Tonight We Dance”, and wondered what Spanish for snake dance was (Baile de Serpiente). As I changed into dry pants and donned boots in place of running shoes I had to make the decision, very wet stinky shirt or dripping wet shirt. Very wet stinky shirt won out, and I apologize to the clerks at Town Pump in Townsend for that.

Heaven Sent

I stopped with the WagonTeamster and at Toston Bridge on the way here.

Missouri River Corridor

The beauty of Big Sky Country is easy to experience. Travel from Wolf Creek to Hardy, Montana. I traversed this section of Montana daily for several years. Take it in at your own pace. In a hurry, take Interstate 15. Got a little time, take the recreation road. Got all day, float the Missouri in a raft, canoe, or McKenzie River boat. If you are a photographer take the gravel road from I-15 Exit 228 to Craig for vistas of the river most people never see. Over the years I have seen, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, deer, black bear, elk, bald eagles, pelicans, hawks, osprey, even a mountain lion from the seat of the car.  As I drive the recreation road and see people fishing I think “Man I love to drive.”