Why Do I Love Montana?

That is the one question that I get over and over. I could say that it’s just a great place to live. Or that the people are great. How about there are tons of things to do?  Places to go?  Fresh air.  Wide open space.  Great speed limits.

But none of those seem to get the point across.

And so, without going into details, here is what my weekend consisted of.  As I hope you can see, there is something for everyone! But it’s not just any one thing… Montana is a state of mind.  Can you see it?

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Supermoon Over The Badlands

Supermoon Over The Badlands

Every full moon is a glorious sight.  A supermoon even more so. But a supermoon over the badlands?  Well, judge for yourselves.  Photos are a bit grainy since I was trying to keep it light enough to actually see the badlands.  It is what it is.  There are a few bonus photos taken while I was feeding the mosquitoes and waiting for the moon to appear…

Just sit back and enjoy!

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Montana, Part II: Badlands

Well, I cannot  complain about how the day started.  Not a cloud in the sky.  By the time I hit the road, the clouds were gathering, however.  Still the raindrops kept the temperatures down.

On the bright side, by the time I reached the Badlands, it was picture perfect weather.  Not a bad view to live in the midst of, is it?

Well, no words can do justice so just enjoy the photos.  Oh, by the way, I finally found that home on the range…  LOL!!!

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Montana, Part II: Windblown

Well, awoke to nasty dark and stormy looking clouds.  Pretty much what has hit this area for the last two days….

SO, I needed the smile I got when I saw this sign and thought of my favorite German.  :)IMG_0013

 

It always does a body good to soak up some sunshine, inhale fresh clean air tempered by the smell of “fertilizer” on fields of crops and think of all the hard working farmers that support and feed this country!

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After two very long days of watching all manner of RVs on the road (including two teardrop trailers) I finally found a classic Airstream.  This is for all you Airstream fans and aficionados out there.  :)

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I love to look for interesting and fascinating things along the way.  This trip, I have been trying to find anything to look at besides orange cones and work signs signalling traffic delays.  How’s this?

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Pretty as a picture, isn’t it?  It was a beautiful day for part of the trip.  Ended up with rain and VERY strong winds.  But, enjoyed these moments:

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This was near the very end of today’s journey.  The sky was dark but the very dark strip was a line of one VERY dark cloud.  I was able to snap it only because traffic was at a standstill for a serious accident.

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And now?  Rest and thinking forward to being “home” tomorrow!

Montana, Part II: I Hit Missouri

Yes, I did!  I showed them.  Missouri, that is.  I aimed for them.  Hit them, too.  Twice!  :)

Started the day in Kentucky and ventured into lower Indiana and Illinois.  Than came Missouri.  I managed to cross the Missouri River three times.  Nice to see it again.  And again.  And again…

Got to the the arch in St. Louis for the first time since I left Fayetteville, Arkansas.  That, and the fancy bridge.  You would have enjoyed pics right?  Meant to get them.  But, I didn’t.  Was too busy driving and sightseeing.  Next time?

Anyway, from there, all the way across Missouri into Kansas just long enough to say, “Toto, we’re back!” and then I wasn’t there anymore.  I was back showing Missouri.  LOL!!

And there I still am tonight.  I landed in St. Joseph for the evening.  11 hours.  11 LONG hours behind the wheel.  Had mac ‘n cheese.  A nice, hot shower.  Something cold to drink.  And now, I bid you a good night.  Until tomorrow…when… if I can find it – I shall return to visit my friends in Fargo, ND.  This time without the blizzard.  And frozen engine.  And train derailment.  Maybe…  ;)

Montana, Part II: Deja Vu

Yep, we are on the road again.  Once again, Montana is the destination.

At least it’s warmer this time.  And, so far, I haven’t been nearly as warm this time as I was cold last time.

It’s all still the same; only different.  Last time, the trees were bare and as the trip progressed, the roads were icy and/or snow covered.  Oh yes, and let’s not forget “the blizzard.”  Don’t give up hope for drama just yet.  Just heard on the news that we are in line for possible tornadoes tonight from the system that spawned twin tornadoes in Nebraska last night.  Yeehaw!

