Thursday, September 22, 2011

Butterflies and Frozen Mornings

I keep forgetting that a) I live in the mountains and b) Kalispell is significantly farther north than Rochester is.  This usually isn't a big deal, but when I forget to close my bedroom window at night (every night, by the way.  I'm dumb.) I wake up FROZEN.  Absolutely frozen.  I have consistently woken up with a very cold nose every morning for the past 2 weeks.  There was one morning when I didn't wake up a popsicle, but that's because I actually remembered to close my window.  Who knew that a window opened only 4 inches let in so much cold air?  In September?  Summer is fading fast up here, and I think I like it.  If only I could remember to close that silly window.  

I took this picture a couple of weeks ago, and I really like it.  Butterflies aren't usually my thing, but this little guy slapped me in the face.  I had to pretend I didn't notice, but anyone who has been around me for more than five minutes knows that I spazzed a little bit.  It was inevitable that I take this picture after the butterfly made me look like a crazy person, and it turned out well for everyone involved.  The butterfly now has its moment on the internets, and I get to share a pretty picture with everyone.  

Next time, I'll look out for errant insects, though.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

In Absentia

All right, folks.  Sorry things have been slow recently.  I'm trying to get motivated to blog again, but it has been really hard lately.  There are so many other things I want to do, but I still want to blog.  Trying to fit everything in, plus work, is hard.  This is gonna be a wordy post about things that have been happening around me.  Forgive the ADD.

Summer is gone.  It snowed in the mountains today.  Snow.  I found some pictures of the first tracks on Snowbird in Colorado.  Of course, I can't remember where I found them, but I started drooling.  At work.  I want to go skiing soooooo badly.  I can't even focus on fall colors yet, skiing has taken up so much of my focus.  This will be a winter of epic powder opportunities, and I will not miss it.  

I'm making a separate site for my pictures, but it is nowhere near completion.  I'm still testing the customization of everything, and I'm trying to organize my pictures into galleries.  Getting organized is hard enough when I'm procrastinating like usual, but when there are so many fun things to do around Kalispell I just can't concentrate.  I'll do better, since summer is GONE NOW.  I'm only slightly missing it.  Slightly.

I still go up to Glacier or south to Flathead Lake whenever I can.  I even went for a short hike yesterday afternoon along one side of Lake MacDonald in Glacier.  Short as in a half mile.  Wouldn't want to wear myself out, now, would I?  Ha.  I have a massive library of pictures saved up for future blogs, but I don't think I'll post as many as I have been.  I'll let you know as I determine what is going on.

I went to a Sports Bar (capitalized because I will call this bar Sports Bar from now on.  I liked it that much.) to watch the Packers/Panthers game on Sunday.  Yes, Minnesotans, I went to a BAR on a SUNDAY.  BEFORE NOON.  Because I'm in a different time zone, I had to figure out what the hell time games are on here, and I don't like it.  Eleven is too early for football, so I had a beer and a burger for breakfast.  So since the Flathead Valley is so gorgeous, there are a lot of people here from elsewhere, like me.  There are so many Packers fans in Whitefish, where Sports Bar is, that we take up the whole back room.  And they projected our game on the giant screen.  Because we're awesome.  Anyway, I made friends!  This is a strange situation for me, since I don't talk to people.  Everyone knows everyone, so I stuck out in the crowd (also strange for me.  It's a week of firsts, peeps.) enough for the locals to ask who I was and what I was doing in Whitefish.  Rainy football Sunday led to my discovery of a micro-community in which I so clearly belong.  Also, Sports Bar serves their liquid refreshments in mason jars. Love it.

I live in the mountains.  This guy is just one of many reasons:

He's (she? I didn't check) a marmot, and they are everywhere in Glacier.  I want one.  

Everyone needs to come visit me, if only to realize that I am not crazy and that the valley is a wonderful place to live.  I love it out here.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

My First Rodeo, Part 2

So, after a few late nights at work that left me in no mood to blog, I finally got around to editing pictures and my second rodeo post.  I'm still amazed at the athleticism/crazy the cowboys (and girls, as you'll see) have.  Mostly the crazy is what gets me.  I guess it's fun.  

