Friday, October 31, 2014

Montana ghost town evokes thoughts of long ago mining past

Falling into disrepair, there is still
beauty in the abandoned Castle buildings.
Buildings were beautifully built, apparently intended to be home for many years, in Castle, Montana.
A visit to Castle, Montana, opens doors
to Montana's colorful past.



Castle is no ordinary ghost town.  It was built to last.
MY BROTHER, Rick, likes to take the road less traveled.
His last trek took us to the abandoned town of Castle in north-central Montana.
Once, years ago, dozens of families lived in this quiet valley not far from White Sulphur Springs.
Now, only ghosts inhabit the hills, dales and empty homes of Castle, Montana.
Cookie pauses with Nora, on the trail to find Castle, in very rural Montana.
My intrepid brother took us on a detour on our way back from Glacier Park and we tromped around the now deserted town, located on private farm land. A couple of trucks slowed down on the dirt and gravel road to eye us.  But they passed on by with a friendly wave, after seeing we were only taking photos.  We hoped we were not being arrested for trespassing!
Signs lead travelers here, even though it is on private property. Here's a bit of history about this beautiful area:
CASTLE BECAME a map dot in 1884, when the North Carolina Mine opened, according to a U.S. Forest Service interpretive sign.
Calamity Jane,
it is said, lived
briefly in Castle.
Miners were drawn by the lure of silver ore and by 1891, Castle hosted 991 mining claims and was an incorporated town with several thousand inhabitants. Its most colorful inhabitant was Calamity Jane, who lived there briefly when she entertained the idea of opening a restaurant and becoming a lady! That endeavor didn't pan out.
Today, ghost town lovers may drive down the road to the deserted town, being careful to respect that it is indeed now private land.
IT'S TOUCHING to wander about, examining the vestiges of a time when families moved in, building multi-story homes with tall bay windows, adding decorative shingles and other embellishments.  Some of the homes sport crumbling but once spacious porches on the town's grassy hill, nestled along a cool stream, snuggling up against the timber line.
This beautiful archway could have been a private garden, or sanctuary.
 Businesses popped up along Main Street - now a Meagher County road - including Baker's General Store and Post Office, Kidd's Furniture Store, Minnie's Sporting House and Berg's Meat Market.  There's an interesting archway just inside the town.  One wonders if that were someone's special garden, or a place to meditate and sing Sunday hymns surrounded by gorgeous fir trees. I can picture an organ inside and glorious acoustics for chorale music!

Will this building be here much longer?

ABOUT A dozen buildings remain in Castle, their ghostly appearances contrasted by  beautiful wildflowers. Wildlife scamper around the ruins, and we saw deer, elk and squirrels. I even spied a prairie dog suning lazily on a disintegrating rooftop.
Although the buildings appear ready to fall if someone sneezes in their direction, the quality of the construction indicates people planned on staying here long-term.
Rome's Colosseum is like no other place on Earth -- vast, artful, full of history.
Alas, when the boom fizzled, this Castle -- once a golden coach -- became a pumpkin again!

COMING UP:  Ah, Rome.  City of romance, handsome men and women, terrific food, cheap wine and history, history, history at every turn. If you have only a couple of days, consider hiring a private guide.  We've done it the last few trips and we recommend it.  Remember to explore, learn and live and check us out Wednesdays and weekends for a fresh look at travel, the arts and life.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Gaudy, glorious 'Gaudi' Barcelona makes you want to sing Sondheim

Barcelona's La Sagrada Familia is the city's most spectacular
 architectural feat, Gaudi's masterpiece still under construction.
All eyes are on the Cathedral, as a tour guide describes its showy
including pineapples and saints. It is a must-see in
Barcelona, enjoyed by Cookie and her group of explorers.

LIVELY CATALAN CAPITAL HAS IT ALL:  Food, fun walking, friendly folk, history, fab hotels, fine food, delightful drink

"Where you going?' Barcelona. Oh, don't get up.
 Do you have to?  Yes I have to. 
Oh.  Don't get up."