 

But one thing that has not changed?  Road work and delays.  Two mile before the Virginia Stat Line, traffic came to a standstill as two lanes dwindled to one.  As you can see from the picture, I was still at a near standstill when I reached the entrance to the welcome center.  Oh no!  I was not giving up my place in line!  About two more miles down the line, we started moving again.  At least until the next road work project.

 

And, I had forgotten all the Triple X billboards in West Virginia.  Not only do they jump out at you all the way through the state, we have to pay to travel the toll road and see them.  Cost $8 to see things I had no desire to see…

And now I am in a no-smoking hotel room in a no-smoking hotel inhaling someone’s cigarette smoke.  Yep, the more things change, the more they stay the same…

Well, until tomorrow, this is us from somewhere in the Bluegrass State.  :)

Salt Marsh Lessons

Salt Marsh Lessons

From the Lizard Hunter

Salt Marshes.  A fertile ground for wildlife.  An unlimited source for education, both serious and amusing.  And, lessons from the intrepid and determined Lizard Hunter.  So buckle up cause here we go!

Salt Marshes are home to some incredible wildlife.  Herons, osprey, oysters, fish and more.  Herons live in or near the marshes and depend upon them for their food.  Same with ospreys.  If one is in the habit of looking up, not just around or down, there is a better than even chance of sighting an osprey’s nest in a tree top.

Salt marshes are also the home for oysters.  Oysters are one of natures vacuum cleaners.  They clean the water and the marsh of pollution from all sources.  Unfortunately, much like pigs, they have simple stomachs.  What does this mean?  For those who dine on the little creatures, one is dining on whatever the oyster ate.  So, stop picking on me about my junk-filled diet if you eat oysters, okay?  LOL!

Sadly, the marshes are also home to salt marsh snails.  According to Brown University Research, Brian Silliman, “Snails can transform healthy marsh to mudflats in a matter of months.  This finding represents a huge shift in the way we see salt marsh ecology. For years, scientists thought marsh die-off was simply a ‘bottom-up’ problem related solely to soil conditions. We found that the trouble also comes from the top down. Drought makes the marsh vulnerable, then the snails move in.”

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Sadly, therefore, man is not the only danger to salt marshes which are necessary habitats for much of the wildlife near our coasts.

Also found in and around the marshy areas are all things that slither and scurry along the ground.  One of those would be the American Chameleon also known as the Carolina Chameleon.

As a student of the fearless Lizard Hunter, we have been educating ourselves on said chameleon.  For example, the male of the species measures between 5 – 8 inches.  More than half of that, however, is tail.  The female is smaller.

The male has a red dewlap while the females is white.  The chameleon enlarges its dewlap frequently during mating season.  This may also be a means for the chameleon to make itself appear larger as a defense mechanism. Its best known defense mechanism is its ability to change colors.  The color can change from a lush, rich green to various shades of brown in a matter of moments.

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Trust me (and the Lizard Hunter), once the color has changed, it is very difficult to find one hidden in a bush or even on a brick wall until it moves.

Here you see the dauntless Lizard Hunter zeroing in on a chameleon deep in the bush.  And, if one looks closely, a glimpse of a brown chameleon may be seen hiding in plain sight on a branch.

Well, this lesson has been brief.  Hopefully, it has been entertaining as well as educational.  We must return to our posts and be on guard against an attack by an army of chameleons.  So, until next time, a fond adieu from the Intrepid Lizard Hunter and yours truly!  Good day!

Shipmates Escaped!

Shipmates Escaped!

What do two shipmates (Navy veterans) do on a Friday in the Wilmington area?  Run amuck, of course!

The day just might start with a visit to Ft. Fisher to learn about and honor Shipmates of the past.  And then, just perhaps, venture downtown to the waterfront for dinner and live music.

Oh wait…  who am I kidding?!  There was no maybe and no perhaps.  That’s just what we did.

