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In This Issue:

Feature: A Day in the Magic City by Kristin E. Hill
Winter is Big in the Flathead
Montana Weather Trivia
Recipe: Old Faithful Scones
Featured Products
Featured Book

A Day In The Magic City
By Kristin E. Hill

Springing to life like magic as the railroad expanded westward, Billings has served as Montana’s “Magic City” since its 1882 establishment. History, recreation, culture, and economic diversity intertwine seamlessly in Montana’s largest city, and visitors are treated to an array of attractions. Whether you’re a Montana resident or simply passing through, spend a day in Billings and discover the city’s memorable magic with a stop at the following must-see sites!

Lake Elmo State Park
Ice skating, ice fishing, windsurfing, fishing, hiking, and biking opportunities abound at this local favorite in the Billings Heights area. Best of all, the 64-acre Lake Elmo State Park is handicapped accessible.

The Rimrocks
No visit to Billings would be complete without a stop at the legendary Rimrocks. Bordering the city’s northern edge, these sandstone cliffs provide stunning views of the city below as well as the surrounding Pryor, Bighorn, Snowy, Crazy, and Beartooth Mountain Ranges.

Peter Yegen Jr. Yellowstone County Museum
Brush up on history with a visit to the Peter Yegen Jr. Yellowstone County Museum located at Logan International Airport. Over 20,000 artifacts comprise the museum’s permanent collection, including items from the Fur Trading Era and World Wars I and II as well as an extensive array of Native American artifacts, cowboy memorabilia, and historic photographs. Admission to one of the west’s best history lessons is free!

Yellowstone Art Museum
Recognized as the Northern Rockies’ finest contemporary art museum, the Yellowstone Art Museum in downtown Billings is hailed as the region’s most comprehensive resource for twentieth-century art appreciation. The museum’s permanent collection features over 1,900 pieces expressing the voices of the American West, while the temporary galleries offer rotating exhibits of international acclaim.

Zoo Montana
Although wildlife abounds naturally in the Treasure State, Billings offers visitors the opportunity to view both exotic animals as well as native Montana species in an up-close and personal setting. The seventy-acre zoo features everything from Siberian tigers to otters as well as a children’s zoo, botanical gardens, farm animal petting area, and a discovery center with hands-on exhibits sure to impress kids and adults alike. The zoo is open year-round except for major holidays.

Pictograph Cave State Park
First excavated in 1937, Pictograph Cave State Park provides a unique look at the region’s earliest residents. Pictographs dating back to between 500 and 1900 A.D. illustrate the life and customs of the Native Americans who once inhabited the park’s caves. Over 100 red, black, and white paintings line the cave walls, and an interpretive trail guides visitors through the site.

Moss Mansion
Exemplifying the wealthy lifestyle of Billings’ early twentieth-century residents, the Moss Mansion was built in 1902 for banker, Preston B. Moss. While most period homes in Billings were valued at $3,000, construction costs on the extravagant mansion were nearly $105,000. Today, the three-story mansion has been preserved with many of its original furnishings, and tours are available of the home and its spectacular surrounding gardens.

Alberta Bair Theater
Downtown Billings’ Alberta Bair Theater provides the perfect ending to any day spent in the Magic City. The year-round theater showcases both local and nationally recognized concerts, entertainers, plays, and musical productions. Shows are offered nearly every evening, but advance reservations are recommended. Tickets sell out quickly for the theater’s presentations!

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Winter Is Big In The Flathead

By guest author Roland Cheek, excerpted from “The Ultimate Montana Atlas & Travel Encyclopedia”

Winter sports are big in the Flathead. And why not? Winter is big in the Flathead. Snow generally comes to the high country—the snow that lays all winter—in late October. And it still hangs on the north slopes and in some of the high passes into late May. Snow in the main valleys is different though.

Oh sure, snow flurries will come earlier than October. And it’s not at all unusual to have late flurries into April. But winter seldom gets really serious—even in the high country—before the end of October. Nor does it hang on in the main valleys much past late March—that’s when the ground begins to thaw.