THOSE ARE LYRICS from a Stephen Sondheim song, sung by soon-to-part lovers, Bobby and April, who have spent a lovely night together.  She's a flight attendant, off to Barcelona. He doesn't want her to leave.
And that's how you'll feel when your time in Barcelona is drawing to a close.
But before this good thing comes to an end, enjoy this gaudy, "Gaudi great," gregarious city to its fullest.
Barcelona, that glorious vibrant Catalan capital, is the jewel in Spain's "fun city" crown.  Sure Madrid is exciting, too, and stately with its wide promenades and friendly people. 
The Barcelona skyline unfolds from Park Guell,
and Gaudi's house, Casa Batllo, also in Barcelona,
is a fairyland of mosaic, color, gingerbread,

whimsical enticement and fun. 
A beautiful, small box with inlay,
 is for sale for a bargain 20 Euros.
But Barcelona, that glorious vibrant Catalan capital, is the jewel in Spain's "fun city" crown.  Sure Madrid is exciting, too, and stately with its wide promenades and friendly but more reserved citizens whose dress is also more formal.
Wine and water, two staples,  
of a meal in Barcelona.

 Then,  ah, 
A seafood and asparagus crepe
awaits a taste in a tapas bar.
Barcelona, that glorious vibrant Catalan capital, is the jewel in Spain's "fun city" crown.  Sure Madrid is exciting, too, and stately with its wide promenades and friendly
Travelers enjoy an opportunity to shop in a local
market, here one near their hotel in Barcelona.
Artwork abounds in a variety of
Barcelona's many museums.
BUT LOVELY Barcelona has everything -- art, architecture, abundant walking options, history, fabulous hotels and, museums aplenty, including one devoted to Pablo Picasso, who lived and painted in this zesty Catalan capital for many years..
Las Ramblas goes from the old part
of town to the Mediterranean.
You'll want to visit his home, now a popular museum, where you can wander around his  patios and personal space, enjoying his sense of playfulness and artistic eye for the weird.  After you visit Casa Mila, head for other Gaudi delights including Sagrada Familia Cathedral and don't miss Casa Batllo and Palau Guell, each distinctive and reflective of Gaudi's evolution before his untimely death by streetcar in his beloved native city.
THE MEDIEVAL heart of the Old City, the Barri Gòtic is an intriguing spider’s web of alleyways and secluded squares.  It is a fine way to get the feel of the city, and you'll want to wander Las Ramblas, the main thoroughfare, for its mimes, shops, eateries and occasional pick-pockets. Hold your purse close or leave it in the hotel, and guys, put your wallets in your front pocket. Barcelona also sports grand architecture, including the Plaça Sant Jaume flanked by the Renaissance palace of the Generalitat (head of Catalan government) and the gorgeous neo-classical façade of the Ajuntament, Spanish city hall.

Castle, Montana, was once a booming mining town and residents
didn't build with the thought of leaving.  Today, it's falling to ruin.
COMING UP:  Ever been to a ghost town? With the spooks and goblins out for Halloween, here comes a look at Castle, Montana, an abandoned, once stately village built for a mining boom that never happened. And we've found a fabulous musician, entertaining weekends in an Encinitas cafe. Remember to explore, learn and live, and visit us Wednesdays and weekends for a fresh look at travel, the arts and life's adventures, at:

Friday, October 24, 2014

Freud meets C.S. Lewis and theater is never better


(and courtesy North Coast Rep)

With pleasant opening night weather, playgoers mulled
about by the box office of North Coast Repertory
Theatre, awaiting a brilliant "Freud's Last Session." 
WHAT AN ENGAGING 75 minutes!
If you love theater, you'll revel in "Freud's Last Session" at North Coast Repertory Theatre.
It's a thinking person's play, challenging the play goer to ponder, delve and consider his own belief system.  As all good art should do, this play encourages a return viewing, a second chance to enjoy the language and top acting.
It's always a pleasure to head north to Solana Beach and North Coast Rep's first-rate fare.
The intimate venue is perfect for viewing a play such as this, replete with complex language featuring actors in complete command of their craft and its potential to move.
Watching the actors at close range is a plus at North Coast Rep. In its 33-year existence, the theater has forged a reputation for diverse offerings, fine acting, top directing and beautiful sets.  With the venue seating less than 200 people, there are no bad seats, and the small house encourages total attention on the stage.
AN ABLE volunteer group sees that guests are promptly seated and the Rep is also known for starting its productions on time.
Sigmund Freud, left (actor Michael Santo) and C.S. Lewis (Bruce Turk) have a spirited debate in Freud's study.
Above, theater goers of all ages mix and enjoy wine and artwork before the production.
The Rep's David Ellenstein ably
directs the current production.
Before the production, there's time for a glass of wine and Keller's favorite melt-in-your mouth chocolate chip cookie, served by the volunteers in a small and inviting lobby.
Artwork is regularly changed on the walls, featuring regionally known painters. It's a pleasant place to relax and mingle.
In Sigmund Freud's study, C.S. Lewis, played by Bruce Turk, and Michael
 Santo as Freud, deliver a pair of beautiful performances.

