Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Hike

Easter Sunday was sunny and mild, a prelude to the 'yucky' weather forecast for this week.  After breakfast, I decided a hike was in order and leashed up Amani to see how she would do on the trail with the prospect of meeting up with bicycles and other dogs.

Spring has definitely sprung here, if only in a small way.  Trees are starting to leave out slowly and some of the first wildflowers are up and blooming.

One definite advantage of where we are living is we are near to the dozens of trails Helena offers in the nearby 'hills'.  I started out on what is the 'Waterline Trail'.  I was introduced to this last week by KE and decided it would be a good trail to revisit as we only did a portion of the trail.

I had it to myself for most of my hike, only passing one guy on a bicycle and then at the end meeting up with a couple and their two dogs.  I have to say Amani did well.  She wasn't bothered by the bicycle or the dogs (they were my main concern).

I had let her off her leash as she only would go about 10-20 feet away and then stop and wait for me.  I think she will be going on the next Helena Hikers hike to see how she does.

But at one point the trail forked.  I could go down and follow the road back to town or I could go up.  I choose UP!  Shocking, I know, but I figured I could use the challenge of going uphill and I wanted to see where it would lead.

A few switchbacks and hills later and I came to an open area on "top" and Helena was splayed out below - so near, yet so far.

The rest of the hike was downhill, so to speak and we ended up close to where we started.  

Another sign spring is here...

My first robin.

Now I am jazzed about exploring all the trails Helena has to offer basically outside my door.  And Amani can come too.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

First 2016 Hike - Spokane Hills South Trail

One thing I am loving about Montana is you don't have to go far to find a great hike.  In this case, just a few minutes up the road.  And my first hike in 2016!  And the 200th hike for the Helena Hikers!!

Between moving and broken wrist and cold weather, I have just been a slacker the past year.  So I was glad when our leader, Don, posted this hike.  It was an "E" hike (easy and even), versus an "S" hike (steep and strenuous).  A great hike to get my feet wet, so to speak.

The parking area is next to this farm.  Very pretty and the view was a great inspiring start to the hike. However, while the temperatures we knew were going to be cool cold, the wind was blowing about 30-40 miles an hour (or stronger).  But the sun was out and when we could get away from the wind, it was great.

With view like this, what's not to like.

As we walked on around, views of the Missouri River appeared.

Unfortunately, this area was hit with a forest fire a few years ago and there is still evidence of the damage.

As we reached the point where we were going to turn around and come back, we met up with some other hikers who were cutting across country.

They weren't too friendly, but they could cover some ground quickly.

Views like this make the huffing and puffing and cold worthwhile.

We turned around and headed back, especially since we could see these clouds moving in and a flake or two falling.  A couple of the guys went on for another mile or so, but the rest of us turned back.

I really enjoyed this hike and is somewhere I will probably bring Lady K for a bit of a hike.  Probably not as far as we went, but somewhere there is a level road, few hills and little difficulty.  And maybe one of the dogs too.

Great hike, great day!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Montana was a hotbed of dinosaur activity at one time it seems.  So when Lady K hit the 'dinosaur' phase, it seemed like a no-brainer to go to the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman.  Monday (President's Day), Texter was off from school and I was off work, so we loaded up with Lady K and her "Sara-tops", along with a friend who offered to drive, and off we went.

"Big Mike" greeted us upon arrival, much to Lady K's amazement.  Then the fun started.

There were several of her favorite "sara-tops".

Lots of big teeth.

More big dinosaurs.

This was the only one she was scared of, strangely enough.  But Mommy was there to protect her from the 'shark'.

Dinosaurs overhead too!

Personally, I think Texter was enjoying it more than Lady K.  Of course, her new glasses might have helped.


Little dinosaurs too.

A stop at the planetarium, of which Lady K lasted until about the final two minutes and then Mommy had to take her out.

The museum was between exhibits, so we really only took in the dinosaurs - which was about the limit on Lady K's patience.  A trip to the museum store yielded "stompers" and a dinosaur passport.

The passport, which is similar to the one for the national parks, means more day trips around Montana this summer to see more dinosaurs.

