Friday, July 30, 2010

Player Piano on Steroids

I believe I have seen it all, now. On display at The World Museum of Mining is a player piano on steroids.

The contraption below is The Seeburg Style H Solo Orchestrion.That's right, it's a band inside a piano. This one is set up to run off of coins, but I think that may be a later addition. If you're totally interested in how the mechanism works, you can click on the link above. The above site also has a photo of the original sales brochure. The photo on the brochure shows how these machines looked new. The Seeburg in Butte has had the front panel replaced with clear glass, so you can watch it play. I'm all for that, however the original panels are very beautiful, so I recommend checking that out.

While one of the most awesome experiences of my life, I only had one regret, not bringing some ear plugs. It's a pretty loud machine. It may be set up that way so everyone can hear it no matter where they are on the museum premises. Since the museum is a copy of an 1800s mining town, visitors are outside and can be scattered throughout a large area. I did find a note about calliopes and apparently they were loud, so could be that's just how these machines were built.

Even so, I'm really glad I got to see one of these machines in action.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Answer to His Question

My husband asked me this morning, "What's wrong with the cat? He's awfully fiesty lately." Check out the photos to see if you can figure out this mystery. Answer below.

A couple of years ago I planted some catnip. I thought for sure it didn't take until I saw some plants poke through earlier this spring. Apparently Garfield didn't notice until the plants began to thrive. Well, that is until today. The cat pretty much mowed them down. I'm still trying to decide if I will plant anymore as he does get pretty crazed when he eats it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Went to Do the Laundry...

this guy/gal was on my shorts. I almost drowned the poor thing. Technically, when it dropped a line off of my shorts and started to repel to the floor, it startled me so badly that I dropped my shorts onto the washer. Down went the spider into the deep, dark hole. Now most sane people would have let out a sigh of relief, but I've long since lost any semblance of sanity I once had and have ceased looking for it. What did I do? I grabbed the shorts real quick and yanked them up bringing the hapless spider back up out of the washer, gently laying him/her on the floor on top of a nice bed made of my shorts. As if that wasn't bad enough, I ran and got my camera hoping for a photo op. I will say this spider was one of the most patient and cooperative subjects I've ever had. Apparently he/she appreciated my good sense when I decided not to sacrifice them to the washer.

In case anyone is worried about the fate of my eight legged friend, I carried them outside on my shorts. Once outside, they repeled to ground and ran for cover.

A Rich Habitat

One of my favorite places to go is Madison Buffalo Jump State Park. It has a very rich habitat for insects. I never fail to find the coolest stuff out there. I can hardly walk a few inches without tripping over my next subject. Consequently my hikes never last very long and I have yet to get very far on any of the trails. Also, being a desert environment, it gets very hot, and I burn quickly. However, I never hesitate to brave the heat because of the coloful creatures I find out there.

Spider with Hornet Prey

This is a beautiful creature. As far as I can, tell he's a wasp mimic. Might be a thick headed fly.

Gorgeous Caterpillar. Don't know what it'll be.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sundays in My City - The Levee Was Dry

I am pleased once again to be able to show off my city via Sundays in My City hosted by Unknown Mami.

We thought it was a good idea to go feed the ducks on the MSU campus tonight. Yeah, I forgot, until we got there, that the last time I drove by, the duck pond had been drained. No explanation. Usually there's a note about maintenance. And the ducks were kind of skittish. Sigh. We decided to head home.

Just before we did, we stopped by the koi pond. Fortunately, that was still full. I was very persistant and captured the koi below at night.

You can click on any of the images below to see a larger version. Enjoy!

This concludes the tour of Bozeman. Drop by Unknown Mami's and check out other wonderful cities around the world.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Welcome to the Aquarium

Yesterday we ran out and bought some more fish for our house: a Powder Blue Dwarf Gourami and two ghost shrimps. The Gourami is named Powder. The Shrimp are Phantom and Haunter. Of course, tropical fish can't go with goldfish, so we ended up with another fish tank and more accessories. Our family enjoys pets. So does our cat as you can tell by the last picture.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Skywatch Friday - A Morning Walk

A view of the mountains from Sourdough Trail during my morning walk.

For other spectacular views check out Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Orb Weaver Hatchlings. Woo Hoo!

