M is for Mountains – #atozchallenge

I love the mountains.  I spent a good part of my life in the mountains – New Mexico, Montana, Utah, Colorado, Arizona.  These are the BIG mountains.

Having lived in Kentucky for the past 25 years, I hear of people that live in “the mountains of Kentucky” or heading to “the mountains of West Virginia.” In my perspective these are more like hills. But, by the broader definition, there are mountains in states like Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Virginia.  Maybe even Tennessee.

Purple Mountain Majesties – Sawtooth range in Central Idaho
Here I am at the Sandia Overlook near Albuquerque in 1964

When I take trips to the Western US, I always try to make an effort to get to the REAL mountains….the kind over 10,000′ tall.  I love the fresh air of these mountains.  I long for the spectacular views…both from below and on top.

My first ventures into the mountains were as a young boy living in New Mexico.  My Dad also loved the mountains and we often took rides up to the Sandias. We would hike, take picnics and my dad always took pictures. He always took slides because he thought they were better quality.

In 1968 we moved from Dallas to Denver.  While in Denver, my Dad would take us on various drives up to Rocky Mountain National Park, Mt. Evans, Pikes Peak and other mountains.  As a junior high school youth I went with him for the intense hike up Longs Peak, near Boulder.  This mountain hike was a first for me.  I never made it to the top (since we were bogged down by a massive hailstorm in the middle of summer).  But my Dad left me at the stop station and continued up with a couple of friends.

My Dad Joe at the top of Colorado’s Longs Peak in 1968.

Later in life I had the opportunity to take a trip up to the top of Mt. Evans (by car).  It had changed over the years, but still had the mountain goats and the thin air.

Sitting high up on Mt. Evans in Colorado in 1990 looking down at a crystal lake.
Sumoflam and Mt. Rainier from Sunrise

Living in Bozeman, Montana in the mid 1970s was the final straw.  We actually lived up in the mountains south of Bozeman.  I was hooked and still am.  My goals have always been to visit America’s great mountains, mountain ranges and parks. I have been blessed to have been able to do so.

Over the years I have been to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Tetons National Park, the Colorado Rockies, the Sawtooth Range in Idaho, the Beartooth Range and scenic drive in northern Wyoming and more.  I have even been to the eastern mountains of Shenandoah, the Alleghany Highlands in Virginia (where I am as I write this!), the Ozarks in Arkansas and Missouri and the Adirondacks.  They have their own wonderful scenery.

Mt. Rainier in Washington – visited in 2015
Grand Tetons as seen from Driggs, Idaho in 2013
Mt. Moran in the Grand Tetons as seen from Colter Bay Lodge
The Beartooth Range in northern Wyoming.
Three Sisters – nicknamed Faith/Hope/Charity near Sister’s Oregon
Lima Peaks south of Lima, Montana
America the Beautiful – A scene near Glacier National Park
A far off waterfall in Glacier National Park
Mountains of Glacier National Park near Babb, MT
Mountains near the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone National Park
The mountains and the Yellowstone River as seen from US 89
Our daughter Amaree with the San Francisco Peaks of Arizona in the background taken in the fall of 1981.
On Glacier Bay in Alaska
Washington’s Lake Crescent and Mount Storm King in the background
Mount Timpanogos in Provo Canyon, UT
Mountain view from Sacajawea Park in Livingston, Montana
Colorful homes and scenic mountains in Leadville, CO
Mt. Jefferson – at 10,497 feet the second highest peak in Oregon

 

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A Few Days in Shelby, Montana and surrounding area

Shelby, Montana
Shelby, Montana

March 28, 2013:  On our way back to Kentucky from Rexburg, Idaho  we made a three day detour to Shelby, Montana to visit our daughter and her husband and their 4 children. During our three days here, we were very busy with a trip to the base of Glacier National Park, a drive around town capturing the “Neon Essence” of Shelby, and a trip north to Sweetgrass, just south of the Canadian border, where we also visited a Hutterite colony and learned of their amazing communal ways.  This post will cover these activities through photos and some details.

Shelby, Montana -- a train town
Shelby, Montana — a railroad town

Shelby is a city of about 3400 people (including 6 of my children/grandchildren!!). It was started as a railroad town and continues as such today.  Named after Peter O. Shelby of the Montana Central Railway, the town really got its start in 1891 when the Great Northern Railroad was making its way to the Marias Pass.  The story goes that the builders threw a box car from the train and called it a station.

