Last Montanan Adventure

Having had to pass on several adventures due to my silly knee, I was pretty excited to FINALLY get out of the house. With seven recognized Indian reservations, Montana has quite a few Pow Wows during the year. I had yet to visit one, and lucky for me there was one in Arlee the weekend before I had to leave. Plus I got the added bonus of getting to revisit the Garden of 1,000 Buddahs to see their progress since the Peace Festival in September. It was pretty cool to see the progress they have made in 10 months. Back in September they only had about 200 Buddah’s finished, and a handful of stupas shipped from overseas. Currently they have around 800 Buddah’s finished, all the Stupas out, and mini garden’s being placed around the temple. Overall it looks beautiful, and I’m glad to see it come to fruition. Next I went to visit the Pow Wow in Arlee. For those who don’t know, a Pow Wow is a gathering of a Native Tribe where they dance, and celebrate their heritage and ancestors. Having not eaten anything yet that day I decided to get some food to eat. I wandered around for several minutes trying to find something that was at least semi-authentic. Vendors were selling burgers, pizza, jerk chicken and several other types of non-native junk foods. Indian burgers and tacos turned out to be regular burger and tacos but just wrapped in fried bread instead of buns or tortilla’s. I finally found a vendor that had what looked liked Native foods of bean and rice. They also had something called red menudo which I had never head of. However I figured that since I was there I might as well try different foods, so I ordered it. Turns out menudo is a stew made out of beef tripe (stomach). So needless to say, after a couple of bites I stopped eating it. I then walked (read crutched) over to the main tent for the Grand Entry. Over 400 dancers in costumes came into the dance floor for the grand entry. They all wore traditional costumes that were made by themselves or by family members. Their costumes are really bright and colorful and interesting to look. Here’s a few pictures so you can see what I mean. Sorry for the terrible angle, but I was not really able to move around to get good pictures. And I was pleasantly surprise on my way home. I caught sight of a double rainbow!!!

 So that’s it folks. A (slightly less than) year in Montana. Overall it’s been a good year, (except for this injury, but that’s Wyoming’s fault) and great experience for me. Thanks for tuning in.



So Bad News…..

So I have a small fracture on my tibial plate (where it meets the knee), and possible ACL damage. Basically I have to stay off my leg for the next 2-3 weeks and than get reevaluated. So my adventures here in Montana have pretty much come to an end. I’m going to do one last adventure at a local pow wow, but there are a quite a few things that I won’t be able to do that I wanted to share with you which I’m bummed about. This also means that I have to go home and follow up with a Dr instead of the awesome roadtrip I had planned along the west coast with Stephen and my Mom.

And in other bad news, my roommates puppy chewed up the expensive camera I bought a few months ago. So I’m back to using the crappy 7mp camera.

So you’ll get one more post outta me before I head back home.

Devil’s Tower National Monument

A couple weekends ago some fellow VISTAS and I went to visit Devil’s Tower National Monument. Allison’s friend from High School is serving as VISTA in Colorado. The two of them had wanted to meet up during the year, and they decided to make a large camping trip by each bringing a group of friends and meeting halfway.

Devil’s Tower National Monument is a unique geologic tower formation. The common theory to explain the Tower’s exisitance takes place roughly 50 million years ago, when the Rockies formed. Collision of the Pacific tectonic plate with the North American plate caused the plate to buckle forming the Rocky Mountains and the Black Hills. Around the same time a pillar of magma forced it’s way up through many layers of sedimentary rock. Thousands of years later, the surrounding sediment washes away through various floods, leaving behind a tower of harder igneous rock.

As you can imagine, a giant 300 foot tower in the middle of Wyoming is pretty strange. The native tribes in the area have many different beliefs about the origin of the tower. Some believe that there is a spirit trapped in the Mountain. Other stories explain how the Seven Sisters constellation came to be. According to the story a village Shaman took some forbidden bear medicine, and was turned into a giant bear. He than proceeded to kill all of the villagers, with the exception of the sisters who managed to get away. As they were chased by this bear, they asked the great spirit to save them. The great spirit elevated the ground they were standing on to great heights, while the bear clawed at them, raking the sides of the tower in the process. The seven sisters were lifted so high that they escaped into the sky and came to live with the great spirit. In any account, this tower represents a very spiritual place, and many people have their ancestors buried on these grounds. Many Indian peoples come to pray and place prayer bundles. Whenever a gust of wind blows the bundle it sends a prayer up to the Great Spirit.

