Last weekend was the bachelor party of bachelor parties. The original location for the party was going to be Helena. We had planned to float the Missouri river for the day. After the float trip we planned to get into your typical bachelor party adventure on the party bus that evening. As plans often times do they changed. It was decided by the bachelor party committee that we would have it at Lolo Hot springs. I had never been to Lolo Hot Springs however I have always heard how beautiful it was. As it turns out Lolo Hot springs is in the center of everywhere for bachelor parties. By the time we arrived in Lolo that Friday one of the members of the party had lost his pants along the way and was down to his chonies. He was intoxicated enough that he politely asked bystander for a pair of shorts to borrow… and the adventure had begun. The first adventure to be undertaken was the 30min drive back into Missoula. A bachelor party wouldn’t be complete without a trip to a strip joint and this one was no exception. We started the establishment on the west side of Missoula out by the truck stop. The “environment” was “okay” but not appealing to our group. From there we took the party to the Fox Club downtown. Let me tell you things were looking up! The “environment” was just right for having a good time. After an S&M beating for the soon to be groom by two beautiful women and more liquor then the human body is supposed to take we headed back to Lolo. I would also like to add that during this little adventure we had two Designated Drivers to get us around; they drank pop and water all night. It was cool how easy it was to find someone in the group willing to stay sober all night to take care of his buddies…. On with the adventure! In Lolo there is a nice little bar and grill that serves not too bad of a breakfast and dinner. After a night like that we are going to need some breakfast!
The Mountains around Lolo and on the Idaho border are amazing to say the least. We found hours of entertainment back in the sticks. Starting with panning for gold, we found ourselves back a few miles behind the resort. I can’t tell you the thrill of seeing flakes in the bottom of your pan. Needless to say that between the three of us with pans in our hand we came a long way from making wages. After lunch and target practice we decided to head over the pass into Idaho. The Locsha river drainage is something to put on your “Bucket List” for sure. There are amazing vistas, warm mountain springs, raging rapids and trails that don’t stop. We ended up going on the Warm springs Creek Trail to the Jerry Johns Hot Springs. Honestly they were more of a mud puddle however for the price of a small walk there are not to many other places in the lower 48 that you can see people openly walking around stark-naked. Just to add culture to your life makes it worth the walk :-). Over all it was an awesome weekend with a great group of guys.
When I am not on my bike I throw the dog in the back of the truck and chase the sun. the last few nights I have been lucky. just out of Great Falls there are some great photo opportunities. From the Ulm Pishkun to the Eden Road. Photos of Square Butte, pictures of Great Falls from the Pishkun, to Belt Creek as it winds through the canyon out of the Little Belts to the Missouri. As I am wrapping this blog up I am getting ready for a trip to the Bitterroot Valley. I am looking forward to hanging out in the Bitterroot and capturing Western Montana. In the meantime I am capturing Central Montana for you!
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After a long day at the office or on the job site there is nothing better than coming home and hopping on my bike. Just a few short block from my house and I am on the Rivers Edge Trail. This trail runs the entire distance of the Missouri River within the Great Falls city limits and beyond. I am amazed by the different scenery that I see every time I go out and I try to make it out at least every other day. On those days I am never without new breathtaking images to capture. I recently took off on a Saturday afternoon down the east side of the river to Giant Springs (watch for upcoming blogs) and back across the West side. I try to get lucky enough to catch days where there is no wind and the Missouri and Sun Rivers are smooth as Glass. This is something that rarely happens due to the constant wind that blows in the Great Falls area. In the summer time Great Falls has such a unique landscape and feel and the best place to capture this is on the Rivers Edge Trail. On the north end of the trail there are statues of Lewis and Clark with Sacajawea. From a distance these actually look like real people standing on the hill side looking over the River. On the West side of the River there are great views of the downtown area being reflected on the Glass smooth river. This makes for an awesome way to start and/or Finish a day.
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There are some iconic images of Great Falls that anyone who has lived in Great Falls says home. Just adjacent to the historic downtown area and center of the history of great falls is the Milwaukee depot. Built in 1915 as a train station by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad who went bankrupt in the mid 60’s. Sense then this building has been transformed into a beautiful office building and is still a landmark that says “Home”. The Stack from the Old Great Falls Select Beer that was founded in 1933 and then closed in 1968 can be seen for Miles. Being a “west side” kid as long as I can remember that building has been in my memories. The 3D sign is another Great Falls Icon. I recently posted this photo on my Facebook page and I had huge response from fellow classmates that moved away. It is the sign of a restaurant that is actually in Black Eagle overlooking the Missouri River. The new images for generations to come are currently being constructed. The Rivers Edge Trail and the Westbank Park area of Great Falls is in the process of transformation. In the last few years The Staybridge Suites has opened with more business close behind. It is great to see the development of the river front. Great Falls recently made the list of America’s “greatest riverfront towns” by Budget Travel magazine and its website, budgettravel.com. As time allows I will continue to capture the Images of Great Falls and post them for your enjoyment.
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Summer time in Great Falls means it is time for the Farmers Market! The Farmers market is held in downtown Great Falls south of the Civic Center. In this area they squeeze in dozens of vendors and hundreds of potential costumers. If you are in the area you can smell the BBQ pork for blocks (I make sure I never miss out :-). This weekend’s event was a real treat with the live Jazz band Fizzy Watuh. The music seems to bring a great atmosphere that gave that small town festival Feeling. If you didn’t know better you would be looking around for the small carnival rides. In its place there are small pony rides that add to the “Small town” feeling. Walking around and taking in the scenery and the great music really brings out the essence of downtown. After my morning bike ride this was a great way to start out the weekend. While I was down there I grabbed some shots for your enjoyment.
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Just south of Great Falls there is a road that runs parallel to the Little Belts with the Highwood Mountains at your back. This road weaves back and forth across the Smith River with several places to park and fish. After a stressful day I can throw my Golden Retriever in the back of the truck, hop in and head out on Eden Road. From this road I can access the back side of small towns such as Cascade, Ulm, Stocket, Monarch and a good percentage of Central Montana. In the spring the storms blow over the mountains giving the Photographer endless landscape masterpieces. In the mornings the sun rises over the Little Belt Mountains giving once in a life time sunrises every single day. In the evenings the sun sets on the Rockies closing the day leaving you at piece with yourself with a feeling of how lucky you are to live in the Bigsky Country.
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After work I can’t think of a better way to burn off some stress than hitting the Rivers Edge Trail on the bikes. I can burn down a few residential blocks and hop on the trail without crossing any major streets. From there I can reach the entire length of the Missouri that passes through Great Falls with one street crossing. This crossing is located just north of the Milwaukee Depot adjacent to the skate park. There is Just one note on this crossing that I wanted to share. It can be a dangerous crossing due to the signage provided. For the trail traffic there is a stop sign provided that tells the pedestrians and bikers that they need to stop and wait until it is safe to cross. The vehicular traffic is also provided a sign that says there is a pedestrian crossing ahead. However there is no communication on who has the right away. The danger comes when a vehicle stops giving up his or her right away leading the trail traffic into a false sense of security. The vehicular traffic traveling the opposite direction may not be paying attention or willing to give up their right away. If you have a longer train there may be some miscommunication on whether or not it is safe to cross. I watched this last week almost turn into a tragic accident. Myself I let the courteous drivers that stop to allow me cross keep their “right away”. It is only until it is clear that I attempt to cross (OK! On with the rest of my blog). This is about the third of fourth time I have blogged about the Rivers Edge Trail and I can Promise it won’t be my last. Every time I am on the trail the scenic view is different than the day before.