In the Painting “Charles M. Russell and His Friends” the Square Butte just out of Cascade Montana is the back drop for this awesome painting. The reading I have done about Charlie Russell and his prints I found that this formation was one of his favorite backdrops. I have photographed this formation from every angle and have thousands of images of it and yet it never gets old. The area around the butte seems to be a portal back in time. The first area I hit is the road that heads north from Ulm Montana towards Pishkun State Park (First People’s State Park). After a stressful day I can take about a 20min drive and be out on roads that few travel. I have a few pull outs that I hit along the way that I can park my truck and sit. While I am waiting for the sun to set or the clouds to fall into the right location I watch the deer and antelope graze and listen to the breeze blow through the cab of my truck. After about an hour of therapy I am back to neutral and ready for another day. My second favorite place to photograph Square Butte is from “Afar” for sure. Out above the Smith River on Swede bench off of the Pleasant View Road I catch the perfect view of Crown Butte and Square Butte together. In addition there are some old abandoned buildings that fit perfectly into most Images. Like Charlie Russell Square Butte catches my eye and when I am traveling and far away from home, the Butte is what I see when I think about home.
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The trip to the Gravity Bar that is at the top of the Guinness Brewery on St. James Street in Dublin was quite the adventure. Our adventure started in “the states” (European reference to the United States) at 6am on Thursday MST. After a few long flights and layovers we arrived in Dublin at 6am on Friday Dublin time (11pm previous day back home). After clearing customs and picking up the rental car we hit Dublin streets at 8am right in the middle of morning rush hour traffic. The up side for me was that I was not the “Elected Driver”. In retrospect I am very impressed with my good friend that was able to get into the wrong side of the car and drive down the wrong side of the street during rush hour traffic (right side for Europe wrong side for US). Of course the hotel rooms are not ready…. We now have time to kill! After parking the car we hit the streets of Dublin on foot. There is now 5 miles of Dublin between us and our “Perfect Pint”. Along the way we caught breakfast in a small pub, checked out the Temple Bar district, did a little shopping and got to experience the streets of Dublin firsthand. It was on this walk that I realized I was in a different country. A young man walking down the street pointed out how much us “Yanks” stood out. It was all in good humor now that I look back at it, however at the time caught me off guard. When we got to the brewery it was cool to walk through the museum and work our way through to the top. I loved the water feature inside and thought the signed lease at the beginning was interesting. Upstairs there was a room that a video loop was playing and from there was the stairs to the Gravity Bar. Over the months I have been acquiring the taste for the Dark Porter. When we handed over our tickets and received our “Perfect Pint”, I cannot begin to describe how smooth and creamy that pint was. The room was packed with people from around the world. I heard some French, German, Spanish, and other dialects I could not recognize. I truly enjoyed myself at the brewery but just like other places we visited it was the journey that was the destination.
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On Saturday afternoon my 4 year old daughter and I hung out at the Pishkun out in Ulm Montana. Two thousand years before Lewis and Clark this was used as a buffalo jump. The Indians would run the buffalo off of the side of the bluff. Below they would process the meat, bones and hides for the tribe. The buffalo are long gone and all that is left is the tribute to their way of life. A person can either walk from the visitors center or take the 5 min drive around to the top. When we visit the park we drive straight to the top and when we get to the top there is a “Prairie Dog Town” that is off to the side of the road (big hit with my daughter). At the end of the road is the parking area and trail head for the jumps. I truly enjoy standing at the edge of the jumps and hearing nothing but the wind. From this vantage point I can see for miles. Some of my favorite photographs have been taken from the edge of these cliffs. All the Pictures in this album were taken from the Pishkun. From the Pishkun you can see 4 mountain ranges. The highwoods, Little Belts, Big Belts, and the Rockies all can been seen and photographed. I think that the Pishkun’s (First Peoples) State park is one of Montana’s best kept secrets. I quit going there years ago to learn the history of the Pishkun and now I visit the Pishkun to reflect and catch a breath.
