Sunday, December 31, 2006

Flathead Lake Monster?

Ice fishing on Flathead Lake can be dangerous!

























In addition to the weather and concern that the ice is thick enough, other dangers exist in the dark, cold waters of Flathead Lake. The legendary Flathead Lake Monster has been recently sighted (again). Learn more about this threat to your ice fishing vacation here...

Oh and BTW, I want to thank everyone who has visited our humble blog this past year. It is my most sincere hope that you will add this blog to your 'Favorites' (or subscribe via email by clicking the envelope at right)and feel free to participate by asking questions about Flathead Lake or Glacier National Park. We'd love to see you come for a visit to "The Last Best Place"! Oh, and one more thing...

Happy New Year!

From my family to yours, we hope that 2007 is everything you want it to be, and that you enjoy good health and sufficient wealth in your chosen pursuit of happiness. Stay safe and live life today to its fullest. Heck, let's agree to do that every day and make 2007 the best yet... that's my New Year's resolution - and one I intend to keep!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Montana Bears


I consider myself a friend of the bears. Don't get me wrong, I'm not the type of fella who feeds the bears or thinks they are "cute". I have the utmost respect for bears and fear them in a healthy way, but I sure do love seeing bears - be bears. Bear lovers received some promising news this week. Here in NW Montana, we have the largest population of grizzlies in the lower 48 states. In fact, a new study just confirmed that our local area grizzly count is a minimum of 545 and Glacier National Park has the largest number.

A DNA project led by the U.S. Geological Survey and supported by other federal, state and tribal agencies over a 12 week period in 2004, collected 34,000 hair samples across almost eight million acres stretching from the Canadian border to state Highway 200 on the NCDE's southern border and from U.S. Highway 89 on the eastern edge to U.S. Highway 93 in the west. Advances in genetic technology were used to estimate population size. The hairs were caught on barbed wire at 2,500 "hair corrals" put up as part of the study. Bears investigated because of scent placed at the corrals. Read the whole story...

We live among bears. For most of the year I have to keep my trash bins behind an electric fence to keep the bears at bay. If my battery dies, I'll find my garbage scattered over two acres. I've seen bears in my yard and even came face to face with one two years ago when I surprised him while dining on the overflow of a bird feeder in my front yard. I don't know who was more surprised, me or the bear. You can bet that when my Great Pyrenees begins to howl and acts agitated, there is probably a bear in the vivinity. Our Pyr is the best bear alarm one could have.

Part of the enchantment of the Flathead Valley is being so close to such an impressive creature as a grizzly or black bear. If you plan on visiting Glacier National Park or Flathead Lake areas - bring plenty of film and some pepper spray. But mostly, bring your childhood wonder...
BTW, that picture above was taken in Glacier National Park by Cristal Jones, a reporter for the Hungry Horse News.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas in the Flathead


I have been blessed with more than 50 Christmas holidays (don't ask). I have celebrated Christmas in Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona, Montana and even one lonely Christmas in Vietnam 33 years ago. Wherever I am, Christmas is always a special time, but I have to tell you my friends, that there is nothing like Christmas in the Flathead Valley.

The Flathead Valley would remind you of those traditional holiday cards with pine trees, snow and glorious mountains - truly, a winter wonderland. The peaks of Glacier National Park are now covered in glistening white snow that touches the heavens. A drive by Flathead Lake at this time of year is a feast for the eyes. Yes, there is nothing like Christmas in Montana's Flathead Valley. If you can't be here this year, at least enjoy this special time with your family - because that is what makes Christmas so special.

From our family to yours,
we would like to wish all of you a very

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Flathead Lake Threatened

For the love of money…

It seems that every news story we see these days about global warming mentions Glacier National Park’s receding glaciers. Concerned, well-meaning people want to do something to halt this process, which may or may not be a natural phenomenon. Personally, I don’t have a fixed opinion on this yet because I believe we just don’t know if this is a manmade problem or a natural, cyclic occurrence. Also, it could be argued that there isn’t much we can do to change the weather, but melting Glaciers is not what I’m writing about in this post. Today I’d like to make you aware of a potentially serious environmental threat that we can control… if we choose to do so.

