Saturday, February 25, 2012

Dog World in Montana

While sitting in a parking lot near a busy intersection waiting for the Mrs., I decided to count the number of pooches enjoying a ride with their owners. Between pick-up beds, front seat droolers, and back seat window lickers, I counted 11 of 15 autos with furry sidekicks in the first 30 seconds. Now some may argue that this is NOT the dog capital of the world, but I would submit it is in the running for "top dog hot spot"!

For example, coming out of the US Post Office I was greeted by two drooling hounds fighting for the open window of a Subaru while the labs in back of the pick up beside it got a drive-by licking completed on me!

And then there are the dog parks which out number people parks. One park even has a climbing boulder of sorts for those adventurous canines looking for some crag work!

Retail businesses are not immune and most have succumbed to doggy peer pressure. Retailers allowing and even encouraging 4 legged fidos include Target, Costco, Walmart, and most downtown local shops. One shop has underwater treadmills for doggy fitness!

Of course the sidewalks on main street are just shy of a Westminster Kennel Club championship event in breeds and overall numbers. Even the mutts are wearing Northface! And their dogs too!

But the clincher for the world title has to be the back-country adventure Rover's, Spot's, and Buddy's. While enjoying the views from the 9600 ft. Sacajawea Peak, we couldn't help but notice the dog to human ratio. At one point, there were more dogs than humans and they were panting significantly less than their human counterparts!

So if you wonder why people leave their car doors unlocked in parking lots, water bowls are found at a bistro or boutique, and many a fleece looks like it survived a mating attempt by a sasquatch, no worries.... you are in Bozeman and life (for dogs) is good.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

International Street Food Bazaar

We had a really great time at the 30th Annual International Street Food Bazaar. The event was held at the MSU Student Union. The venue was fun and included 30 country booths and live bands. The crowd was a broad mix of students, faculty and locals since it is open to the public.

The Petis and Samosa from Bangladesh were excellent with their mint and tamarind sauces. Deep fried potato and chicken with various spices, made for a very tasty "pocket".

Cyprus served potato meatballs and katmer pastries, while Turkey offered baklava and ground meat phyllo pie. The phyllo pie resembled a very delicate pastry with meat and spices inside and full of flavor.

The tamales wrapped in corn leaves were delicious. As they were from Panama, they had a different texture than the Mexico version and I would say a bit better. Corn, chicken, cheese, tortilla and spices in a pasty texture made for a great tasting dish.

The Korean bulgogi was the favorite. Very bold and sweet, I loved this when I first had it back in Kentucky as a friend's wife was Korean and cooked her native dishes. It was incredible!

Follow this up with a fusion band playing from Moroccan to Turkisk to Greek music and the festival was a big hit. We will be there for the 31st annual!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bridger Mountains Hike, 9 February 2012

With a light snow dusting the higher elevations, Jazzy dog and I set out to do some back-country trekking. Our destination for the day was the southern end of the Bridger Range along the western slopes.

This is a pretty mild hike with an elevation gain of around 2300 feet over a 5-6 mile stretch. The initial leg (no pun intended) is a bit of a thigh-buster, but once traversing the many spurs, the downhills are frequent enough to catch a breather. With the crazy warm weather this winter the first few miles of trail were snow free and in really great shape. We finally hit snow and ice pack at around 6800 feet and had to don the yak traks. Of course Jazzy dog just shifted into 4 wheel "low" and smiled as she did drive-by lickings on me.Since the trail climbs and skirts the ridge line, deep forests open up to great viewing spots throughout the hike. This is usually accompanied by a refreshing blast of wind. The views of the Gallatin Valley are inspiring. Looking west, Bozeman drifts into Belgrade and then beyond to Manhattan and Three Forks. The Gallatin River meanders northwest while the Madison and Jefferson Rivers flow north until linking up with the Gallatin and forming the Missouri River. The Tobacco Root Mountains provide the backdrop for the sunset while the Madison Range flanks the South.

At around 8000 feet we began post-holing through heavy snow and decided to turn back. Avalanche threat at this point was generally low, but the next mile had much more snowfall at higher elevations and steeper grades above the trail. Jazzy was hopping like a rabbit to clear the drifts and she agreed it was time to turn back.

It was 35 degrees and crisp providing excellent conditions for a fast hike. We look forward to adding another 10 miles to this hike and then the entire ridge traverse in the future. The East side holds some great views and challenging scrambles, but will have to wait until late spring when the avalanche threat subsides.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Beautiful Winter Snowfall

We are finally getting a snow "refresher" this morning and it is beautiful. We have struggled to maintain any on the ground for longer than a few days here in the valley. The foothills even melted off after each snowfall.

Since the area is so accustomed to winter activities, the topic of "lack of snow" is flowered with grumbles and censored language. The majority of ski resorts were at less than 50% open up until a week ago and any snow shoeing or xc skiing in the valley or foothills is sporadic at best.
These conditions have really increased the avalanche hazards and have made it very difficult for snowmobiling and back-country skiing. We have been turned around from some great hikes even though the foothills were in great condition. The higher elevation slopes are extremely volatile so it is very hard to justify the risk. The above pic is courtesy of

When you add up these factors you can see how many outdoor activities have been curbed and much gear is resting quietly in garages and sheds throughout the area. 40's in January and February seems nice, but it is unwelcome say the locals!

Might as well head out for a run. In February!