I was rushing out of my house one afternoon on my way to pick up my son from rock camp when I happened to notice that we had orb weaver hatchlings along the siding near our front door. Woo hoo! This is the third year in a row that I've had the chance to photograph these wonderful little newborns. I never feel like I do them justice, so I'm always grateful to have another chance to practice and hopefully, someday, to get it perfect. Until then if you don't mind spiders, you can click on the images to make them larger, so that you can get a better view of these magnificent creatures.

Gallatin Petrified Forest Intrepretive Trail: Part 2

During my visit to the Gallatin Petrified Forest Interpretive Trail the insects were everywhere. Here is a brief selection.

Goldenrod Spider: A Type of Crab Spider

Bumble Bee

Unidentified Fly

If Only the Wind Would Stop Blowing

When I was out and about last week, I went by The Parker Homestead State Park. I wanted to photograph a disappearing relic. The parks department just announced this year that they will no longer maintain the property. It will probably deteriorate and become just another abandonded building that dots the countryside of Montana. Unfortunate, doesn't describe it. I am just happy to have had the chance to see it while it is in relatively good condition. To get to experience this buidling, while I am still able to imagine what it must have been like to live in that sort of environment is a gift.

Oddly enough though, the building is not the most memorable part of the experience. I was struck, literally, with how forceful the wind is. Unbearable. Pushing and tearing at me. I can not comprehend how one would work under these conditions much less build a life. Could this have been what it was like to settle the prairie? Yes, of course. With so much flat land, what obstacle could slow down the wind? At this moment, I realized I am not the carbon copy of my ancestors that I like to think I am. I still believe that I am tough enough to take the loneliness and the hard work. I am resourceful and independent enough to survive literally being on my own with the nearest neighbors being miles away. With my extended family being even farther away. No radio, no TV, no internet. I really believe I could survive that level of social and sensory deprivation: if only the wind would stop blowing.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mess of the Month - July: A Shift in Focus

I decided that I have the table under control, and it might be more interesting to chose a different mess each month. This month I'm focusing on the garage. This has been my summer project. Although you can't tell here, I had already gotten the other half of it organized. It still needs a little work, but at least I can get out of the car now. I do wish I was joking.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sundays in My City - Mining Town Exhibit

Sundays in my City is hosted by Unknown Mami. Drop by and check out many different cities from around the world.

I have to admit I cheated a bit today. I wasn't in my city. I went to The World Museum of Mining in Butte. While there, we were able to tour an old fashioned mining town. And we were also able to see an underground mining exhibit. Unfortunately, we missed out on the actual tour of the mine, but there's always next time.

One of the observations my husband made today involved the crafsmanship of many of the pieces in the mining town exhibit. We found ourselves wondering whatever happened to craftsmanship? I would like to see it return myself. Below are two of my favorite pieces, one is a door plate and the other is a door knob. The detail in the engravings is amazing.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

All Things Very Small

I decided to get back into the routine of a quick morning walk. Sadly to say, having fallen out of it, I've gained some weight I'd like to lose. Most of it on my arms. Blech! So off I went up the Sourdough Trail by our home, and it didn't take long for me to start spotting the tiny little critters that live on leaves and flowers. It was definitely a banner day for me.

The bubbles are created by spittle bugs. Some unfortunate critters have gotten stuck in the mess. The top insect looks like a small wasp. The winged creature below is most likely a moth fly. The bug to the right maybe a plant bug of some sort. Spittle bugs eat plants, not other insects, so I guess they'll be spared that fate at least.

This is most likely a plant bug. Not sure what kind.

Again, most likely a plant bug. Possibly an alfalfa plant bug.

This shot was taken in my back yard. It's a spider having breakfast!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Skywatch Friday - Freedom Day 5

Well for Freedom Day 5 I decided to visit an old Haunt of mine: Madison Buffalo Jump State Park. While there, I took a scenic shot of the mountains to the west. I'm not sure if this is the Elkhorn Mountain Range or the Tobacco Root Mountain Range. I do know it's a favorite shot of mine because of the large parcel of open land framed by the moutains from behind. Very scenic and beautiful spot.

For other beautiful skies from around the world visit Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Freedom Day 4 - Prairie Dog Town

Today I went to Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park to celebrate Freedom Day 4. This is a slice of land along I-90 near Big Timber, Montana, that has been set aside as a nature preserve for these prairie dogs. Technically, for the prairie ecosystem as a whole.