In the meantime, we can "stomp, stomp, stomp" around the house.  And wear them to bed.

After the museum, we decided to explore some of Bozeman's shopping experience (of which there is really none in Helena) and found the mall for some retail therapy.  One thing I like about Bozeman, which I have noticed in several cities and towns around Montana, is they utilize the electrical boxes in a very artistic manner.  Why have plain, green, ugly boxes, when you can have them look like this...

This one is more realistic, some have abstracts on them.  But isn't this much more fun?

Bozeman is a relatively quick trip (about 1.5 hours away with a stop at Wheat Montana for a ham and cheese croissant).  Now I know where the Olive Garden is located and the mall, there will be more trips there.  And probably the museum again in the summer when their Living History outdoor section is open.

In the meantime, we will "stomp, stomp, stomp" and roar!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tizer Botanical Gardens Apple Day

I love Tizer Botanic Gardens.  I mean love as in I would move into the cabin for awhile.  I have assisted in getting the grounds ready for the opening in late spring now for a couple of years.  I had planned on trying to get Savvy out there for High Tea this summer, but between her work and buying the house and moving, it didn't work out.  Texter, Lady K and I managed a couple of events during the summer, but no Savvy. So when I saw they were having an "Apple Day" I knew we had to go.

Unfortunately, as the week came closer and closer to Sunday, it looked like it was going to not only be cold, but rainy, and maybe a bit snowy.  I had resigned myself to not going.  We couldn't risk any of us coming down with colds.  But Sunday dawned dry, but cold.  Texter and I decided to go and rousted Savvy out of her warm bed.

If a successful day is measured by the great food purchased, then we had an overwhelming success.  While Lady K ran rampant (only 2 screaming fits because we wanted her to go where she didn't want to go), the rest of us ate.  Savvy quickly snatched up a pottery bowl filled with apple dumplings and found a fork.  We warmed up a bit by the fire they had going to knock the chill off visitors.

In all, we bought the apple dumplings (in a lovely pottery dish), 2 apple pralines (little mini-cakes), 4 caramel or chocolate covered apples, a big bag of fresh Montana apples, an apple pie and a mini loaf of banana bread for Texter as she can't do cinnamon.  These were all baked by wonderful volunteers who added to the day.  They were all gracious and more than happy to talk about the different apple items. And we sampled the fresh pressed apple cider. I wish Lady K had allowed us more time to see if they were going to sell any of it.

We showed Savvy some of our favorite spots in the gardens, like the Buddha garden.

The garden area, where I usually work, is still lovely despite having a few freezing nights.

I love the abandon of the plants at the end of the season.  There was still plenty of color and lots of interest while strolling the paths.  Spring and summer are only a part of the allure of Tizer.  Autumn has it's own appeal.  

There was an area for kids where they could color a drawing of an apple using stamps made from apples.  They could make an apple book and had a tree hunt and leaf rubbing.  Unfortunately, that meant slowing down for Lady K which wasn't in her mode for the day.  I know they were planning on some lectures on different types of apples suited for Montana and how to espalier an apple tree, something I was a bit interested in with our small yard and a chain length fence to hide.  Maybe next year, being a year older, we will get some cooperation from Lady K.

The only downside to the day was on the way there, Lady K had a terrible nosebleed.  Luckily, we were on the service road and were able to pull over and get her all cleaned up.  Once we got home, she ate a bit of lunch and was napping at 3pm.  And slept pretty much all the way through the night with a couple of restless periods.  Guess an hour of constant running tired her out!

Hopefully, this will be the first of many Apple Days at Tizer.  It was a great way to say good-bye to summer and hello to fall/winter.  Now, for another slice of apple pie.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fashion Walk or Rather Food Walk

Last Thursday, the Downtown Helena merchants had a "Fashion Night'.  The premise was to walk the downtown area and see what new fashions the merchants had on hand.  Some of the non-clothing merchants were also open late.  The big draw for me - "Free Food and Drinks!"  (There was also the opportunity for more steps and to get Texter and Lady K out of the house for a bit of exercise.)

