Thursday, August 30, 2012


Helena, MT  High 91  Low 58


It has been probably been 35 years since I took the Gates of the Mountains boat tour on Holter Lake. I was definitely looking forward to sharing the fun with my classmates and giving Jim a chance to take a boat ride with no fishing allowed. lol


The Gates of the Mountains has been a tourist attraction since the period 1886 to 1906, when the steamboat Rose of Helena traversed the Missouri River through this area. Steamboats no longer run on the river but there are three boats operating to take you on a beautiful ride on the lake.

Meriwether Lewis named this area on July 19th, 1805: This evening we entered the most remarkable clifts that we have yet seen. These clifts rise from the waters edge on either side perpendicularly to the hight of 1,200 feet. Solid rock for the distance of 53/4 miles. I entered this place and was obliged to continue my rout until sometime after dark before I found a place sufficiently large to encamp my small party; from the singular appearance of this place I called it the gates of the mountains.



This canyon was created by the Missouri River flowing through the limestone rock. Althought the Missour River once ran swiftly through the Gates of the Mountains, Holter Dam (built in 1918) drastically reduced the flow of water. 

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The monster of the Gates


 There are also pictographs on the cliffs




The following is taken from the US Forest Service website:

The Mann Gulch fire was first officially reported around noon on August 5, 1949, in Montana's Helena National Forest. Responding to the fire, the Forest Service dispatched fifteen smokejumpers from Missoula. The smokejumpers were part of a relatively new Forest Service program.

The fifteen smokejumpers landed at Mann Gulch about a half-mile away from the fire. There they met James O. Harrison, a fire guard from the nearby Meriwether Canyon Campground. Ironically, Harrison had quit the smokejumpers the year before because of the danger. As the men headed down the gulch towards the Missouri River, high winds caused the fire to suddenly expand, cutting off the men's route and forcing them back uphill. Later studies estimated that the fire covered 3,000 acres in 10 minutes during this blow-up stage.

To escape the advancing fire, now less than 100 yards away, crew foreman R. Wagner "Wag" Dodge ordered the men to drop their equipment and run back up the steep, rocky hillside. As the men retreated, Dodge stopped to set a small escape fire, creating a burned-over area that the fire would bypass. He directed the group towards this safe area, but due to the reigning confusion the rest of the men continued up the hill. As the massive fire overtook the group, two of the smokejumpers, Walter B. Rumsey and Robert W. Sallee, were able to find shelter by climbing inside in a small crevice in the canyon's rock wall. Of the 16 men on site, Dodge, Rumsey, and Sallee would end up as the only survivors.

The events of Mann Gulch greatly influenced the future of wildfire suppression and fire research. The Forest Service designed new training techniques and implemented additional safety measures for its firefighters. The agency also increased emphasis on fire research and the science of fire behavior, developing new firefighting techniques and equipment in the hopes of never repeating the tragic events of August 5, 1949.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Helena, MT  high 94  low 53

I graduated from Sidney Senior High School in Sidney, MT in 1967. We had an interesting class. Several teachers resigned or asked to be moved to another grade so they wouldn’t have to deal with us. We were told, by a teacher, that none of us would ever amount to anything. But we sure didn’t let that stop us. And we have formed friendships that surpass the passage of time.

On Saturday, some of those classmates and a few spouses were able to get together in Helena for a day of fun and reminiscing.


P1000349 We took the Last Chance Tour Train in the morning. I’ve covered most of the tour in my previous posts but it was fun to hear about it from the tour guide. Especially one who is a history teacher and really enjoys what he is doing.

After the tour train we headed down to Fusion Grille for lunch.


Just look at this food. Sooo Good!



After lunch we headed out to Holter Lake for the Gates of the Mountain boat tour. (That needs to be a separate post.)

Time for a quick refreshment after the boat ride before moving on to our next stop.



One of our group has the following book. Can you guess where this is leading?


Mary Francis and Steve have decided to visit every bar in the book and have it signed by the bartenders and other patrons. There was a bar they needed to visit in Helena and some of the group headed off to keep them company.

Welcome to the Rialto. This bar has been in downtown Helena since at least the 1970’s.  It was still rather early (we are “more mature” remember) and there were few patrons so we had the place to ourselves. A wonderful time and a great way to end our day together.



Sure hope we can have another get together next summer.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Montana State Capitol Battles and Scandals

Helena, MT   High 72  Low 42

Now that we’re back in Helena, we are exploring again. Visited the state capitol building today.


