Thursday, July 29, 2010

Beauty in Very Small Packages

A couple days ago we went to Blankenship, again, to fish. What a surprise! About 5 miles out of Columbia Falls and doing about 70 (the speed limit in Montana IS 70mph), I happened to spot several clusters of Indian Paintbrush. I know, going that speed I should keep my eyes glued to the road. They were very close to a spring that is along side the road and spouts gallons of crystal clear water constantly. There were a few cars behind us so I decided to stop on the way back from fishing.
     I had to do this to take advantage of an unusual sight this year. We haven't seen many wildflowers yet. As a matter of fact, the previous evening, I read an article in the Daily Interlake at Kristen and George's house about that very issue. The thinking of experts is that because they had such a late, wet and cold spring this year the wildflowers are either late to bloom or will not bloom as prolifically as in past years. The article also mentioned that the Beargrass is not expected to make its usually showy appearance either because it was a banner year last season. Beargrass plants bloom approximately every 7 years, so we may have to wait awhile before we see it again, at least in the Whitefish area.
     So, I felt I had to take the inspiration of the small cluster of blossoms I did see and do another painting. We are going to Libby later today and may see more over there. I can only hope.
     More to come...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Watch Mom AND Your Step

It doesn't happen very often, but I was in the right place at the right time! Traffic was stopped for the never ending construction on Going to the Sun Road and this young mountain goat was standing on a cliff next us. It is shedding its winter coat. It's amazing how these creatures are able to move with such agility in an unforgiving environment. There are lots of these animal in Logan's Pass and surrounding areas. They seem fearless around the huge number of humans who invade their home every day during the summer months when the road is actually open.

     Being such a great sight and pose, I knew I had to do a drawing of this cooperative little creature. So, here it is.
     More to come... 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Trip to Logan's Pass

 After getting rained out on Monday, Sharon, Sara and I returned to Glacier National Park July 20th. I took lots of photos, mostly of scenes that I've seen many times before. But, no matter how many times I visit, I am still awed and inspired by the phenomenal beauty of this place.

At the foot of Lake McDonald viewed from
Apgar Village looking to the northeast.

5 miles
up Lake
on the southeast shore.

Lake McDonald Lodge
     Insets include the dock with sightseeing boat on the lake, hanging baskets in front of the lodge and the classic "Red Jammers" which carry sightseers into the park.

The General Store on
the way out of the Lake
McDonald Lodge area

On the way to Logan's Pass
     This is one of the spectacular vistas seen along Going to the Sun Road through the park. The lower road can be seen in the distance in the middle right of this picture, as it snakes around the mountain.

At Logan's Pass looking approximately east
     The yellow flower is the Glacier Lily. It is one of the first flowers to appear after the snow melts. It covers most of the high alpine fields right now. Other colors are appearing as well but not as dominant as this small blossom. The inset shows the specimen more clearly.

Pink Mountain Heath
This is another interesting plant that is showing tiny, colorful blossoms not yet in full blossom. The color combination in this early stage makes it appear almost black in the distance.

Ground Squirrel at Logan's Pass
   These tiny critters are always looking for a handout. They continually put on a show for humans visiting the area. This little guy was a very cooperative model but I don't think it appreciated our presence.


High alpine sparrow
     This little bird hopped back and forth from bare earth to snow and was not afraid of people. It stay near my feet for a long time looking for food. It's a bit larger than the more familiar English Sparrow. 
I haven't identified it yet.

These are a few of the sight from our trip up to Logan's Pass. We will be going again some time during the next 2 weeks to see how things have changed. The snow will melt, the flowers will bloom in different colors and the temperature will rise. I will post these sights later.
     Tomorrow, look for a drawing of a special little friend we saw...

Monday, July 19, 2010

So Many Sights...Not Enough Time!

So, this past week we drove to Libby to get my eyes checked and fitted for new glasses by my friend, Terry. I had a chance to fish the Kootenai and had GREAT luck. It's a really huge river. The first day I caught 15 rainbows all the way from a gigantic 4 inch frantic fighter to a most respectable 16 incher. The following day I landed 4 rainbows from 12" to 16". The most troubling part was that both times I was alone and unable to photograph the fish. Maybe next time someone will be along to do that for me.

 Good for me that there is wonderful visual information in front of my eyes every day. It's difficult to decide what to record first. I think my next few drawings and paintings will be of wildflowers in this part of the country. Almost everywhere I look, I see lots of flowers. In front of businesses, hanging from almost every porch or deck, I've seen all the flowers one might see at home in New York state.
     Along the highways, on trails and in all the fields I'm starting to see many of the beautiful wildflowers I don't see at home. On our regular walking path by the river we see lots of wild roses. Even though we have some varieties in New York, this is the subject of my latest painting.
     Yesterday Sharon and I went for a short drive to Glacier National Park. All the way from Apgar Village to Lake McDonald Lodge, along the edge of the road we saw many Indian Paintbrushes in full blossom. Tomorrow I hope to get some good photos of this very interesting flowering plant, and travel Going to the Sun Road up to Logan's Pass. There, I'll also be able to get photos and drawings of some of the high alpine flowers. The best part is taking the shuttle buses so I can actually see the sight along the road. In years past, it has always been a "white knuckles" drive with my eyes glued to the road ahead of me. There was never a good opportunity to sight see.