Actually, the day contained two separate concerts.  The first was also a free concert provided by this guy on the grounds of Ft. Fisher.  He was just perched on this old flag pole and happily singing away!

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If you have never been to Ft. Fisher, the grounds are filled with hidden treasures such as this pretty weed:

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There is a ten minute film on the history of Ft. Fisher available in the fort’s visitor center along with the displays.  I highly recommend viewing the film prior to talking the grounds.  One of my questions was why are the grounds so small when the fort had originally been a fair sized fort.  The answer?  Most of the original fort is now under water…

And, here’s a trivia question for you: in the photo below, why are two U. S. Flags displayed and what is the difference between the two?

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Oh snap!  Was that an easy question or what?  Do you think you have the correct answer?  Respond on our FB page to find out if you are correct!

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From Fort Fisher, it is a short trip back to Wilmington and down to the waterfront.  Our dinner view was the most decorated ship from World War II.  Then back to the grounds around the federal building for some live music.  If you have never attended one of the concerts (free!!) on a Friday night in, the summer, in Wilmington, you need to make plans now for the next one!  You never know what local celebrities may stop by and visit while you are there!

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Just a humorous side note: a Navy veteran will gravitate to the water.  And said Navy veteran will check out the docks.  Said veteran always expects to see wharf rats.  However, this said veteran was mildly surprised to see this particular wharf rat and his family scurrying around enjoying the concert, too!  LOL!!!

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Happy Memorial Day 2014

Happy Memorial Day 2014

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Memorial Day comes but once a year.  Yet, the reasons behind this day of remembrance are with us every moment of every day – the freedoms that we, as Americans, still enjoy.  And these freedoms are not free.  They came at a cost.  That cost was paid in blood.  The blood of those who, when called, stepped up to protect this country, the values it was founded upon and us.

Most spent the Memorial Day Weekend celebrating the beginning of summer and the end of school.  That’s not the purpose of it; hopefully, you and yours took just a few moments to remember and pray for those who paid the ultimate price – their lives – so you were free to spend this holiday in any manner you chose.

IMG_0738Some consider any delay a major catastrophe.  But don’t we all just need moments at times to stop and breathe and just – well – be?  So when we began the day getting caught by the bridge, we just enjoyed the moment and remember Shipmates far and wide and sent silent wishes to each of them.

For some, it was a day to run in the surf, walk their humans or walk along with the beach with those they love.

For others, it was a chance to spend the day with their loved ones on the water.

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We managed to find the beginning of a mystery.  We found the hair but not the body.  LOL!!!  Then again, we didn’t dig for it either…

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Whatever the day meant to you, it is our hope and prayer that it did include time to reflect on what this country is because of those who fought and served.  Especially, on this day, those who gave their all.

Happy Memorial Day!

Almost Time For “The Dance”

Almost Time For “The Dance”

Oh my yes, but Pinehurst is trying to put on their best duds.  Almost time for the back-to-back U. S. Opens.   Which will be the salvation for Pinehurst/Moore County, right?

Well, maybe….

But that’s neither here nor there at this point.

The tents and temporary buildings are up, the fences are up, and it will soon be time for the golfers to appear.

As you will see in one of the photos, there are still PLENTY of houses available to rent for the Opens.  But don’t even bother trying for a hotel room; they are all fully booked by the crews currently in town and the rest that will follow.

And be prepared for delays on the roads.  Hwy 211 may or may not be ready.  Yes, that’s the official word.  It may or may not be ready.  The bridge project at Morganton and Hwy 1 won’t be completed.  It’s a mess for traffic, not to mention the battalion of vehicles parked on either side of the project.  The bridge in Aberdeen on Hwy 211 is not done – and it’s a mess.  So be forewarned to leave early for destinations during the Opens and don’t forget to pack a heavy dose of patience along with a bagged lunch.  ;)

Most I talk to are going into hiding or just plain getting out of town.  How about you?  Are you going to the Opens?

In any event, we wish the organizers, the Resort and all the merchants the best.  We hope the cash registers sound a chorus!

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