Still, you can expect to experience five or six months of winter every year. Despite occasional “Chinook” winds from the Pacific, bringing warming, melting periods to the lower valleys, deep snow and freezing temperatures in the mountains ensure great winter recreation opportunities everywhere.

Most serious Montana skiers know the Big Mountain—located just north of Whitefish—is one of the most popular ski areas in the entire Treasure State. With more than 33 miles of ski terrain in 41 different runs; with 2,170 vertical feet above the 4,600-foot base area; with an uphill lift capacity of 8,430 skiers per hour - it’s no wonder the Big Mountain is head and shoulders in popularity above many other Montana ski resorts.

But the real reason is SNOW. It’s deep fine powder, usually blanketing the mountain beginning in October. Always open by Christmas, sometimes opening by Thanksgiving— depending on snow pack—Big Mountain’s average snow is four to seven feet at base, seven to 10 feet at summit. And skiing usually lasts through April.

If sliding madly downhill on a couple of flat boards scares the socks off you, then take up cross country skiing as I did. Certainly one of the fastest growing outdoor recreational pursuits in Montana, there’s unlimited opportunity in National Forests, state lands and Glacier Park. The sport’s burgeoning popularity has led to several sporadically groomed-trail ski areas throughout the Flathead.

For those who seek solitude, that can be found virtually anywhere on the millions of acres of public lands in the Flathead. All you need is enough snow and enough willpower to seek out a suitable place. Snowshoes would help, too.

Yet another popular wintertime sport in the Flathead is snowmobiling. The expense of the sport has resulted in some decline over the last decade, but there are still substantial advocates around the valley.

Most snowmobiling is conducted in the Whitefish Range, north of Columbia Falls, the Swan Valley-Seeley Lake area, the Tally Lake country west of Whitefish, southeast of Eureka, the Flathead’s South Fork above Hungry Horse Dam, and the Skyland Road area near Marias Pass.

Ice fishing is a wintertime activity pursued by many Flathead visitors and residents alike. Though to some folks, the sport would play better in August while they’re bucking hay bales during the dog days of mid-summer, others like nothing better than to perch on an ice-covered lake, jigging for grandpa trout, through a six-inch hole— weather be damned!

Opportunities are plentiful for winter recreation; especially follow those folks who can’t abide propping their feet up by the fire and sipping hot-buttered rums for an entire frigid season.

Roland Cheek has lived the better part of fifty years living in Columbia Falls in the heart of the Flathead area. A good many of those years he spent as an outfitter. Most of the rest of that he’s spent observing the area and its wildlife and writing about bears, elk, and the great outdoors surrounding him. His “Trails to Outdoor Adventure” has been syndicated in print and radio. He is the author of six books and countless outdoor articles. Find out more about him at www.rolandcheek.com.

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Montana Weather Trivia

From “Montana Trivia” by Janet Spencer, Riverbend Publishing

Click here to order Montana Trivia book

Q. Montana's record low is 70 below zero and the record high is 117 degrees, for a temperature range of 187 degrees. Are there any states that have a greater temperature range than that?

A. No. North Dakota comes in second place with a range of 181 degrees and Alaska is third with 180 degrees.

 

Q. Name the only state in the U.S. that has an average daily wind speed that's higher than Montana's 12.7 m.p.h.

A. Wyoming, at 12.9 m.p.h.

 

Q. In Arizona, 81 percent of the days are sunny. In Alaska, 23 percent are sunny. What percent of the time is it sunny in Montana?

A. 51 percent.

 

Q. What unincorporated Montana town has the coldest year-round temperatures?

A. Cooke City, although Westby has the coldest winters with an average temperature of 5.7 degrees.

 

Q. Considering summer temperatures only, what's the hottest town in Montana?

A. Glendive.

From “Montana Trivia” by Janet Spencer, published by Riverbend Publishing

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Click Here to check out the Montana Gift Corral Sale Barn. Over 300 items on sale!