More to come...    

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Getting Down To Serious Business...

Yesterday started out GREAT! Our daughter Sara stayed with us over the weekend and had Monday off too. We drove to Blankenship which is the area where the North Fork and Middle Fork of the Flathead river meet. The confluence forms the Southwest corner of Glacier National Park. It's one of my favorite places to fish near Whitefish because I can wade the area easily and there is also great parking. This is a prime area for float trips and fishing trips to take out. Upstream and down are away from the crowds and hold good numbers of cutthroat trout. They're not too big, but very cooperative.

    About a half dozen rafts and boats floated by during the time we fished. You get to see all sorts of people coming down the river. Some serious, some not so much. Most are just having a wonderful time full of fun. Three of the boats were loaded with fisherman who had just floated the North Fork. They looked serious! One kid did a great job of slapping the water with every cast. It looked like the guide was glad to take out just downstream from us. In another boat the guy in the back actually had a fish on, but I don't think he actually landed it. Too bad for them!

    Sara and I fished and Sharon knitted. Very enjoyable! The water is still VERY cold but I stepped in anyway. About an hour was enough to make my toes numb so I got out and let them warm up. I did this a couple times. But, this was enough time to get a bit of action from those sneaky little cutthroat trout. It takes some time to get my timing right so I missed a few rises to my flies. I started with a Prince Nymph and only got one hit. It was probably the tiniest trout I have seen there. It was so tiny that when I struck on the take, I pulled it totally out of the water. It must have been all of 3" long! That little guy got off immediately because of the slack that was left in my line. Too bad for me! Then I switched to an Elkhair Caddis. I made a couple casts and one took my ball of fuzz. This trout I actually landed and it turned out to be about 9". After a few more casts I switched flies again and tied on a Yellow Sally. I fished this one for quite a while getting many rises and a few half hearted takes. Finally a 10-11 incher finally took it with conviction and I landed this on as well. Both of those small fish were very good fighters and I had a lot of fun on my first outing on the river. In my drawing you can see an Elkhair Caddis fly in the lower right and a Yellow Sally (Parachute style) above, between the 2 rods.
     Tomorrow Sharon and I are going to Libby. I'll have an eye exam by my friend Terry who had to put me off for a week because of some lame excuse. He was going to Alaska to fish! I guess for a fisherman that is a pretty good excuse for not working! I hope my new glasses allow me to see my flies easier. I hope they work because the fish are bigger on the Kootenai river.
     More to come...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

On Our Daily Walk...

In the morning, sometimes 8AM, sometimes 9AM, sometimes...well, whenever we feel like it, Sharon and I take a walk from our condo. It takes us through about 2 1/2 to 3 miles of great views of Whitefish. We walk near several ponds and along the Whitefish river.
     There are a lot of marshy areas with loads of cattails and long grasses around the water. The first day we were here I saw several blackbirds I have never seen before. They are a bit larger than Redwing Blackbirds but with many of the same characteristics. As it turned out, they are named, of all things, Yellowheaded Blackbirds.
     So I decided to do a small watercolor of the bird sitting on a new shoot of a cattail at the edge of one of the larger ponds we walk around. I don't really do much watercolor but I thought this a good opportunity to brush off some of the cobwebs to see if I still had the skill. I think the painting is passable, but I have considerable brushing up to do! I'll give it another try as time goes on here.
Fishing is on hold for a few more days because the water is still running very high because of the late winter snows and heavy rain in June. It's hard to find a good spot for wading. The guys at the fly shop said the action is starting to pick up. The water is also pretty darn cold too.

More to come...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Welcome to the NEW West

It's July 4th and it's about time I start working again. I plan to post at least 1 drawing per week for the next 7 weeks featuring the sights around Whitefish and Libby, Montana.
     We arrived in Montana on June 30th after altered travel plans but we did make out very well with the air line. It seemed like almost all flights on United were overbooked!
     The view of this picture is directly out the back door of our condo. I was interested to see the great view looking toward Glacier National park. There it was, beautiful as ever, but this year there were a lot more clouds and rain on our arrival than in past years. Cooler too! I had my eyes set 20 miles east.
     As I took in more of the scene, closer to where we are staying, I saw an open field with a home and barns. The gate is directly across the road, not 75 feet from our building. Just beyond I saw a large solar collector at a Y in the drive. I thought this was a very interesting composition and one that indicated the desire of folks in the Flathead Valley to use renewable resources. During the summer there are hot, sunny days most of the time and this piece of equipment will be most useful. It's also interesting that the gate is remote controlled. Maybe energy from the solar collector operates the opener.
    That's all for now, with hope there will be many more drawings to follow.