Poet’s Last Wish

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Sitting alone at my trusty writing table once again

Wondering where the creative images have been

Touching the early morning peace and stillness

Writing with inspiring words filled with richness

Creating poetry can be a journey to thrill

Seeking new ideas for a blank sheet to fill

Smiling as my loyal pen walks with haste

Hoping these words provide a rich taste

Dreaming of writing a poem that’s a big hit

Understanding that many will be left adrift

Pausing to think of outstanding poetry awards

Knowing that finishing may be my only reward

Finding more ambition from the morning light

Feeling my mind beginning to take full flight

Adding to a poem line by thoughtful line

Relishing the energy my words will find

Nearing the end of my writing journey, years from now

Looking back at my poetry, and taking a last, final bow

Realizing that long after I have left and been gone

Appreciating others reading my words like a song

 

 

Visit the “Magic City”

The Big Sky Country’s “Magic City” is an inspiring place to visit and spend a few days.  Montana’s largest city, Billings, offers the conveniences of a bigger city with the friendliness and smallness that makes a person feel right at home.

With a population just over 100,000, Billings is by far the largest city in Montana, but it provides an atmosphere filled with plenty of western hospitality.  Travel connections are quite accommodating with major airline service arriving at the nearby Billings Logan Airport as well as highway connections via Interstates 90 and 94.

Founded in 1882, Billings was nicknamed the “Magic City” because of its quick, rapid growth.  Almost overnight, Billings awakened because of its significant location along the mainline of America’s second transcontinental railroad, the Northern Pacific.

Billings has long been a railroad hub with several rail lines traveling through the city.  In addition to the Northern Pacific, other lines have included the Milwaukee Road and the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy lines.  Today, these lines have all been merged into BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe).

Billings takes its name from Frederick Billings, a former President of the Northern Pacific Railroad.  The free-roaming Yellowstone River borders the southern boundaries of the city, and the majestic sandstone foundation, called the Rimrocks, borders the northern tier.

Downtown Billings offers a vibrant retail district with unique shops, restaurants, hotels, and local craft breweries.  There are numerous city parks and green space, with Pioneer Park being one of the crown jewels in the city’s park system.  Billings is a retail center for much of south-central Montana as well as northern Wyoming.  For shoppers traveling to any Montana destination, remember that the state does not levy a general sales tax on retail purchases.

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Downtown Billings provides green space along with modern office buildings.

Within the confines of the greater Billings area, one will find numerous attractions to fill up anyone’s taste for culture, history, and entertainment.

In the downtown corridor, the Western Heritage Center offers distinct local history about Billings and the surrounding area.  There is a mix of permanent exhibits along with rotating points of historical interest.  The building is located in the former city library, and it continues today as a modern, handicap-accessible museum.

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The Western Heritage Center was built with an exterior using sandstone quarried from sites in Montana.  The building was originally constructed to be the public library (note the sign above the entrance).

The Yellowstone Art Museum sits on the site of the former Yellowstone County Jail, and the core part of the jail building was remodeled to provide the original home for the museum.  Additions have been added to the museum over the years, and it is now houses some of the finest art collections in the region.

The Moss Mansion is a “must-see” stop.  The historic home was built in 1903 by P. B. Moss.  At the time of its construction, the home was located on the western edge of the city.  The last surviving family member lived there until the 1980s.  Today the mansion, which stands preserved with all of its grandeur on the inside as well as on the outside, is a museum open to the public.

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The front of the Moss Mansion as viewed from Division Street on the east side of the home.  Note the unique design as well as the well-manicured grounds.

Venturing out from the city center, one can spend time at Zoo Montana, which is home to Montana’s largest zoo complex.  The zoo is limited in its number of species on display, but the setting along Canyon Creek is perfect for a wonderful time filled with experiencing nature’s habitat as well as the awesome landscape.  In the summertime, the best time to visit the zoo is in the morning hours when the temperatures are not too hot, and the animals will usually be more active.

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A Red Panda calls Zoo Montana its home as it explores a shaded area of the grounds.

If you are a baseball fan, Billings remains a hotbed for this longtime sport.  With a recently built stadium, Dehler Field, baseball games fill up many summer nights.   The Billings Mustangs, who are a rookie league farm club for the Cincinnati Reds, as well as the two American Legion teams, the Royals and the Scarlets, play under the lights at the field.

Billings has a long tradition of baseball success that is exemplified by major league pitcher Dave McNally, who pitched in the 1960s and 1970s for the Baltimore Orioles.  He was a multiple season 20-game winner, and is the only pitcher to hit a grand slam home run in World Series play.  Famous sportscaster Brent Musberger spent his early years in Billings, and has remained a huge baseball fan throughout his life.

If one has a taste to travel a short distance from Billings, there are many attractions nearby.  Pompey’s Pillar National Monument offers a look at the only physical evidence left by the explorers from Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery back in 1804-1806.  Captain William Clark carved his initials on a pillar of sandstone near the Yellowstone River.  The site is located about 25 miles east of Billings along Interstate 94, and a superb interpretative center and gift shop add much to the visit.

Traveling about an hour from Billings on Interstate 90 to the south, history buffs will find an excellent place to learn more about Native American culture and their struggle to preserve their way of life.  The Little Bighorn Battlefield is located just outside of Hardin near the freeway.  While the battle took place long ago in 1876, visitors can learn much about the major participants of the battle.

Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and his U.S. 7th Calvary were handily defeated by Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne warriors led by chiefs Sitting Bull, Gall, and Crazy Horse.  There is a wonderful interpretative center, and plan to complete the automobile tour that includes most of the battlefield site.