In Canada, a company named Cline Mining Corporation wants to begin a 20 year coal mining operation 22 miles north of Glacier National Park. This area is part of the Flathead River drainage in British Columbia, which means that all runoff from this operation will flow down the North Fork river into Flathead Lake. How cool is that?

In case you didn’t know, coal mining produces pollutants like toxic heavy metals, and such an industrial operation will have no beneficial impact on the already threatened grizzly bear population.

So, let’s make sure I have this right… in the interest of one company’s bottom line, we can potentially destroy the grizzly bear population of this area, the fish ecosystem of the Flathead river and possibly destroy one of America’s last pristine lakes, Flathead Lake. How does that sound to you?

I’m not a political or environmental activist and I don’t see the mission of this blog to involve itself in such public debate, but people P-L-E-A-S-E, can we just once do the right thing? A mountaintop strip mine that will produce toxic runoff is just a bad idea. Period.

You can learn more about this proposed mining operation at http://www.eao.gov.bc.ca/. If anyone asks you. . . .
Just Say NO!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

No Pilgrims in the Flathead

Those of us living in the "colonies", just finished celebrating an annual holiday called Thanksgiving. During the days that preceded this anniversary of Pilgrims and Indians coming together, blogs and websites were crammed with facts and falsehoods about this occasion.

There were no Pilgrims in Montana in 1621, but there were Indians making pilgrimages to sacred places for ritual, and to secular places for hunting and fishing and gathering of plants. The relentless movement westward of a foreign people with their exotic religion, foreigners currently struggling to survive in New England, was not known, not even in rumor, in Montana, in 1621.

Richard Sims is the director of the Montana Historical Society and had a wonderful article about Montana in the year of the first Thanksgiving.

He says that the people who were living in Montana in 1621 were the Kootenai, the Pend d’Oreille (Kalispell) and the Salish, long-established around Flathead Lake but roaming to the east; the Shoshone coming up periodically from the Great Basin country; and the Crow just arriving from the Dakotas. When examining the early histories of these early peoples, recall that no horses were in sight. No horses would appear in Montana for nearly a century. Read Mr. Simms’ complete article here…

Montanans celebrating Thanksgiving

In the event you missed an earlier posting, you need to see this... you just gotta love the people (and bears) in Montana.

I hope your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. Here in the land of Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park, some people dined with “strange” guests. Check out how the Montana Grizzly Encounter celebrated this special day.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Winter has arrived

Amazing... it seems like we were just talking about the beautiful fall colors and last weeks "rain of biblical proportions" and now we're buried in snow. It began to sneak in on Thanksgiving evening and the following day it snowed for most of the day. I think it has been snowing or flurrying ever since. As Montanans, we LOVE the change of seasons - even if they do seem to be accelerated at times.

The mountains are now covered with snow and there is more in the forecast. This is a good thing as the typical early snows that reach the higher elevations never arrived this year. As a result, our two large ski resorts had to delay their opening because their base was insufficient. Big Mountain has reschedule their opening for the weekend of Dec. 2nd. Oh and if you happened to be in the Flathead Valley area last week, you may have joined other skiers and snowboarders celebrating the 34th “Pray for Snow Party” held at the world-famous Bierstube in Big Mountain Village. And if you were there, it looks like your prayers are being answered.

Well, there's more I want to tell you, but it looks like I need to mount the plow on my ATV and push some snow off the driveway. Until next time... pray for more snow!