After Montana became a state in 1889, a bitter and controversial battle for the permanent capital site with Anaconda ensued. Helena won the battle in 1894 and construction of the capitol started in 1899. Scandal was the game during these days and the capitol building was caught up in all the controversy. Capitol commissioners were corrupt and had to replaced. Two architects from Iowa were chosen to design the building, but they had to move to Montana to fulfill a legislative provision requiring selection of a Montana architect. This made Montana architect’s angry but the commissioners stood firm.


The building is an American Renaissance neoclassical design. Faced in sandstone from Columbus, MT, the completed furnished building cost about $540,000. It was dedicated on July 4, 1902.

As the state grew in population, so did the government. The building needed to be expanded to accommodate the additional legislators. Nobody could decide on what stone to use to build the wings, a special session of the legislature had to be called. They finally decided on the use of Jefferson County granite.

The Rotunda:


The four pictures in the rotunda introduce you to four of Montana’s most storied contributors: The Indian Chief, The cowboy, The Trapper, and The Prospector.

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This painting depicts Amedee Joullin’s Driving the Golden Spike which documents the completion of the Northern Pacific Railroad’s transcontinental line at Gold Creek, MT in 1883.



Joseph M. Dixon (definitely had to check this guy out)

P1000326 dixon

(July 31, 1867 – May 22, 1934) was a Republican politician. He served as a Representative, Senator, and the seventh Governor of Montana. He was of Quaker heritage born in North Carolina. He moved to Missoula, MT in 1891. (no relation to my hubby’s side of the family)

Statues in the capitol building:

Mike and Maureen Mansfield – Mike was a long-term lead in the U.S. Senate and ambassador to Japan.


Wilbur Fisk Sanders – a lawyer, a Mason, and a Union veteran of the Civil War. He was an organizer of the Vigilantes in Montana and became one of Montana’s first Senators in 1889.


Jeannette Rankin – the first woman to be elected to the U. S. Congress. She was a peace advocate and voted against U. S. involvement in both WWI and WWII.


Old Supreme Court Chamber


Senate Chambers


The above two pictures were taken through the door windows. The rooms were locked.

Even Lady Liberty atop the building has her own strange story.

During the "capital fight" with Anaconda, the people responsible for the plans ran off with all the papers and records. Then, during construction, a statue of a goddess of liberty arrived at the Helena train station from a foundry in Ohio, with no indications of who ordered it or for what use. With the building documents gone and the fact that the company who made the statue had all their records lost in a fire, there was no way to tell, and eventually, no one claimed the abandoned goddess. The builders wanted such a statue to put on top of their building, and that's how she ended up there.


Even the statue out front has a scandalous story. But that will wait for another post.

(For some reason, we have used most of our 5g of data on the mifi so you may not hear from me for about a week.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Are You a Dude or a Cowboy?

Skittlez seems to be doing better. She’s still acting a little strangely but she always has been strange. Hard to know if something’s wrong or not. But the water intake and outgo are back to the usual and that is what really had me worried.


Now here’s a Montana Cowboy quiz for all you cowboy wannabe’s.

A real Cowboy can answer these questions!

1. A group of saddle horses is called:

Cavvy      litter      herd    dustmakers

2. The proper term for a Cowboy’s riding whip is:

bullwhip     quirt    crop    beater

3. To dally is to:

dance western style    wrap a rope around his horn

grab a steer’s tail       take a short nap

4. Female cows before they’ve had a calf are called:

steers    heifers    bulls    honeys

5. The best way to describe a sorrel horse:

black    brownish white    reddish brown    rocking

6. Designs carved into a Cowboy’s saddle are called:

tooling    notches    patterns    tattoos

7. Fill in the blanks to an old Cowboy song – Goodbye _________, I’m leaving Cheyenne.

old paint    loyal dog    dear girl    dear Mom

8. What is a Cowboy’s favorite drink?

milk    whiskey    coffee    root beer

9. Which activity does NOT occur at a branding?

castrating   de-horning   fireworks    crying

10. When a Cowboy throws a hoolihan he:

has a fit    plays horseshoes    throws a loop    tosses his hat

11. A Cowboy’s latigo is a leather strap that tightens his:

cinch    belt    hat    wallet

12. How does a Cowboy tell a storm is coming:

dog is running in circles     

deer and elk are feeding intently

cook is making buckets of beans   

can’t find his raincoat

13. A Cowboy measures his horses in:

hands    inches    feet    gallops

14. Touching a Cowboy’s hat is a sign of :

affection    disrespect     loyalty    stupidity



1.  cavvy

2.  quirt

3.  wrap a rope around his horn

4.  heifers

5.  reddish brown

6.  tooling

7.  old paint

8.  whiskey

9.  fireworks

10. throws a loop

11. cinch

12. deer and elk are feeding intently

13. hands

14. disrespect

So how did you do?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Ladle??? You’ve Got to be Kidding Me!

