Thursday, June 20, 2024

Tippet Rise '24 season attracts international attention in Montana


Concert goers head to Domo, for a concert by world class musicians last year. This year's
season also features a brief array of sold-out concerts. There are other ways to experience
the internationally known arts, nature and music venue near Fishtail, Montana.



Expert piano tuner Michael Toia keeps the many valuable
pianos at Tippet Rise in tune each season. The collection
was assembled by Peter Halstead and is worth millions.


IF YOU are anywhere near Montana or Yellowstone Park this summer, you are within reasonable driving distance to the wonders of Tippet Rise Arts Center near Fishtail.

This unique and beautiful place offers multiple pleasures, from stunning artwork to fascinating geology tours, coveted concerts and more. All in the serene setting of cottonwood trees and birdsong.

"Inverted Portal" by Ensamble Studio, welcomes visitors
to walk around or through its vast expanses. 

despair if you didn't get concert tickets. 
(Most of us didn't.)  Drawings for tickets to the small, acoustically perfect venue were in March so the drawing is long over. Do check the website weekly to see if something becomes available, which it occasionally does.
MEANWHILE, you can still bike or hike this gorgeous area.
A youngster enjoys ice cream
at Tippet Rise opening last week.

During visits and the concert season, you can bring a picnic or purchase food from Prerogative Kitchen, 
a much loved dining enterprise and two-time semi-finalist for the James Beard Awards. Guests are welcome to bring their own provisions to enjoy out on the trails, or within the main Cottonwood Campus.
Developed as a venue for art and music in the backdrop of nature, by founders Cathy and Peter Halstead, Tippet Rise blends world class musical performances with sculpture.
The first thing you see is a stunning sculpture by famed artist Alexander Calder. His "Two Discs" sets the scene for. more delights, including Calder's "
Stainless Stealer," also on loan to Tippet Rise from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden at the Smithsonian Institution’s museum of international modern and contemporary art, in Washington, D.C.
School buses take participants around to Domo
and other pieces too far to walk comfortably to.

Go to the website for more on hiking, biking, and sculpture van tours, all designed by the heirs of a vodka fortune as unique ways to experience Tippet Rise.

Bruce Keller and Christene Meyers last week at a 
neighbors barbecue kicking off the new season.

THIS YEAR, the complex welcomes back the Yellowstone Bighorn Research Association (YBRA) for the sixth annual Geo-Paleo Tours of Tippet Rise. We took one of these specialized tours last season and enjoyed learning about geological and paleontological features scattered across the art center. Tippet Rise is uniquely located -- poised at the convergence of two vastly different regions – the Beartooth Mountains and the Great Plains. Knowledgeable guides take tour participants in vans with short hikes to various phenomena.
Tours  are three upcoming Thursdays – July 11, 18, and Aug. 1 – beginning at 9 a.m., and lasting under three hours. 

SCULPTURE Van art tours are also available and we highly recommend! 

Then the weekend of Aug. 3 – 4, Tippet Rise presents three separate events in collaboration with guests including poet Jenny Xie, photographer James Florio, and actor and professor Dr. Ben Leubner.

Stephen Talasnik's "Satellite No. 5: Pioneer" incorporates space,
and the artist's desire to show connection to land and our roots.

THE WORKSHOPS range from poetry to photography and  literature, and include films and discussions.
Xie's is Aug. 3, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The New York-based poet will lead a workshop on the ekphrastic poem—one provoked by a work of art.   Xie is at Tippet Rise for a weeklong residency. She is the author of "Eye Level," a finalist for the National Book Award and is recipient of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets.

