Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goin' back to Cali—I don't think so

This map hangs in the Driver's License office in Stevensville, MT.  It tracks where all the people who have gotten new Montana licenses in the last eight months moved from.  This just shows the people who have gone through the Stevensville office, not statewide.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Winter in the Big Hole

The Big Hole is a little higher than the Bitterroot Valley, and it's east of the Continental Divide, so it normally gets harsher winters than we do.  We took a road trip over Chief Joseph Pass to check it out.

There's still not all that much snow in the valley, but it gets deeper at the higher elevations.  This is the road out of the south end of the Bitterroot Valley, toward Lost Trail Pass into Idaho and Chief Joseph Pass into the Big Hole.

Some of the ski runs at the Lost Trail Ski Area.

Seems it's always snowing in the mountains.  Lost Trail Pass gets an average of 300 inches of snow per year.

The trails are groomed weekly at the Chief Joseph Cross-Country Ski Trail.  There is also a warming hut.

This fence is a local landmark.  Last fall a birder in Hamilton told us she'd seen a great gray owl "just over Chief Joseph Pass, where they have that cool wooden fence."

The fence is hard to see in places.

The Big Hole Valley.

More mountains creating their own weather.

Wisdom, Montana.  This could be a scene straight out of Northern Exposure if it had more trees.

The Antlers Saloon is a good bar, but they need to put some Merle Haggard on the jukebox.

The local grocery store.

Please don't let your dog leave any presents under the 4-H Christmas Trees.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

No Place Like Home for the Holidays


I hope everyone had a great Christmas, that your relatives didn't drive you crazy, and that you didn't eat any more than you wanted to. 

I just heard the best line ever on Christmas eating, from LDB.  When she and her sister were complaining that they ate too much on Christmas, her mother said they should learn to split things up so they wouldn't eat so much.  Then LDB threw down with this gem: "We know how not to be fat, we just ain't trying right now."  That short, brilliant statement sums up centuries of thought on Christmas eating.  I keep telling LDB she should have her own blog, and until she does, I'm going to put her funny stories on mine.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

White Christmas Eve

I've been told it's snowing in Dallas/Fort Worth.  In Sula, Montana it's a partly sunny 19°. There's still plenty of snow on the ground and in the trees from earlier in the week, so, technically, it'll be a white Christmas.  I'm not a big fan of technically.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

Another nostalgic song. I love how Pig Pen still has a cloud of dirt around him on the ice.


I finally broke out the FB snowshoes.  They're not as hard to walk in as people say.  It's a good idea to wear gaiters to keep the snow out of your boots and pants legs.

They still sink a little in soft powder.

The snow is not very deep yet, maybe 8 inches in places.

I went part of the way up the ridge on the National Forest land behind my cabin to check out the traction.

  This view is looking up the ridge.

The shoes get good traction, both uphill and when traversing. Coming downhill, there's a little bit of skiing before the teeth dig in. If you keep your weight toward your heels, you can ski a little more. With a clear path, you can get downhill in a hurry.

Monday, December 21, 2009

White Christmas?

I've never had a white Christmas.  The technical definition of white Christmas is a Christmas with snow on the ground.  To me, white Christmas conjures images of snow falling on Christmas morning. 

There will certainly be snow on the ground in Sula on Christmas day.  But right now the forecast says partly cloudly with a 20% chance of snow showers.

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.

Montana Weather

The warm spell continues.  Yesterday's highs were in the mid thirties.  A light rain fell for a little while.  I haven't seen rain up here since October.  It wasn't enough to melt the snow on the ground, but it did turn it into a textured icy crust.

Today's high is supposed to be in the upper thirties, with rain or snow expected.  It should start cooling off tomorrow.  Recent lows have been in the mid twenties.  They are supposed to be close to zero by the end of the week.

Friday, December 18, 2009

On the River

I ventured a short distance out on the frozen ice of the river.  I'll wait for another hard freeze before I push it any further.  The river isn't deep, but I'd rather not do any wading until summer.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Snow Removal

Got several inches of snow last night, so I had to break out the snow shovel.  It's not very deep, but I like to stay ahead of it.  According to the weather reports, there's a chance of snow just about every day from now until Memorial Day.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gray Day in Sula

The heat wave continues.  The highs will be in the 30s today.  It's actually raining in the lower elevations, but snowing above 5,000 feet.

Downtown Sula

East Fork Road

The East Fork

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hiking Warm Springs Creek

This area was much greener when I hiked it in October.

Forest Service Road to the trailhead.  Several inches of snow were already on the road, and it was still snowing.  Much deeper and I would've needed to put on chains to get through.

Warm Springs Creek, so to speak.

The snow on the trail was at that awkward, in-between depth—deep enough to be a little difficult to walk in with boots, but not deep enough for snowshoes, which would've been even harder to walk in.

The creek still flows beneath the ice and snow.

Granite boulders covered with snow.

Further up the creek.  I didn't go too far.  It continued to snow, and I didn't want to have to chain up to be able to drive out.

This belted kingfisher fished what was left of the open water.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Heat Wave!

Today's temps are about 30° warmer than last week's. 

It's snowing, but 30° is 30°.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Dog's Life

LDB sent me this story about when she was home sick, being tended by her young Labradoodle, Adele. 

I asked her if I could post it for all the dog lovers, and she said okay.

This is how LDB tells it:

"Adele has been a sport just lying in bed with me for days. For two days I just had crackers, NyQuil and some parts of a Pop Tart. But yesterday, after my big shot in the butt, I started being hungry, and Adele and I were off to the races...

Here's what I ate:
1 blueberry poptart
2 crispy beef tacos
1 order of Sonic tater tots
1 Chik-fil-a sandwich
2 pieces of pizza
1 beer

Here's what she ate:
9 cat turds
1/2 bar of soap
8 Chik-fil-a nuggets
3 packing peanuts
2 raw hides
1 used tissue

We are going back on crackers today.