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Markers of fallen 7th Calvary soldiers are visible throughout the Little Bighorn Battlefield.  Much of the saga of the battle has been updated from Native American oral history about the event.

There is much more to the Billings area as well as the other attractions a short drive from the city center.  To learn more about these, visit the “Magic City.”

 

 

 

Hilltop Hiker

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Unforgiving winter weather abates with a sunny pause

Hiking on hills and trails will be today’s special cause

The hiker dresses warmly due to the windy, chilly air

Hoping that his stamina will last without any cares

He looks prepared to attack a vigorous hour-long walk

Knowing that later his body might find a way to balk

The wooded trails in their colorless winter hue

Appearing in a much different look and view

A plump, gray squirrel scurries among fallen logs

Searching for a hasty snack to retain and hog

The shadows look friendly and different today

Walking these trails will seem more like play

The hiker’s pace remains steady and brisk

Feeling stronger without taking on a risk 

More travelers arrive at the challenging trails

Experiencing nature’s offering without fail

The journey takes the hiker up the outer route

Seeing barren trees and fallen limbs all about

Nature provides a spiritual place for all to shine

Inspiring anyone who walks this wooded shrine

A young boy’s eyes scan up a very steep hill

Finding a solitary deer brings him a thrill

The pace of the hiker remains steady and true

Tackling the inner trail, he will soon be through

A former homesite greets the hiker’s arrival

Wondering about a family’s long ago survival

The unaccompanied hiker finishes once more

Smiling because his body doesn’t feel too sore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Ever Wonder?

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Receiving as a birthday gift a FitBit

Does it really get used or just sit?

Spending millions on endless and repeated television ads

Why do rising drug prices make me feel like I’ve been had?

Eating at a restaurant that advertises a menu of “real good” food

Will someone explain the meaning of “good” to change my mood?

Listening to “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas” again

Did I see singer Burl Ives slyly wink and grin?

Watching commercials with animals who talk

When is enough really enough before I walk?

Viewing a media event at the President’s home

Would anyone really care if he was left alone? 

Finding my pill box in my small travel bag

Why does a missing pill want to play tag?

Seeing country music stars dressed up for glamour and glitz

Does anyone remember “Hee-Haw” and Roy Clark’s guitar blitz?

Reading a label on the side effects of my new meds

How would I really know about being allergic instead?

Standing below the mistletoe on a freezing winter night

When was the last time anyone was kissed in its sight?

Sitting unused in the corner of the basement

Why did I buy that bicycle for my amazement?

Frustrating advertisements that insult common sense

Do I really need to feel that dimwitted and dense?

Assembling an “easy to build” children’s’ playground

Do the leftover parts mean that my work is sound?

 

 

 

Nighttime Rain

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Lying wide awake during a lonely, rainy night

Hearing the moisture-rich drops taking flight

Trying to return to a blissful sleep without any pause

Failing because of music those steady drops will cause

Remembering Eddie Rabbitt’s song of a beautiful sight

Declaring once again that he truly loves a rainy night

Imagining each single, rainy drop bouncing about

Wetting the arid ground with its mighty clout

Rolling eyes over the walls of a darkened room

Realizing that morning light will be here soon

Recalling rainy mirages from times back in the past

Hoping now that the rain shower will continue to last

Thinking of more puddles that continue to flow about

Seeing the runoff now flooding as the creek spills out

Driving down a wet, shiny road with lights burning bright

Blinding radiance bounces back to impair one’s eyesight

Wondering where that beat-up umbrella went

Needing it later despite being twisted and bent

Smelling the soft fragrance of a summer rain

Knowing that its sweet fullness will slowly wane

Allowing the steady patter of rain to sing

Falling asleep before the new day brings

Dreaming of future adventures in a drizzle so wet

Knowing that it will offer more than I’ve seen yet

 

Man-Cave Friends

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Exercising tonight on my stationary bike

Making me feel very much like a young tike

Listening to a playlist of songs from the past

Hoping that my strength and stamina will last

Setting a quick pace as the pedaling begins

Missing a day on the bike would be quite a sin

Biking regularly in this Man-Cave each night

Looking around the room, there is quite a sight

Sharing space with a sofa full of Teddy Bears

Watching and smiling at me as they all stare

Pushing and pulling the handles in front of my face

Pedaling with high energy at a fast and furious pace

My biking adventure will continue all of this week

Realizing these “beary” friends will be here to peek

 

 

 

Little Things Become Big Things

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Have you ever seriously thought?

How little things in our lives become big things

A single snowflake falls at sundown

Becomes a skier’s paradise at sunrise

A single encouraging thought

Becomes the key to unlock a young mind

A single thoughtful gesture

Becomes a way for others to “pay it forward”

A single painting by an artist

Becomes a masterpiece for all generations

A single drop of rain

Becomes a nourishing drink for flowers so bright

A single warm smile

Becomes the connection between a father and daughter

A single laboratory discovery

Becomes the means to cure a disease

A single lightning strike in the forest

Becomes a way for nature to manage itself

A single book read at a young age

Becomes an inspiration for life-long reading

A single win for a struggling team

Becomes the spark for a championship run

A single handwritten short story

Becomes the inspiration for an award-winning novel

A single diamond engagement ring

Becomes a long and lasting marriage

A single simple prayer

Becomes the bridge between one and God

A single moment of intimate love

Becomes the birth of a blessed child

A single job interview

Becomes an incredible and fulfilling career

A single bright-shining star

Becomes the beacon to proclaim Christ’s birth

True, not all little things lead to good things

But, with patience and God’s guidance, some will become great!