OUR OPENING night viewing of "Freud's Last Session" featured a full house to savor masterful acting by Michael Santo as the opinionated Sigmund Freud and Bruce Turk as the amiable writer C.S. Lewis.  The older Freud is dying but feisty; Lewis is hitting his artistic stride.  Although on opposite sides of the "God" debate, the two intellectuals find common ground in their humanity, intelligence and secret sufferings. Subtle direction by David Ellenstein, the Rep's gifted artistic director, and the comfortable connection forged by the two actors in shaping their characters make an exhilarating  theatrical experience.
Playwright Mark St. Germain's writing is crisp, smart and often funny, with historical references slipped in -- the time is early World War II and the Nazi reign of terror has begun.
WHAT MAKES the production particularly pleasing and memorable are the questions posed by the debate between a believer and an atheist. The show is up through Nov. 9. Don't miss it! Go to or call 858 481-2155 to book tickets. Treat a smart friend to an early holiday gift!

Gaudi's Cathedral in downtown Barcelona
has been under construction for decades.

COMING SOON: When Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyric, "Where You Going?"  the answer was "Barcelona" and we're going there, too.  Come along to this gaudy, "Gaudi" infused Catalan capital. Then our globe trotters visit an old Montana ghost town, abandoned when a mining boom didn't materialize. Remember to explore, learn and live, and visit us Wednesdays and weekends at:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dance with the bears for your Glacier Park get-away


Arriving at the end of a snow storm, our travelers found Dancing Bears Inn a welcoming respite -- with tasty treats! 
East Glacier's Dancing Bears Inn is a lovely base for Keller's
exploration of nearby wonders in Glacier National Park

If you go down to the woods today
You're sure of a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today
You'd better go in disguise!
For every bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the Teddy Bears 

have their picnic.


All roads point to Dancing Bears Inn.
TODAY'S THE DAY the teddy bears have their picnic! Remember the old song we sang as children? Written in a menacing minor key, it sounds a bit like Charles Gounod's "Alfred Hitchcock" theme.
But there are no minor keys at Dancing Bears Inn in East Glacier, where every day is a picnic! It's all sunny side up!
An all-day buffet of organic treats invites hotel guests to snack between hikes, enjoy a hot or cold beverage -- including beer one of the evenings we visited -- and plan the day's activities thanks to knowledgeable hotel managers.
Kim Stevens and her co-manager C.J. are proprietors of this delightful find! They love what they do and it shows.
We joined the two of them, and their hotel bears (photos, drawings and even a bear shower curtain)  -- along with a gorgeous grizzly bear who prowled nearby -- for a two-day picnic of our own.
Our headquarters, the Dancing Bears Inn in East Glacier, is a convenient Glacier base in the Two Medicine Valley of this northern Montana park.
Kim Stevens, at the computer, and Cookie, plan the day's activities.
Tasty organic snacks are available for guests all day long at the inn.
THE MOTEL is small and welcoming, with only 15 rooms. And, a must for us, several of the rooms are pet friendly.
The two managers are hands on, greeting guests at check-in, and making certain they feel welcome. They even put a make-shift walkway down to help us navigate melting snow.
And Stevens escorted us to our rooms to make certain the heat was on and we had all we needed to be comfortable.
The rooms are quiet and nicely decorated. Nothing fancy, but clean, inviting digs (bear motif of course) and spacious.
It's not unusual to have a continental breakfast included in the room price, but that's usually rudimentary: toast, cereal, juice, maybe an orange or banana.
Just a hop, skip and stroll from Dancing Bears, Serrano's Mexican Restaurant
in East Glacier serves tasty Southwest and Mexican fare and is always packed.
Dancing Bear's all day "breakfast" is a real exception, and truly the star in the crown of a Dancing Bears stay.
THE BEAR'S BREAKFAST is more like a European morning buffet than an American motel offering.  Bagels, granola, yogurt, juices, and a treats such as breakfast burritos and English muffin sandwiches -- the Bear's own version of MacDonald's classic. Their "Bear MacMuffin" and more make for real value.
"We like to have goodies for people all day, when they come back from a day of hiking or a long drive," Stevens said. "It's a nice touch because the owner really cares that people have a memorable, enjoyable time and get what they want for snacks."
That, of course, is smart marketing and encourages return business.
WE ALSO found  a couple fun dinner eateries, suggestions of the inn managers.  Our favorite was Serrano's, a lively Mexican place with terrific, zesty Southwest cuisine. Specialties include a tasty
The picturesque Two Medicine area is just minutes from Dancing Bears Inn.
red snapper and a flavorful strip steak. Appetizers, margaritas and a delicious flan-like dessert were happily and efficiently served.
 EXPLORING Glacier again, we learned that Lewis and Clark were very near where we were based, on the east side of the Rockies.  They were so close to Marias Pass they could have reached it in an hour or so.  But they couldn't see it for the clouds.  Surely, had they found it, their journey over the mountains would have been easier!
We made no attempt to see all of Glacier, a park we grew up with as native Montanans. Our advice to Glacier travelers with only a couple days is to base at one of the hubs -- West Glacier, St. Mary, Many Glacier, or farther north, across the Canadian border, in Waterton Park.
CONCENTRATING on a smaller area -- no farther than 75 to 100 miles from your hotel -- gives time to really take in your area.  Besides the grizzly, we noticed beautifully changing autumn colors, beargrass, flowers and snow on the same mountains which sheltered native people for millennia.

