Missoula: Henry wins an award and we eat

This may be the last of my catch-up posts. I really let this blog get away from me during the very busy month of May. For the first time since I had kids, I was gone more in one month than I was home. And it was pretty much all fun and games.

The weekend before we left for California and the weekend after I went to Jackson, the four of us traveled to Missoula for the International Wildlife Film Festival. I already told you that H won "Best Web Series" for his polar bear shorts (he looks really cute in them), well this is where he picked up the plaque.

PBI paid for his room, so the boys and I came along to play and eat our way through Missoula. Leaving the very brown and overcast Livingston, we were thrilled to see trees all leafed-out, flowers abounding and sunshine. They don't call it the Garden City for nothing.

It was good for me to see Missoula in all its glory since when I lived there in 94-95, it was gray and cold everyday until I left at the end of May. The inversion layer kept the cold in and the sun out. Ice covered the streets and when I rode my bike to school, I'd slide across intersections whenever I used the brakes. There were a lot of things I liked about Missoula, but the weather wasn't one of them.

We left early for the 3.5 hour drive over the Continental Divide and into the western part of the state. After dropping H off at the theater to attend workshops, the boys and I parked at the hotel and started walking.

It was a little bit of a junk show at first. Picture me pushing a double stroller, a dog leash in each had (with a big hyper dog at the end of each leash) and a four-year-old running amok near a swollen river.

Our first stop was A Carousel for Missoula. That's what they call it. It's a smaller, beautifully crafted carousel. And perhaps because it is small, it's one of the faster carousels I've been on. You aren't allowed to stand up, and you better hold on. We ended up riding it each of the three days we were there.

Anders knew immediately which horse he would ride.

Finn was a little nervous, so he and I sat on the bench for the first ride. But, he looked good doing it. We shared a horse the next two times.

The dragon playground is right behind the carousel, so we played there for awhile.

Next up was Bernice's Bakery for lunch (something healthy) and cupcakes (something delicious).

Anders chose "Pucker Up" a citrusy delight that I did not get to sample. Finn had lavender something, which was superb, and I lucked out with the green tea cupcake.

After that, we needed a long walk, so we cruised down the path that follows the Clark Fork all the way to the Montana Natural History Center. The museum is kind of small, but they run a lot of amazing programs out of there. It was cool for the kids to see how big some of our local animals really are.

Tempting a pronghorn to bite him.


In case you were wondering how tall a moose is in comparison to a kid. They are freakishly big and much scarier than a bear when you meet them in the wild. Ask Rigby.

We took our time walking back along the river. We threw rocks, threw sticks, we threw leaves. We poked around in the mud and watched the river.

After some quiet time in the hotel where I let the kids watch PBS Kids so I could sleep, Henry returned. We went to a party downtown sponsored by the Montana State University's Science and Natural History Filmmaking program, from which H recently graduated. Then we got some Mexican food.

I sense this is getting a bit long, so I'll save the rest for tomorrow...

Permalink 06/16/11 12:00:48 am, by Mel Email , 672 words, Categories: Announcements [A], Montana, Festivals/Events, Museums/Nature Centers, Eat, Things to Do, Wildlife, Anders, Family, Finn ,

Please pass the ketchup

Way back in April of 2010 we went to a birthday party for our friend Brooke. Since her birthday was the same weekend as the royal wedding, she used that as a party theme. So, we all dressed up like royalty. Of course, my clan was of the homemade-royalty variety.

When you have a crown, you've got to wear it. The next day we went Letterboxing at the Cherry Creek Recreation Area. Alas, the trail was closed and the letterbox was missing. Still, we had a nice walk in the rain and snow.

Ready to go, but humoring mom with a photo.

Dead end.

Wet, wet, wet.

You can write your own transition here, since I don't have one. But, this is what happens when you put Finn on the toilet. I just hope he is out of diapers by the time he gets to high school.

For the record, we don't force him to sit there. That was just one unfortunate incident.

The first weekend in May I drove down to Jackson, Wyoming to see friends and not take photos. On the way home, I went through West Yellowstone to Mammoth in search of bison babies.

Blurry, but super cute, bison calves.

Roaring Mountain.

Backside of Bunsen Peak.

It was still raining when I got back to Livingston. The boys and I donned bright clothes for a puddle stomping adventure.

Geared up and ready to splash.

The kids aren't the only ones who rock the colorful rainwear.

Ketchup -- catch up. Get it?

Permalink 06/15/11 12:35:07 am, by Mel Email , 253 words, Categories: Announcements [A], Yellowstone, People, State Parks, Wyoming, Hikes, Wildlife, Anders, Dogs, Family, Finn ,

Beaver Pond Loop--Yellowstone National Park

This past weekend we ventured down to the park for a little walk. I was hoping we could climb Bunsen Peak (a steep, but short walk-up mountain named for the dude who invented the eponymous burner), but there was too much snow.

Our Plan B turned out to be perfect: A 5.1-mile loop with big views, a beaver pond, wildlife and lots of flowers.