Billings, MT   High 94   Low 58


Good News! Skitz doesn’t have diabetes. Dr. Mike thinks maybe she has a bladder infection. But the only way to find out for sure is to do a urinalysis. And for that you need urine.

Those of you with female dogs know that they squat very low to the ground, especially when they have really short legs. There is no way that sterile cup is going to fit under her.

Dr. Mike suggests we use a ladle. Good grief. We didn’t bring our home which means we do not have any kitchen utensils with us. Thank goodness for Walmart (I really do not like that store but it was nearby). Now Jim has his ladle. This definitely is going to be his job.


We don’t need to worry about her needing to pee because she is drinking so much water. Out she goes with Jim and his ladle and me and my camera.

Okay, Skitz, let’s get this show on the road.


Finally. Success. The ladle really does work well. Skitz didn’t even realize it was under her so she didn’t freak out.


Off to the vet with the sample. Takes three hours at least to process and we want to get out of town. Wait, wait, wait.

This greets you when you come into the vet’s office. Jim tried to talk them into giving it to us.


They have this really cute fan and I wanted to put it in my purse but they kept a really close eye on us.


No bladder infection. Dr. Mike doesn’t know what else it could be. He suggests we keep an eye on her to see if the situation gets worse. He says it could just be the heat that has finally gotten to her.

The good news is she has actually made it through the last couple of nights without having to go out. Fingers are crossed she is going to be okay. If we still don’t think everything is right she will need to have blood work done.

A fire was being fought just a few miles from town. They’re saying that it was a cigarette thrown out of a car that started it. One home and garage burned. This is the smoke we could see from our motel.



Drove home this afternoon and the entire state is under a blanket of smoke.

Extremely happy to be home even if it is rockin’ and rollin’ with the wind as another cold front comes through.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Billings, MT   High 93   Low 55

We’re in Billings for some doctor appointments. I’ll have to catch up on blogs later. We didn’t bring the rig with us and are staying in a motel for the two nights we are here. I hate it.

Jim’s appointments with his dermatologist and his ophthalmologist went really well.

This afternoon we take the girls to the vet. I think Skittlez may be diabetic so that needs to be checked. Who knows what else besides shots need to be taken care of. 

Nice to see the son and his bride again. Went to dinner with them at Carino’s.


Hopefully I’ll be back with internet service again in a couple of days. See ya all then.

Friday, August 17, 2012


Helena, MT   High 64  Low 41


A cold front went through and we dropped from the 90’s into the 60’s with lots of wind. I’m sure grateful we weren’t up in the Great Falls or Cascade areas. They had winds at over 100 mph which did a lot of damage. We had gusts up to about 60 mph but they didn’t last very long here in Helena. Then by Saturday we will be back into the 90’s. What a summer this has been weatherwise.

P1000257When not exploring Helena we’ve been doing laundry (nice laundromat). 

Going out to dinner with friends. Sometimes I remembered to take a picture, and other times the camera stayed in my purse.

We went to Riley’s Irish Pub one evening with Nancy.


P1000307Nancy also worked at the IRS and we went to a lot of training classes together. She is one of the best cooks ever and used to make all these wonderful treats for our classes. Dinner was a lot of fun but the food was just so-so.  

Sharon and George were also here for a week. They are the ones who organized our Death Valley Cancer Walk but have since retired. My brother-in-law, Don, is Sharon’s uncle. We sure have had fun with them.

Putting up a tent


Tying shoes


Going to the Farmers Market


Buying nuts


And barbequing






             Sharon and Jim

Jim has been fishing and catching so we got to have a fish dinner one night. And more fish in the freezer.

Skittlez helps me with the blog.


Scooter loves to hunt in the weeds.


And beautiful sunsets. Not sure what that little black cloud was all about though.