Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Scultures in the Wild

 Our goal for this day off was to journey to a place we'd not seen before since our time in Montana. This site was recommended by fellow workampers so we made the 80 mile trip to Lincoln to see it. The welcoming sign says, "Blackfoot Pathways Sculpture in the Wild hosts some of the most innovative land and environmental art in Montana. Our mission is to provide an environment for the creation of significant artworks, both permanent and temporary. inspired by the rich and diverse cultural, environmental and industrial heritage of the Blackfoot Valley while fostering an awareness and appreciation of the arts through community engagement and education as well as our artist-in-residency program." This project began in 2014 as an International Sculpture Symposium when several artists worked with Lincoln community members to create this beautiful, unusual park.

 With excitement we headed for the first "sculpture", a transplanted teepee burner, a remnant of the once thriving timber industry in Montana. Inside were large photo displays of the former days of logging. We learned that concerts are held inside the burner. What a unique venue!

 Entitled "Gateway of Change", two trees growing apart, reunited again at the top, symbolize a gateway to new experiences. This design was imagined and constructed by Danish 
artist Jorn Ronnau.

Perhaps our favorite display was "Tree Circus" a fascinating work by a USA artist Patrick Dougherty. This edifice had inside chambers, doorways and windows looking out at the lovely forest of Ponderosa pines. We could easily imagine building a fire in the center, open to the sky, and throwing our sleeping bags into the inner "rooms".

 Part of God's artistry here, tiny baby chipmunks playing in the grass. They were the size of our thumbs and oblivious to our snapping camera.

 "Ponderosa Whirlpool" really did make us feel slightly dizzy. A quote from Chris Drury of the UK, "I wanted something which was in contrast to the verticality of the trees but which in some way seemed to draw down the sky into the earth." I think he succeeded!

Entitled "Stringer", the USA artist Casey Schachner wanted to "reflect on the balance between industry and environment, and the mutually beneficial relationship between human and nature." I could see this easily as I looked at the growing, thriving Ponderosas next to the cut and peeled poles used in human construction. 

 This amazing and imaginative sculpture was constructed of nothing but stacked up newspapers wound around poles. What an idea! The structure is composed of 28 lodge poles, 400 pounds of nails and 30,000 pounds of newspaper. The artist, Steven Siegel, worked with volunteers from Lincoln, Helena, Missoula and beyond over a 3 week period. It was indeed a community project.

Our last sculpture could not be seen from the trail, since it's all below ground! We had fun winding our way through it. It's called "East West Passage" the creation of Sam Clayton and Mark Jacobs of the UK. They said, "We built a sculpture that had to be experienced, navigated, a sculpture that spoke the local visual language and used the built corners we so admired, a sculpture born out of its place where the continent divides, lines zig-zag, and new routes of passage become possible." I'm not sure I understand all that, but I admired the creativity and the work that went into building it. As a bonus, at this display we met a fellow tourist who had lived in England, as Mr. Keith had, and we had quite a discussion about the differences between our culture and the culture of the UK. 

As a fitting end to our quite fascinating and educational day in Lincoln, we ate lunch in the tiny town of Ovando, claiming 50 residents and 100 dogs, at a little restaurant called 
The Stray Bullet.

Friday, December 29, 2017

A Snowy Day at the Missoula KOA

 I'd been waiting for a day with lots of snow and good photographic conditions. This was the day! It looked like about eight inches of lovely snow. Mr. Keith and I strapped on our high boots, put on warm coats, grabbed our trekking poles and set out. And, oh yes, the camera! We started  slogging through the tenting area of the KOA. I love this old cabin, part of the original homestead on these grounds before Elmer and Marge Frame purchased the land and established the campground back in the early 1960s. The story is that there was a large, white farmhouse which they decided to tear down. Imagine their surprise when they found that this small cabin was enclosed within  the larger house. They wisely decided to leave it as it was.

 The tenting area is strangely empty. Where are the brave souls with their arctic tents?

 No children were playing on Elmer's Playground today. This area once had a pond and a petting zoo, taken out when the neighborhood began growing and streets were put in to accommodate the increasing population. Very soon the KOA was no longer out in the country!

 This willow tree must stand alone. I can't imagine its age, but it is an awesome tree, especially with its beautiful coating of snow. The willow invites a climber, so much so that there needs to be a sign at the bottom prohibiting climbing, in order to keep it safe from damage. At the base there is a large, stone fire ring and picnic tables for group use.

At the KOA there are nineteen camping cabins. These four are particularly picturesque in the snow. Many characteristics of this campground make it an especially inviting place to stay, none more so than the large number of old, tall trees of many varieties. That's not surprising in a campground over fifty years old.

Our rig is shadowed by another striking willow tree.

Our feet were getting cold, but we trekked down another row in the open section of the park. There are usually one or two rigs camping overnight even in the winter. They have full service except for water at the site, which is closed off to prevent freezing. This keeps the crew busy plowing and cleaning to give the campers a pleasant experience.

Home again! We are snug in our little home for the winter.

