Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

A Spring Awakening In Montana’s Flathead, Which Here Includes Bears, Flowers and Birds

©Bert Gildart: Though it has been quite cool, each evening we’ve been out biking the small country road that runs past our home in Bigfork, Montana. The road, which might see a car every 15 minutes or so, flanks a number of wheat fields and several marsh-like areas.

One of the marshes attracted our attention because a number of yellow flowers are rearing their heads.

SKUNK CABBAGE (r) : From years of watching spring marshes I knew the plants were called skunk cabbage, and that they were one of the first, if not the first to emerge. In fact, they emerge so early in the spring that sometimes heat from cellular respiration resulting from rapid growth is adequate to melt any lingering snow.

Though there was no snow for the plants to melt this year, their growth has been phenomenal and they have grown almost a foot in the past week.

Now, the bright yellow petals that so characterize the plant have unfurled, and the odor that serves as its name sake has been unmasked.

Truly, this plant is appropriately called a skunk cabbage, something you’ll detect if you get close enough to photograph it. Crush a leave in your fingers and the odor will be particularly pronounced. Its purpose is to lure insects for pollination—kind of like perfume, isn’t it?

Also along the road, Janie and I have noted while riding bikes that the Kill Deer have returned, and once again, the birds are going through their broken-wing act. The display indicates they have started building nests or may, in fact, have even laid their eggs. Because the eggs are mottled, they are difficult to see.

KILL DEER (below): But Kill Deer don’t know that. All they’re hoping is that their frantic displays will lure you away from what they value so highly, their nest, their eggs, and, soon, their young. They believe that by faking injury, you and I will be attracted to them, and that we’ll follow wherever they lead, which is, of course, away from their nests.

Other spring activities occurring around the valley include the release of a 425-pound grizzly bear to an area north of Polebridge in Glacier National Park. The six-year-old grizzly had been captured on Sunday morning, April 8, 2007, and released this past Monday.

The capture and released is significant as it indicates bears have emerged now from hibernation. Officials remind visitors to take precautions to avoid a bear encounter by making their presence known by calling out or clapping at frequent intervals, especially near streams and at blind spots on the trails.

That’s something that even we country dwelling folks need to keep in mind, for several years ago a grizzly wandered right through our yard. We didn’t see it, but we sure heard the story from the woman who did.

Apparently, the bear proceeded from our yard to the neighbor’s house, where it poked its head through the small access door for their dog.

Scared the woman to half death when she saw it! Also scared the bear, who then swam the river not to be seen again—that year. So now we also keep our eyes open for bears when we go riding.

Welcome back spring in the Flathead.

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