Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Montana Big Sky Country

I was out to my sister and brother-in-laws place and took these pictures of the sky.  A storm was thinking about moving in but they are beautiful.  On our way back to Jordan I missed a couple of shots.  I didn't ask my husband to stop so I could take some MORE pictures.

The shot I wish I had taken was a knoll.  On top of the knoll was a band of about 10-15 horses.  It was getting close to dusk and the sky behind was blues and purples.  It looked like a fantasy painting.  Oh well I am getting better at looking ahead so Dan has time to stop.

The sky makes such beautiful kaleidoscope images.  I am always watching for the new show. The sky changes quickly.  I am always in awe of the many diverse forms of beautify that is this land.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Where's the Dinosaur Capital?

Picture from Paul Ullmann's Resume http://www.paleopaul.com


I admit I am geographically challenged. My stories of getting lost are legion.  Given that piece of trivia, where is the capital for dinosaurs? Is it on the map?  I don't remember learning about  it when I studied the state capitals as a kid.

The Hell Creek Formation is a layer of rock found in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.  This layer of rock is approximately 65 to 67 million years old, countless dinosaurs and fossils have been found in it.  In Montana one of the most studied areas of the Hell Creek Formation is near Jordan MT.  In 1902 the first T-Rex ever discovered was found near Jordan, MT.

Paleotrek is a Dinosaur Dig in the Hell Creek Formation Outside of Jordan, MT.  It is designed to allow individuals to come and work with scientists on an actual dig for a day or up to the full summer.  It is designed as a summer vacation were you actually help excavate dinosaur specimens.  Dinosaur research is ongoing in this section of the state. The Hell Creek Formation has earned the title "Dinosaur Capital".

Jack Horner, an American paleontologist brings about 40 people out to the Jordan area to hunt for dinosaurs and fossils every summer.  Many of the people who accompany him are his students from Montana State University - Bozeman.  Others are some of the 700 applicants that have asked to do field work as they hunt for dinosaurs with him.   He is the curator for the Museum of the Rockies.

I compared the pictures of the Hell Creek Formation around Jordan with pictures I took of  Alven and Patsy's land.  The other day Alven told me that some students from Concordia carried out bone encased in plaster of paris on a stretcher, near his property.

Alven and Patsy's land

Near Brusett, MT

I wonder where the dinosaurs are hiding?












Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Land of Contrasts

June 10, 2011 we went to Brusett, MT and visited with Dan's sister and husband.  Alven told stories as I took pictures of their property.  Their home is about 25 miles (by road) from the Fort Peck Lake.  The Fort Peck Lake has more shore line than the state of Florida.

Their land is not far from the Charles M Russell Wildlife Refuge.  The north side of their property is on the edge of the Missouri River Breaks.  Our English language doesn't do justice when I tell you the land is rough.

Now contrast these pictures of the "Breaks" with the acres of pine country that is also part of their land.

I have watched deer graze in the field behind their house.  Patsy has told me about watching elk graze from her kitchen window.  It is a land of contrasts.  It's rugged beauty takes your breath away.                   

Monday, July 11, 2011

Z is For ZooMontana

In the old days there was an annual concert held on what is now Zoo Montana grounds.  The concert was an annual fundraiser, the money was used to help build this remarkable 70-acre botanical garden and zoological park.   Zoo Montana was incorporated and established as a non-profit organization in 1982.  There is no other comparable zoo within a 500-mile radius.

If you are on Interstate 90 take exit 443 (Billings, MT) and you will be on Zoo Drive.  The exhibits have been constructed with natural habitat techniques.  Each exhibit has been designed with care for the safety of the public and the comfort of the animals.

Students are always excited when they get to go to Zoo Montana.  The zoo takes its education mission seriously.  There are a number of trunks that can be rented and used in the classroom. http://www.zoomontana.org/education/offsite/educational-trunks/

The “Fantasy of Lights” is an Easter Seal fundraiser and is held at the zoo.  The Holiday Light Display covers 2.5 miles that you can walk or drive through.  Local merchants sponsor individual light displays. http://www.visitbillings.com/event-detail.php?id=637  The  “Fantasy of Lights”, now “Zoo Lights” has become a traditional holiday event.

In 1998 my mother came to live with me.  I bought a family membership at the zoo.  We spent quite a bit of time walking the grounds and enjoying the exhibits.  We would sit on the benches and watch the birds in the open aviary.  One of our favorite haunts was to watch the otters as they played.

Over the years Zoo Montana has been able to add to their exhibits, and until recently was an accredited zoo.  This year Zoo Montana lost their accreditation because of financial problems.  They are now in the process of working to regain their standing.  I feel Zoo Montana is a valuable part of our community. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Y is for Yellowstone River & the Oil Spill

I know everyone thought I couldn’t write all of my ABC’s.  I really didn’t forget about Y & Z in the Writing Challenge I just took a few detours.

I live in Yellowstone County and the Yellowstone River has shaped our section of the world.  It is always there rising and falling.  Effected by spring run off as the snow melts in the mountains.  Occasional floods from ice jams. 

Early May, I took pictures that were only teasers for the power and beauty of the river.  May brought our state torrential rains and the river rose.  The water table ROSE.  The rain continued, and the water rose Creeks began to flood, rivers flooded.  wells once dry began to flood.  Farmers couldn’t plant their fields.  Crops already planted, drowned.  Roads and bridges washed out.

In my neighborhood water came up the cracks in basement floors.  Insurance doesn’t cover it because it is called a flood.  My dictionary says a flood is fast running water.  This water seeped it bubbled and oozed up cracks.

Roundup is a small town North of us.  In Roundup people pumped water from there basements only to have walls cave in..  During the rains the roads were closed and people couldn’t get out or in.  Many families lost their homes. Their fairground is still underwater.  I have included several pictures that were taken after the roads were reopened and most of the flooding had gone down.

The Crow Reservation was impacted.  People lost phone service and could not get out by car.  Boats were brought in to bring in emergency supplies.

I talked with an acquaintance from Winnett, MT, she said that during the rains over 44 of the 50 county roads in Petroleum County were closed.

Last week I was in Helena, MT for training.  I met a teacher from Hobson (near Utica, MT).  She has been pumping water from their basement for the last couple of months.  She told me that for years you could look down the 35-foot well and never see water.  This year the water table is high, clear water has filled the wells and the basements.

The rain stopped in May and June things started to dry out.  People have been working to clean up the damage.  We have also been waiting for the runoff from the snow-melt, and the floods that would follow. The road to Yellowstone National Park had 25 feet of snow pack about a week ago.

Laurel, MT is home to buildings made from river rock that sit nestled by the Yellowstone River.  German Prisoners of War during WWII built the compound.  The rising water has threatened these historic buildings.

Then came Friday, July 1, 2011.   An Exxon Mobile pipe beneath the river ruptured, contaminating the Yellowstone.  Like all disasters there is conflicting information.  Exxon and state agencies are working to clean up the spill.  The river is running high and fast.  The oil has been reported as far away as Miles City, 150 miles down river.

The Yellowstone River is an integral part of our landscape.  What happens to it affects us all.  When I think of the oil spill, I am amazed when people wonder why Mother Nature has gotten cranky lately.