Update 11/28/06

You know the roads are bad when snowplows get stuck — sideways — on a state highway. Sunday night’s storm hadn’t let up by Monday, leaving drivers stranded in drifts, igniting fires and hostilities between neighbors, and frustrating plow drivers who opened roads only to have them drift shut again. Read story in the Daily Interlake here...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving Wishes

The picture above is real. It is from the The Montana Grizzly Encounter, a grizzly rescue organization in Bozeman Montana that provides a home for rescued grizzly bears that can't survive in the wild. And you thought your brother-in-law was hard to take... how'd you like to dine with a 7 foot, 700 pound dinner guest? Pass the turkey, please.

Living in NW Montana is reason enough to be giving thanks, but the Thanksgiving holiday has always been one of my favorites. It is my fondest hope that you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

H a p p y T h a n k s g i v i n g!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Glacier after the rains

NOTE: Update to this post at bottom...

The relentless rain and wind storms that wrecked so much havoc on Glacier Park last week are gone and the clean-up and repairs began before the roads were dry. Before anyone could completely assess the damage, there was speculation that the Going-To-The-Sun Road may not be ready in time for its traditional opening in May next season.

Damage to the park is estimate is at approximately $5 million, and most of that was on Sun Road. Repairs are under way on Going-To-The-Sun Road and in the Lake McDonald area. A number of washouts between Siyeh Bend and the East Tunnel involve areas were the road has been undercut and damaged. In one 100' section, both lanes of the road were completely carried away.

This is not the most ideal time of year to be facing such a job as high winds and heavy snow continues to hamper efforts. Park officials said emergency repairs on Sun Road will not interfere with scheduled reconstruction work that is planned for next summer.

So, although we don't yet have a definitive decision yet, people are optimistic that the road should be open near schedule (next spring). Due to these repairs and previously scheduled construction, there will be one lane delays as we saw last year. If you are planning a vacation to visit Glacier National Park next season... don't let a little rain spoil your plans. Come on up - visit Paradise!
______________________

News Update

WEST GLACIER - “It could've been much worse,” Amy Vanderbilt, spokeswoman for Glacier National Park, said of the park's Nov. 7 flood. “We were lucky.” The image: In a narrow river canyon, flanked steep by icy walls of rock, debris is piled high, trees twisted and stripped of limbs, bark peeled away. The old horse bridge is splintered to rubble, railings blasted downstream, decking stripped, even the stout metal girders bent, mangled, pushed downstream by the onslaught. And again, the words: “We're moving ahead, and it's looking good,” said park superintendent Mick Holm. “At this point, it shouldn't impact our future schedules.”

The storm has passed.

The people are quickly rebuilding.

And the park, well, it hardly noticed.

Read this entire article from The Missoulian News

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Rain of Biblical Proportions

Glacier National Park made history this past week. The park received somewhere in the neighborhood of eleven inches of rain over a couple of days. At times there were torrential downpours that wrecked havoc throughout the park.

Going-to-the-Sun Road suffered severe damage at a number of locations in the form of washouts. In one area, both sides of the road for an eighty foot stretch have completely disappeared. Historic Many Glacier Lodge suffered damage on the bottom floors (pic below). Officials are still trying to assess damage throughout the park.

Swiftcurrent Creek flowing over Many Glacier Hotel access bridge
Courtesy of the National Park Service

See more photos of flood damage in Glacier Park.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Glacier Park on a DVD

As a visitor to this blog, I assume that you either live here in the Flathead Valley (luck you), or you are researching our beautiful area as a potential vacation destination. Whether you're local or planning a visit, you will never get enough of Glacier or the Flathead. There is just too much to see and experience.

With that in mind, I have a recommendation for you. There is a DVD available that captures the beauty and majesty of Glacier National Park and makes a remarkable presentation of this national treasure. The DVD offers a great overview of the park's magnificent panoramas and towering rock formations and mountains. This is your amicable guide through the superbly pastoral landscapes, lakes and streams provide refreshing sustenance for the senses.

