Thursday, February 26, 2009

East Glacier, Cut Bank, and Shelby, MT

Since we never made it to Kalispell (which is on the other side of those mountains!), Joe and I decided to make the most of being along the High Line of Montana and do some sight seeing. As you can see, Sunday was a beautiful day. This photo is of an old house that collapsed, leaving just the front entry area standing. You can see by the drift that hasn't melted by the door just how much snow this area can get! This was taken about 10 miles east of East Glacier. The mountains in the background are part of Glacier National Park.

As we were driving along Highway 2, we saw a sign pointing to a Historic Point. Joe and I always stop at these! Just off the highway, there was this monument to Captain Meriweather Lewis of the famed Lewis and Clark expedition. The full monument is actually an obelisk about 15 feet tall, but it most of it is covered in graffiti and shot gun blasts. The entire area around the monument was littered with empty and broken beer and liquor bottles. So Sad! This is still on the Blackfoot Reservation, and it seems everything they are given they destroy. I'm not being discriminatory against the tribe, or any American Indians, but of all the reservations I have been on, the Blackfeet seem to have the most garbage, broken down vehicles, and dirty, dilapidated towns. They profess "Native Pride" but I have yet to see any evidence of it. They live in such a beautiful place, too! I am nearly driven to tears any time I drive through Browning, MT. It hurts my own Montana Pride when I see how badly they are treating their land and resources.
Looking up from the Monument, this next photo is the view! Breathtaking!

This is what is known as the Northern Rocky Mountain Front, or the Front Range of the Rockies. The mountains just jump right out of the plains! No foothills, just rolling fields then steep mountain sides. I could go into a geology lesson about the Overthrust Belt, and how these mountains were formed, but if you really want to know all of that, you can do a search on the 'Net. Geologists say there is a large amount of oil deposits along the Rocky Mountain Front, but the environmentalists and conservationists have kept that from being accessed. I have mixed feelings about the whole idea, and I don't feel like being political today, so that is all I am going to say on the subject, for now.
What is the "high-line", anyways? It is the local term for the area across the top of Montana, usually in reference to either the railroad or Highway 2 which crosses the state from east to west, only a few dozen miles from the Canadian border. Anyone who has been along the high line knows the power of the wind, which blows constantly! Finally, Montana has the opportunity to harvest this clean energy source. We are one of the leaders in wind generated power in the U.S. Wind farms like this one are being built across the eastern two-thirds of the state. I think it is an awesome thing, but there seems to be quite a number of people against these wind farms. I don't even try to understand those people! They want electricity, but don't want us to drill for the oil that is known to exist along the Rocky Mountain Front, they don't want Coal generated plants, and NOW they are against wind farms! I just shake my head in frustration. This particular wind farm is located between the towns of Cut Bank and Shelby.

I had to laugh at this guy, and knew I had to share this one with everyone! Cut Bank is in the Guiness Book of World Records for being the coldest place in the Continental US. AND... yes, it was pretty cold on Sunday. I think the temperature was actually in the high 30's, but the wind made it very uncomfortable. I would have to say the wind chill was close to 10 or 15 degrees. Joe and I were geocaching in the area, and my pen became so cold it didn't want to write. (The same thing was happening to my fingers, too! LOL)

Welcome to Shelby, Montana, and the United States of America! This is a HUGE flag. The smaller flag poles are standard, school or city sized ones. Shelby is the first town of any substantial size after crossing into Montana from Canada. By the way, those small mountains in the background? They are right on the US side of the border.

This little farm house is in a field between Shelby and Great Falls. As you can see, the wind has nearly knocked it over. We have many homestead cabins and barns that lean at strange, gravity defying angles! I wanted to get a photo of this one before it finally succumbed to the elements.
Another point of interest: As you can see, Montana is not all mountains! Only the western third has the mountains, while the rest of the state looks much like this photo. One of our biggest crops is wheat, and where the wheat isn't growing we have cows.
SO-- that is what we did this past weekend. After being on the road, exploring places we haven't been to before, I am now suffering from cabin fever! I want it to warm up so we can explore more of the state.

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