Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Posting from: Philispburg, MT
Listening to: Gael Mead, Into the Mystic

Missoula, I love you. You know I do. But we need to talk.

That intersection where Brooks turns into Higgins? You know the one. When you’re turning left from Brooks onto Higgins at Hellgate High School, you have that faded dashed line guiding the left turners directly into a lane of oncoming traffic. Haha! You are so funny! NOT!

And when you’re unsuspectingly driving out of the parking lot of Big Dipper Ice Cream onto the unmarked one way street? Also not funny.

But most importantly, what is with your chiles rellenos? I have been to Fiesta en Jalisco and El Cazador. Both of these restaurants serve and “omelete style” chiles rellenos. What is up with that? Where do you hide the real batter-dipped, deep-fried chiles rellenos? It’s okay. You can tell me. I’m from Arizona.


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Roam If You Want To…

Posting from: Philipsburg, MT

I found a cool map today that lets you map all the states you’ve visited. Here’s mine:

visited 26 states (52%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or Like this? try: Triposo Travelhacks

As an afficianado of the Great American Roadtrip, I have been to every single one of these states in a car- all but five of them in my current beloved vehicle, Penny, my Honda Element. I love her. She has helped me see some awesome sights and have some incredible experiences including:
-Niagara Falls
-Mount Saint Helens
-Hungry Horse Dam
-putting my feet in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans plus
-visting lighthouses, lighthouses, lighthouses
-Snoqualmie Falls
-a giant Jolly Green Giant statue
-sharing space with tiny creatures in tidepools in California
-the biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota
-the Troll in Seattle
-the Outside Lands Music Festival in Golden Gate Park, complete with Matt Nathanson and Tom Petty
-meeting Matt Nathanson at the House of Blues in Chicago
-the Art Institute of Chicago
-meeting literally dozens of new people around the country who I knew only from the internet

I think buying Penny was quite possibly the smartest purchase I have ever made.

It seems quite possible that I own the Honda Element with the most miles on it in the entire world. I purchased her new (16 miles on the odometer) in late 2003, and I have 241K+ miles on her. Anyone have more?

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Field Trip

A couple of weeks ago, my manfriend Kel and I took a little field trip to Helena where we visited a friend and checked out the Montana Historical Society. We got in for half price because one of the galleries was closed, and we also got a AAA discount. That is good because from what we saw and heard, it wasn’t really worth full price. Outside you can see some metal sculptures. I particularly liked the giant welded bison skull gracing the front lawn. It kind of reminded me of Arizona where cow skulls are considered western decoration.

Montana Historical Society

Montana Historical Society

Inside, we apparently went through the one open gallery backward by starting at the front of the building. It became clear as we headed in that we were supposed to start at the back and work our way forward. But by going in the wrong order, we got to see and hear the best propaganda first. Here is a nice example.


As far as propaganda that was overheard, there was a docent giving a tour to some high school kids. I don’t recall exactly what my manfriend told me she was talking about, but it apparently had something to do with bank insolvency because she assured the kids that now our money is safe and sound in banks thanks to the FDIC. Uh huh. Yeah. Sure. Right.

My manfriend also spotted historical evidence of His Holy Noodliness in a display of various brands. I think this helps establish that the Flying Spaghetti Monster was, indeed, fond of meat and was not a vegetarian.

Evidence of His Holy Noodliness

Flying Spaghetti Monster Brand

Near the end (or what should have been the beginning) of the gallery was my favorite exhibit of all. You may recall a picture I posted a while back of a buffalo jump. This gallery contained a diorama of a buffalo jump complete with hunters and buffalo. I loved the tumbling buffalo suspended in mid-air.

Buffalo Jump Diorama

Buffalo Falling in Diorama

Finally, we went upstairs where we saw Big Medicine, a rare white buffalo born in 1933 on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana. According to the Montana Historical Society:

White bison are extremely rare, historically appearing only once in every five million births. To many Indian peoples such animals are sacred and represent great spiritual power. Consequently, the May 3, 1933, birth of a white buffalo calf on the National Bison Range on Montana’s Flathead Indian Reservation was greeted with celebration and wonder. The birth was a crowning achievement of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ efforts to recover a population of bison for their reservation. Named in recognition of the sacred power attributed to white bison, “Big Medicine” held great significance for the people of Montana, both Native American and non-Indian. For this reason, in the early 1950s the Montana Historical Society made arrangements to ensure that, upon his death, Big Medicine would be moved to the state’s museum and permanently preserved for future generations. Because he had some pigmentation – blue eyes, tan hooves, and a brown topknot – Big Medicine was a white buffalo rather than a pure albino. At his prime, he weighed 1,900 pounds, stood six feet high at the hump, and measured twelve feet%, 20from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail. Although his fame spread worldwide, Big Medicine spent his entire life on the National Bison Range where he received special care that enabled him to live much longer than bison normally do. As a result, however, when he died in 1959 his hide was in poor condition, and in many places, almost hairless. Consequently, his advanced age will forever be reflected in the worn appearance of the mount.