Besides spiritual significance, the Tower has been the center of a lot of history. Devil’s Tower was the first national landmark created in 1906. Using the Antiquities Act Roosevelt created the first natural area of significance to be protected. This later led to establishing over 50 national parks and monuments across the country including Yellowstone, The Grand Canyon, Zion and many others. Many rock climbers also travel from all over to climb the tower. The columnar structure of the tower forms long trains of cracks that rock climbers can use to climb up the tower. In 1875 a geologist named Henry Newton said that the top of Devil’s Tower was inaccessible to anything without wings. Less than 20 years later a pair of local ranchers named Rogers and Ripley created a 350+ foot ladder to climb to the top. In the 1940’s a stuntman parachuted on top of the tower. Unfortunately although he landed on the top of the tower, the rope he needed to repel down didn’t. The poor guy was stuck on the tower for 6 days until they could organize a team to climb up, and assist him down.

There are also many prairie dogs around Devil’s Tower. Anytime you walk somewhere they all come out and bark at you. 

After hiking Devil’s Tower we spent the afternoon chilling and took a dip in the river.

Unfortunately for me, this is where the trip went terribly sour for me. A bunch of us were kicking around playing frisbee, and I managed to trip and hyper extend my knee. I ended up getting splinted and sent to the hospital where I found out I injured my ACL. So for now I’m on crutches until they figure out how bad it is. My adventures will be limited for now (I can’t even drive to my own appointments). I had a long road trip planned out at the end of my service, which I’m not sure I can do now, but I will let you guys know what’s up when I know.

Here’s a picture with my new crutches.

Shenandoah National Park

Last weekend I took a break from Montana to go visit my boyfriend in Virginia. I hopped on a plane ridiculously early in the morning, leaving behind  a snowstorm, and stepped off the plane in Virginia to 90 degree weather and 40% humidity. Needless to say, quite the temperature change.

Luckily we we got to escape up to the mountains where it was slightly cooler (after getting a huge sushi meal of course. There aren’t really any sushi places in Montana.). We spent the weekend hiking around Shenandoah National Park with Stephen’s family.

Shenandoah is located in the Blue Mountains. All the carbon dioxide from the trees makes the surrounding air appear a hazy blue. Our first hike of the trip was rather hot and sticky, but gave us great views.

We checked in our hotel for a bit and waited for cooler weather. In the afternoon we went and frolicked in big medows. We met some friends there as well.

Next day we got up relatively early (before 9) and went for a hike down dark hallows falls trail. Stephen and I had taken a picture in front of the falls over 3 years ago, so it was kinda cool to get a picture of us years later. I also snapped a cool butterfly picture.

We hiked other trails that day. But the finale to our day was to watch the sunset over the mountains. 

And to top the whole weekend off, Stephen’s family got some new kittens that I got to play with. I had come up with the idea of naming them Merry and Pippin (cause what else would you name two tiny curious creatures), and to my surprise they decided to name them after the hobbits!

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more Montana Adventures soon.


So last weekend some friends and I took a little road trip around southwest Montana on a day long road trip. We drove around the Ruby Mountains, through the ruby valley, and next to the tobacco roots. It’s kinda crazy how the landscape changes so drastically with driving a few miles around these mountains. We drove through lush river lands, through mountains of overturned earth, and finally back We drove through several small towns along the way. Silver star was not really that note worthy except for an interesting pile of metal with huge metal wheels. Sam and Sheila decided to blow dandelion seeds at each other during our little stop.

Next we stopped in Twin Bridges. They had a little park with a bunch of stuff about lewis and clark’s travels through the area. We goofed off here, playing in the metal teepee, and wooden canoe. We wandered around the fairgrounds and found a playground to waste some time on.

After sufficiently satisfying our inner children, we drove up in the mountains for a little bit. I had read about a short trail that would be a perfect hike for our day abroad. Unfortunately we were unable to find the trail head (they don’t have very good trail maps here in montana). But we enjoyed a nice lunch outdoors, and played in the river.

Next we drove through the ruby valley. The valley gets it’s name from the bounty of rubies (and mostly garnets) that were found in the area.There are many remnants of old miners homes and settlements. We stopped at an old church that was made from local clay in the area. 

Also in the area is Nevada City/Virginia City. Nevada city is an old ghost town that has been turned into a tourist attraction similar to Plymouth Plantation. During tourist season (which sadly starts apparently in a few more weeks) actors will live in the town, and act in a manner similar to townsfolk back in the early 1900’s. While only a few of the buildings are original to the town, all of the buildings are from Montana, and many have been moved here to be apart of the “town”. They also have a 1928 steam engine that used to run back and forth between Virginia City and Nevada City. Sadly it needs major repair work to be able to operate again, but it was fun nonetheless to look at it. Sheila had fun with the saloon doors.