The Holter Museum had a spread and they also had teens walking around the area with cotton candy.

The Herb and Garden Shop, which I love.  I bought a small container of Sturdy Girl All-Purpose Cream.  I love the lavender/sage smell.  It's really heavy duty and I can tell I will be going back to get more (in a larger container).

Poppyseed Boutique had mini-cupcakes and hot chocolate.  However, they were out of the hot chocolate by the time we got there!  But they have lots of interesting items, especially accessories.  I will be hitting them up for gifts in the future.

The Dancing Lotus Center had a more 'healthy' spread.  Texter is interested in some of the classes they offer.  As we get settled into a school/work/study routine we are going to try and fit some of these classes in, especially when the weather is not favorable to being outside.

  The cotton candy being handed out by the teens from the Holter Museum.  We ate more than our fair share and took some home to Savvy (who had to work - bummer).

Aizada Imports offered margaritas!  They also have a woven hammock I want for our front porch for next year when the weather starts getting nice.

Birds and Beasleys got in on the action too.  Birds are always in fashion as far as I'm concerned.  But coconut macaroons!

A fun consignment shop, Frayed Sew is a handmade item shop.  Tons of gift ideas and every time I go in, I find myself going, "I want this, and that, and this..."  They have some handmade journals I have my eye on for myself.  And red and white wine!

But my favorite stop of the night had to be The Panhandler.  They were demonstrating this 'grill' which was cute and amazing.  You can see it to the left in the background.  But the grill raises up and you can broil items on these little 'shovels' underneath.  Texter and I toasted bread (from Park Avenue Bakery).  One had herb butter with gruyere cheese and the other prosciutto and gouda.  Then the crepe had diced peaches which I warmed on the grill on top.  We could have stayed there all night.  Panhandler is another shop I have to stay out of.  It's dangerous to my purse. 

All in all, it was a great couple of hours spent wandering downtown.  There are a couple of shops I didn't know existed which I will be returning to in the near future.  I can't wait until Savvy has a day off and we can repeat the walk, minus the 4-5 glasses of wine and plates of food I had.  An evening such as this makes it easy to plan 'shopping local' rather than hitting online or chain stores.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Winter is Coming

Fall and the onset of winter sure is different in Montana from North Carolina.  Back in NC, I would be basking in 70-80 degree weather during the day, dropping to 50-60 at night.  Here in Helena, we are 'basking' in 50 degree weather with nighttime temps dropping below freezing.  There have already been a couple of 'snow' threats and there is snow on the higher elevations (like right behind the house), but nothing on my lawn yet except a normal freeze.

Yesterday, Texter, Lady K and I had to drive from Helena to Great Falls for Lady K to get her flu shot.  The day was gray and drizzly here in Helena and on most of the drive to Great Falls.  Texter took the camera or we would have been stopping every few minutes for me to take pictures.  So here are a few of Texter's pictures she took on the drive.

This picture (which she did a really good job of, by the way) shows snow on the higher mountain tops already.  But it also catches the low clouds we were seeing and how the grasses have already turned brown in the fall weather.

This is one of the views along the way.  There is no way to really capture how lovely the winding Missouri is on our way to/from Great Falls.  If you haven't ever watched "A River Flows Through It", watch if for the scenery alone and you might get an idea of what it is like.  Again, Texter did a good job of taking a picture.

On the way back, I did make her let me stop at a scenic overlook for a couple of pictures.  I need to get out in the car and drive around and take nothing but foliage pictures one day when the sun is shining.

I like this picture because the bridge over the road in the distance gives you a sense of just how big these 'hills' really are.      

Once you leave town and planned planting of trees, the color is many bright yellow of the aspen and birch.  It is beautiful against the white of the bark.

When I saw this picture from the overlook that I took, I had to laugh.  If you cut out the large pine trees on the right hand side of the picture, you would almost think this was a rock with lichen on it.  However, the brown, red and yellow are small trees and shrubs on the rock.  The green is a large expanse of lichen, however.

Hopefully, I will have a chance to get out and take more pictures before the snows start in earnest.