Patrick Dougherty's "Daydreams" enraptures
visitors, with its artful curves and detail.
Also Aug. 3, Tippet Rise’s longtime collaborator and artist-in-residence, photographer James Florio will present a screening of "James Florio at Tippet Rise," followed by a Q&A with the film’s director Jeffrey Peixoto. This 17-minute documentary follows James as he moves through the radical landscape of Tippet Rise, struggling against the elements to create images of expressive power.
ON SUNDAY, Aug. 4, actor and MSU professor  Ben Leubner returns to Tippet Rise for a literature recital at 11 am. Outdoors at Xylem, Leubner will recite Elizabeth Bishop’s 1971 dramatic monologue “Crusoe in England,” followed by an excerpt from Virginia Woolf’s 1931 novel, "The Waves," moving to the Olivier Music Barn.
Cookie & Keller in front of
Stephen Talasnik's "Galaxy." 
THE RANGE of artists includes well known names new to tippet rise as well as "regulars" such as pianists Julien Brocal, Marc-André Hamelin, Anne-Marie McDermott, and Yevgeny Sudbin, violinist Jennifer Frautschi, cellists Christopher Costanza, Sterling Elliott, Arlen Hlusko, and Nina Lee, and flutist Jessica Sindell. Baroque Music Montana and mezzo-soprano Ema Nikolovska, pianists Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Kunal Lahiry, and Evren Ozel, and a host of top orchestral string, reed and horn players also make their debut.
Reservations for all are available on Tippet Rise events page. Don't despair if what you'd like is sold out. Check for cancellations and try to book something else. Cancellation tickets for the sold-out concert are posted.
FOR BOOKINGS or information:

Always with a smile, and kindness for all, John Speight
celebrated his March birthday with us more than once.

UP NEXT:  Next week, before a celebration of his life, we salute a dear friend and fellow traveler who passed away after a heroic seven-month battle with cancer. John Speight was a Yorkshire  farmer, a devoted student of travel, a genial family man, prodigious reader -- especially of travel books and literature -- and a lifelong animal lover.  He raised many dogs and horses through his years, and had a gentle touch with all creatures. He will be deeply missed by us, his widow Sue, his children and legions of friends met on their international travels. More about John and our long friendship and adventures together.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Make it a carpe diem summer: go camping, take the cruise, plan a trip

Veteran cruisers, Christene "Cookie" Meyers and Bruce Keller have made travel and cruising the
world a priority.  They offer enthusiastic endorsement to those "on the fence" about cruising.
Bruce Keller, Christene Meyers, Rick Cosgriffe and Jane Milder at Rome's Trevi Fountain.





Afternoon tea aboard Queen Mary 2 is a delightful, albeit
decadent, indulgence, here enjoyed by Bruce Keller and
 Christene "Cookie" Meyers. If you've dreamed of crossing the
Atlantic in style aboard this true ocean liner, now's the time.
We're only here a brief time, so make the most of it.

"We are always getting ready to live but never living." 
               --Ralph Waldo Emerson




Dear friends John and Sue lived life fully
and traveled the world before his death
this week, after a 7-month battle with cancer.
it with you. We just lost a dear friend in Yorkshire who lived life to the hilt. While John is deeply missed, it is a comfort to remember that he and his beloved wife, Sue, worked hard for many years before they began a few years ago to travel the world.

Sure, they had more trips in mind, but they packed a lot into their years together. (I'll write more about John and Sue nearer the celebration of his life in July.)

Here in the serene setting of our Beartooth Mountains retreat, I urge readers to "do it now."  Robins sing, a pair of young rabbits just hopped by on their way to raid our petunias and  hummingbirds are dipping into the nectar. 

We both wanted to see the penguins off the southern tip
of South America.  Dream fulfilled, a huge thrill.
Life goes on, despite accidents, tragedies, death. The sun rises and sets with or without us. Why wait if there's something you dearly want to do. Why not now?

