13 May 2016

Kootenai Falls Montana

Wednesday we took a drive over to see how the Kootenai Falls were falling. They were falling very nicely, thank you very much. The Meryl Streep movie "River Wild" was filmed here. We love Meryl almost as much as the river. Class acts are hard to find these days.

Kootenai Falls May 11, 2016

Kootenai Falls May 11, 2016
After visiting the falls we went around to the north side of the river and walked the Kootenai River Trail. It's a wonderful walk along the river where you can see just about anything from bears to eagles fishing. It's about the easiest, most beautiful trail you are likely to find.

Molly Montana on the Kootenai River Trail -Please obey the leash laws

We saw some big horns but they were not in the high cliffs along the river but in someones back yard! Smart little dickens.

Big Horn Grazing in someones yard
It was a great day and a serene walk. Saw exactly two people in two and a half hours we spent on the trail.

Kootenai River May 11, 20126

If you are traveling through Libby, Montana don't miss the Kootenai Falls or the Kootenai River Trail. Both are great places for a picnic.

Until next time,
Molly Montana

©Kinsey Barnard

09 May 2016

Hungry Horse-Spotted Bear-The Great Bear Wilderness

For the very longest time we have wanted to take the drive down Hungry Horse to Spotted Bear. Last week we did just that. The road is paved about 15 miles of the 58 mile trip. Once you get on the dirt it's one dusty road you can count on that. But, we think you will find the drive worth it. There is actually a road all the way round the reservoir but the east side was not open yet so we retraced our drive on the west side. Just as well, the sun setting on the Great Bear Wilderness was spectacular. Something about that name "Great Bear Wilderness" just chokes me up.

The Great Bear Wilderness in the morning. Hungry Horse in the foreground.
It took over two hours to get to Spotted Bear but we were dawdling. Stopping to rubber neck along the way.

One stop we made was Handkerchief Lake. The lake wasn't looking too pretty this day but if you go back and click on the link you can see how pretty she can be.

Wheeler Creek
The creeks are just beginning to pick up speed as the snow melts in the mountains. There are a bazillion creeks along this road. If the sound of rushing water floats your boat, your boat will sail!

There is a Ranger Station at Spotted Bear and a couple of places where you can stay if you aren't of a mind to camp. Or you can make it a day trip and sleep in your own bed.

Spotted Bear Ranger Station
The entire campus at the station is very beautiful. And, it's isolated. I imagine things get pretty busy in the middle of summer but right now it's simply serene splendor. The station wasn't open yet but the ranger was there getting things ready. It officially opens May 15th as does the east road.

Kinsey & Me at Spotted Bear
The Ranger station sits up on a bluff over looking the South Fork of the Flathead River. How pretty is that. Right?! Of course, I lend extra beauty with my presence. The old gray mare? Not so much. :) Just below where we are sitting is a foot bridge that crosses the river. I wasn't too keen on walking on it. But, neither was Kinsey.

We enjoyed a short hike and a Subway lunch. It was divine.

It turned into an all day trip. Dawdle, dawdle. For our dawdling we were treated to the sun setting on the Great Bear Wilderness.

The setting sun reflects off snow capped mountains in the Great Bear Wilderness
If you are in the area you might enjoy this trip. Again, it will be dusty so if that would bother you I'd skip it. For those who could care less and know how to wash their trucks it's very much a green light.

Until Next time,
Molly Montana

©Kinsey Barnard

06 May 2016

We Love Solar!

On our way home from the Bitterroot we stopped in at Jordan Solar in Charlo to say howdy. Kinsey had a completely integrated system installed at the ranch a few years ago and Travis Jordan made it happen for us. We have the inverter with battery back up and a generator back up too. It's also grid tied so we get to bank our excess electricity to use when there isn't so much sun. Northwest Montana can be a wee tad dreary in the winter. With rising electricity prices this is getting to be a nicer and nicer feature.

As you might imagine the electrician is the most important character in a solar installation and Travis Jordan is a master electrician. It was a joy watching him work. He's the kind of man that takes his time to really think things through before forging ahead. A trait we truly admire. Travis isn't doing as much install work as he used to as he has a new enterprise MT. Solar which manufactures pole mounted solar panels. We were among the first to have one of his mounts. Below is a photo of out pole mount and panels going up. Very thrilling.

Tim is now doing most of the install work these days and we've worked with him too. Excellent electrician. We would be happy to work with him anytime.

MT Solar Pole Mount Installation

We got to take a little tour of the manufacturing plant and it's pretty cool how they manufacture these mounts. We especially liked the laser that cut out the parts. Very cool. Actually, quite hot!

