My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Visit to the Canadian Museum of History

My friend, Winnie, advised me to be sure and go to the Canadian Museum of Culture, now known as the Museum of History.  I finally got around to going there last Thursday. I was blown away, especially by the architecture of the building itself.

Front of the Canadian Museum of History 
The museum was designed by Douglas Cardinal, a famous Aboriginal architect, who attended the University of British Columbia, and the University of Texas at Austin. So Texas can claim some part of this glorious building.  Douglas Cardinal  believes in organic forms with sensuous curves. There are no corners in his buildings.

I loved these curves

This is the curator part of the museum and is not open to the general public

The inside continued the curves

I loved finding places where all these colors and patterns came together - and look - a corner!

The windows enhanced the views

This is the ceiling over the stairs in the great hall - Called Morning Star - check out the description  of the meaning the aboriginal artist depicted here

A few of the totems in the great hall

This large sculpture was on the third level but visible from the floor of the great hall

Fantastical Paddlers  

And from the back and above

The main exhibit is on the history of Canada's development my European settlers.  You walk through a series of rooms or spaces that let you see the fishing and whaling industry, farming life, life in the little towns, and the railroads.  Oil and timber industries are also demonstrated.

Two of the most interesting exhibits  to me were one about how the Acadians built one-way drains to claim marsh lands for farming.  There was just a little about how they were driven out of Canada.

The other exhibit was a one-room school house that came from a community formed by run-away black slaves.

There was also an entire hall devoted to First Nation people.  One of the most interesting parts to me were all the famous Canadians who were members of First Nation.

Then there were the little exhibits.  One was about the wreck of the Empress of Ireland, a Canadian version of the Titanic.

Then there was a whole exhibit on Snow which has helped shaped the lives of Canadians. I was particularly interested in the skies/shoes/toboggans display and the display historic vehicles in which to navigate  over snow.

This display drew me into the exhibit

There were several vehicles on display - Canadians developed the precursor to snowmobiles

If you are interested in seeing more of the buildings designed by Douglas Cardinal, click here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

From Bagpipes to Bioluminence

My Walk from Rideau Hall to Rideau Center was partly along this route 

I had a long and very varied day here in Ottawa, Canada, last Tuesday.  My daughter lives very close to Rideau Hall,  the official residence and work place of the Governor General. This is also one of the National Historic Sites.

I started walking to Rideau Hall early in the morning, in hopes of enjoying the park-like area. Not long after I arrived, I heard the sound of bagpipes. I love them and started walking towards their sound to discover the reason for them and to get to enjoy them close up. Then, through the trees, I saw a group of redcoats.

 I found they were the changing of the guard. There is a guard post at the
 entrance to the property and also in front of the actual building.

The military group delivered two guards to the front gate and then walked back to the front of the hall to deliver two more there. The guard change happens every hour between 9:00 A. M. and closing. But only during the summer. The very next time I passed by here, on a tour bus, I found the sentry stations empty.  The guardsmen live in a college barracks and have to move out the third week of August.

I wandered the grounds and found that many of the trees had been ceremonially planted by heads of state. I also enjoyed the rose garden and pool, although most of the roses weren't blooming.

I passed on taking the tour of the residence and started walking towards the center of Ottawa, along the Ottawa River, the first leg of my trip to my next destination, the Museum of Nature. One of the most interesting things I found was two sets of falls, separated by an island, where the Rideau River meets the Ottawa River.

The larger of two falls separating the Rideau River from the Ottawa River - the 2nd is in the smooth place behind the green, an island in the middle of the falls. 

The second set of Rideau falls - the island divides them 

War Memorial between the two falls

Giant rose hips and spiders, Virginia creeper, and other familiar flowers - who knew?

I walked down to the Rideau Center, where I caught a bus that would take me to the museum.  When I got there, I found two very interesting exhibits.  One was a look back at the passenger pigeon, which went extinct 100 years ago.  Scientists think they can resurrect the species.  However the pigeons have to live in large flocks to breed will eat everything at a site, before moving on.  And they were birds of mature forests. So we probably can't get enough individuals to get them to breed, and there is probably not enough habitat left in the world to support them.

Then I went into the enchanting bioluminescence exhibition. Different exhibits showed land and water organisms that have bioluminescence. I even found out all about glowworms.  The ways organisms use bioluminescence was also demonstrated.  They use it to communicate, to attract mates, to attract prey, to advertise they are toxic, and to hide against the sky from predators swimming underneath them. Some animals get their light from bacteria - one was called the flashlight fish.  Bacteria live in pockets near their eyes and provide light.  They can "blink" the light on an off, an hide it completely, which helps them escape from predators.

