Images from Big Sky Country

I’ve written before about the palpable feeling of “home” when I return to my home state of Montana. It was no different this time, as I traveled the circumference of the large state on my book tour and visited places I had not been to in many years.

From the mountains…

Apgar, Glacier Park

Apgar, Glacier Park

To the prairie:

Big Sky Country between Miles City and Billings

Big Sky Country between Miles City and Billings

A little bit of both:

Big Timber area

Big Timber area

And eastern Montana is NOT flat:

E MT betw Circle & Jordan

Coulees & rolling hills between Circle & Jordan

Windmills, a common sight in Montana

Windmills, a common sight in Montana

Old-time Montana ranching preserved at the Grant-Kohrs Ranch, Deer Lodge:

Grant-Kohrs Ranch

Grant-Kohrs Ranch

The way they used to farm

The way they used to farm

Lady Blacksmith at Grant-Kohrs Ranch

Lady Blacksmith at Grant-Kohrs Ranch

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Published in: on June 23, 2009 at 10:11 pm  Comments (5)  
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Extreme Sheep Herding

These fellows took to the hills of Wales armed to the teeth with sheep, LEDs and a camera, using sheep as pixels to create fun “sheep art.” Quite fun.

Extreme Shepherding

Published in: on June 22, 2009 at 1:41 am  Comments (1)  

A Cattle-herding Pig

Squeaky the pig

Squeaky the pig

Bonney, Texas. I recently came across a cute video about Squeaky, the pig, who thinks she’s a dog. She is very good at herding cattle and is protective of her owner if a bull or cow comes after him. Squeaky Video

Published in: on June 20, 2009 at 3:20 am  Comments (1)  
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Birdie Askins Johnston, an “Old-time” Cowgirl

An "old-time" Trick Rider

An "old-time" Trick Rider

In Billings, MT, I had the great pleasure to meet Birdie Askins Johnson, daughter of Montana bronc rider Bob Askins and a well-known trick rider in her own right. She is a delightful lady, and like many of the “old-time” cowgirls, began riding as soon as she could sit on the back of a horse on her own–about three years of age, she says.

Birdie’s first trick riding performance was in Ekalaka MT when she was 15, and she followed this career throughout the 1940s and ’50s. Then she spent 30 years with a wardrobe and makeup trailer in Tucson, AZ, catering to movie stars on location. She worked with many well-known actors and singers, such as Burt Reynolds, Frank Sinatra, Keifer Sutherland and Kathy Matea.

I took some “poetic license” in my novel, Cowgirl Dreams, and included Birdie in the story when Nettie begins to rodeo. In reality, Birdie wouldn’t be riding for another 20 or so years.

Birdie is her real name, she says. Her dad, on the rodeo circuit when she was born, wired home, “Name her Birdie,” after her maternal grandmother Bertha, nicknamed “Birdie.”

This is one of the rewards of my Montana book tour, a memory I will cherish for many years.

Published in: on June 14, 2009 at 3:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Montana Book Tour

Grain Elevators on Hi-Line

The road is long, the stops are far between, but the destinations are rewarding.

I began my “reality” book tour of Montana May 29 with a trip to Spokane, where my sister-in-law (hereafter known as “Louise”) gave me a lovely book party. Auntie’s Books in Spokane was the next stop and then Thelma and Louise were off to “Big Sky Country.”

First came the mountains of western Montana, Flathead Lake, and the spectacular lakes and sights of Glacier Park. The Going to the Sun Highway is still snowbound, so we drove up to Apgar and then back around the outside of the park, where mountains gave way to prairie and grain fields.  Small towns sprouted with grain elevators every 20 or so miles as we followed Highway 2 or “The Hi-Line” as Montanans know it, named for the northernmost railroad line in the region. At Havre, “Louise” abandoned Thelma, boarded the train and headed back to Spokane.

I continued on to Wolf Point and Circle, where I stayed with fellow Women Writing the West member, Wanda Rosseland, and was royally treated to that wonderful old-fashioned western farm hospitality. A pot roast, fresh wild asparagus, made-from-scratch biscuits, and two pies made this weary traveler very satisfied.

Next stop was Jordan, my “hometown”where I graduated from high school. What a wonderful reception and enthusiastic “reunion” with classmates and people I hadn’t seen for about 30 years. I was afraid I wouldn’t recognize anybody, but it’s surprising how the memories come flooding back. I had a great time seeing my old “stomping grounds.” The high school, which educated about 150 students when I graduated in a class of 38, now has 42 students, and the dormitory where I lived for four years has been closed for 20+ years.

I discovered before posting this, that I can’t download photos from my camera card to this laptop, so I’ll have to share them with you at a later time.

Tonight I’m in Miles City, Cowboy Capital of Montana and home of the famous Bucking Horse Sale and rodeo, and I turn the corner, headed back west on I90 to Billings, Bozeman, Helena, Deer Lodge and Missoula.

Stay tuned for more from the life of a traveling author–on the road from Montana.

Published in: on June 8, 2009 at 2:39 am  Comments (5)  
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