Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Montaner Or Somehwere

My parents are from Northwestern Montana and I've made the trek approximately 55 zillion times.  I spent took a week to road trip through the state with strategic stops for ice cream, a wedding, family, site seeing, and car problems. But that's not what set this trip apart.  No, what was different this time was the color.

It was GREEN.

Growing up, we would head "home" for Christmas/New Years and for a week or so in the summer, typically July or August. In the great state of MT, that means either the stark white of snow covered everything, or the golds and browns of fields of wheat ready for harvest. It's still beautiful, but in a very different kind of way.

Granted all the rains have caused lots of flooding, but....... it's still pretty.

We almost didn't make it to the family farm. Less than 24 hours after we drove out, six inches of water was running over the road.

Look at the level now. Can you imagine it several feet higher? Yikes!

But we were very happy for a dry day so we could visit family and the A-dawg could see where Dad grew up.  There is always something new to learn and something beautiful to see.

Too bad the mosquitoes prevented further exploration. They were so thick I got at least 6 bites just walking outside to pet the farm cats.  Needless to say, we changed quickly from shorts and tshirts to long sleeves and pants!

The stay at the farm was short, and followed up by a trip to the Fort Peck Dam. The facility was using the spillway for only the 6th time since it was built. It was an incredible sight to see.

Considering the amount of rain the NE side of the state has received, I'd say we were very lucky while we were there. It was mostly just sunshine.

Until we got to Glacier.  The Going-to-the-Sun road wasn't completely open, but we decided we had to do at least one hike while we were there.  The road was closed at the Avalanche Lake trailhead, so on went the hiking boots.

And the rain jackets.  Here we met some flooding first hand.  There were several places on the trail that were flooded and required taking alternative routes or fording the river.  On teh way back down we took a moment to do some trail maintenance and strategically place some rocks and logs to block water, and a few other to help with bridges.

The valley trail is sprinkled with gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers.  At one point we could see an area with all the trees blown up hill.  Not something you see often, a passing hiker said. The trees were hit with a force of air caused by an avalanche falling down the other side of the mountain.

But getting muddy was well worth it.  The lake at the top was glassy calm and clear.  The local wildlife was very friendly.  A chipmunk tried to climb into my bag, and a deer on the trail seemed a little put out that hikers were disrupting her snack.

After our exercise we got back in the car and settled in for another couple hours of driving to Missoula.  We took two side trips along the way.  One was to visit a piece of property that Alan went to as a child at Flathead Lake. They have a lovely view and their own island. I'm currently drafting up plans for a castle and draw bridge to build out there.  Anyone know of a helicopter we can use to get supplies out there?

The next stop wasn't quite so planned. Due to road construction and the Honda Fit's very low clearance, we had a little incident with some loose asphalt about 40 miles north of Missoula.

But it ended well, with us sleeping at our intended destination. And you really couldn't have asked for a better place to break down and wait 20 minutes for a tow truck.

I take it back.  What set this trip apart wasn't the green, it was the people.  I didn't get to see everyone I wanted to, or for nearly as long as I wanted to, but the whirlwind was worth it. It's always worth it to take the time to see friends and family.

But next time there had better be Cold Smoke Ice Cream.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

This year's babies

Crazy things have been happening around these parts.  Crazy I tell you.  Between moving and trips out of town for both work and play, there has been zero time for... well, anything, really. I still haven't had time to download pictures from camping Memorial Day weekend from my camera. 

I haven't had time to settle into my house, or unload boxes, but as it is nearing the end of June and the weather is finally starting to warm up, I knew that if I didn't do one thing immediately, I'd be regretting it all summer.

Plant the garden.

Before I left for California on a work trip I went after the side yard with a trowel and my bare hands to pull up the solid layer of grass and weeds that was hiding the precious soil below.

I planted carrots, radishes and green onions in the space and headed out of town.  When I came back it looked like this:

Apparently I need to keep up on the yard or I'll have grass continuously growing between my radishes!

We soaked some bean seeds in water overnight and they got planted after I left along the fence.  My plan is to staple some twine to the fence for them to grow up and over. No trellis needed! They were just starting to pop up when I came back.

Then on to the tough stuff when I got back.  Most of the planting strip where I wanted to put tomatoes, etc. had the same grass and weed cover.


After an hour of weeding:

Some of the soil appears to be good quality, but it has holly leaves (very pokey, definitely not holy leaves.) and berries intermixed.  It could probably benefit from a good dose of compost and a layer of mulch on top, but we'll see what I can get around to doing before it's too late.

In my garden I now have:
*Radishes (Red Globe)
*Carrots (Fingering)
*Green onions
*Beans (Bush and Pole)
*Early Girl Tomato
*Roma Tomato
*One other tomato I can't remember
*Red Pepper
*Yellow Pepper
*Longneck Squash
*Two types of cucumber I can't remember right now
*Acorn Squash

All of them have homes except the poor little acorn.  He will live on the other side of the yard, but it will require another hour of weeding.

Stay tuned for pictures from my road trip through the wonderful state of Montana!