The DVD also includes some extra features that include building Going-To-The-Sun Road In what would become a model of landscape engineering, the story of this historic landmark is told through fascinating and entertaining archival footage. A Symphony to Glacier National Park A musical tribute to over 1,000,000 acres of North America s most breathtaking and dramatic parkland. The sights and sounds on this Glacier National Park DVD will entertain even the most familiar visitor to Glacier National Park.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Why Montana?

A question I get from friends all over the country is... "what ever possessed you to move to Montana?


A clarification is needed here. We didn't move to "Montana", we moved to NW Montana. Our state is as large as a dozen smaller states and the terrain ranges from dry praries to 10,000 ft. mountains and deep clear lakes. NW Montana is the jewell (IMHO). Before I give you my stock answer, understand that Montana is NOT for everyone, especially the less populated areas of Montana. We happen to live in the northwestern part of the state, which is not what one might call 'over populated'. If you were to consider moving here and your lifestyle demands:
  • To dine out at diverse restaurants
  • To frequent nightclubs
  • To browse large shopping malls
  • The convenience of a convenience store
  • Attending pro sports games
  • Earning a big salary
  • Warm weather most of the year...
If any of these things are important to you, Montana should not be on your list of potential relocation choices. If on the other hand, you are weary of the big metro scene, hate traffic, concrete and rude people, love fishing, hunting and beautiful scenery... you could fall in love with Montana. We did.

Years ago, my bride and I visited the Flathead valley while on vacation. I remember my first drive up Rt. 93 on a beautiful summer day with magnificent views of Flathead Lake on our right as we followed the road over mountains and weaved our way through incredible scenery. I remarked to my wife, "can you believe people actually live here year-round, not just on vacation?"

I won't bore you with the twists of fate that resulted in our moving to this valley, but suffice it to say, we have never looked back. We cannot conceive of the thought of living anywhere else. Neither I, nor my bride are native Montanans, but we got here as fast as we could. And as I like to say, I'm leaving here boots first (to the uninitiated, that means I'll be carried out of here).

We share our homestead with dozens of deer that migrate through our property every day foraging for food. We've had bears in the front yard and even an occasional mountain lion will drop by to check us out. Bald Eagles and a variety of other birds are common sights, and pine squirrels and other woodland creatures are constant reminders that this isn't really our land.

We live "out". Translated that means we live far enough from town to be considered rural, but close enough that we drive to town 3-5 times per week for shopping, or to eat out, or to enjoy a cocktail at one of our favorite saloons. The taverns around here have colorful names such as the Sitting Duck, the Deer Lick, the Bull Dog and the Stillwater Saloon. The people you'll meet here become your friends quickly, and for the most part they're not looking for anything from you except maybe a smile and a kind word.

I began this post with a question as to why I moved here. Harley-Davidson riders have a saying that goes...

"If I have to explain -
you wouldn't understand."

And that pretty much answers that question.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Scuba Flathead Lake

I read a very interesting article in today's Missoulian News online about 'diving' in Flathead Lake. I have never dived (that is with oxygen and a wet suit), so I hadn't considered that Flathead Lake offers scuba divers an exceptional experience. With water as clear as Flathead, I would imagine that it is a hoot! The article mentioned...

“When you dive and live in Montana,” Mackaman said, “that's what you got to do - dive in cold water.”

Although there is no tropical splendor to explore beneath the water's surface in Montana, there are plenty of other mysterious and intriguing discoveries to help divers forget the frigid water temperatures.

Flathead Lake, for instance, has a sheer wall that drops from 30 feet to 150 feet, and when you swim along it, it is like flying, said Bonnie Stelzenmuller. In Lake McDonald, she said, there's a underwater forest with standing trees. According to Stelzenmuller and her diving companion, Ken Clizbe, in Flathead Lake there are lake trout so huge, they weigh over 50 pounds. The fish are so bold and so curious, they dash around and rush at divers like miniature sharks, she said. (Now that's more my style of enjoying Flathead Lake).