Recipe From
The Yellowstone National Park Cookbook

By Durrae Johanek, Riverbend Publishing

Click here to order "The Yellowstone National Park Cookbook" or view other Gift Corral Books

While this Yellowstone cookbook contains an interview of a chef and several of his recipes, it also offers dishes from such well-known park personas as the wolf project leader, a park ranger, and many others. Some recipes are pulled from inherited family cookbooks, and some come with special directions for doctoring according to personal taste. Featuring an eclectic mix of represented styles and cultures, this unique cookbook guarantees you'll find something delicious to make and someone interesting to meet on every page.

Old Faithful Scones
By Jennifer Whipple

Whether you’re planning for a winter’s day on the slopes, a tour of an art museum, or simply a quiet day at home, start your morning off right with these simple scones. Jennifer Whipple, Yellowstone’s busy park botanist, loves fresh baked goods, but finding them around Yellowstone during the middle of winter can be a bit tricky. So, with a bit of experimentation, Jennifer developed these tasty breakfast treats while living at Old Faithful. They were an instant hit with her, and they’re sure to be a delight to all our readers.

Ingredients

4 cups flour
1 / 2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 / 2 tsp. nutmeg
1 / 2 cup butter
1 1 / 2 tsp. grated orange rind
2 eggs
1 cup skim or 1% milk
1 cup raisins

Directions

Mix flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add butter and cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Cut in the orange rind. Beat eggs lightly in separate bowl and add milk. Add liquid mixture into the dry ingredients (make a shallow hole in the center of the dry mixture) along with the raisins. Stir just until everything is moistened and almost totally mixed.

Take dough onto counter or breadboard, and fold and knead two or three times to finish mixing all the ingredients together. Cut the dough into squares about 2 inches across, and place well apart on cookie sheet. Lightly moisten surface of scones with a little milk, and dust with a cinnamon/sugar mixture. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

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Featured Montana Products

Wrap up your winter day with a hearty bowl of soup and beer bread. They’re the perfect companion for any cold Montana evening, whether you spent all day playing outside or snuggled up indoors!

Buffalo Bean Eleven Bean Soup Mix

Click here for price and order information and to view more Gift Corral products
Hal's Secret Spice" blends a rugged Montana flavor into this hearty and robust 11-bean soy based soup mix. Simply add water and simmer for a tasty vegetarian soup on the trail or at home. Net weight 14oz. Made in Montana by Montana Bounty Foods!

Haywire Chicken & Rice Soup Mix

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From the makers of the Buffalo Bean Eleven Bean Soup Mix, here’s a hearty mix for all you meat lovers! Just add water to this hearty, provocative country chicken soup mix with vegetables and rice.  Presto magic – dinner’s served!

Moose Grub Sourdough Beer Bread Mix

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Huckleberry People, a Montana company known for its dry mixes, candy bars and cordials, created this super sourdough bread. Mix things up tonight with this distinctive food gift – perfect for yourself or that special someone. 16 ounces.

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Click Here to check out the Montana Gift Corral Sale Barn. Over 300 items on sale!

Featured Book

Silence & Solitude

by Tom Murphy
Riverbend Publishing

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This captivating book by Montana photographer Tom Murphy captures the splendor and force of Yellowstone’s long cold. In 130 full-color photographs, readers begin to understand the lives of the wildlife that must endure Yellowstone, feel the inspiring power of a landscape still wild and pure, and view nature’s beauty in things great and small.

The photographs are accompanied by Murphy’s thoughtful words that explore the time and place of each image. The captions allow readers to smile at a fox’s serious hunt for a mouse, to understand why bison stand stoically in geothermal steam, and to marvel at a sudden shift of subtle light that brings breathtaking grandeur to a nondescript little tree and just as suddenly takes it away. A stunning book in all respects! 9¼” x 12½”. Hardbound.

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