Old Motel Sign in Shelby, Montana
Old Motel Sign in Shelby, Montana

One of the endearing characters of Shelby is all of the old neon signs still hanging around the town. Obviously, as an Amtrak town, there are still lots of motels in Shelby.  As well, it is a nice pit stop for many.

Vista Motel - Shelby, Montana
Vista Motel – Shelby, Montana
Sherlock Motel - Shelby, Montana
Sherlock Motel – Shelby, Montana
Big Motel sign in downtown Shelby
Big Motel sign in downtown Shelby
Old Motel Sign - Shelby, Montana
Old Motel Sign – Shelby, Montana

There are lots of bars and restaurants as well…

Oasis Bar - Shelby, Montana.  Love the old Dancing neon sign
Oasis Bar – Shelby, Montana. Love the old Dancing neon sign
Sports Club - Excellent Food - Shelby, Montana
Sports Club – Excellent Food – Shelby, Montana
Mint Club - Shelby, Montana
The Mint Club – Shelby, Montana
Montana Grill and Roxy Theater in Shelby, Montana
Montana Grill and Roxy Theater in Shelby, Montana

On a previous trip I took the kids to see a movie at the Roxy.  Old style theater still in operation.  It was fun.

Here are a few other scenes from around the town itself…

Wall Art in downtown Shelby
Wall Art in downtown Shelby
H-O Motor Supply - old advertising
H-O Motor Supply – old advertising
Bowling anyone? - this is the only place to bowl in Shelby.
Bowling anyone? – this is the only place to bowl in Shelby.
Unusual sign seen in a shop in Shelby
Unusual sign seen in a shop in Shelby
Iwo Jima Metal Art at Veteran's Memorial in Shelby, Montana.  This was made by local veteran John Alstad
Iwo Jima Metal Art at Veteran’s Memorial in Shelby, Montana

Vietnam War Veteran John Alstad of Sunburst created most of the pieces at the Veteran’s Memorial in Shelby. He estimates he spent nearly 700 hours working on the various pieces at the monument, the most prominent of which is the Iwo Jima piece.

Found this old truck driving through a neighborhood in Shelby
Found this old truck driving through a neighborhood in Shelby

As I noted, Shelby is a railroad town.  As I drove around town getting the shots above, we were stuck at a track for nearly 20 minutes as a long train made its way to a grain elevator.  The photo at the top shows the train at the elevator.

Long train running in Shelby, Montana
Long train running in Shelby, Montana

I have always enjoyed looking at the graffiti on trains.  You see it all over the country.  Here are a few examples I got as the train moved slowly past us.  I couldn’t go anywhere, so, why not?

Train Graffiti
Train Graffiti
Train Graffiti
Train Graffiti
Train graffiti
Train graffiti
Train graffiti
Train graffiti

After the trains, I drive a bit east of town on US 2 to get a view of Shelby from the hill.  We came across this unique Historical Marker.

The Oily Boid gets the Woim - a unique historical marker
The Oily Boid gets the Woim – a unique historical marker

One of the evenings Julianne and I went with my daughter and her husband to the “premier” steak place in the Shelby area. Trust me, you would never know how good this place was inside by driving by it!!  It is in an old whitewashed building literally in the middle of nowhere in a place called Dunkirk, on the outskirts of Shelby.  All that is indicated is the sign.

Frontier Restaurant near Shelby, Montana
Frontier Restaurant near Shelby, Montana
Mailbox outside of Frontier Bar and Grill
Mailbox outside of Frontier Bar and Grill
Hanging with the Frontier Guy
Hanging with the Frontier Guy
Frontier Bar in Dunkirk, east of Shelby
Frontier Bar in Dunkirk, east of Shelby
I guarantee that this place is no bull!!
I guarantee that this place is no bull!!

Once in the place, it is a whole different story.  Linen napkins and nice china. The water glasses were the nice stem ware one sees in an upscale restaurant.  The prices are also synonymous with ritzy…  But so was the meal.

Dinner at Frontier - 16 oz. Cajun blackened New York Strip with a huge potato and green beans.
Dinner at Frontier – 16 oz. Cajun blackened New York Strip with a huge potato and green beans

After a nice dinner, we walked out of the restaurant and OH WHAT A VIEW!!

Mountains to the north of Shelby, with an awesome sunset.
Mountains to the north of Shelby, with an awesome sunset
Close up of Gold Butte - mountains on fire
Close up of Gold Butte – mountains on fire

The next day my son in law Aaron, his two boys and I all took off west towards Glacier National Park.  Though it was officially closed, we were able to get close enough to the mountains to catch a beautiful sunrise.  I will have a special photo album of shots of the mountains, but will include a couple of them here as well.