So my friends, if you're into scuba diving, here's one more reason to visit Montana - Dive Flathead Lake! See the entire story here...

Monday, October 30, 2006

Snow on the Flathead

Winter has arrived!

Last night (Oct. 29, 2006) the Flathead valley received our first snow of the season. Although technically it is still Fall, Winter has now been formally announced. The valley floor only saw an inch or so of the white stuff, but higher elevations may have received from 6 to 12 inches. This will be welcome news for the ski resorts (Big Mountain and Blacktail) as they usually open by Thanksgiving, but have no appreciable snow as of yesterday.

Flathead Lake does not freeze over most winters, although the bays often cover over with ice. This is due to the sheer volume of the lake and dynamic wind patterns. According to the University of Montana's Flathead Lake Biological Station, the lake did freeze over in the winters of 1978-79 (all winter), 1987-88 (all winter), 1988-89 (March only) and 1989-90 (January only).

What makes this snow and cooler weather such an anomaly is that on Saturday we experienced a perfect Montana Fall day. Beautiful blue skies, sunshine and the thermometer climbed all the way to 60 degrees. Twenty-four hours later, the temperature had dropped 40 degrees and snow began to fall from the sky. I LOVE Montana!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Going-To-The-Sun Road Closed

It was announced yesterday that the upper stretch of Going-to-the-Sun Road has officially been closed for the season.

From the Loop on the west side and Jackson Glacier Overlook on the east side of Glacier National Park, the road is now closed as a result of icy road conditions. This closure is earlier than the planned Nov. 1st. date.

The lower portions of the road, 23 miles from the W. Glacier entrance to the Loop on the west side and 13 miles from St. Mary to Jackson Glacier Overlook on the E. remain open to motorists.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

K-9 Cop Found

In my post two days ago I mentioned "Eddie the K-9 Cop", a Border Patrol dog who was lost. Great news... Eddie was found Wednesday, ending the Border Patrol's search for their search dog.

Border Patrol agents found Eddie close to where he had last been seen and his leash was tangled in brush. Eddie was found in good condition and is now back with his handler.

Personal note: Our family is a dog and (multi) cat family; we adore our animals and feel terrible when we hear of a story like Eddie's. COnversely, when the story has a happy ending, we share in the joy. Our 4-legged family includes a Great Pyrenees and our adorable cats, Puff & Pooh.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Flathead Photos

The editor of the Bigfork Eagle newspaper wants your photos (Bigfork is a community at the NE corner of Flathead Lake).

The newspaper plans to start featuring a space for reader submitted photographs. Each week, they will choose the best photograph and run it in the paper with a caption and a photo credit for whoever took the image. Any person of any age can submit whatever he or she wishes. Submit photos to editor@bigforkeagle.com.

So, hit them with your best shots, and share your photos with the community.

Going-to-the-Sun Road Update

Status: A portion of Going-to-the-Sun Road will close to vehicle traffic on 11/01/2006. Glacier Park officials will close the alpine section of the road from the Loop to Siyeh Bend to vehicles for the season so that crews can prepare Sun Road for winter. Removal of guard rails at numerous locations to avoid avalanche damage and road signs, exhibits, and trash bins will be removed while crews install snow poles and clean culverts. Going-To-The-Sun Road will remain open to hikers and bicyclists as weather conditions permit.

Thirty-nine miles of the road will stay open to vehicles in the fall. Including 23 miles from the West Glacier entrance to the Loop on the west side and 15 miles from St. Mary to Siyeh Bend.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hunting Season

The general hunting season starts Oct. 22, this Sunday, and it "should bring a bumper crop of nice bucks and bulls", according to Jim Williams, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks wildlife manager. If you are planning a late season visit to the park, you don't have to wear bright orange clothing. Hunting is not permitted inside the park and Glacier National Park reminds hunters it is illegal to transport game through the Park except along U.S. Highway 2 (lawfully taken and tagged game only). All other roads are off limits.

