Washington Road Trip Journal

"Goin' on a Field Trip"

 

Days 5-8 - Great Falls, Montana

by David "Sumoflam" Kravetz

September 2, 2007: We finally made it to Great Falls and I was so thrilled to see my new grandson Charlie O. as well as my older grandson Kade.  Of course, I was also excited to see Amaree and her husband Aaron. 

The drive to Great Falls was pretty uneventful except for our drive through customs.  I thought we would just go right through, but they called us in to check for food items we may have purchased in Canada.  To this day I have no idea why.  We waited in the building for 45 minutes and when they finally called our name, they asked if we had any fruit, vegetables or meat products purchased in Canada.  We didn't and so they told us to go ahead.  What really angered me was that there were many others that arrived AFTER we did that were called BEFORE us.  It was really frustrating.

Waiting in line at Customs in Coutts, Alberta

 

Once we FINALLY got to Great Falls, it was wonderful to see the family.  Julianne had flown into Salt Lake City and drove up from there and of course Amaree, Aaron and the grandsons were there.  It was also a nice respite from the long drives.  By the time we got to Great Falls, Solomon and I had been on the road for 3 days and had driven nearly 2200 miles through 6 states and 3 Canadian provinces.

 

During our brief stay in Great Falls we had a good time visiting, relaxing and even did a little sight seeing.  Obviously, as a proud grandfather, I am including family photos in this portion of my trip journal!!!

 

On Saturday we just relaxed and hung around the house, talked and played with the babies.  Sunday was the day that we blessed Charles Oscar Matthews in church (the Mormon version of Christening in other churches).  After that we had a nice relaxing visit and a wonderful lasagna dinner at Aaron's parents' home on the outskirts of Great Falls. Then, we went back to Amaree's place and crashed.  We were all quite zonked.

 

Monday was a tour day for us.  We all got ready and took a trip to the mountains near Great Falls.  We went south on US 87 past Belt, Montana to the beginning of US 89 (which runs south all the way into Arizona) and then took US 89 south past Monarch and Neihart to Kings Hill Pass in the Lewis and Clark National Forest.  During the winter this is a ski area and one can see the ski trails.  We hiked up the road towards the top of the pass.

 

 

L - Grampz with Kade heading up the trail.  Near the top of Kings Hill Pass - Amaree, Charlie, Grampz, Kade, Julianne, Solomon

 

 

Julianne looking good up in them thar hills.  Solomon practicing his moves in mid-air

 

 

Amaree with Charlie O. and Aaron with Kade

 

Sumoflam with his sweetheart in the mountains of Montana

 

On the return trip we went back down the hill towards Memorial Falls, a small waterfall in a nice setting.  As we drove down the hill the mountain scenes were beautiful.

 

Mountain drive to Memorial Falls

 

Along the way back we came across a very unusual site -- a Stop Sign warning in the middle of a field!!  We wondered why there would be a sign in a field.  A little thought brought us to the realization that this was for snowmobiles in the middle of winter.  But boy is it funny to see in the summer time.

 

 

Stop sign in the middle of a field on US 89 South of Great Falls

 

 

Kade with Grampz and Grandma at Memorial Falls

 

 

Julianne gave Kade a dunk; Solomon climbed a cliff

 

After the drive home we went to MacKenzie River Pizza Company for dinner. We really like this place as do Amaree and Aaron.  They have some pretty unique menu items.  Click on the logo below to check it out.

Tuesday was the last day in Great Falls for Solomon and me.  We had another relaxing day as we would be back on the road.  After taking in a nice morning, we all took a walk to the Paris Gibson Square Museum a few blocks away from Amaree's condo.  This museum focuses on Montana artists or those with Montana connections.  It is not a large place, but had some interesting works. 

Paris Gibson Museum of Art

(photo courtesy of Paris Gibson Museum, copyright 2007)

I was most impressed with the underwater ballet photography by Jolene Monheim.  Some of her works are shown below. More of Jolene's work can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jolenemonheim/   She most certainly touches the visual senses with a cornucopia of color and imagination.  Thanks Jolene!!

   

Jolene Monheim art: L - The Deep Sleep  C- Ophelia's Mother Shows Up  R-Ophelia

(photos courtesy of Jolene Monheim. Used by permission of the artist - Jolene Monheim copyright)

As well, I really liked the wooden stick figures by Lee Steen from Roundup, Montana.  His work is representative of much of the interesting things I find on our trips.  Steen's work has been featured in the book Rare Visions & Roadside Revelations by Randy Mason, Michael Murphy and Don Mayberger (also was a Public Television series).  Author Swain Wolfe also talks about meeting Lee and Dee Steen in his book "The Boy Who Invented Skiing: A Memoir" (click here) on pages 116-118.  The Steen brothers are, in many ways, probably similar to JFK the Twine Ball Man.  They may both fit the definition of "Outsider Artist", which is a term to describe art created outside the boundaries of official culture. I didn't take my camera, so I didn't get any photographs and there are very few on the internet.  But there was some interesting work.  I will get photos on my next trip. (UPDATE: I contacted the Paris Gibson Museum of Art and they kindly provided photos and a write up about Lee Steen, which I have posted here.  Thank you Bob Durden!!)

 

Some of Lee Steen's Stick Men

(photos courtesy of Paris Gibson Museum, copyright 2007)

To close out our visit, we all went to the Cattlemen's Supper Club Steak House on the outskirts of Great Falls for a succulent steak dinner.  I had a piece of prime rib that was fantastic!!  The salad bar was so so, but it was pretty interesting to see the HUGE block of cheese they brought out for the customers to cut into.  So much for my weight loss efforts on this trip....

All in all it was a great visit.  My grandsons are so very darling...here are a couple more photos:

 

 

Tomorrow, Solomon and I are off to Spokane and Kennewick in Washington State.

Day 1  Day 2  Day 3  Day 4  Day 9  Days 10-12  Day 13  Days 14/15  Day 16

 

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