We left early, while still dark and headed towards Cut Bank and Browning.  We then took Hwy 464 towards Duck Lake. As we headed north towards Babb, the sun began to rise.

Sunrise in Northern Montana
Sunrise in Northern Montana near Babb, Montana
Snow covered prairies north of Browning, Montana
Snow covered prairies north of Browning, Montana
First sunrise on the mountains of Glacier National Park near Babbs, Montana
First sunrise on the mountains of Glacier National Park near Babb, Montana
Sunrise a little later in Glacier
Sunrise a little later in Glacier – Chief Mountain on Right, Sherburne Peak and Yellow Mountain on the left
Chief Mountain at sunrise
Chief Mountain at sunrise
Heading to the mountains on Montana Hwy 464 near Duck Lake
Heading to the mountains on Montana Hwy 464 near Duck Lake
Clouds in the Mountains near Babb, MT
Clouds in the Mountains near Babb, MT
Old truck - Babb, Montana
Old truck – Babb, Montana
Babb Bar and Supper Club
Babb Bar and Supper Club

After the sun was finally up, we backtracked to Babb and dropped in at the Leaning Tree Cafe, which is about a mile from the US 89 Junction.  It opened at 8 AM and it was time for a great meal.

Leaning Tree Cafe, Babb, Montana
Leaning Tree Cafe, Babb, Montana
Leaning Tree Menu - lots of good breakfast
Leaning Tree Menu – lots of good breakfast
The kids were excited to eat at a place like this
The kids were excited to eat at a place like this
They sell grubs here too - didn't have any of those for breakfast
They sell grubs here too – didn’t have any of those for breakfast
Mary runs the Leaning Tree Cafe.  She makes a great breakfast
Mary runs the Leaning Tree Cafe. She makes a great breakfast
My breakfast at leaning tree - eggs, sausage, hash, potatoes and toast - YUM
My breakfast at leaning tree – eggs, sausage, hash, potatoes and toast – YUM
Happy after my breakfast
Happy after my breakfast

You can see a complete gallery of the Glacier N.P. Mountains –> Click Here

We headed back towards Browning, and along the way saw a couple of bison.  Not too good of shots, but, I didn’t want to get out of the car

Bison on Hwy 464
Bison on Hwy 464

We made our way into Browning, Montana.  The mountains were beautiful, but I was actually quite shocked at all of the garbage in the fields (mind you, I come from Lexington, KY which always looks like a park)

Browning, Montana - notice all of the garbage
Browning, Montana – notice all of the garbage along the fence
Don't Drink and Drive sign - makes for empty lodges
Don’t Drink and Drive sign – makes for empty lodges
Big Lodge Espresso - the Espresso Tipi in Browning
Big Lodge Espresso – the Espresso Tipi in Browning
Cowboy Museum in a Native American town
Cowboy Museum in a Native American town
Murals on the side of a shop in Browning
Mural on the side of a shop in Browning
Metal Teepees in front of a shop in Browning
Metal Teepees in front of a shop in Browning
Another nice mural in Browning, Montana
Another nice mural in Browning, Montana

From Browning we headed east again towards Cut Bank, we took a small detour off of US Hwy 2 to visit the Camp Disappointment historic site and monument near milepost 233.  There is a historical marker as well as a large obelisk monument dedicated to the site.

Camp Disappointment Historical Sign
Camp Disappointment Historical Sign
Camp Disappointment Monument west of Cut Bank, Montana
Camp Disappointment Monument west of Cut Bank, Montana

The biggest disappointment is all of the graffiti on the obelisk.  I don’t know why people feel like they need to vandalize monuments like this.

Close up of text on the monument
Close up of text on the monument
Another shot of Camp Disappointment Monument
Another shot of Camp Disappointment Monument

From Camp Disappointment we continued east into Cut Bank.  The skies were clear blue and it was a great opportunity to stop and get some close up shots of the Blackfoot Warriors, made out of scrap metal. These were created by native Blackfeet artist Jay Polite Laber and were commissioned by the Blackfeet Tribal Leaders.  They were created in 2000.  He actually created a set of these to welcome travelers into the Blackfeet reservation from all four directions — the northern site is at the US/Canadian border on US 89,  the eastern site in East Glacier on US Hwy 2, the western site is near Cut Bank on US Hwy 2 (these are below), and the southern site is on US 89 near Birch Creek and Heart Butte.