Bruce Turk and Michael Santo square off in "Freud's Last 
Session," an ambitious play in its San Diego debut to Nov. 9.
COMING SOON: Two kinds of drama -- the traditional meaning -- inside a theater -- and drama in the wilds of nature. We can barely wait to share our grizzly sighting.  We watched with other charmed tourists, for more than 90 minutes as a grizzly ate, drank and made merry before our eyes, about 40 yards away! But before bears, we're excited about a San Diego premier, "Freud's Last Session," at North Coast Rep. Imagine a meeting between these two: an avowed atheist -- Sigmund Freud -- and a onetime atheist, now a believer -- writer C. S. Lewis. Their conversation about life, religion and the fates is thrilling, and the two actors playing the great thinkers are terrific. We try for a fresh take on art, travel, theater, music and life. Wednesdays and weekends at: 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Far away Fairfield offers fun, frolic, feasting and a fine inn

The Fairfield Park Inn, Fairfield, Montana, offers pet-friendly digs near the lovely bird watching area of Freezeout Lake.


Nick and Nora make themselves comfy at Fairfield Park Inn.

WE WERE on the trail of a reasonably priced get-away that would bring us close to Glacier National Park without taxing ourselves from Billings.
My brother wanted to visit Freeze Out Lake -- I'd never heard of it.
He enticed me with a little Blackfoot: "Sai yai ksi q tsi tau toh pi" or basically, "come see the geese."
We weren't at the right season to spot the huge flocks that fly through in March -- upwards of 100,000. But we saw beautiful bird life, including many pelicans and blue heron.
Huge grain silos are an imposing
sight on Fairfield's main street.
I found a delightful place in the Fairfield Park Inn, and what a grand time we had on my first Fairfield foray.  We needed a dog-friendly place for Yorkies Nick and Nora, and had the bonus of a savvy guide who knows and loves Fairfield. We were greeted at the inn by a boisterous Jack Russell terrier (is there any other kind of Jack Russell terrier?)  He wanted to play with Nick and Nora, and barked his greeting each time we left or returned.
Our guys barked back -- and all was well.
THEN ON TO exploring Fairfield, Montana, called the "malting
We observed this blue heron for a good half hour at Freezeout Lake. 
barley capital of the world."  Budweiser built huge grain silos which cast an imposing shadow on the tidy main street.
We were excited to be out of the car after nearly seven hours in the car, and the innkeepers John and Laurie welcomed us with a suite upstairs in the nicely restored old train depot that is now this charming bed and breakfast.
 A beautiful memorial in Fairfield honors vets.
The couple's affection for red, white and blue is carried out in the curtains, wall hangings, bed linens and mementos.
John's storytelling prowess compliments Laurie's decorating skills.  He has spent decades in this rural farm community, situated on the picturesque eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountain Front between Choteau and Great Falls.  He knows Teton County and Freezeout Lake and told fine stories, including one of tundra swans who gather with the snow geese -- and can be aggressive if onlookers come close.
John gives travel tips to inn guest, Rick Cosgriffe.
DJ's Pizza was a happy restaurant find with excellent food.