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Day Trip to Painted Rocks State Park

It has been quite awhile since Mr. Keith and I have had a day trip away from the KOA and away from chemo. We've seen most of the sights around Missoula, but I discovered a spot on the map where we had not been, the Painted Rocks State Park, south of Darby, Montana. We packed a lunch and set out early to beat the heat. Driving down the Bitterroot is always awe-inspiring, always different in each season. In mid-July the snow is almost entirely gone from the mountain tops and the grasses in the valley are tall and lush. Just south of Darby we saw this small herd of buffalo munching grass and protecting their 2 or 3 little calves.

 We were anticipating what the "painted rocks" would look like. This is it! The State Park is along this man-made lake on the west fork of the Bitterroot River, way out from civilization.

 The park itself was just a few camping spots at the lake-side, populated by a couple of RVs and one or two tents.

We saw this fellow from a distance and hoped he would still be close enough for a photo. I should say he was! He appeared to have no fear of our car pulling right up beside him, in fact, he looked as though he were hoping for a hand-out! We've seen other mountain goats in our travels who were not skittish at all, either.

I am always trying to identify the mountain peaks in the Bitterroot but have only managed to name a few. This one, Trapper Peak, is most unusual because it has pointy tops in contrast to the rounded crests of the other peaks along the way. The State of Montana was most kind in putting up a sign at a roadside pull-out giving the history of area. Trapper Peak is the very highest of all the mountains in the Bitterroot at 10,157 feet. 
From the sign:
Trapper Peak has witnessed human activity in the Bitterroot valley for at least 8,000 years. earliest Valley occupants were prehistoric hunters and gatherers. The Bitterroot Salish Native Americans thrived in the Valley until 1891, when they were moved to the Flathead Indian Reservation. In 1805, members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition passed here; followed by traders, trappers, and missionaries. In an attempt to flee from the U.S. Army in 1877, the non-treaty Nez Perce Native Americans passed peacefully through the Valley on their way east. Mining, agriculture, and logging brought settlers, and in 1876 the mountain was named by Granville Lee Shook, a surveyor for the Anaconda Mining Company, for its trapping success. Trapper Peak’s timeless and sturdy form represents history; from the historic travelers of the past, to the modern-day traveler of tomorrow.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Moon-Randolph Homestead

 Less than two miles from downtown Missoula, history and culture intertwine at an old ranch in the Rattlesnake foothills. The City of Missoula purchased the 470-acre Randolph property in 1996 to preserve open space for animals, plants and people. We'd wanted to visit this ranch for some time, but knew it could only be reached by a trail crossing the side-hill above the city. Finally the day arrived and we began the climb. The view of Missoula was outstanding. We could see Lolo Peak in the far distance, and enjoyed picking out familiar buildings in the downtown.

 Just about at the point of saying, "Should we go back? Are we ever going to get there?" we came over a rise and saw the ranch below, in that first group of trees. We got our second wind and made it down to the group of buildings known as Moon-Randolph Homestead. The ranch is on the National Register of Historic Places. Ray and Luella Moon filed a 160 acre homestead in 1889 and were soon producing fruits and vegetables and even a bit of coal, which they carried to the city of Missoula by wagon.

The largest building on the property, and the most noticable, is the old barn, seemingly put together hodge-podge with a variety of materials. There were parts of railroad cars and old bedsteads holding the thing up. The Moons worked with what they had!

 I admired the ancient, worn and colorful wood throughout.

In 1894 the Moons sold the ranch to Ray's parents, William and Emma Randolph. This tiny house was where the Moons raised several children. There was a larger home up the hillside, built later. The ranch continued to supply much in the way of produce to the citizens of the town below.

  This is a root cellar, used of course for the root crops and apples and such, and also canned goods. In 1996 the city purchased the property, and since then there have been people who have been hired to live there in a more modern cabin, keeping up the gardens and orchards, maintaining the water wells, and showing interested folks around. When we were there a man and his little daughter were gathering apples and making cider in an old fashioned cider press found on the property.

This is Caroline, the current caretaker of the Homestead. She has a college degree enabling her to do exactly what she does here. On a very special note, she saw how exhausted we were after our long climb up the hillside, and also noticing our gray heads, so she volunteered to take us back to where our car was parked. Now, that's service! 
Thanks, Caroline!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Highway of Legends

 I picked up a pamphlet about the Highway of Legends when we visited Walsenburg a few weeks ago. I knew it was a drive we must take before leaving southern Colorado. From La Junta, driving southwest on highway 10 across the prairie, we got to watch parts of the Rockies growing bigger and bigger. This peak is called Greenhorn Mountain. It is 12,352 feet in elevation.
 I was able to identify several of the majestic peaks we saw, but our destination featured the glorious Spanish Peaks, towering over Walsenburg and Trinidad, just off the interstate I-25 freeway. These two peaks sit out from the main line of the Rockies, like Pikes Peak does. The east mountain, on the left, is 12,688 feet and the west peak rises to 13,631 feet. As I watched them growing closer and closer, it was fun to think that we would be driving on a road that runs around behind these peaks and next to the ridge of mountains just beyond.