Blackfeet Warriors by Jay Polite Laber, in East Glacier, Montana
Blackfeet Warriors by Jay Polite Laber, in Cut Bank, Montana
Warrior 1
Warrior 1 – by Jay Polite Laber, near Cut Bank, Montana
Warrior 2
Warrior 2 – by Jay Polite Laber, near Cut Bank, Montana
The Warriors, by Jay Polite
The Warriors, by Jay Polite
Closeup of horse
Closeup of horse

From the warriors we went through town and made the requisite stop at the world’s largest penguin!

Cut Bank Penguin
Cut Bank Penguin

Being another train town, there is a large Train Bridge in Cutbank

Cut Bank Creek Trestle, built in 1900
Cut Bank Creek Trestle, built in 1900

Even though we had a busy morning and got into Shelby around noon, we were then again back on the road north towards Sweetgrass and off to visit a Hutterite colony, which was an amazing experience.

Striped fields in Northern Montana
Striped fields in Northern Montana
Blue roofed church in Sweetgrass, Montana
Blue roofed church in Sweetgrass, Montana
Another view of the Blue Roofed Church
Another view of the Blue Roofed Church

From Sweetgrass we headed west on a dirt road  towards the Hillside Colony of the Hutterites.  AS we visited we learned some amazing things: the Hutterites are almost totally communal.  All of them share everything.  Unlike the Amish, the Hutterites have adopted technology and are fabulously industrious.  They make their own clothes, they grow most of their own food, they all live in a small community.  Their homes are sparse.  It should be noted that I took a number of photos, with their permission, but, by their request, very few and only select photos are being added below.

Jerusalem Rocks near Sweetgrass
Jerusalem Rocks near Sweetgrass

We saw the above rock formations on the way to Hillside.  However, these were just an inkling of the bigger ones, which I have visited in the past.

On the road to the Hillside  Colony
On the road to the Hillside Colony
The Hillside Community
The Hillside Community

As seen above, the Hutterites in Hillside Colony live in the prefab buildings as seen above.  The apartments are small and have little or no belongings in them.  Each of the steps represent a single domicile.

The belongings in the kitchen
The belongings in the kitchen

One thing noticed immediately, there are no stoves, ovens or refrigerators in the homes.  They have a couple of chairs, perhaps a bench, a bed or two and some dressers.  The bed frames, dressers, kitchen tables, the cup holder above and the chairs are all hand made in the community.

Home made chairs
Home made chairs
The hat rack - the men wear hats in the public
The hat rack – the men wear hats in the public
Laundry Carts are used and they hang the laundry out. They do use washing machines
Laundry Carts are used and they hang the laundry out. They do use washing machines
Communal Dining Room
Communal Dining Room

All meals are eaten together as a community — men on one side, women on the other.  The women prepare the meals while the men work out on the farms, the chicken coops, the woodworking section, or otherwise.

Hat hanger in the Dining Room
Hat hanger in the Dining Room
Hutterite Food Storage
Hutterite Food Storage

Overall, we were so impressed about the kindness of the Hutterite folk.  We picked up some potatoes, home made sausage and some of their wonderful bread.  They are as industrious as bees and ants and all share completely.  Each individual has their own assigned jobs, many for life.  It was a great visit.

Cousin Thomas
Cousin Thomas

One last little visit was made while we were in Shelby. We got to visit Harry J. Benjamin, who makes all kinds of trains and pedal cars.  Below is his “De-Railed” Steam Engine, which he shows off in parades in northern Montana. This engine pulls a set of cars that reaches 60 feet long.

Harry J. Benjamin
Harry J. Benjamin

Well past his 80’s, Mr. Benjamin, a former farmer and mechanic, is famed in the area for building things out of junk parts and pieces.  He has built a number of trains, some other vehicles for the local high school and a number of children’s toys.

Harry driving his smaller train
Harry driving his smaller train
Smokin...
Smokin…
Benjamin's creations - a couple of tractors
Benjamin’s creations – a couple of tractors
De-Railed
De-Railed
Toy Tractor
Toy Tractor
Grandkids Enjoy the Ride
Grandkids Enjoy the Ride

Here’s a video of one of his creations:

But, I must admit, the BEST part of the entire visit to Shelby was this….

....Reading to the Grandkids
….reading to the Grandkids

Next stop…heading home via US 2.  Watch soon for the next great adventures on Less Beaten Paths.

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