I had to use my zoom lens as there are no paths out on the town otherwise you'd be smushing their homes. They are very cute. (I think so.) And in no way have they become tame. Everywhere I went I was greeted with the high pitched warning calls.

Not wanting to disturb them too much, I only stayed for about 20 minutes. However, I was presented with many photo ops. I'm particularly fond of the last one. The presence of affection between these animals touched me.

You can read more about their behavior and social structure here: Texas Parks and Wildlife: Prairie Dogs

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Freedom Day 3 - Grotto Falls

Today I went up to Grotto Falls. I've tried several times to find it, and for some odd reason, I never have. My son went up there for camp, and he said when the trail splits just keep going right and it's only a mile. He is brilliant. I finally made it. There are supposed to be lots of waterfalls along this trail. It is 7 1/2 miles long and takes you to the peak of Hyalite Canyon. Some day, I will have the time.

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I couldn't get the map to give me an exact location on Grotto Falls so I settled for Hyalite Reservoir. Here's a link with more exact directions: Montana Waterfalls

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Freedom Day 2 - Gallatin Petrified Forest Interpretive Trail

It occurred to me yesterday after I posted about the Lewis and Clark Caverns that I had a common theme for this week's postings: Freedom Days. I have five of them because my son is in a camp this week. He only chose to do three camps this summer and during the last one I won't have the car. This leaves me limited time to get out and about. I intend to make the most of it. Without farther ado, I bring you Freedom Day 2: Gallatin Petrified Forest Interpretive Trail.

I was totally stoked when I found out that there's a petrified forest near Yellowstone. I guess that's a Duh! I even found some halfway decent directions on the internet. They got me there. The thing is, due to time constraints I was not able to finish the trail and really, I saw more petrified wood when I drove up the wrong road for six miles. So I can't say if there's a forest there. I talked to an older couple, and the gentleman was saying that he didn't see it. Sounds like they had finished hiking the trail on a previous visit. They were going to give it another go. The wife did say they saw a tree coming out of a cave and then you can see the tree roots from underneath. That does sound cool, and I intend to check it out.

In fact, when I investigated on the internet, a photo of said tree is about the only photograph I was able to find from Gallatin Petrified Forest. I do intend to return possibly later this summer and at least finish the trail. However, one tree a forest does not make, so if that's all I find, I'll be a bit disappointed.

However, I would not say it was a wasted trip. It is a very beautiful area. The scenery does not disappoint. If you are into volcanic rock and the processes that formed the mountains and geology, it's a great place to visit. Just check out the photos below.

Directions to the place are sketchy at best. Here's a link that will get you within the right area. Directions to Tom Miner Campground. Here are my observations from the trip which should help you navigate the place better. When you come to the second Y, there's a sign that says Tom Miner Creek Road and it looked to me like it went to the road on the left. It does not. Follow the road to the right. That will take you all the way out to the camp ground. You will see a sign by the turn for the campground. Next time I go, I will take better notes. It is kind of a difficult place to navigate.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Lewis and Clark Caverns, Montana

Welcome to Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. Where you don't have to wipe your feet to enter a cave. That was a fun experience my friend, Gucci Mama, had (not) out in California. Apparently in Montana, the tour guides are reasonable and knowledgeable.

And it is because our particular tour guide did such a good job, that I quite enjoyed the tour. Even the walk up to the caverns was wonderful, though it is steep, and it was hot. Not even my fear of heights spoiled the day. The path up is wide and the view so breathtaking there was no time to be afraid.

While the tour is two hours long, it is well worth it. The spectacular views don't stop once you enter the cave. And on a day like today, I was grateful to be out of the heat. The cave is 50 degrees all year long. The highlight of the tour was seeing bats fly around. Just one at a time, but each time the little critter would come within inches of us. I would see this brown blur come zipping by, so I didn't even bother to try and capture it. Sometimes you have to settle for memories and just take in the moment. For memories that I managed to capture more permanently, check out the photos below.

These are some plant fossils that are in the rocks on the way up.

View of the Jefferson River and the Tobacco Root Mountain Range

Columns in the Cathdral Room.

Chocolate Waterfall

Paradise Room

Visit Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park!