Lost dog (Polebridge area)

Not just any dog, but a Border Patrol dog got lost in the woods earlier this week. Eddie, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection “K-9” pooch, was on patrol when he was reported missing. Eddie was last was seen in the Trail Creek area, near the Canadian border on the western edge of Glacier National Park. This is a wilderness area where grizzly bears and mountain lions roam.

Eddie is a black and tan German shepard that weighs approx. 70 pounds. A "?” is tattooed inside his right ear. If you find Eddie, U.S. Customs and Border Protection would like its canine cop back; call (406) 862-2561.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Fall in NW Montana

Although most of the tourists are now in hibernation, this is the time of year when bears are very active in the park. They are gorging themselves and putting on fat to get them through their long winter nap. In addition, this is a time of year when - if the sun is at the right angle - the mountains look like they are on fire. Fall colors, crisp weather and active wildlife make for an excellent time to visit Glacier Park before the snows close Logan Pass.

And don't forget to drive down to Flathead Lake while you're in the area. Personally, I love the Flathead at any time of year, but I really like seeing it in the Fall. These are the views you see on postcards... snow-capped mountains dotted with fall colors overlooking a serene and beautiful lake. With the tourist traffic gone, you will see sights that you miss when fighting to survive in traffic. For a special treat, drive down the eastern side of the lake to Woods Bay and stop at the Sitting Duck Saloon. You'll meet locals and can enjoy dinner out on the deck overlooking the lake.

There just isn't a more beautiful part of America than NW Montana in the fall. Fall comes early to the higher elevations and new snow is already appearing on the mountain peaks, so pack up the family, bring plenty of film and head over to Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Global warming?

Maybe - maybe not...

Glacier National Park was carved from the earth by huge glaciers during the last ice age. As recently as 100 years ago (a blip in geological terms), photos and maps show that there were approximately 150 glaciers in the park, but today most have retreated or vanished. As we all know, warming and cooling of the earth occurs from time to time. Today we are alarmed about the "global warming" trend that is now affecting the earth.

It is not the purpose of this blog to argue pro or con of this subject; my goal is to just talk about "what is". To share what I have learned about this beautiful part of Montana. If the earth is indeed warming to a degree that may affect life as we know it - I am helpless to affect that. I have hope that scientists will discover the true reason for this phenomena and advise us as to what we should do to avoid disaster.

In a similar vein, Flathead Lake faces issues from an expanded population and potential pollution problems. We have issues with non-native fish overtaking the less aggressive indigenous species. And we are challenged by many of the same problems that every community in America is facing. My point is that I do not wish this blog to become a forum for the global warming discussion, or become a platform to argue local growth policies. This is about Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake, and what you might want to know before you pack-up the car and head north.

Trust me, there is "love at first sight" because I fell in love with Glacier and the Flathead the first time I visited here. I was fortunate enough to move my family to the area a few years ago and my love affair with Glacier and Flathead motivated me to begin this blog. If you are planning a trip to this part of the country, I think you will discover enough information on our websites and this blog to make your vacation memorable and fun. THAT is my goal.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Welcome to The Flathead

Glacier National Park is located in the Flathead Valley region of NW Montana. The goal of this weblog is to provide you with enough information to make your visit more meaningful. Glacier has been called the "Crown of the Continent" and Flathead Lake is a jewel in that crown. Anyone visiting this part of Montana must see the Flathead along with Glacier. These two natural attractions are certainly two of the most beautiful places in this wonderful country of ours. If you are planning a vacation to Montana and have some questions, or want to share your experiences with others, please add your comments.

Macdonald Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana

On our website, it says that Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake are the best kept secrets in America. We invite you to explore these sites and see why we believe that Paradise is located in NW Montana. Clicking the picture above will take you to our Glacier National Park website where you can view other photos of Glacier Park we have captured during different seasons of the year. Enjoy!