And here is the mount:
Big Medicine

That’s all I’ve got on the Montana Historical Society except to say that they are open on Mondays which seems to be unusual for museums in southwestern Montana.

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Recycling in Montana

Posting from: Philipsburg, MT
Listening to: Jack Johnson, Home

Does anyone know where I can recycle aluminum cans for cash in Montana or northern Idaho or Spokane? It doesn’t matter much where, although closer to Pburg is handier, because I drive around a lot. I have a local place I can recycle them for no pay, but it would be nice to cash them in for a little bit of gas or fun money.

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I have spent most of the last few months in a small town in Montana called Philipsburg. I have spent all of the last couple of days in the big city of Chicago, Illinois. Which is more diverse? I would like to share some observations.

Last night my sister and I rode the bus to a fabulous Indian restaurant on Devon in the Rogers Park neighborhood. On the bus ride, we passed a place called the Indo-Pak Law Office which provides legal help on immigration issues. She thought the Indo in Indo-Pak indicated India. I said no, that couldn’t be right because India and Pakistan are in the middle of a nuclear arms race and are fighting over Kashmir. There’s no way those two cultures would be this close together. She had the pleasure of informing me how wrong I was. There are probably a couple dozen Indian restaurants on this street not to mention a bunch of other Indian and Pakistani businesses. All on one street. These cultures seem to co-exist basically just fine right here in Chicago absent their warring governments.

Also on the bus ride, I saw some holiday candle decorations made from garland wrapped on wire frames hanging from the street lights. I commented on how odd it was to see Christmas decorations hanging in a neighborhood full of businesses with signs in them praising Allah or depicting various Hindu gods. No, no, my sister told me, those were for Diwali, the festival of lights. This is a major festival in Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain faiths.

I love this about Chicago and other big cities. This is something Philipsburg does not have. We have five or six Christ-centered churches from LDS to Catholic to various Protestant churches. We have Christmas decorations. That is all as far as I know.

But, but, but!!!

That is not the whole story here. I noticed something else about Chicago.

Before I arrived here, my sister said that it was good that the election was over because now she wouldn’t have to give me the talk about not making anti-Obama comments at the Matt Nathanson show because he probably wouldn’t bring it up. I inquired further as to what the fuck she was talking about. She pointed out that it might not be in our best personal safety interests to say anything negative about Obama in a packed venue full of drunken people in the one city where Obama is most loved in all the world.

I heard so much about Obama in Chicago- all of it uniformly positive from
-some guys talking about him in the line at Hot Doug’s to
-chitchat between a couple of passengers on the upper level of my Metra car to
-the cheering pro-Obama masses at the Matt Nathanson concert to
-a conversation overheard at the Art Institute of Chicago to
-a creepy painting seen in the window of an art gallery which portrayed Obama standing front and center making a speech and backed by dozens of notable African-Americans in several rows behind him,
everyone who spoke (or painted) about him seemed to believe he was some sort of savior who would unite us all. I never heard or saw a single word of dissent or disagreement.

This stands in stark contrast to Philipsburg, MT. My guess would be that my town is predominantly pro-Republican. However, I have seen houses with pro-Obama signs displayed prominantly in front yards on Broadway- the main street running from one end of town to the other. Philipsburg is also home to the headquarters of an organization which is officially apolitical, but many of whose members are personally on the progressive end of the political spectrum- Project Vote Smart. I have seen Ron Paul signs in yards of local libertarians and more traditional Republicans not of the pro-war variety, and I personally am friends with some of our town anarchists and am one myself.

Given this, it has become less clear to me which place, if either, is really more diverse. Culturally Chicago may be, but politically Philipsburg seems at least to be in the running and perhaps significantly out in front.

Looking around in the Chicago House of Blues at the very gorgeous interior, you will see that the stage is topped with a slogan: “Unity in Diversity.” I spent a lot of our standing time mulling over what this means.

The concepts are at odds with each other. Diversity stresses differences, variety, multiformity. Unity stresses oneness, uniformity, and one of the definitions of unity is even the absence of diversity.

I have spent a lot of the last couple of days wondering which I favor, and I have come to a conclusion.