Cookie and Keller on a drizzly but glorious
Atlantic crossing aboard Queen Mary 2.
IF YOU'VE thought of a trip, perhaps treating the family or a dear friend, do it.  If you haven't yet made the first steps, grab your phone. Start a trip NOW.
Do you dream of climbing Mt. Fuji, eyeing a Galapagos tortoise?
Have you longed to stroll the streets of Paris and have dinner with an Eifel Tower view? Time's a wasting.
I WOULD NOT trade a single trip I've taken, since my first road trips as a child with my parents and grandparents. Journeys to see great-aunties in Kansas, Oklahoma and Chicago, then more trips in my fath
The cave walk in Zion
National Park is a wonder.
er's airplanes:  a Cessna, Mooney, Bellanca. On this last long trip, Keller and I traveled more than 22,000 miles. Each day, we thanked our lucky stars that we could see the world together, enjoying peaceful Atlantic crossings, a train adventure in the Swiss Alps, concerts in Spain, a tuk-tuk ride in Portugal, and a reunion with my brother Rick, our third meeting in Europe, each one decades apart.
WE BOTH realize that life is short and each day precious. The simple act of getting on a train and hoisting a suitcase can be taxing if one is battling illness, or the exigencies of aging. If you're feeling fit now, remember the clock is ticking.
Sure, not everyone can afford travel outside the country.  But you can get a taste of foreign lands right here in the U.S.
Cookie and Keller a few weeks ago, ending
a two-month trip which covered 
Solvang, California, for instance, is a charming Swedish village. Vancouver and Victoria, B.C., are built around water and offer European and British sophistication. 
OUR NATIONAL parks are treasures, and for most of us, a park is nearby. It doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg to plan a weekend camping trip or a park drive.
For us, travel is a priority and we cut back on other areas to take the trips we so cherish.  So even if you have limited funds, it is possible to achieve travel goals.  Make a plan, draft a budget, cut back on something you won't miss. Do you really need a Starbucks every time you go grocery shopping? Do you need that new blouse or shoes?
A swim with dolphins was on the bucket list for Keller
 and Cookie, here at Hilton Waikoloa Village on Hawaii.
How about doing your own nails or having a friend cut your hair in exchange for something you bake or a musical afternoon if you're talented. Do you need the regular housekeeper, or can you clean yourself? You'll be amazed at places you could save.
TRAVEL'S BENEFITS are multiple: stress reduction, memory building, friendship forging, horizon expanding. Travel encourages flexibility, creativity and improvisation. 
If  your budget is stretched this year, and a big
trip is not possible, consider a visit to a nearby
 forest, botanical garden or national park.
 For me, travel reduces stress and anxiety, and helps me disconnect from the pressures of daily life. It  promotes happiness, makes me feel calmer and more content.
Travel helps me realize my capabilities by putting me in challenging situations where I am forced to improvise, navigate the unknown and accomplish new things. Without the stretch and its creativity,  I wouldn't have pushed myself, set new goals.
Travel teaches life skills, helps me adapt to new environments, appreciate diversity. Travel is the enemy of racism and prejudice.  It increases tolerance and acceptance of others as we realize how much we have in common as humans.
You don't have to be a millionaire to follow  your dreams....
Remember what the bard said:   "I wasted time, and now doth time waste me." 
For itineraries on your dream trip, or to book, check out our favorite cruise lines:
And for answers to your national park questions: 
Concert goers make the climb to Domo, for a concert by
world class musicians. The season is underway for
2024, with various bike, hiking and geo tours planned
along with the season of concerts by famed musicians.
Domo is inspired by Italian cathedrals, as a kind of
"open air" concert hall with splendid acoustics.
The season is beginning at Tippet Rise Art Center, an internationally acclaimed arts venue located on an 12,000 acre working ranch not far from the writer's summer home, in southcentral Montana. Various activities are offered at the sculpture and music venue , north of Yellowstone National Park. We were on the ground floor, writing the first major article about the unique and appealing center. Established in 2016, Tippet Rise presents concerts of classical music and exhibits large-scale contemporary outdoor sculptures, including an Alexander Calder piece which greets visitors.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Pampered pooches cross the Atlantic in style aboard Queen Mary 2

Queen Mary kennel master, Oliver Cruz, center, presents happy dog owners Callie and Ryan Regan and their dog Remly with a certificate honoring his successful crossing on the stately ship, known for its kennels, unique to cruising.


Owners are welcome to visit their pets, and take them to a quiet corner
on Deck 12, where both inside and outside spaces are reserved for pets.


