Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Short Stop in Billings

On my way to Cody to view the eclipse, I made a short stop in Billings. On the way there, I did a short hike to Pine Creek Falls.

Then in Billings I went to check out their zoo. I was pretty impressed. Although they only have 11 major animal species at this time, the animals had lots of room.

I got there just when they let the grizzly bears out. They had hidden food all over their pen, and it was fun to watch them find it.

The tiger was pacing on his well-worn path. I was happy I didn't get sprayed like the last time I saw one...

The funniest thing was this beaver trying to get to the tree that was painted on the wall...

Distracted again by bees on flowers -

And this peacock just wandering free on the grounds.

The laughing Kookaburra was enjoying his lunch!

I also went to the Montana State Fair. Most of the stuff was centered around kids and 4-H -

But it was lots of fun to see.

The had a craft exhibit, but it was also kids-oriented.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Day I've Been Waiting All My Life For - My First Total Eclipse!

The WINs are staying in Cody, WY, just north of the zone of totality. We didn't know where we would watch the eclipse, but left at 5:00 am and headed south. After 100 miles, we saw this beautiful spot in Boysen State Park, just north of Shoshoni. The beauty made us stop -

But the main reason was that they had bathrooms here! Whoa! We got here just after the sun rose.

About 3 hours later, something took a bite out of the sun!

All these pictures are taken about 10 minutes apart.

We are not the only people here now, but it really isn't very crowded.

The moon encroached on the sun -

More and more.

Don't we look cute in our eclipse glasses!

By this time, the sun looked like a crescent moon.

Smaller and smaller...

I took these pictures by using my eclipse glasses on my camera.

Almost there!

About this time, we noticed that the sun shining through the leaves on our tree were crescent-shaped!

And then, one of our neighbors brought over a colander that had crescent-shaped light shining through all the holes!

Wow! By this time, I could hardly contain my excitement!

It started to get dark -

And then we had a 360 degree sunset. I didn't get a photo of it, but fortunately, Patricia did.

And then, all of a sudden, the lights went out, and you could see a ring in the sky, the sun's corolla!

After 2 minutes of darkness, the sun started to come out again, and we saw the diamond ring.

We were worried about the traffic going home, but it was fine, except for a short delay when we got back to Cody.

A great experience and a great day!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

One of Our Prettiest Spots!

I rejoined the WINs just north of Townsend, MT along Canyon Ferry Lake. It's a beautiful spot, but unfortunately I forgot to take any pictures...

Our first outing was to Three Forks, where 3 rivers come together to form the Missouri River.

In the drawing, the Madison River comes from the bottom, the Jefferson River comes from the left, and the Gallatin River comes from the right, to form the Missouri, flowing north at this point.

Nearby is Lewis Rock, that Meriwether Lewis climbed to map the surrounding countryside in 1805.

We had lunch at the Sacajawea Hotel in Three Forks -

Then went to see Madison Buffalo Jump, where long ago, Indians easily killed buffalo by forcing them over the cliff. Sad, but they used every piece of the buffalo for food, clothes or other things.

On another day, we drove along the Crimson Cliffs of the Missouri River. Pretty, but would probably be better from the river.

The county fair was going on when we were there, and there was a parade. I loved the giant propane bottle...

And of course there was the usual animals at the fair.

We went back to Helena another day and took the train trolley tour. We had this car all to ourselves.

And off we go!

We got to see murals -

Cool old houses -

And this statue, The Bullwhacker, in Last Chance Gulch.

Last Chance Gulch was where a huge amount of gold was discovered in 1864 by Four Georgians, down on their luck and looking for one last chance. They did it!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Gems of Helena

After Whitefish, I moved on to Helena, the capital of Montana. So, guess what is the first gem of Helena? The capitol!

Helena has these selfie spots all over town. Should I try it?

Maybe not - it's not so easy to do when you are taking photos with a camera, not a phone, and can't see what you're taking a picture of. The new version of my camera, the Canon SX730, has a screen that flips up so you can see what you are photographing.

Patricia and I went on a very good free tour of the capitol. The rotunda is beautiful, with pictures of Montana explorers in the four corners.

Above the Grand Staircase are statues of Mike and Maureen Mansfield.

Senator Mike Mansfield agreed to the statue only if his wife was included.

Above the Grand Staircase is a "barrel vault" ceiling, and a painting at the end. The painting is "Driving the Golden Spike." It shows Ulysses S. Grant driving the spike that completed the Northern Pacific's Transcontinental line. (The nation's second transcontinental line)

The most famous thing in the Montana capitol is this 25' by 12' Charles M. Russell painting in the House Chamber. It shows Lewis and Clark (in the upper right hand corner) meeting the Salish Indians at Ross' hole on September 4, 1805. This is where they got the horses to get them across the Rockies before winter came.

Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea in the upper center.

But here's the funny part-- Every person and animal in the painting is focused on Lewis and Clark except this wolf/dog in the foreground. He looks like he's about to bite the head off the Speaker of the House. Turns out Russell did not like the Speaker, but later they made up and became good friends.

The second gem of Helena is the Cathedral of St. Helena.

It is certainly one of the most beautiful churches in the country.

Completed in 1924, the highlight is the 59 huge stained glass windows.

Made in Munich, Germany, 37 of the windows tell the story of Christianity, from the fall of Adam and Eve (shown here) to the Church in the early 20th century.

Amidst all the saints and religious moments, this pane of Columbus seems out of place, but I guess it helps complete the story.

Although these are called stained glass, to me they seemed more like pieces of glass with intricate paintings on them. Just gorgeous!