Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Survival Skills 101

This weekend I got some classes in survival 101 from my friend Lu.
Saturday, we went fishing all day. I learned how to tie the fish to the line after they were caught so I can keep them alive while I continue fishing. I had to put the worms and leeches on the hook myself too, eww.
I caught 4 large mouth bass. They were pretty small, but I was proud.

On Sunday, we spent most of the day out side building traps, whittling sticks, starting fires, shooting arrows, and practicing throwing a hatchet. I should have learned all this before I started traveling and hiking all over the country.

I am actually pretty good with a bow and arrow! I never would have thought!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Interesting things about Montana.

10. There are great archeological finds out here. This weekend I went to Bozeman and visited the Museum of the Rockys. There were multiple exhibits; one of which was on the dinosaur bones that have been found here. This was one of the largest collection of dinosaur bones I have seen. Really cool!

 Another one of their exhibits was a "living history farm". Usually when I have visited old, preserved homes you are not allowed to touch anything, but in this home/farm not only were you allowed to touch everything, but you were able to use it! It was literally a "living" farm. They have volunteers that run the farm and have visitors help them with cooking, cleaning, watering plants, and any other tasks as they choose.

9.On a clear day you can see layer upon layer of mountain ranges. Its beautiful!

8. Firefighter helicopters sightings are frequent. I think that some News helicopters double as firefighting helicopters or visa versa. I can't be 100% sure, but I saw a helicopter with a water hose that had a big number 7 with a circle around it like a news helicopter. I have asked around, and nobody knows. None the less, the firefighter culture is big here.
7. There are so many horses grazing along the highway. Most are owned, but some are wild. They have so many different color patterns. It makes my long drives more entertaining and picturesque.

6. This may be more of a "Billings Clinic" thing then "Montana" but, oh well. I have loved the how great the nurses and nurses aides have been at this hospital. I have worked in a lot of places with a lot of different dynamics and this has been the best so far. Actually, Billings Clinic was rated number one on safety in consumer reports! This was a huge honor for them, and I know that it comes from the great team dynamic they culture there.

5. Every week there are multiple festivals and/or rodeos going on, and when people talk about what they are doing over the weekend it ALWAYS includes some kind of outdoor activity. Probably cause they only have a few months to really get it all in.

4. Lewis and Clark explored a large part of this state during their expedition. In fact, when Clark passed through what is now Billings he left his mark. He inscribed his signature and the date on a large rock pillar that he named Pompey's Pillar after Sacagawea's son. (Clark had nicknamed her son "Pomp".) This signature is the only physical evidence left of the cross country expedition. Pretty special if you ask me!! Now they have it encased in a plastic case on the rock. One would think they would clean the case more often so all of us tourists could get better pictures of it, but no. This was the best I could get. :)

3. The Native Americans have very unique last names. The first time I was exposed to them was when I had a patient with a really strange last name. I was surprised at first, but now it is common place. I can't say what my patients last names were due to privacy laws, but I can tell you what some of the common last names are in this area according to the locals. Rideshorse, Fasthorse, Old Coyote, Shoulderblade, DullKnife, etc. They go on and on. There are so many I can't post... darn.

2. Uncontrolled intersections. I am sure they have these everywhere, but I have never run into them before. These are intersections where there is no light, no stop sign, no yield sign, nothing. You just have to hope that someone who doesn't know any better isn't speeding through the intersection thinking that the other people have a stop sign. I didn't realize it at first. I didn't even think about it. If I don't see a sign at an intersection I assume I have the right of way. Thankfully, I was okay for the first two days when I just went right through the intersection. Then, I realized no one had a stop sign and I started to slow down a bit. :) How hard is it to just put a stop sign in? Crazy.

1. Bears really do roam everywhere! Including across I-90; the biggest hwy running through the state.
Well, folks, I finally saw a bear here in Montana. Two, to be exact. Of course, I could not get any pictures because I was slamming on my brakes as they were running in front of my car as it was going 75 mph.
A momma black bear decided to cross the highway and she made it just fine, but her little cub was just a few seconds behind and I swear I thought I was going to hit it. In the course of about 10 seconds all these thoughts were going through my head: SLOW DOWN, check rearview mirror to make sure no one is too close behind me, I don't want to kill a baby bear, where are my flashers, dang! I wish I were on a smaller road so I could stop and take a picture...
(That last one really came afterward) ;)
The baby bear was literally so close to the front of my car that we locked eyes just before I thought I was going to hit it, and then he disappeared as the front of my car blocked my view of him. I could only hope at that point that he was between my two tires so if I did run him over maybe he would just go under the car and be okay. I prepared myself to feel the bump... and nothing happened. I put my foot back on the gas, and tried to speed up quickly so no one would run into me and glanced in my rearview mirror. No bear in sight. I swear the hand of God must have pushed that baby bear out from under my tire just in time. I would not be surprised if his tail got brushed by my hubcap. It was a scary experience. I was shaking pretty good afterward. How ironic is it that this was my first up close encounter with a bear.
Always an adventure.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Northern Cheyenne Pow Wow

Hope you all had a wonderful 4th. I went to a little town named Laurel where they had one of the only fireworks displays in the area. A couple of the girls from work and I drove out there. It was a great display, but nothing can beat watching the fireworks reflecting over the water. It was interesting, however, that in the middle of the show they had us all stand and we did a little salute to the country/military. They played "Amazing Grace" and had lit up crosses around the field. That would certainly never happen in Florida.