I left you with the bronc riders in my last post, so I'll pick up with the trick riders.  There were two girls, and they must have amazing core strength.  These girls were amazing.  And sparkly.  

I don't understand how anyone would learn how to do this without killing themselves.  

Um?  Those horses were moving really fast.  And she's upside-down.  Crazy.

After the trick riders did their crazy show, the tie-down ropers did their thing.  They ride out after a calf, try to rope the calf around its head, and they have to tie its front two legs to one of its back legs or something.  I couldn't really tell, and they move too fast.  Like under 7 seconds fast.  

So, they chase the calf (with their piggin' string - not kidding - in their mouths) and try to rope it.  This cowboy missed, so the rest are a different guy.

The horse pulls the rope taught so the calf doesn't move when the cowboy flips it over.  Yep, the horses are smart.  They even know to let it loose when the cowboy walks back to his horse.

Cowboy flips calf on its side...

And ties its legs together.  

The horse lets the rope slack when the cowboy stands up.  Yes, they do that.  The calf has to stay tied for 6 seconds or something like that.  Again, I wasn't really paying attention to the rules and this was a couple weeks ago.  

After the tie-down ropin' were the bull riders.  I think only 3 guys stayed on the full 8 seconds, and I only got semi-decent pictures of one cowboy who got thrown in 3 seconds.  

He's preparing for the crazy that's about to go down.

Getting situated on a bull is a precise skill that takes a lot of help from your fellow cowboys.

That bull was mean.

He looks like he's gonna stay on through that spin...

No dice.

Cowboy was limping when he climbed out of the arena.  

The rodeo was a lot of fun (so was the honky tonk afterparty), and I will definitely go to another.  Probably just to drool over cowboys wearing chaps.  Not gonna lie.  Now that rodeo season is over in Montana, though, I'll have to settle for football and hockey.

Go Pack, Go!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My First Rodeo

A couple of weeks ago was the Northwest Montana Fair in Kalispell.  I went to see how much like other county fairs I had been to, and there happened to be a rodeo three nights of the fair.  I went to the first and the last nights of the rodeo, which was definitely worth the price of admission.  It was my first professional rodeo, and I'm excited for next summer for more cowboys.  Yep, the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) rodeo made me even more of a country girl.  I even bought some cowgirl boots.  They're turquoise and awesome.  And I forgot my camera the first night, so all of my pictures are from the final night of the rodeo.

Since I took a lot of pictures of cowboys, horses, and cattle, I spread them out into two days of pictures.  Expect the others tomorrow sometime, provided I don't fall off a mountain before I get around to posting again.  

The first event of the night was steer wrestling or bull doggin'.  (We drop our Gs off -ing words around here.  It's cool.)  What the cowboy has to do is throw himself off a moving horse onto a steer, pick the steer up and lay him down on his right side.  The other cowboy is called a hazer, and he keeps the steer going in a straight line.

Notice the cowboy on the right is moving from horse to steer.  They're all moving really fast, too.

He's on the steer now.  Watch out for the horns, cowboy.

And now he's wrestling the steer onto the ground.  All of this happens in under 12 seconds, usually.  

After the steer wrestling, the saddle bronc riding started.  Basically, the cowboy has to stay on the bronc for 8 seconds.  He gets points for how he handles the horse, how hard the horse makes it to stay on it, and several other criteria that I didn't catch.  There were chaps and Wranglers involved.  I'm not responsible for my attention span at that point, sorry.

This cowboy stayed on the full 8 seconds, but the horse didn't make it easy for him.

He was off the ground right out of the gate.  

Still not totally on the horse.

He made it, and he's smiling.  That's usually good.  I don't remember the rankings after the scores were figured, but I think he did pretty well, if I remember correctly.

This cowboy, however, didn't do so well.

He looks good at first, but...

He's sliding off the saddle here.  

He was really close to the full 8, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.  I think he was one of the top-earning cowboys last year in the National Finals Rodeo in Vegas.  It was not his night.

The horse was very happy to not have a rider anymore, and she was even happier to see her colt.

Horses are crazy athletic.  And beautiful.  And super smart.  I think probably smarter than the cowboys who get thrown off of them for a living.  I don't mind watching the cowboys, though.  I have a thing for chaps, Stetsons and boots.

More rodeo tomorrow,