Big Sky Moments

 

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Waking up on a cold, frigid, winter morn

Looking like one more day with a storm

Pulling the warm covers over my bare head

Let’s fast forward to a new season instead

 

Always dreaming big at night

Never alone, perfect delight

 

Fast forward to a hot summer day

Sensational, unblemished blue sky

Feeling an urge to jump up, shout and say

Have you ever seen a more beautiful sky?

 

Seeing a Big Montana Sky

Morning sun climbs high

 

Traveling to Montana brings pure pleasures

Experiencing a saddlebag full of treasures

Shining high above, a cloudless view

Bringing a smile to God, always true

 

Always dreaming big at night

Never alone, perfect delight

 

Western hospitality, the Big Sky way

Filled with warmest smiles, no haste

Be certain to come back as we always say

Montana’s Big Sky, the Last Best Place!

 

Seeing a Big Montana Sky

Morning sun climbs high

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Some of my readers have probably missed earlier posts about Montana, the Big Sky Country.  Here are links to previously published posts about my native state.  Enjoy!

From a poem, experience a ride on the train in southern Montana:

Become better acquainted with Montana’s largest city:

In poetic form, learn more about some of Montana’s history:

Here is a final poem about Native American history:

 

 

Welcome to the Gallery

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Blooming flowers announce the arrival of spring at Ohio’s Chestnut Ridge Metro Park.

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In downtown Billings,  the unique architecture of the Western Heritage Center stands as witness of the city’s rich and diverse history in the Big Sky Country.  Built in 1901, the structure originally provided a home for the Parmly Billings Memorial Library.

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Nature shows off her green splendor and sends peaceful vibes outward on an early June morning at central Ohio’s Walnut Woods Metro Park.

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The Beartooth Mountains frame the background above a Montana valley.  If one looks closely, snow is still hiding in the upper ridges of the peaks on a mid-summer afternoon.  

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The green, lush vegetation welcomes all to central Ohio’s Chestnut Ridge Metro Park where anyone feels in harmony with God’s creation.

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Visiting a shop in Montana’s historic Virginia City, a person just might happen to find this fine gentleman offering greetings to all who drop in.

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A foggy, misty morning outlines a beautiful framed image of a spider’s web between the posts on the Big Run bridge at central Ohio’s Walnut Woods Metro Park.

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A roadside stop allows a moment to capture the scenic view along Interstate 15 in Montana between Great Falls and Helena.  A highway bridge that was constructed in the 1930s is visible at the bottom of the narrow valley.

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Arrival of flowers marks the return of spring to Ohio’s Chestnut Ridge Metro Park.

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Montana’s Holter Lake offers many types of recreation for anyone with a boat.  A small marina is shown (from the summer of 2018), and the lake is located near the small community of Wolf Creek. 

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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is well-known for its outstanding array of wildlife from around the world as well as its animal conservation efforts.  The “Heart of Africa” exhibit displays the African savanna as one might find it . . . filled with village life, giraffes, zebras, and so much more.

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A final look back at winter as shown near Lone Mountain in the Madison Range near Big Sky, Montana.  As one looks at the far peaks in the background, think of the snowmelt that will soon fill the raging whitewater in the Gallatin River.

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Summer shadows greet any walker at central Ohio’s Chestnut Ridge Metro Park.  This photo was taken from a trail through the trees into a grassy meadow.

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This summer garden comes from Billings, Montana at the Moss Mansion, which is an historic house now maintained as a museum.

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With winter fading away in favor of the spring season, thoughts will soon be thinking of beautiful wild flowers and rich green fields.  This photo was taken last summer at Chestnut Ridge Metro Park in central Ohio.

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My youngest daughter and her husband completed a winter hike into Hyalite Canyon south of Bozeman, Montana.  The popular recreation area is located between the Gallatin Canyon and the Paradise Valley.

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The Polar vortex and repeated snowstorms in central Ohio have made the winter of January-February, 2019 one to remember.

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The beauty of western Montana is captured at Holter Lake, near the small town of Wolf Creek.  The lake is a popular summer recreation destination as seen in this photo from late July of 2018.

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These Canadian geese seem immune to the polar vortex and snowfall in central Ohio.

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A February snowstorm moves over the summit of Lone Mountain in southwestern Montana.  The Big Sky Resort occupies the mountain, which is well known for its first-class skiing in the wintertime.  

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Ohio’s winter blankets the ground with a fresh coating of snow.  The Canadian geese on the pond don’t seem to mind winter’s arrival.

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Pioneer Falls in the Spanish Peaks of Montana’s Madison Range is expertly captured by my daughter and her husband on one of their wilderness hikes.

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An early autumn sunset dazzles and amazes as night arrives in central Ohio.

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Central Ohio’s Chestnut Ridge Metro Park in full summer foliage.

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My youngest daughter and her husband are avid skiers.   They took this picture of Blaze Mountain in the Spanish Peaks of the Madison Range of southwestern Montana.  They have skied the backcountry ski line a few times during the summer.  The beautiful and long snowfield fills a small gully that runs down the northwestern face of the mountain.  Skiers have to hike to the snowfield, but for an avid skier, it is well worth the effort.