A DOG'S LIFE is a good life aboard Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2.
With 24 cozy kennels and a full-time kennel master to look after their every need, canine and feline passengers travel as comfortably as their human counterparts.
They have treats and walks, comfy beds, toys and individual menus catered to each dog's needs.  So they dine like lords and ladies aboard this beautiful ship, the only one that accepts dogs other than service animals.
For many pet owners, it's the preferred way to cross the Atlantic. The leisurely one-week crossing allows both pet and "parents" to enjoy a slow transition to another continent, without being subjected to jet lag or, in a pet's case, the hold of an airplane.
Porters clad in the traditional Cunard uniform
gladly walk dogs or owners can do it themselves.
WE SPENT a delightful morning with QM kennel master Oliver Cruz, who had his hands full with 20 dogs and two cats on our recent westbound crossing from Southampton. He greeted us on deck 12, where a large, pristine space is dedicated to four-legged passengers and their owners. The pleasant, spotless area has both inside and outside spaces. Pet owners can visit and walk their fur babies, assist in feeding them if they like and take them into the sunshine for one-on-one time, while they read, soak up the sun or check messages. At appointed times, other passengers can come take a peek, too.
Years ago, I wrote a story on the Queen Elizabeth 2's kennels, which were seldom advertised and always booked well in advance. The space featured a miniature Hyde Park, with a faux tree and fire hydrant.  QM2 has a red hydrant as well.
Dog lover and QM2 kennel master Oliver Cruz, is hands on in daily
interaction with each canine passenger. They are carefully tended.

Queen Mary's kennels are popular. Cruz said. "Some people book a year or more in advance, and we recommend that," he added. Kennel slots fill up quickly -- even before the ship's coveted suites.
WHO TAKES his dog on a ship? Plenty of people,  Cruz said. "People moving from one country to the other like the ease and comfort of taking a beloved pet on a ship," he said. That enhances the owner's journey and assures the pet isn't traumatized by the uncertainties of air travel. Other travelers simply want to have their pet with them while traveling.
ONE CHICAGO couple, Callie and Ryan Regan, love the experience and say they wouldn't take their treasured doggie Remly across the pond any other way.
"We took him on Queen Mary a year ago when we left the states for a job in England," Ryan said. "He was so spoiled after that he wouldn't eat his regular food for a couple days."
Cookie and Keller on the top deck, after a 
visit with dog owners and the kennel master.
Now, returning to the U.S., Remly adjusted easily to the ship, they said. He enjoys his spacious kennel, comfy bed and kibble laced with pieces of steak.
Cruz added that pet owners can organize their dog's food and can even provide their own if they like.
He and his assistant accommodate special needs -- vitamins, etc. -- and monitor pets' "doggy do" to check for any signs that the pet is not well. "So owners
don't pick up after their pups," he said. "We do that."
AMONG PAMPERED four-legged passengers were a border collie, an American bull dog, a German shepherd, a Jack Russell terrier, a springer spaniel, a long-haired chihuahua and two contented cats, minority among the 19 dog breeds on board.
Pets are accepted on all Transatlantic crossings, except the first and last crossings of the year. Availability is limited, so pet owners are advised to book well in advance. The cost of transportation will be given at the time of booking, but will likely range between $800 and $1,000 USD. Pet owners must supply up to date vaccinations and records to prove their dogs and cats are healthy. Forms are provided by Cunard.
PHILIPINO BORN Cruz has been QM2's kennel master for 14 years, and is a lifelong animal lover with 10 cats, 8 dogs, turtles, fish and other members of the menagerie.
Kennel master Oliver
Cruz presents a 
"crossing certificate"
for each pet.
His children include son Christian, who is grooming to replace Cruz when he retires "way down the road."

More info or to book a cruise for you or your pet:

Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers cross the
Atlantic from Florida, on board Norwegian Cruise Line's
Getaway. The veteran cruisers enjoy this mode of travel
and will tout its benefits and advantages next week.
P NEXT:  We're singing the praises of travel for the next few weeks. Highlights of favorite trips will give tips and encourage readers to book that longed for  trip, arrange the cruise or camping trip, take that drive to the cousins you've long wanted to see. Our credo is "enjoy the summer," remembering that time is fleeting for us all.  "Carpe diem" is our byword as we explore the glories of travel, exploring the Caribbean and Mediterranean, and enjoying an Atlantic crossing on the world's most famous authentic ocean liner, Queen Mary 2.