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Today I was reflecting back (day dreaming :-)) on my recent trip to Ireland. That trip was one of those trips that when I am day dreaming every now and then I will reflect back on. The town of Blarney and the castle property specifically was truly a magical experience. Everything from the weather to the castle, blarney house, the lake to Lunch was memorable. The weather could not have been more perfect. It was about 65F with just a breath of wind and the billowy clouds just seem to float across from one horizon to the other (perfect for Pictures). It is a little bit of a hike to the castle but when you come in the gate the direction to go is obvious. The castle stands proud above everything around for miles. When I was standing at the base of the castle I was lucky enough to catch the sun peeking through a window at the top (this turned out to be an amazing photograph). Looking at the rays of light peeking through the window they remind me of the Celtic cross. Inside the castle it is a maze of rooms and stair cases to get to the top where the famous Blarney Stone is located. Looking down from the top you can see where the three floors below used to be. When looking around the country side from the top you can see for miles. One of the best features is the Blarney house. The Blarney House is a beautiful Scottish Baronial style mansion that was built in 1874. As you take the walk to the lake that is in the front yard of the Blarney House you are taken back in time. There are horse pastures, off buildings and ruins scattered about the property. As I stood at the base of the castle and walked the estate I felt a true connection to history. These are buildings that were conquered by kingdoms and taken back by another. We are looking at going back some day sooner than later. Ireland is still on my “Bucket list”.
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After a walk the other night on the trail above the Black Eagle Dam I scrolled through my 20k plus picture library and it was obvious that I have a great deal of pictures that have been taken from the Rivers Edge Trail. It is incredible the beautiful scenery and photo opportunities that are available on the trail. I think it would be safe to say that I have been on every foot of the miles of trail that can be traveled. On top of the scenery that can be seen and the abundant wildlife there is a ton of history. As I looked thru my photos I found a little of both. I found pictures of the Montana sunrise, and amazing sunsets. Also not to mention Pictures of the Grizzly bear statue at the place that Lewis and Clark were chased by a bear and the statues that were placed on the bluff across the river of Lewis and Clark. I would love to get into the history of the Rivers edge Trail but I don’t think I could say it as well as it is said on the website for the trail (http://thetrail.org).
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In my daily scan of the news during my lunch hour, I see on both www.greatfallstribune.com and www.krtv.com that they have released the birds. The city of Great Falls keeps 40 to 50 ducks, swans, and geese in a indoor habitat during the winter months and releases them in the spring time. This afternoon I took my girls down to see the newly released waterfowl. Gibson Park is hands down my favorite place in Great Falls. When I was a smaller “Kid”, my grandma took me to Gibson to feed the ducks. As I have Grown in to a bigger “Kid” I have learned to love Gibson Park and realize what a remarkable place it is. I look forward to passing that on to my girls as they turn in to bigger “Kids”. Today being as nice as it was, made it a great day to grab a few photos.
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The weather in central Montana has had me pinned down for the last few days. We went from the 70’s on Wednesday, to the 30’s Friday and back to the 50’s today. I went South of Great Falls today for my weekly “Saturday Drive” in an attempt to capture that “Magic Image”. The drastic changes in temperature and weather pattern make for great Photo opportunities and sometimes challenging drives. I started my drive on a road that connects Eden Road to Milligan Road. This road was muddy and some parts four-wheel drive only. I didn’t see too much out of the ordinary until I got to the end of the road where it comes out above the Smith River. From the top of the bench I could see Square Butte and behind it the Rocky Mountains (What a view). It is amazing that on a semi clear day you can see over 70 miles as a bird flies to the Rocky Mountains from the middle of the prairie. Once I got back on pavement again, I took it out of Four-wheel drive and followed Milligan Road back around where it joins back up to Eden Road at the old homestead town (now abandoned) of Eden. On this road I was able to capture several cool images of the little belts, and a few other landmarks along the way. All and all it was not a bad day to be out.
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Along our adventure in Ireland we went thru Killarney into the Ring of Kerry. We Drove up to Molls Gap where there is a quaint little gift shop, and we made a few stops along the way that will always stick with me. The first stop was a little mountain church that sits by its self on the side of the mountain road. I tried to look up information on this church but have had no luck. It sits at the intersection of the N71 and the Torc Mountain trail head. When looking at this church you can see the history and craftsmanship that was put into this little building. Then as I look at it, I wonder what would make them build in such a location. I wish I could find more information. Just adjacent to the church was this old bridge that you can tell has as much history and great craftsmanship to it as well. From the Church we went up to the top of Moll’s Gap and down again. On our way down we stopped by the Torc Falls. From the parking lot it is a small jaunt up to the base of the falls. If you choose to go on the trail will take you all the way back up to the old church previously mentioned. You may want to allow for a good day to make your way all the way to the church. The Falls seem to be an Oasis in the middle of the Irish Winter. It is amazing how everything can be so green with moss growing on the trees and rocks. My home is at about 47deg North Latitude and it was strange to me to see so much green so much further north at 51deg North Latitude. However I did notice the leaves on some of the trees have fallen off. I am sure that Ireland in the fall is completely amazing. I guess the long of the short of things are that I am going to have to go back at least two more times to catch the summer Green and the Fall Foliage.