He steered us to a wonderful restaurant, DJ's Pizza (which served fabulous steaks and burgers, too), and he explained that Fairfield is smack in the middle of the "Golden Triangle" because of the beautiful sheen of the grain.
Not only is Fairfield proud of its malting enterprise, but its farming reputation is time honored. Fairfield farms date back to 1862 when homesteading first opened, and became more abundant in 1909 when Congress enticed settlers with 320 acres of free land.  The Bureau of
The "Antique Room" is filled with
treasures from the family.
Reclamation's Sun River Canyon and water for irrigation attracted more settlers with the welcome delivery of water.  Gibson was the main storage dam, constructed in the Depression days of 1926-29. Today's Fairfield receives water for 83,000 acres surrounding the community.
Besides beautiful bird life -- close-up pelican and blue heron sightings --  we played a bit in the casinos.  There are three, and we contributed to Fairfield's economy.
Bear and bird spotters come to Fairfield and nearby Glacier to photograph
wildlife.  Visitors are from all over the U.S., and many foreign countries.  
BESIDES the bounty of birders who sell out the Fairfield Park Inn in March, Feezeout Lake attracts winter ice boaters, summer boaters and fall hunters. Soon, visitors to nearby Sun River Canyon will be watching bighorn sheep battle for leadership of one of the largest herds in the country.  For six or seven months of the year, Fairfield shows off its nine hole golf course with dramatic vistas of the Rocky Mountain Front. The inn is as much a draw as the scenery. Together, they're a pair to draw to! You'll enjoy large comfy rooms on two floors of a one-time train depot. We booked a two-bedroom suite, filled with family heirlooms, indulging in furnished breakfast before a short trip to Glacier!
Actors Bruce Turk and Michael Santo are perfectly cast
and artfully directed in "Freud's Last Session," about a
meeting between Freud (Santo) and writer C.S. Lewis (Turk).

COMING SOON:  Dancing Bears Inn in East Glacier is a wonderful base for exploring Glacier and photographing bears in the wild. And at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach, Calif., a brilliant play makes its San Diego debut. The storyline features Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis engaging in a lively and emotional intellectual debate during the famed psychiatrist's final days. Bravos and a critique coming for "Freud's Last Session," up through Nov. 9.  For a fresh look at travel and the arts, visit us Wednesdays and weekends at:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Helena bed and breakfast offers history, pride, piano, family ties, fun and location

The Barrister Bed and Breakfast in Helena offers a warm, history filled stay in a stately mansion near the cathedral.


Beverages are available in the dining room, which sports a portrait of young
Queen Elizabeth II. The Barrister takes its name from its owner's law career.


Special touches and an artful eye
mark each Barrister guest room.

THE BARRISTER B&B is the kind of place you'd send your best hip friend or your beloved and proper dowager aunt.  Both would have a delightful stay.
The Barrister is the B&B world's equivalent of "black tie and blue jeans." Both are appropriate.
You may arrive in formal attire or casual wear, dressed for a wedding or a hike. Either way, you'll feel instantly at home.
The Captain's Quarters sports a nautical motif.
The 1874 mansion, across from the imposing St. Helena Cathedral, was once the home of the Catholic priest. Owner and proprietor Nick Jacques, Helena native and fifth generation Montanan, remembers being called from the cathedral to the priest's digs across the street. There in the now B&B, young Jacques was chastised for a minor infraction occurred during his altar boy duties.
FAST FORWARD a few decades: Jacques now holds court before an international clientele of visitors to the Barrister B&B, where years ago he was reprimanded.
Native San Diegan and lifelong sailor Keller
enjoyed staying in the Captain's digs.
A retired criminal defense attorney, Nick received his law credentials at University of Montana then returned to Helena to form his successful but taxing practice.  An auto accident changed the course of his career.  He was hit as he towed his boat from a nearby landing, inspiring the classic "wake-up call." He fully recovered from his injuries  but retired to follow his dream of operating a B&B.  That was nearly 20 years ago.
Charmed by a B&B he visited on his favorite holiday island, Maui, Jacques said "I just had a deep feeling that I could do this and would be fairly good at it."
THE WORD "fairly" is  an understatement.
From the moment one arrives at the Barrister -- named, of course, because "barrister" is Brit speak for attorney -- one feels relaxed, pampered and completely comfortable.
Helena's Cathedral of St. Helena
is across the street from the B&B.
Tours of the cathedral or state capital
make a pleasant diversion.
Nick's sister, Liane Jacques, is the B&B's innkeeper.  She left Helena to receive her degree at Notre Dame and wears multiple hats as interior decorator, reservations and events manager, copy writer and designer, director of housekeeping, chef and "elf," flitting quietly from room to room and event to event, organizing and accenting everything with her artful touches.
Cocktails are served nightly on the Barrister's relaxing porch.
"I couldn't do this at this level without Liane," says her proud brother, whose travel passion takes him from the operation from time to time.  Despite retiring his "barrister" shingle and leaving the law profession, Nick still serves.  But rather than defending the downtrodden and hapless, he's entertaining appreciative travelers.