Me & My Pals Travis Jordan and Janelle.
Pictured above with Travis is Janelle. She's the one that co-ordinates the jobs and keeps the place running smoothly. Well, you know men. ;) If you're interested in solar give Janelle a call, she's a fount of information. (877) 215-8431.

I know this post sounds like an advertisement but we just can't say enough good things about these Montanans. And we think when you have good things to say you had ought to say them. Travis and his people exemplify everything Montana stands for; hard work, sincerity, loyalty and integrity. Also, we love solar and think everyone should have panels on their roof at least, even if it's just tied to the grid. If you do contact them let them know Molly Montana sent you. Who knows, I might get a great big dog biscuit if you do. ;)

Truly we stump for solar every chance we get. You folks down in the sunny climes really ought to jump on board.

Until next time .... which will be our recent trip to Spotted Bear. You won't want to miss it!

Molly Montana

©Kinsey Barnard

04 May 2016

Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge

After our hike up Bass Creek Trail we headed on back to the B & B for lunch and a nap. Kinsey passed out and I took a nap as well. What else was there to do?

Later that afternoon we went to check out the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. The weather lady was forecasting afternoon thunder showers so we thought we'd head out early and avoid the rain. We hopped in the car and headed out. OK, so Kinsey wasn't really hopping, her knees were hurting so bad from the morning hike she more like hobbled.

When we got there we took off on the first dirt trail we found and headed out. Depending on what publication you are reading there are 267 or 235 species of birds in the refuge. Close enough for government work, right? Anyway you slice it, its a birdwatchers paradise.

Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge Trail Map

The trail we took wandered around in a storybook forest of big old Ponderosas, cottonwoods and aspen.

Whitetail Deer at Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge
We trekked around through the lovely forest and meadows and eventually wandered over to the Bitterroot River. It's a big, beautiful river and look at those gorgeous mountains in the distance. Those would be the Bitterroots.

Bitterroot River & Mountains as seen from the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge
After awhile we came upon two local gals sitting on a log beside the river, eating their dinner. Kinsey being the Chatty Kathy that she is stopped and spoke with them for quite some time. One of the women was wearing a lovely, beaded medicine pouch. Kinsey admired it and was told that the lady had made it herself. She said it was made from "brain" tanned whitetail. Kinsey hadn't a clue what what brain tanning meant and asked. She promptly got called a "pilgrim" which I think is an insult of sorts for not knowing about brain tanned leather. She sure does now. In case you don't know either, it is hide tanned in a brew of the deers' brains.

We didn't see a lot of birds on our walk. Just the usual mallards, geese, turkey and such. But, on our way out we hit the jackpot. Looking out the window Kinsey says, "What the heck are those? They look like ostriches, maybe gnu." There was a car stopped and a fellow with a huge Cannon lens sticking out his window. We stopped and very quietly Kinsey got out an mouthed through the passenger window "What are those?" The fellow rolled down the window and said "Sandhill Cranes".  And, so they were. Really elegant  birds.

Sanhill Cranes Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge

As usual the weather lady was full of horse feathers it was an awesomely beautiful afternoon and evening. Kinsey says she thinks the thing to do in the summer is go have a nice dinner somewhere and then come down here for an evening stroll. If you are in the area you don't want to miss it. We sure as heck will be coming back.

 The Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge is located about 25 miles south of Missoula on highway 93.

Until next time.

Molly Montana

©Kinsey Barnard

02 May 2016

Hiking Bass Creek Trail-Bitterroot Mountains

Brady, at the Blue Mountain Bed & Breakfast, turned us on to the Bass Creek Trail in the Bitteroot Forest. He told us we could find a waterfall but we never did. That's OK because it was a great hike.

The trailhead was easy to find. Believe me this is not always the case. Clearly marked on 93 and a straight shot to the trailhead.

Road to Bass Creek Trailhead Bitterroot Mountains
The weather forecast was for rain but as usual that was wrong. It was an absolutely perfect hiking day. Bass Creek is a very cool, literally and figuratively, trail.  As you might imagine it wanders along Bass Creek. The spring melt seemed to already be underway and the sound of the rushing water echoing off the canyon walls was awesome.

Molly Montana On the Bass Creek Trail-Bitterroot Mountain

You will notice in the above photo I am on the leash. This trail is also a popular horse trail, and well, Kinsey worries about meeting riders and me causing an accident with my enthusiasm. I don't blame her really. I do still forget myself when meeting new people and other critters.