The Beaver Pond Loop starts between the Mammoth Terraces and the judge's house in Yellowstone National Park. It climbs steadily for the first mile, but then is pretty flat or downhill the rest of the way. It passes several (I'm guessing) ephemeral ponds and follows part of the shoreline of a large beaver pond. The trail ends behind the Mammoth Inn, a short walk from the parking area.

This was one of my mom's favorite walks last summer when she was working in Yellowstone. I've only hiked it once: on a very hot day with about 12 fourteen-year-olds who had just flown to Bozeman from back east and then driven the 1.5 hours to the park. My memories are not sweet.

The trail was redeemed in my mind on this gorgeous spring/summer day. It was crazy-green (for the northern part of the park) and the weather was perfect. Mostly sunny, with a bit of rain when we sat under conifers to eat our lunch.

Hold onto your hat, there are a lot of photos.

Anders always starts a hike by sprinting up the trail. We try to keep up with him.

Arrowleaf balsam root. Oh yes, there will be many flower photos. I've been waiting all winter.

We catch up with the prince. He wore his crown for the whole hike.

Whew! After 0.7 miles, we were ready for a snack.

You can borrow this look if you want.

Finn hiked for about three minutes. I told him I wouldn't carry him next summer. He told me "I think you probably will."

A cow elk watches us pass. She is no doubt more relieved than we are to see some green.

Larkspur--my fave.

Finn and I assume our usual positions. I just consider it training for when I go backpacking this summer. At 32 pounds, he's about the right weight.

Even a prince has to pee.


Lunch = rice cake, homemade hummus, cukes and tomatoes.

The first pond is not the beaver pond.

The second pond is not the beaver pond.

Do you see all that green?

Oregon grape

The dudes investigate some scat. Turns out to be bison (in case you were wondering).


The scat culprit. This bison was laying a couple feet from the trail; we climbed up the hill so we wouldn't bother him. Not a good idea to make a bison stand up.

Now that's a beaver pond.

A bird's nest we found under the tree from which it fell.

Beaver dam.

A young buck just off the trail. Note antlers still in velvet.

Thrilled to be buck-watching.

One of two does.

Family on a rock in the forefront and Mt Everts in the background.

Finn investigates lichen.

What the phlox?

The Terraces and (lower half) of Bunsen Peak.

Anders said he wants to hike 6 miles next time.

Permalink 06/14/11 12:19:33 am, by Mel Email , 534 words, Categories: Yellowstone, Wyoming, Hikes, Wildlife, Anders, Family, Finn ,

Pine Creek Falls

A couple weekends ago we kicked off the summer season with a hike to Pine Creek Falls. It's one of our standards because it is close, short and has a magnificent turn around spot. It doesn't hurt that the Pine Creek Cafe sits near the turnoff for the trailhead. On this day, we enjoyed breakfast with Big H, who along with Mogie, is back in southwest Montana for the summer. Not a day too soon!

Maybe because we go there so often, I forgot to take a photo of the main falls, which were pumping. So. Much. Water.

This is what happens when Anders takes the photo...

Fortunately, he takes a few, so eventually we are all all in the shot.

Rigby is sporting his hilarious summer 'do.

He really does have a lot of fun, but when the camera is pointed at him he gets so serious.

A less serious duo.

One of the funniest photos ever taken of Rigby. Who knew someone so gorgeous could look so silly?

The much smaller, side falls at Pine Creek.

Diesel doing what Diesels do.

There's a smile.

Permalink 06/13/11 12:07:35 pm, by Mel Email , 186 words, Categories: Montana, Hikes, Anders, Dogs, Family, Finn ,

{at long last} a 9th St Island bridge update

It's been awhile since I have written about the 9th Street Island bridge and I know it has been on everyone's mind. You may recall I wrote a riveting post about its near collapse in May 2008. Then in June of that year I wrote about its replacement with a "temporary" Bailey bridge. I added this stirring bridge update in April 2009.

I won a lot of awards for my bridge coverage and figured that people were dying to know what has happened with the bridge lately.

We lived with the temporary bridge until this spring (2011). Only island residents and their guests were allowed to use the bridge, so the 9th Street Island became a private island for the most part. We went to one party there, but otherwise stayed on the mainland for three years.

Then, we saw them constructing a new bridge and a couple of weeks ago it opened to the public. We were once again free to roam the island. Or at least walk about 1/2 mile down its one road. Henry and I added it to our running route.

The river is near flood stage again, much as it was that fated May when the bridge blew out. It seems steady, but just in case, I am adding it to my route as often as possible.

Protecting the golf course from the river. I don't know what steps are taken to protect the river from the golf course.

Our shiny new bridge.

All that water rushes into the Missouri River at the North Dakota border and then into the Mississippi. And that's just one of many big Montana rivers contributing to flooding in the midwest.

Fleshman Creek where it enters the Yellowstone.

Update to the update: It looks like the river crested a few days ago at just over .5 feet. That doesn't mean it can't crest again, but I think we are going to survive the river gods' wrath this year.

Permalink 06/12/11 05:53:29 pm, by Mel Email , 323 words, Categories: Announcements [A], Montana ,

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