Our Lady of the Blue Highways

Our Lady of the Blue Highways
Portrait in oils by Jackie Poutasse

Monday, September 10, 2012


In an e-mail to friend Holly, I mentioned that I had just returned from camping at Logging Creek in the Little Belt Mountains.  She sent back a message asking about the Little Belts because she was not sure she had ever heard of them.

Instead of e-mailing her back, I thought it was worth a Blog post, so here goes.

Across the width of Montana, the topography changes from the mountainous region in the west to high plains in the east.  About 1/4 mountains 3/4 plains.  But not all that mountainous region you see on the maps consists only of the Rocky Mountains.  

Montana has many, many “island” mountain ranges – just popping up here and there.  Some rather isolated others close together.  We also have many freestanding buttes, (flat topped hills), which are awesome to watch as you approach them.  Actually, there are at least 100 named mountain ranges in Montana.

Another point of interest about these mountains is their creation – some are volcanic and some are up-thrust – and the different types can be very close to each other – It must have been a really wild and noisy time during their births.

My home town of Great Falls, and Diane’s little town of Belt are on the cusp between the mountains and the plains.   When I last went camping, it was a short 30 mile drive into the mountains.  Actually, the road starts climbing into the hills a bit further than 10 miles south.

For instance, we drove to Bozeman in June.  During that 160 mile drive, we drove through the Little Belt range, then on the other side we drove between the following ranges:

Crazies, Castles, Absoraka and Bridgers.   Bozeman itself is surrounded by the Bridgers, the Gallatins, the Tobacco Roots, and Absoraka mountain ranges. 

When we go camping this weekend, we’ll be going to Lewistown which is on the prairie, but surrounded by the Snowies, the Judith, and the Little Belts

When we drive the 20 miles or so from Belt to Great Falls, we can see the Little Belts, the Highwoods, the Big Belts and on clear days, the Rockies nearly 100 miles away.   Get the Picture?

 I mention the “clear days” because this has been a year for fires, not only in Montana but throughout the west.  As we speak, there are a little over 800,000  Montana acres in flames.

So, we see smoke – not just Montana smoke, either, but we import it from Idaho and Canada, too, and we see it from a light haze up to a thick yellowish goo that hides even Great Falls from us as we drive toward town.

One evening, shortly before sundown, (how far west do you have to drive from the Atlantic coast before “sunset” becomes “sundown”?)  I stepped outside, and the smell of smoke was so strong, I walked all around the house looking for the source.   Diane said the fire could be anywhere – when, some years ago the Yellowstone was on fire, she lived about 100 or more miles away, and could smell the smoke just as strongly.   I didn’t find a source for the smell, but it sure did make for a beautiful sunset!!!!  (OK, OK,  so sunsets are beautiful, sundown is just that – sun down!)

Were leaving Friday for the first of three back to back camping trips, and fall is fast approaching.  I’ve already packed away summer clothes.  Although for this weekend, at least, we are expecting temps in the mid 80’s, (nights in the 40’s) it will be much cooler next week when we head to Canada.   It’s been chilly enough for several days to warrant flannel pj’s and closed windows – then, last night, we had to open windows and opt for much lighter sleepwear.   Mother Nature, she just keeps dancing!

I’ve made Tucker some warm fleece pj’s to keep his little body warm, he was pretty good about putting them on and modeling for us, but the new harness is a different experience altogether.  Took him about 5 minutes to grab hold the Velcro neck closure and undo it and swagger around with the harness hanging off his non-existent hips!   The pattern i had for the PJ’s had to be reduced -The small size was for a dog with a back length of 13 inches – Tuck’s back length is 8 inches!  I Keep telling you, he’s little!   But we met a Chi even smaller the other day.  He was a Hairless – with bad teeth – so bad in fact that he looked like he was starving.   I have to say, I’m sure glad Tucker is a long-haired Chi – I may be biased, but at least Tuck is cute!  Course, Tuck’s hair is long enough to make him look bigger than he is – if he was hairless, he’d look a lot smaller, too.

With that, I’m going to say it ---

 Until next time
Luv ‘n Boots and Tucker, too
And don’t forget the Little Bear

 She believed she could do it, and so she did!




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