I would rate this an easy trail even though there is a pretty good elevation gain. One can always just walk as far as they want and still enjoy the creek. The first landmark we found was the log jam pond. For some this is a destination. We trekked on by looking for that waterfall.

Log Jam Pond Bass Creek Trail Bitterroot Forest

The next Land mark we found was the sign notifying us we were entering the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness.

Entering the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness
We kept on looking for a big boulder we were told we would find where we would go one way to the falls and the other to Bass Lake. It's eight miles to Bass Lake and no way we could make that trip in a day. Well, I could but Kinsey even in her best day couldn't make that long a mountain trip roundtrip in a day. For those looking for an overnight backpacking sort of trip this looks like a good one. Below is what we could not see for ourselves.

Bass Lake-Bitterroot Wilderness ©Helene Bazin-Lee Photography

About 3 miles in we found a stone arrow in the ground that pointed the way up the trail to the right, up being the operative word. Straight ahead was a trail but it was covered with blown down. Kinsey thought the falls must be on the low road but she didn't feel like scrambling over the trees. By the time we got back down to the trailhead Kinsey's knees were screaming so I guess it's just as well be turn back when we did.  It was after all our first mountain trail of the season.

The point of this story is; this trail has something for everyone and we highly recommend you check it out when your are in the area.

Until next time.

Molly Montana

©Kinsey Barnard

29 April 2016

Blue Mountain Bed & Breakfast - Missoula

A couple of year s ago or so I started a conversation with Elaine at Blue Mountain Bed & Breakfast on Twitter, although at the time I didn't know it was Elaine I was chatting with. We found each other because Montana people like to meet and support other Montana people, we're funny that way. If it's made in Montana we're for it.

Anywayz, Elaine thought we should come down for a visit but we usually travel in Clementine, our RV, because I'm a dog. Good news! Blue Mountain BB has a dog friendly room! So, I said we would do just that. It took me a couple of years to get Kinsey on board but this week we made the trek and are glad we did.

The home sits high up on the mountain over looking Missoula off to the north and Bitterroot Valley off to the south. The Bitterroot River flows along directly below.

Entrance to Blue Mountain BB

Everywhere you look it is clear that this is a home where animals and all things natural are welcome guests. Oh, people are welcome too but can only to speak from my perspective.

We had a lovely room with lodge furnishings and playful bears hanging around everywhere.

Elaine and Brady run the place. I have to take Kinsey's word for it but she said the breakfasts, Brady is the chef, were to die for, real gourmet fare. Kinsey wishes she had taken photos of them. You can find lots more photos and info on their website.

Dining and living area
If you are coming to Missoula and the Bitterroot area you should check this place out for sure. If you do, tell them Molly Montana sent you. I'm not sure if this will get you a warm welcome or a boot in the butt but I did try to be a good guest!

If you are looking for good old fashioned Montana hospitality you couldn't go wrong at Blue Mountain Bed & Breakfast. If you have never been to the Bitterroot Valley, take it from me, it's a hikers paradise. More on hiking in the next episode.

Until next time,
Molly Montana

©Kinsey Barnard

21 April 2016

The Perfect Gift

Oh, Boy! Oh, Boy! I've really hit the jackpot this time.

I found Kinsey the perfect gift! When I brought it to her I was knew I was a rock star. And, what was this perfect gift? It was a deer shed. Now I know this would not appeal to most people but my mum is a bit of an odd duck. She loves getting natural things, as long as no one is harmed in the getting. So when I presented her with this half of a perfect 8 point rack she was over the moon.

With all the deer around here you'd think one would stumble on them all the time. We have not had such luck. And, often when you do find them they've been out there for a couple of seasons and have been munched on by hungry critters. Not this baby it was in pristine condition. In the photo it looks kinda small but it's really a nice size.

Molly Montana and Deer Shed Antler

In other good news Kinsey recently read that Australian Shepherds are among the top 20 longest living canines. This means I could have as much as another 15 years if I watch my P's and Q's. That probably still won't be long enough to see Kinsey off this mortal plane but she may have slowed down some by then, she'll be 82. But, after watching a video this morning of Queen Elizabeth celebrating her ninetieth I think Kinsey will be around long after 82.

17 April 2016

Stillwater Forest

Well, at last I got to go someplace new. We took a nine mile walk in the Stillwater Forest. Actually we stuck pretty much to the road as there is still a lot of snow off the road. But, that was no problem. On the whole walk, which was a little over three hours, we saw exactly one pickup.

