Montana Outdoors

May 28, 2018

Memorial Day

Filed under: Writing — Tags: , , — montucky @ 10:36 am

It was cloudy and cold that day in the late fall of nineteen hundred and forty four as a small boy stood with his family on the windy concrete platform of the old Milwaukee railroad station in Missoula Montana awaiting the departure of the train bound for the west coast.

The boy of three-plus years stood at attention in his miniature green uniform, authentically made for him by his mother’s hands. On each collar of his jacket he proudly wore the Globe and Anchor of the United States Marine Corps.

A few feet away stood a tall young Marine also dressed in a crisp green uniform. On his collars were shiny gold bars: on the left side of his campaign cover was a Globe and Anchor, on the right another gold bar.

When departure time came, the young officer hugged his mother, shook his father’s hand and then shook the hand of his young brother, followed by a sharp salute, then turned and boarded the train. His destination, known to him but not to the family; the South Pacific.

It was a cold winter that year but also one filled with foreboding and anxiety as the news of the South Pacific Campaign slowly trickled back to the town. The boy knew that something very important was happening from some of the words he overheard spoken and from an occasional glimpse of his mother’s tears.

There were letters received by the family during that winter, sporadic and short, but ever so welcome. Then one afternoon, when spring was at the doorstep of western Montana a large black sedan pulled up to the curb in front of the family home. The boy could see the tears well up in his mother’s eyes but he was still too young to understand.

A Navy Commander accompanied by an aide emerged from the car and made their way up the walk to the front door. After a short introduction, the Commander made a short and emotional statement: “The Department of the Navy regrets to inform you that your son has been killed in action during the battle for Iwo Jima.”


There is much, much more to this story, but to put it briefly for now, the Department of the Navy is not always right. Several weeks later a letter came in the mail in the young officer’s shaky handwriting and postmarked from the US medical facility on Guam, where he was slowly recovering from massive wounds incurred on the morning of March twenty-sixth during the last battle on the island and on the day Iwo Jima was declared officially secure. He was more fortunate than thousands of his comrades about whom the brief messages from the Department of the Navy were correct.

(This is a re-do of a post I made in 2007, but today I felt it appropriate to post it again. I was the young boy and the young Marine officer was my older brother. The events of that time are still very fresh in my memory.)

August 15, 2017

Firewood season

Filed under: Winter, Wood cutting — Tags: , , , , — montucky @ 3:35 pm

Yesterday for the fourth time I received delivery of a full logging truck of logs to provide wood for my winter fires. For anyone who ever wondered what 30 tons of firewood looks like, here are a few pictures:

Firewood logs

Firewood logs

Firewood logs


And here are the tools used to turn the logs into firewood:

Chain saw

This saw has cut three loads like this in the past decade. I take very good care of it! It will take somewhere around 2,000 cuts to turn these logs into 16 inch blocks (called “rounds”) which will then have to be split.

7 pound splitting axe

This seven pound splitting axe has been in use since about 1975. I take good care of it too. I replaced the hickory handle several years ago and after it was carefully fitted to the axe and sanded smooth, it has received 20 hand-rubbed coats of Linseed oil. It slides like fine silk through my hands.


It will take about 6 pair of these, but that’s still cheaper than all of the bandaids and other medical supplies that would otherwise be needed.

The eventual results will be:

…..Three Montana winters enjoying a nice, warm house, independent of electricity (which is especially nice when there is a mid-winter power outage), and there will be plenty on hand if someone else needs it in the midst of a cold winter…..

…..All of my muscles will be firm, my hands hard…..

…..I will sleep very well at night…..

…..The heating cost for the whole house will be $400 a year…..

…..And most of all, the consummate satisfaction of having done the work myself!…..


The trees are Lodgepole Pine harvested during a logging operation in a cutting area about 100 miles west of my house, about 17 miles off the highway in the area of Gem Peak at an elevation of about 6,000 feet. They are all dead and dry trees, no good for turning into lumber. Eventually they would burn in a wildfire anyway and that would actually create far more more smoke and particulates than in my wood stove which uses a catalytic combuster and burns very clean.

The longer logs are 50 feet in length, weigh around 1,000 pounds (454KG) and are 18 inches (4.6 decimeters) in diameter at the base.

May 25, 2014

Rosa woodsii

Filed under: Montana, Wildflowers — Tags: , , — montucky @ 2:12 pm

Wood's rose

Wood's rose

Wood’s Rose ~ Rosa woodsii

May 16, 2014

Geranium viscosiissimum

Filed under: Montana, Wildflowers — Tags: , , — montucky @ 9:23 pm

Sticky Geranium

Sticky Geranium

Sticky Geranium ~ Geranium viscosiissimum

The Nlaka’pamux, an indigenous First Nations people of southern British Columbia considered this flower a woman’s love charm. That seems to fit.

June 5, 2013

Lewisia rediviva ~ Bitterroot

Filed under: Wildflowers — Tags: , , — montucky @ 10:17 pm

The Bitterroots are in bloom!










Bitterroot, Lewisia rediviva

The genus name, Lewisia, commemorates Meriweather Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition who first collected it in 1806 in what is now Montana. He pressed and dried one and when it was examined months later it still showed signs of life, and when planted, promptly grew. Its species name then was given as rediviva, meaning ‘restored to life’.

June 2, 2013

Revett Lake outlet

Filed under: Idaho, Montana — Tags: , , — montucky @ 1:25 pm

At the outlet of Revett Lake

The outlet from this little high country lake on the Idaho/Montana border is located at its northeast end and creates the beginning of Cascade Creek. (Photo taken June 1, 2013)

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