With respect to non-ethical/non-moral things, I embrace diversity. Even though I personally dislike some non-ethical/non-moral preferences expressed or enacted by others, I have an underlying appreciation that there is room in this world for others to have opinions and beliefs and make choices which I find stupid, annoying, aggravating, disgusting or otherwise off-putting or unpleasant.

I heartily embrace diversity when it arises spontaneously and voluntarily, but I even more heartily reject it when it is promoted by force or threat thereof. When force or threat of force against another person is brought into the picture, the otherwise non-ethical/non-moral issue gets pushed into the realm of ethics. And with regard to basic ethical/moral issues, I favor unity only in favor of correct principles. I favor unity, for example, on the subject of stealing stuff because it’s an easy way to get what you want. I believe we should all be unified in thought and action taking the position that this is wrong. I also favor unity in thought and action that killing another moral agent- except in self-defense or legitimate defense of another moral agent- is wrong.

I do not think we should respect or tolerate thieves or murderers, and I wish there were no disagreement on that. Unfortunately, not only do we have the sorts of folk people normally consider thieves and murderers, we also have politicians and those they put into positions of legal authority to steal through taxation and to murder via law enforcement and non-defensive war. And while very few of us consider the former to be acceptable, there are many, many of us who view the latter as a normal and necessary part of life. That is a paradigm which must change for our world to begin to be healed. I hope I have given a few folks who read this something to think about even if you still disagree with me when you’re done reading it.

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Road Trip!

Yes, I am on the road once again. In the last few days I traveled from Montana to Seattle to Chicago where I am for a few days. Here are a few photos from the road:

Jimi Hendrix Memorial
Renton, WA
Jimi Hendrix Memorial

Sunset Over Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park
Renton, WA
Sunset from the Parking Lot of Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park

Green Giant Statue
Blue Earth, MN
Blue Earth, Green Giant

Sheridan, WY
Sunset Over Sheridan, WY

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Very soggy. Western Montana was the recipient of the spillover of the rain that flooded Washington. But soggy means warm so there is that. Not that I care much anyway since I am traveling this week. What I do care about is that it has also been somewhat to very windy almost everywhere I’ve been driving or outside from up in Great Falls all the way down to Pburg and west to the Montana/Idaho border.

Red streak
In a year where Republicans were repeatedly thrashed in races in the state of Montana, this story of a backlash against zoning in the Bitterroot hints at a better strategy for Republican success: return to embracing the free-market instead of trying to be socialism-lite.

Bills both curious and controversial go before MT Legislature
Hundreds of draft bills are piling up for the legislative session beginning in January. Montana’s legislature normally meets only every other year. That is way too much but it is certainly better than most other places which have regular annual sessions. Bills range from the stupid but benign (a third grade class proposes that the state endorse huckleberry pancakes as our official state-sanctioned “yummy thing”) to the outright evil (for example, a state sales tax proposal).

PETA pilgrims say turkey’s done
It must be hard to be PETA in Montana.

Montana Band of the Week
This week I am highlighting the Cold Hard Cash Show– a Johnny Cash tribute band who will appear on David Letterman on 18 November.

Montana Trivia
Given its reputedly harsh winters, I was surprised to discover that Montana is very big on bicycles for both recreation and regular transporation. One difference from the state of Arizona that I have found is that here in Montana you may ride your bicycle on state and federal highways and interstates. I know in Arizona you at least could not legally ride a bicycle on interstates.

Here are a few interesting bike links from Montana:
Cycling Routes in Montana
Adventure Cycling Association– headquartered in Missoula
Bozeman Bike Kitchen
Free Cycles Missoula

Montana Picture of the Week
This photo was taken at Ulm Pishkun State Park this week. This is the site of First Peoples Buffalo Jump with Square Butte laccolith in the background. I was priveleged to be accompanied by an anthropologist friend who has done research in this area who related its history in an incredibly vivid way. She practically erased all evidence of the modern features of the landscape from my mind as we drove through, replacing them with the sounds and sights, thoughts and feelings that would have been experienced by the various participants of the hunts that took place here.

For hundreds of years, native people hunted by breaking off a few hundred buffalo from a larger pack and stampeding them over the cliff to their deaths. A gentle slope about a mile long leads up from the plains from the right side of this photo to this cliff which is not readily visible until you are practically on top of it. Stampeding buffalo would not see it until it was too late. We wound up our visit by running up the last several feet of the incline to the edge of this cliff as she chanted a prayer as would have been done by a runner hundreds of years ago.

Square Butte in the Background of Buffalo Jump

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