New Heathens

Quick MT Hit: Bull Trout, Black Lab, Blackfoot, Blossoms & John Bolton

Made a quick, low-key trip to the homeland to say hi to my mom on her (?)Oth birthday. Of course any trip home necessitates mandatory woods time. The highlight was catching this nifty bull trout in the upper Blackfoot River just east of the Unabomber's adopted hometown of Lincoln, MT.

The first trout I ever caught was a bull trout, but this is only the second one I've caught since. They're native to Montana, but listed as threatened on the Endangered Species List, (props to the feds for increasing fivefold the amount of protected habitat for these fish.) I was thrilled to catch another one, and release it immediately as per law.

Know who else was thrilled? Scout the black lab. She loves trout almost as much as sticks.

Did some camping with my stepfather, Bill. We picked a spot in the Swan Valley and due to the weather this June it was aptly named. Rainy Lake.

Awful purty though.

Great to spend campfire time with Bill.

The wildflowers were excellent this year. Thanks here to Ron Dunn, my 6th grade science teacher at Rattlesnake Middle School, who made his classes get out in the woods and collect wildflowers each spring. That was my only ever A+ in science. Shooting Stars


Missoula Phlox, a phlox subspecies found on top of Waterworks Hill in Missoula and almost nowhere else. (Mr. Dunn would flunk anybody who picked one).

With everything so springy and green, the view from the trail atop Waterworks was lovely, despite the rash of ugly new homes at the bottom.

It was especially gorgeous up the Blackfoot, where The Blackfoot Challenge, a partnership between ranchers, hunters, fishermen, environmentalists and the Forest Service has kept the land mostly open, free of subdivisions, and beautiful. (Now, can we get a Bitterroot Challenge? Montana? Holla'?)

Elk, like this herd along the runoff-swollen river, also like that open land.

I was amused to fly into Missoula seated right across from George W. Bush's lawyer and ambassador appointee to the United Nations John Bolton. On the plane he read a hardcover book with a chapter called, "The Second Constituency," and his wife read Laura Bush's autobiography. I couldn't resist snapping a cell phone pic of him waiting for his gate checked luggage and texting on his Blackberry. "UN sux. H8 Iran 2. Use Nukes. In MT. L8R."

Days later I saw him strolling in downtown Missoula and I almost shouted out the window of my car, "Hey Boltey! Missoula loves peace!" But I figured if I was rude like that it would mean the terrorists have already won.

I live for trips home to Montana. Though the rain made this one a little less ecstatic than trips past, I'm still continually thrilled that home always seems to have some nature surprise for me. Can't wait to go back in September.

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  1. blast from the past – i LOVED Mr. Dunn’s wildflower project! glad you had fun in MT, loved the photos. we must get together soon! xo

  2. Such fun to read! Almost like having been there. There’s no place like home, eh? Oh, and congrats on the trout!

  3. Is that Stevie Nicks?

  4. T&L: Thanks! I KNOW you KNOW.

    Roscoe: I suppose “Stand Back” by Stevie Nicks could be interpreted as a Neocon anthem.

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