 Mr. Keith needed a snack when we reached Walsenburg so we stopped at a fast food restaurant. I was delighted to see this mural right across the street telling about the Highway of Legends. We were excited to begin our journey on the highway! We learned that this area of southern Colorado has been home to many different people from indigenous native tribes and Spanish explorers to Mexican, French, English and American trappers and traders. In the 19th and 20th centuries, waves of immigrants came from Europe to work and mines or farm and ranch the fertile plains and valleys. All have left their marks, leading to the name given the area, Highway of Legends.

 I snapped this photo along the beginning of the road. 
Spanish Peaks
(American Name)
(Spanish Name)
(Indian Name)

 Right along the highway we spied this native American shrine. There were several crosses, various items of unknown meaning, along with a fence filled up with prayer ribbons.
The lore of this area is vivid, swirling in the spiritual myths of the American Indians and the history of their clashes with Spanish explorers. Like much of Colorado, where the promises of fortune led, trouble followed and tales of outlaws “settling their differences” are common. - See more at: http://www.colorado.com/articles/colorado-scenic-byway-highway-legends#sthash.wBJM3bOv.dpuf

The lore of this area is vivid, swirling in the spiritual myths of the American Indians and the history of their clashes with Spanish explorers. Like much of Colorado, where the promises of fortune led, trouble followed and tales of outlaws “settling their differences” are common. - See more at: http://www.colorado.com/articles/colorado-scenic-byway-highway-legends#sthash.wBJM3bOv.dpuf
 After we passed through Cuchara, which seemed mostly to be a place of resorts for tourists, we made it to the top of Chuchara Pass, elevation 9995 feet. When I added in my own height I could say I was at over 10,000 feet!

 I didn't get a very good photo of this rock wall, which was similar to many such rock walls we saw on our drive. It's called the Dakota formation. All the walls we passed by were tall and not very wide, quite striking. This one is in the tiny town of Stonewall, named so appropriately.

Just a few miles from Trinidad we drove through the tiny town of Cokedale. These puzzling structures snaking across the valley vaguely resemble ancient Roman ruins but are actually coke ovens that transformed coal into coke for use in smelting iron. It seems coal mining was the main industry in this area. We could see old piles of black powder-like earth with vegetation growing in it.

 The peak in the distance, part of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, towers over the city of Trinidad. It's called Fishers Peak. There is a large lake formed by a dam across the Purgatoire River. We knew we were nearing the end of one of the most scenic drives we've taken. Beyond Trinidad we'd be once again crossing the prairie back to La Junta.

 After a late lunch in Trinidad we drove around the town a bit. I looked up the city, population 9,000, on my iPad and discovered an astonishing fact. Trinidad was known as The Sex Change Capital of the World! I could hardly fathom it. Why Trinidad? It is a fascinating city, filled with Victorian style mansions and brick buildings in the old part of town. We'd have spent more time had it not been getting late in the afternoon.
The Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church was right in the heart of town, on Church Street. Beautiful! We enjoyed our lovely drive through the Rockies and said our good-byes to the Highway of Legends as we headed up highway 350 towards home. This road's claim to fame is that it was the part of the Santa Fe Trail from La Junta to Trinidad. Other than that fact, this highway is 80 miles of fairly boring flat land. We wondered how long it took the wagons in the mid 1800s to traverse this trail. There are a couple of road-side signs pointing to parts of the trail where folks stopped for water and rest. We were happy to be home after a day logging on 250 miles!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Garden of the Gods in Colorado

Just up the road from the Manitou Cliff Dwellings are some fantastic red rock formations jutting up from the hillside, named The Garden of the Gods. We'd visited this park when we worked at the Strasburg KOA in 2010, but we wanted to see it again. I noticed that coming up the freeway from the south the glorious red monoliths stood out above Colorado Springs proclaiming their presence over even the man-made buildings

First, though, lunch was in order. We stopped at the Garden of the Gods Trading Post at the south entrance to the Gardens and feasted on burgers. I liked the salt and pepper holders made from forks and spoons. Mr. Keith looks unique in his own right, too!

It was Saturday, a very busy day for touristing. The park was full of people, cars, bikes, and hikers. We stopped to get this shot of Pikes Peak and were rewarded with some horse-back riders who waved hello at us.

This is perhaps the largest of the rocks, showing only about a quarter of itself in this photo. You can see the tiny people at the bottom of the picture.

Another portion of the same rock shows a formation on the top called the "Kissing Camels".

 We saw some climbers trying their skills up the sheer side of the cliffs. Many people climb here, but are required to have a permit showing that they have the proper equipment and skills. It was rather nerve-wracking to watch!

I love this cliff side. To me, the middle part looks like a giant mummy!

Another awesome viewpoint along the trail. The best part of visiting this park is that there is no charge to get in. The original owner of the land deeded it over to the city in 1909 with the stipulation that it would always be open to the public for free. The city of Colorado Springs does do an excellent job of keeping up the grounds and taking care of the new Visitor Center, trails, and restrooms. Rangers are in attendance keeping a watch on the visitors and answering questions.

One last shot as we walked along the road on our way back to our car. I appreciate that the roads are mostly one-way, with a safe, wide lane alongside for hikers and bikers.