Stillwater Forest Montana

This is grizzly and black bear habitat and the bears are waking up hungry from their winter nap.  Kinsey carries bear spray and a .357 magnum. If attacked her plan is to use the bear spray first and if that doesn't work the gun. Over the years we have encountered lots of bears and never had any problems. We hope it stays that way but you never know so we are always alert and aware of our surroundings. We take nothing for granted including are great good fortune to live in such a fabulous place.

Along the way we passed a marsh where some trumpeter swans were a swimming.

Trumpeter Swan Stillwater Forest Montana

It was a beautiful day. And, the best news was the foot that had been giving Kinsey some trouble worked like a charm. She's been giving acupuncture a go and it seems to be paying dividends.

Thank goodness the good weather is here I should get to go explore lots of new places this year.

Molly Montana

©Kinsey Barnard

23 February 2016

Lake McDonald - Glacier National Park

This past Sunday was an awesome day. Too beautiful not to just get in the car and go. Where we live it doesn't matter in what direction you go, you will be smacked in the face with incredible beauty.

Kinsey has a particular fondness for McDonald Lake in Glacier National Park. It was very beautiful at the lake. Maybe the snowy peaks could have been a little less shrouded in clouds but it was awesome just the same. There were lots of people with the same idea.

McDonald Lake-Glacier NP 02-21-16

Glacier National Park 02-21-16
We always marvel at our great good fortune to live where we can witness such incredible beauty at the drop of a hat.

After the park we went to some snowy woods near Hungry Horse and took a wonderful walk. I took a bit of a run.

Kinsey has been pretty focused on her painting project (see Following My Art) but I'm starting to detect a little spring fever in the air. That's gonna mean more exploring and getting out to do stuff. YAY for me!!!!!

©Kinsey Barnard
The Liberated Photographer

26 January 2016

I Am Not A Stinky Pants! We Need a New Vet!

Kinsey has been running around here calling me "Stinky Pants". Sometimes at night I smelled so bad she shooed me from the bedroom. Because she thought she saw more yellow spots in the snow she decided I might have a urinary infection, I've had that before.

Away we went to the vet. Kinsey found this vet when my predecessor, Lakota Sunrise, was fading with old age and Cushings Disease. At the time she thought he was a Godsend. Personally, I've never liked the place.

Kinsey had said she thought it might be a urinary tract infection. They took me in to get a urine sample and then we waited for the doctor and the results. So, the vet came in and said there was nothing in the sample. He asked what the symptoms were and Kinsey did her best to explain. He looked at my teeth and said maybe it was bad breath because I have a lot of plaque. Kinsey stuck her face in my mouth and said no smell there. Surely if it were plaque it wouldn't come and go. Next he said maybe it was my ears. Kinsey says I have the sweetest smelling ears on the planet. Then he said I was overweight.

With that I could see Kinsey start to sizzle with annoyance. She is very fussy about my weight, believing that any dog owner who allows their dog to become overweight is cruel. Kinsey asks "How much did she weigh?" The vet looks at the file and says "We didn't weight her". Normally, that's the first thing a vet does. Then I got weighed and came in at 48 pounds. The vet in self defense says "She's been gaining with each visit". Yeah, like the first visit I weighed like ten pounds because I was a puppy. This is maybe the second time I've been there as an adult. The average weight of a female Australian Shepherd is 40 to 55 pounds. I'd say 48 puts be about dead center.

I will admit when I put on my winter coat it makes me look much beefier than I am. But, if you put your hands on me you can feel my ribs. Also, I might put on a pound or two in winter but so does Kinsey and it melts right off with the snow.

Even though the urine test showed no sign of infection the vet says I can give her antibiotics to take. Which he did. I was barely back in my car crate before Kinsey says and I'm quoting here "This is bullshit! This is all wrong". Then, apparently, a light bulb goes off and Kinsey takes my collar off and smells it. It didn't smell so good. A stinky collar could cause intermittent stinky. Lots of times I sit out in the snow and rain and I'm sure the thing gets wet.  We drove directly to Pet Smart and bot me a new collar.  And, I'm stinky no more!

Our next stop was back to the vets to see if we could get our money back because there was no way Kinsey was going to give me those pills. In fact she still can't believe the vet gave them to us. The vet Kinsey thought he was would have said "I can't find anything let's just keep and eye on things".

In conclusion let me just say, I am not a stinky pants!!! And, I want a new vet!!!

Meanwhile Kinsey continues to be obsessed with her painting project. You can check in on her progress at Following My Art

©Kinsey Barnard