Virginia is the “living city” of the two towns. Located just a few more miles down the road, Virginia City has a main street that they have maintained in the style similar to Nevada City. They have an opera house, old style candy shoppe, coin operated arcade games (or what they called arcade games in the early 1900’s!), museums, trade shops, and much more. Just outside of main street the town has moved into this century with houses and more recent buildings.

Continuing on our journey, we drove through rather alien territory. The surrounding fields had been thoroughly dug through for rubies back in the mid 1900’s. They had giant machines that basically turned the hills inside out in search of treasures. 50+ years later there are alder groves growing in the middle of this overturned and dumped earth. Sadly although I took a picture, my camera apparently didn’t save it so I can’t show what I mean. But hopefully when I am back in the area I’ll snap a few more photos. We drove by some pretty mountains on the way. 

We finished our day at Norris Hot Springs. I had only gone to the local Boulder Hot Springs, which while is has cool architecture, is in some bad need of repair. Norris is pretty much bare bones, with a large outdoor soaking pool, and not much in the form of buildings. But it was much cleaner than Boulder’s and a much better atmosphere (would much rather be soaking outside anyway where the humidity doesn’t smother you). On weekends they also have live music and you can order food made from local ingredients and drink local wine and beer. It was a great end to an awesome day, and I can’t wait to go back there.



So about 3 weekends ago (I know long time ago, but between moving and the GRE this is the first I have gotten to post about it) some town friends and I spent the day together searching for gold. It was a gorgeous day outside, in the mid 70’s, and Artha wanted to go searching for treasure. Her husband Jim packed up his panning equipment, Artha brought their metal detector, and we packed a picnic and headed up to Comet to go search for treasure. Alisha brought her dog Brady along for the ride, and I had a blast with my (at the time) new camera taking pictures.

Comet is another ghost town in the area. Established in 1876, the town experienced slow growth until a second ore boom in the 1880’s thanks to a new ore smelter built in Wickes 6 miles away (this is another ghost town in Jefferson County), and a new railroad branch to Helena. At it’s peak the town housed about 300 people, a school house with 20 school kids, and 20 saloons. Just how they were able to support that many saloons is baffling. Perhaps they had a lot of seasonal workers. Comet turned out to be a short lived town, with ore playing out in the early 1900’s. By 1913 the once prosperous town had become a ghost town.

In the 1920’s the mines were purchased by a new company, who invested heavily in the town. They built a 200 steel concentrator which was said to be the most advanced building at the time in Montana. It became the second largest mining operation in Montana, second only to Butte. Mining continued until 1941, at which time much of the equipment was sold off. People moved away again. To this day Comet remains a ghost town.

Failing to find any lost rings in Comet, we continued into the mountains until we found an old cabin. Artha brought her metal detector searching for more treasures. Unfortunately she had no luck that day. But we had a nice picnic outside, and I snapped some nice pictures.

That’s all for now. I’m taking a mini road trip with some friends this weekend. Hopefully I can get that blog up within the week.

Winter in Yellowstone

So a couple of weekends ago I finally got the chance to head to Yellowstone again. I was hoping for some snow, and even packed my snowshoes. Unfortunately I got there a little two late to be getting any use out of said snowshoes, but I got to see some pretty snow covered mountains along the way.

Unfortunately only a tiny part of yellowstone was open at this time. I spent a lot of time hiking around the mammoth hot springs again. This time I went I hiked all around the formations.

 I really like mockingbirds. They just look so cool.

After hiking all around the springs, I tried to look for more hiking trails. But there really weren’t any more in the open section of Yellowstone. I took a few more river pictures.

So I decided to head back, but first stopped for a dip in the boiling river. This spot in the Gardner River (Not to be confused with Gardiner the town. More on that later.) gets runoff from a small river stemming from an underground hot vent. This water often exceeds boiling temperatures, and would burn you severely if you decided to take a dip. However this boiling river runs into the Gardner River, turning the frigid glacial river into something a little more pleasant to soak in. The one downside to this spot is that it’s impossible to find a spot that remains a seemingly even temperature. If you are not close enough to the heat, you often get washed with freezing water on one side. But if you get closer to the heat you often get washed with extremely hot water. I relaxed for about half an hour in the river, until a large group of kids came over and started splashing around in the water, and a group of young adults came to dunk obviously intoxicated (one got way too close to the boiling river run off and scalded his leg. Listening to him complain about how hot the water was amusing. You thing the name Boiling River would have given him a clue).

And last fun fact about Gardner and Gardiner. The Gardner River was named in 1830 for Johnson Gardener an illiterate trapper. Maps after 1870 show an i in the river’s name due to a mispronouciation. It was reverted back to it’s original spelling in 1959. However during this time the town of Gardiner sprung up around the river, taking the river’s name as it’s own. For whatever reason town officials have never bothered to change it back to the original name of the river.

Thats all for now folks.