Cookie was invited to play the parlor's beautiful grand piano.
"Now, I have nothing but happy endings," Nick said, sharing his considerable knowledge of Helena with guests at the Barrister's antique dining table. "I connect with people each day."
THE BARRISTER'S guest books -- one in each of the handsome rooms -- contain enthusiastic thank-yous from contented visitors, including newlyweds, bird watchers, outdoor lovers and politicians. Kudos and compliments come to the Barrister from many U.S. states and far corners of the world.  "Such an elegant place," "A most relaxing and hospitable time," "Gracious hospitality at every turn," "Beautiful environment" and "Fabulous breakfast" are praises sung by visitors.
Each room is decorated by the brother and sister, who collaborated to honor a family member in photos and decor in each suite.
The place is a treasure trove of history lovingly preserved and elegantly shared.
An antique bar attracts conversation in the kitchen, framed by paintings.
One room, The Morning Room, was part of the priest's suite during the years the place was owned by the Diocese.  It is now a cheerful and intimate welcome to Helena and the Victorian mansion.  Six fireplaces adorn the rooms and high ceilings and carved staircases enhance the allure.  Stained glass windows are also part of the charm, as is a grand piano which has been played by many of Helena's visiting VIP musicians.  I had the pleasure of playing for our small group -- visitors from several states -- in town for a wedding reception hosted at the Barrister. (Special catered events are a Barrister specialty!)
An antique banister found in the attic
now graces the Barrister's stairs. 
GUESTS ENJOY the home as if it were their own, making themselves comfortable in the parlor, formal dining room, den, library or an enclosed sun porch, where we enjoyed take-out Italian food one night.  We'd been treated to an olive tapenade and wine before dinner, with Liane joining us for cocktails and stories.  And because we visited on a Saturday, we had the pleasure of hearing the bells of St. Helena Cathedral ring out Sunday morning while we enjoyed a beautifully served breakfast-brunch of quiche, bacon, fresh fruit salad and homemade breads.
  The Barrister's pretty rooms boast family heirlooms  -- beds, lamps, divans, chairs, a claw's foot bath, and ornate tables -- making them a big draw for both antique aficionados and history buffs.  Our "Captain's Quarters" was decked out in nautical lore, and the honeymooning couple across the hall from us had a boutique-inspired room with floral designs
Helena's pretty parks, squares and historic buildings await near the Barrister.
and baroque appointments.
Liane's sharp eye is courtesy of her career as an interior designer with years of high-end projects in southern California, Oregon and elsewhere. When her brother suggested a partnership, she returned to Helena four years ago to become an integral component of the enterprise.
PROXIMITY to Helena's sights is a big plus for the historic building, and Helena's lively cultural scene is worth a few days' visit.  There's the Myrna Loy Arts Center, named after the famed actress born in Helena; the Archie Bray Foundation, known for stimulating ceramics; the Holter Museum of Art, with world class exhibits; and day trips to mining towns, rodeo towns, mineral baths,. trout fishing havens and beautiful drives -- just for sight-seeing.
Canyon Ferry Lake is known nationally for its water sports, boating services and campgrounds.
WE STOPPED at Gates of the Mountains along the Missouri, and hope to return when the boat tour season is back.
Freezeout Lake and birding beckon on a lovely fall day, next at whereiscookie.
This time of year, as the snowbirds leave the northern Rockies, the Barrister hosts many Canadian visitors.  Helena is a perfect day's drive from Calgary. We hope to encore our perfect stay, to enjoy another musical session with our music buff hosts!
406 443-7330 for reservations.

COMING UP:  We'd never been to Fairfield, Montana, but we'll be back.  Beautiful scenery, nice people, a couple fun restaurants, a little gambling and Freezeout Lake, for a bounty of birds to watch. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Wednesdays and weekends at