Under the Big Sky

Talking Penguin, Cut Bank, MT

Talking Penguin, Cut Bank, MT

Like that of Memnon, the last lyric wrung from this colossus is long forgotten. Still -- this statue greets his mother, dawn.

... and on the pedestal these words appear:

Welcome to Cut Bank, MT
Coldest Spot in the Nation
Tepee Designs, Museum of the Plains Indians, Browning, MT
Horn Utensils, Museum of the Plains Indians, Browning, MT

Tepee Designs, Museum of the Plains Indians, Browning, MT

The stars on the smoke flaps represent the Big Dipper and the Pleiades.

Browning, MT, is the seat of the Blackfeet Nation on this side of the border with Canada.

The Museum of the Plains Indians in Browning, MT, holds an annotated display of antiques. Before it was overrun, the horse culture, which arose on the American plains, reached its apogee with the introduction of European technology including gunpowder. In all, it lasted barely two centuries, but, in that time, Native Americans created some of the most striking art, artifacts, clothing, ceremonial objects, and weapons known in the world. You can see examples here.

Interpolated in the exhibit are works by contemporary artists who are authorized to design new art in the old styles. These are the best of the best, of course. Plan to take a couple of hours to read the exhibit notes. At first, the range of regions and periods is overwhelming, but, after awhile, you will appreciate a few of the differences among the plains cultures, and you will be able to spot the modern pieces, if only because they are more pleasing to the modern eye.

Geraldine at St. Mary Overlook, Glacier Park
US 89 into St Mary

St Mary Overlook, Glacier Park

US 89 from Browning, MT, to St Mary, MT, takes you west right up to the mountains and then swings north, climbing and descending lateral moraines of the glaciers that carved the great valleys. Crossing them spans several hundred feet of altitude and involves switchbacks. This is my favorite view of St Mary Valley from the large turnout at the top of the hill coming into town.

In St Mary, I pitched my tent at:

Johnson's Cafe, B&B, Campground, Cabins, and Motel
HC 72-10
St Mary, MT 59417
I stayed a couple of days doing tours of Going to the Sun Road and US 2, Many Glacier, and Two Medicine.
St Mary Lodge, Glacier Park

St Mary Lodge, Glacier Park

Exploring the park, one happens upon a series of historic structures. This one is built to emulate them. It is difficult to believe this was constructed in 1952; it looks much newer.
Cattle on Pasture South of Browning, MT
Bearded Wheat South of Browning, MT

Cattle on Pasture, US 89 South of Browning, MT

After my vacation in Glacier Park was over, I rode US 89 from Browning, MT, to White Sulphur Springs, MT.

If you go that way, don't overlook the Rock Shop at Bynum, MT (elev. 4000 ft, pop. 77).

Trex Agate Shop
161 S Front
PO Box 796
Bynum, MT 59419
It is easy to pass by because you may not notice the town, let alone the store, but, if you stop, you may be lucky to meet the little old lady who runs the place. She's in her 90s, and she's famous. She discovered baby dinosaurs.

Belt Creek, MT

Belt Creek, MT

It is strange to tell, but US 89, following Belt Creek up stream, seems to descend into the Little Belt Mountains. To reach the bottom of the gorge from the grasslands, I believe the road gives up altitude.

I didn't realize how desolate the country had become until I needed gas. A bar in the little mining town of Neihart, MT, had Sinclair pumps but wasn't open. The next town was 40 mi away. I backtracked 12 mi to Monarch, thinking I might have to stay in the motel there. Lo and behold, the motel's mini-mart had a no-name pump, so I filled up, turned around, and then went on. The backtracking wasn't really a waste of time. Of all the backroads that I traveled, that little 12 mi stretch I ran thrice this trip was just about the twistiest, loneliest, and most fun. Watch out for deer.

White Sulphur Springs, MT, was full of motorcycles. I don't know why. I quizzed a few people about what they were doing. Most were on vacation and traveling from or to Billings, MT. Super 8 was booked up. I wound up staying at:
Spa Hot Springs Motel
202 West Main
PO Box 370
White Sulphur Springs, MT 59645
I ate at:
The Mint Bar
27 East Main
PO Box 549
White Sulphur Springs, MT 59645
... which had motorcycle skid tracks in the linoleum -- but they didn't have Moose Drool.
Rhode, Chuck. "Under the Big Sky." The Hi-Line and the Yellowstone Trail: To Glacier Park and Back Again. 1 Sept. 2004. Lacus Veris. 21 Jul. 2024 <http://lacusveris.com/The Hi-Line and the Yellowstone Trail/The Big Sky/The Big Sky.shtml>. Last modified 6 Oct. 2015. Served 9769 times between 17 May. 2010 and 20 Jul. 2024. Contact mailto:CRhode@LacusVeris.com?subject=LacusVeris.