Thursday, July 25, 2013

Museum of the Rockies

 The Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman has been described as having one of the best space and dinosaur exhibits in the U.S. so we knew we needed to go there. Neither of us are huge museum fans — it depends on the subject matter. We most enjoyed the 1/2 hour we spent in reclining chairs staring up at the ceiling where a wondrous and fascinating display and description of outer space took place.

 On the top floor we discovered a room where children could go and play with various exhibits. We found several critter statues made out of the strangest things! I love foxes. This one has appendages made from very odd items.

A buffalo and her baby constructed with all kinds of odds and ends for body parts. I was especially amused to see the two hind legs made from electric guitars!

Exiting the museum we saw, off to the side, a reconstructed homestead from the mid 1800s. We had not noticed it when we entered the main door of the museum. Now, this is what I really love and appreciate seeing! William Tinsley homesteaded 160 acres at Willow Creek, south of Three Forks. Tinsley and his wife lived here from 1867 with 8 children until he was able to increase his lands and build a new, big house 20 years later. I can not even imagine 10 people in that tiny home!

In the 1980s the state of Montana acquired the homestead with all its buildings and moved and reconstructed them here in Bozeman. The house is surrounded by the typical outbuildings, as well as a lovely flower and vegetable garden, all from heirloom seeds and varieties that existed in the time period, and all beautifully kept. And there was no entry fee!

  The back of the house.

 Silly Mr. Keith in quite a deluxe outhouse, a two-holer.

 I love the old back porch. It reminded me a little of my childhood home. Here I am, broom in hand, ready to clean things up!

I had to get a photo of the old piano in the drawing room. It was even in tune!

My grandmother had a Singer sewing machine just like this one! She sewed many a garment and quite a few quilts on hers.

 The house is unusual in that it is a hands-on museum display. Every day meals are prepared for the staff right here on the cast iron cookstove. There were very few "Do Not Touch" signs and no barriers in any of the rooms keeping the lookers from entering in. There was even a room upstairs with old clothes from the time period for trying on!

I took this photo from upstairs, through a screened window, because it was the best view of the garden. We truly enjoyed our look back to olden, pioneer times in Montana!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Madison Buffalo Jump

Our goal today was to explore the area between the I-90 freeway, and to the south, the Norris Highway, west of Bozeman. There is a large valley through which the Madison River flows, coming north up from Yellowstone. We ate lunch in Three Forks, then found the Madison Road heading down toward the Buffalo Jump. The valley is broad, and not quite as hilly and green as it is a little further south. We came upon this historic little cabin identified as that of George and Edna Wilcox, 1907-1940.

 The valley included several large ranches, populated by horses, cows, and crops. The backdrop here shows the cliffs rising up from the Madison River.

 We turned off onto the Greycliff Road hoping to get a look at the river. Free ranging cows looked at us reproachfully, seeming to claim the road as their own.

 The Madison River, wide and beautiful. I stuck my feet in and discovered it was almost warm, a surprise in this part of the country.

 After traveling for miles on a dusty, gravel road we finally came to the Jump.

From the State Parks website:
"Situated on the edge of a broad valley carved by the Madison River, this high limestone cliff was used by Native Americans for 2,000 years--ending as recently as 200 years ago. Native people stampeded vast herds of bison off this massive semicircular cliff, using them for food, clothing, shelter and provisions." I read at the Interpretive Center that Salish, Pend d'Oreille, Bannock, Crow and Blackfeet Indians all used this site.

 "Runners, highly skilled young men trained for speed and endurance, wore buffalo, antelope or wolf skins to lure bison to the "pishkun" or cliff. The buffalo jump was often the key to existence for native peoples. Although the introduction of horses led to the abandonment of this jump sometime after 1700, the rugged outcropping now serves as an inspiring monument to the region's early inhabitants." I was most impressed to read that the Indian women were the ones who skinned the bison, cut up the meat, dried it and also preserved the hide and many other parts of the bison, using almost the entire animal.

 Looking away from the "Jump" we gazed out onto the valley with a Montana mountain range in the distance completing the picture. The awesome landscapes all around us continue to amaze us. There is always something new to see in "Big Sky" country!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Early Morning Country Drive

 We continue to believe that the Gallatin Valley is one of the most beautiful places we've been! The landscapes are gorgeous. We wandered some back roads this morning, not knowing where we would come out, but always enjoying the mountain ranges giving us some direction.

 This was an interesting junk yard filled with vintage autos and trucks, horse trailers, tractors and other puzzling hunks of old, rusty machinery. The car body on the ancient truck had a price on it — $1200!

 When we looked for a side road on the west side of the Gallatin Highway to explore we found one called the Axtell Road. It led to the Gallatin River with this old, one-lane bridge with a board floor. Of course we had to cross it!

What a gorgeous, blue, calm river the Gallatin is, at least here. Looks like a great place to catch some fish! The Gallatin flows from Yellowstone and disappears into the mighty Missouri River to the north at Three Forks. There is always something beautiful to stir the senses in the Gallatin Valley!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Incomparable Yellowstone!

 The day came when we chose to drive to Yellowstone, a bright, sunny day filled with anticipation. We had both been to Yellowstone numerous times in the past, but it is such a wonderland, one could never see it all. Today we drove down the Gallatin Highway to West Yellowstone and planned to drive up the west side of the famous "Figure 8" in the park, going out by way of the north entrance. We will save the east area of the park for another day. The photo above is the Madison River, so clear and blue, and lovely.

 The Biscuit Basin was our first stop. There is a boardwalk leading past these colorful wonders.

 The water almost looks like it's on fire!

 Old Faithful, the most popular display of all.

 The excited crowd stretched a long ways. I heard a few bored children waiting for what they'd been promised, and a few patient parents encouraging them to keep watching.

 I must always look at wildflowers. These were abundant throughout the park, but I did not identify them.

The Gibbon River, below a beautiful waterfall. From this viewpoint we could see evidence of the 1988 wildfire that roared through the park. New trees are about 20 feet tall  by now.

 Mammoth Hot Springs. By now we were tired enough to just stay in the car and drive on through. The next time we visit Yellowstone we will come down through Livingston and Gardiner to the north entrance, where Mammoth is located, so that we can spend more time here.

 Strangely enough, we didn't see much wildlife in the park except for some elk at a distance and a couple pairs of moose ears sticking up through some long marsh grass. Once we exited the park and passed through Gardiner, we spotted several mountain goats right along the highway. They didn't seem to mind our screeching to a halt, rolling down our windows and snapping photos.

A mama and her baby. The adult goats were not skittish, but the babies ran and hid behind their mothers when they saw us.

A cliff north of Gardiner showing the famous yellow color for which Yellowstone is named. The Yellowstone River runs along the highway here.

This is the incredibly beautiful Emigrant Peak. It was in our sight the whole way to Livingston. We plan to visit Yellowstone again before we leave Bozeman, but may wait until early September. I'm sure the views will be quite different by then!