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A view of downtown Billings, Montana from this past summer.  Notice the smoked-filled sky in the background; the smoke came from fires far from Billings.

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From Walnut Woods Metro Park, the landscape has changed from the bright colors of autumn to the gray and barrenness of the coming winter.

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Summer’s clouds create shadows that cover part of the vast countryside near the Little Bighorn Battlefield in southeastern Montana.

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A nesting pair of Canadian geese prepare to make a new home this past spring.

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Autumn’s leaves have fallen, and winter is on the way at central Ohio’s Chestnut Ridge Metro Park.

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Soon the mountains of the Big Sky Country will be filled with snow just as seen in this scene from last winter near Lone Mountain at Big Sky, Montana.

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An autumn sunrise illuminates the beauty of Ohio’s Walnut Woods Metro Park.

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Ohio’s Chestnut Ridge Metro Park during mid-summer.

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A late July view of the Gallatin Valley, just outside of Bozeman, Montana. 

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The images and traditions prior to the start of an Ohio State University football game.  This photo was taken by my daughter who attended the game with her husband.  

Final Battle

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An outdoor mural captures the heroism of Native American warriors

On a sunny, blistering hot June day and hour

Two cultures collide in an epic that now towers

White, European culture ever advances to take

Native American culture realizes what’s at stake

America’s first citizens reside as native born

Now witnessing their way of life being torn

The Little Bighorn River provides a place for rest

Nestled in a large village are warriors, the best

Journeying into the Montana Territory for a cause

U.S. Calvary relentlessly travels without a pause

Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho await

The brave soldiers never realize their final fate

Lakota spiritual leader Sitting Bull envisions all

“Thick as grasshoppers” come soldiers to fall

The 7th Calvary invades the stream called Greasy Grass

Led by Lieutenant Colonel Custer, many die much too fast

Crazy Horse and Gall command warriors in this feat

Annihilating most of Custer’s troops in total defeat

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The marker at the lower right identifies where Lt. Colonel George Custer fell during the battle.  His remains are interred at West Point.

The coalition of Native Americans wins today

Bringing honor to warriors with much to say

The great Sioux nation wins this final showdown

But their way of life will enter its final sundown

A collision of cultures—Native and White

Today, there is no reason to ever fight

The human rights of the Native Americans still blaze

Working to preserve a culture without further decay

Little Bighorn Battlefield is located in Montana about an hour’s drive from Billings on Interstate 90.  The pictures shown were taken at the battlefield site a few years ago.

If you are interested in reading more about Montana, check out these previous posts:

Visit the Magic City (Billings, Montana)

Photo Gallery (includes numerous photographs of Montana as well as Ohio)

Spirits Haunt the Land

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Their spirit soars across the brilliant Big Sky

Like an eagle spreading wings, ready to fly

 

Enriching man’s dreams in this last best, special place

Montana spirits continue to haunt the Treasure State

Following the sacred buffalo across the vast land

Native Americans roam the plains in small bands

Setting traps in beaver-rich streams during wintertime

Fur trappers pursue thick pelts for men’s hats very fine

Panning for gold along streams such as Alder Gulch

Miners rush to another strike on Last Chance Gulch

Building tracks for iron horses that seem to go forever

Railroads build mighty empires for men rich and clever

Pushing the unselfish Native Americans brutally aside

Their culture slowly fades away, but never their pride

Riding the cattle range from dawn until dusk

Cowboys work tirelessly in a life they trust

Toiling in an arid, unforgiving land that feels hostile

Homesteaders struggle and sometimes feel futile

Digging around the clock in copper mines deep underground

Miners work where safety is not much and accidents abound

Cutting the western forests’ tall pines down to size

Loggers harvest miles of timber as their final prize

Looking back at Montana’s past with much to relive and say

Many memories of the past fade, but a few remain today

 

Their spirit soars across the brilliant Big Sky

Like an eagle spreading wings, ready to fly

 

Montana uses two nicknames, Big Sky Country and Treasure State.  Montana became the 41st state admitted to the Union in 1889.  

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.”

 

 

 

Winter’s Gray Skies

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Photo by João Jesus on Pexels.com

Winter has arrived again in the Buckeye State

Looking forward to memories that we can make

Ohio State Buckeyes look terrific in their scarlet and gray

But gray seems to be the gloomy color of each winter day

The friendly sun is absent on most of these days

People hurry down the street with not much to say

How people long to feel the warmth of Mr. Sun

Only to experience gray skies, which means—no fun!

A sunny escape arrives for all, if only for a short stay

Travel to Montana to experience the Big Sky each day

Everyone welcomes cheerful, sunny skies—without any gray

Perhaps the loyal Buckeye fans should move here and stay

Now Buckeyes everywhere can play and appreciate their time

The Big Sky Country is always a unique place of yours and mine