Bioluminescent Corrals

There were models of glowworms, lightening bugs, and movies, one showing a  swimming dolphin,  lit by diatoms, and another that told ways marine animals use bioluminescence, as well as lots of other exhibits, some of which were interactive. 

Bioluminescent Jellyfish

I enjoyed seeing the finalists and winners of the Canadian Wildlife of the year. The  visit to the bird exhibition was amazing and could have kept me entertained for several hours. It filled the whole wing of one floor.  The dioramas in the mammal wing were magnificent.

The view of the neighborhood from the 4th floor of the glassed-in stairwell was also awesome

Moose Diorama in the Mammal Wing
Caribou Diorama 

By late in the afternoon, my feet were giving out, so I started back to find the bus stop.  A shop selling gelato, sucked me into it and made me buy a scoop of hazelnut chocolate flavor, then allowed me the chance to sit and enjoy it.

This time, I caught the bus to the Rideau Center and then changed buses  for the leg back to Karen's neighborhood, and only walked the last three blocks to the house. It was a good day.

All the pictures I took in Ottawa that are worth printing are in Flicker with titles and captions. I'll add more at I get them. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

First Impressions of Ottawa, Canada

Last year, my best Christmas present was a plane ticket to Ottawa, Canada from my oldest daughter.  She and my son-in -law moved to Canada a few years ago and are now permanent residents.  I hadn't seen them since the move.  Then my youngest daughter gave me my passport for my birthday.

When I negotiated my summer work, I got permission to move my stuff to National Bison Range before flying from Missoula to Ottawa for a two-week visit.  Jason, a wonderful intern, offered to shuttle me to and from Missoula so I didn't even have to pay for parking.

I had the best time in the airport and on the flight that I've ever had.  Justin, the intern, and I ate breakfast together at the airport before he left.  Then I asked a guy using his computer if he would mind letting me plug into the socket by him. We started up a conversation and found we were both from Houston. He is a chiropractor there.

Both seats were empty when I reached my seat. But just before the plane left, a young man, dressed in the same kind of pants I had on, and carrying hiking boots took the other seat.  We both worked to get his stuff stowed and then I asked him if he had been hiking.  He replied that he had been on a college credit course that involved hiking, learning about conservation and doing environmental activities while in Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Yellowstone and other nearby areas. I replied that I had just completed a volunteer stint at Red Rock Lakes and remembered seeing his group.

After that, we were best buds and talked animatedly and incessantly the entire trip, so much so, that the hostess came back to find out how such strangers were having so much fun together.   He  recommended some books and movies that were relevant to conservation in that area.

I can definitely recommend one of those books, The Big Wild . I am almost through reading it on my Kindle Fire. It is about the idea of hooking up all the public lands, from the Yellowstone to the Yukon, with corridors so animals can move freely among them, and thus maintain places for them to go when disaster strikes on one area, and to keep biological diversity high.  This is one antidote to extinction, which has already happened in some of the smaller, isolated national lands.  This idea was the start of Y2Y by the author and other like-minded visionary people.

My first impression of Ottawa was of extreme cleanliness.  The airport was pristine everywhere I looked. And so far, the city is also very clean. Then there is their respect of history with lots of old buildings among the still dynamic building of new ones. And the population is diverse and seems to have lots of people involved in walking, water sports, and biking.

Karen gave me a bus pass and a map and I'm starting to explore.  She took me on a long walk - even all the way over to Quebec, across the Ottawa River, the second evening I was here. Now I'm figuring out other places to visit each day.

Here are a few pictures from our first walk.  We took the bus downtown, but I've since walked there.  It is so lovely to get to use our feet or public transportation.


This  "face" on the Parliament building cracked me up

Ottawa View

Ottawa River where Rideau Canal Comes Out

Looking back at locks on the Rideau  Canal from bridge over Ottawa River

Maman (sculpture), giant spider by Louise Bourgeois

The pedestrian/bike boardwalk on bridge across Ottawa River

View  of parliament hill from bridge over Ottawa River

Recreation on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River

Downtown View-The glass top is in the shape of tulips 

Statue of  Samuel de Champlain - This was past the museum with all the
glass in previous picture - seen from bridge

View looking east on Rideau Canal

Murel on stairs

Looking across Ottawa River to Quebec side

My ribs are finally showing signs of recovery. I've had two more disasters while here: my computer broke down and one of my readers froze. But I'm now the proud owner of and Apple - and am struggling to learn its filing system and how to use a new picture editing program.  But it is so blazingly fast, I'll have plenty of extra time to learn the applications. Amazon has sent me a new reader.  And of course, I'm having a great time with my kids. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Personal Search for the End of the Endless Missouri

Lewis and Clark played a tremendous role in mapping out the rivers of the west as they followed the Missouri River to its tributaries and looked for a passage to the Pacific. Today, there are hundreds of places that commemorate their explorations.  Many of them are in Montana and a vacation or series of vacations could be built around visiting these sites, just in this state.

