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.