Last weekend I went out to visit my friends, Lu and Molly, in Lame Deer again. I went to PT school with Lu and he and his family moved out here to MT a little over a year ago. They told me that on the reservation there was going to be a real Pow Wow over the course of the week and weekend. The Northern Cheyenne tribe has a pow wow every year where dancers and drum groups compete. It was pretty hot out there that evening. I can't even imagine dancing around in their traditional regalia.
There were a lot of people there, but it did not feel like a touristy thing at all. Most of the people there were either performing or were related to the performers. It was a legitimate pow wow with mostly Native Americans from the Cheyenne and Crow tribes in the audience; not a whole lot of unconnected spectators. I really enjoyed seeing the culture!

The pictures above and first video are of Grand Entry when all the dancers (over 700) entered the field and all danced together before the competitions began. The girls you'll see toward the end of the video are wearing Jingle dresses. They were my favorite. :) The other video is of the dancers performing a traditional dance called the Chicken Dance.

On Sunday, we went to the Little Bighorn Battlefield. I learned all about the history of the battle, most of which, I was totally ignorant to. We took a bus tour with a Crow guide. It was interesting to hear the story of the battle from their perspective. He went into some descriptions of what the natives would do to the men after they were dead. We would say they mutilated the men, but according to the group of natives that did this (which were not the Crows as our guide pointed out) it was necessary to do certain rituals so that their enemy could not harm them in the after life. They believed that if you fought someone in this life they could continue to pursue you in the afterlife. Due to these religious beliefs they would cut off the pointer finger (so they could not shoot), cut the inner thigh muscles (so they could not ride a horse), and scalp the person because they believed strength and the spirit was in the hair. I had never heard this before and it was eye-opening. Not that it makes it right, but at least they had a rational and were not just cruel for cruelties sake.
These were the big things we did over the weekend, but the best part was just getting to hang out with old friends. I can't tell you how nice it is to have a piece of home out here with me. I am so blessed to have gotten the job in Billings. Right where I wanted to be!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The 39th State was my 49th! North Dakota...check.

I am well on my way to meeting my goal of seeing all 50 states before I turn 30. At this point I am only one state away!
This weekend I drove the 4 hours over to North Dakota and camped at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the little town of Medora. The ride through eastern Montana and the park was beautiful! The park is in the North Dakota "badlands", and although I did not have to worry about bears I could hear the coyotes howling all night. In the park there are herds of wild horses that are so pretty. I saw them as I was driving, but they, apparently, meander right into the campground to graze as well.



The town of Medora is now a cute little town with lots of gift shops and restaurants, but it didn't start that way. When the Marque de Mores first moved to the badlands of ND in 1883 to start a cattle ranch there was nothing but open wild land. He and his wife Medora began to build, and the people to help work the ranch followed. The Marque came from a very prominent family in France, and was well funded in this new venture that he thought would make him the wealthiest person in the US. He was so confident that he moved his family out there, and built a "little" summer home. It was 26 rooms with all the modern luxuries. All of his friends from the east would come out to experience the Wild West and go hunting, but they could not be expected to stay in a log cabin. The people of the town began calling the house the Chateau de Mores. The house still stands today with 90% of the original furnishings and decorations. I got to tour the house and learn about the family. Unfortunately, the venture did not work out for them, and they moved back east after having lost a half a million dollars. One kinda cool fact is that they were in direct competition with Theodore Roosevelt who also came to this area to try ranching, but that did not stop them from being friends with him. They invited Teddy over for dinner at the Chateau many times. So, I saw the table that he sat at while dining with them. Pretty cool if you ask me.

The ride home was nice as far as traffic goes. Over the course of more then 200 miles I never turned off my cruise control. However, it was a little unnerving how smoky it was. There are a ton of fires burning out here and it was really obvious on Sunday. These pictures were taken at about 2 or 3 in the afternoon; the sunniest part of the day... usually.

Little did I know how deep the firefighter culture runs in this state. I have been told that when there are fires anywhere in the country the Montana fire fighters are the first called in to help. I hope they are able to contain all the fires here in their home state, and that the fireworks on the 4th don't cause too much trouble. There is a ban on all fireworks other then the cities displays. It will be a cautious holiday for this area.
Nonetheless, I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th! We are definitely blessed to live in this beautiful country!