Last year I got interested in seeing some of the places discovered by them. I accidently stumbled over the marvelous Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls.  And Bob and I came across Camp Fortunate last year while on the way to check out Red Rock Lakes NWR.  This is the camp where Sacagawea was reunited with her brother and where the Expedition obtained horses.

Me in a copy of one of the boats used in the Lewis and Clark Expedition

As I rode  east out of the refuge with Steve and Cheri, on the way to the rodeo at Ennis, we passed a sign where little creek crossed the road. (See the sign below) Steve said that the Hell Roaring Creek flowed  from  Browers Spring, named for the man who discovered it. This is the ultimate source of the Missouri River. That piqued my interest and I started researching this story and also started plotting to visit Browers Spring.

The sign that peaked my interest

Lewis and other members of the Discovery Corps. thought they had discovered the source of he Missouri in the Beaverhead Mountains at the highest reaches of a little creek now known as Trail Creek. Lewis later wrote,  he "thanked his god that he had lived to bestride the mighty and heretofore deemed endless Missouri.

But almost 100 years later,  Jacob  V. Brower, the man who confirmed  the source of the Mississippi River, and urged the the state of Minnesota to preserve it as Itasca State Park, decided to search for it. Lewis and Clark had named the three rivers who come together to form the Missouri as the Galatin,  the Madison, and the Jefferson.  The longest of the three rivers is the Jefferson, so Browers came up this river to where it was called the Beaverhead, then on up through Red Rock Creek and Hell Roaring Creek.  He hiked, along with some local up along Hell Roaring Creek until he found where it oozed out the the Mountain, about a hundred more miles further away from the place where the waterway is called the Missouri.  This point is about 100 miles further upstream that was the point on Trail Creek.  At 2,341 miles, the Missouri is the longest river in the United States, but is not quite endless.

One of three branches of Hell Roaring Creek which fills the roadside ditch
before going through one culvert on its way to Red Rock Creek

I learned that the spring was about five miles upstream from this sign. Then I learned that the actual way to reach it was to go up Sawtell Mountain and hike the Sawtell Trail to it.  I put this near the top of the things I wanted to do while at Red Rock Lakes. The last weekend before I left, I realized that I had to do this or forget about it for this year.  I finally got myself organized to hike there. I did a little research and found the coordinates listed in Wikipedia. Dave, the Deputy Project Leader, had hiked up there a week or so before and told me I only had to hike about two miles to reach the spring.

Sawtell Mountain

The road to Sawtell Mountain looked more like a bowl of spaghetti
 than a road. Can you see another piece of road in the center of the picture?

View from Sawtell Mountain

I first visited the top of Sawtell mountain, of course stopping frequently to take pictures as I drove up the tight switchbacks,  then drove back down to the trailhead and began my hike.  My GPS beeped to tell me I had arrived at Brower Springs when I reached the top of Sawtelle Mountain.  I planned to get the true coordinates and edit Wikipedia so others could have the correct coordinates.  And I even had the forethought to take the coordinates for the trailhead.

The day was gorgeous and I was walking on or close to the Continental Divide. The trailhead had no maps but I  thought the trail I was on was going to end at Hell Roaring Creek.  Soon I was spending as much time taking pictures as I was walking. I was walking through flowering meadows, amid the sounds of buzzing bees, watching dancing butterflies and darting little birds. Lots of sparrows and American goldfinches were active in spots.  I was on the spine of the Continental Divide where water could run either to the Gulf or to the Pacific, depending on just a few feet of difference.

Many species of wildflowers grew riotously  

One of many species of butterflies

There were lots of different flowers 

Bees on larkspur

View down to Henry's Lake, on the Pacific side of the divide

The trail was well defined but very narrow

Chipping sparrow

When I didn't see the spring, I just kept on walking, missing it entirely, and walking to the end of the trail. So instead of a four mile hike, I ended up walking almost ten miles.  I wasn't in physical shape for that long a walk, and I ran out of water. Then I tripped over my hiking pole and took a really hard fall on top of my camera. The camera survived but my ribs didn't. I'm still taking painkillers and moving slowly.

Trail View

An interesting mountain face

I think this is the remains of  caldera

The end of the trail

Brower's Spring by Jophn9546 - what I didn't see

Currently I'm having a great visit with my daughter and son-in-law in Ottawa, Canada. More about that in the next blog.