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In This Issue:

Visit Montana on the Cheap

The program is simple. Rocky Mountain Gold Cash Certificates are just like gift certificates. But, rather than only using the certificate at one business, you can use it at any of the rapidly growing list of participating businesses in the Rocky Mountain Region. And not only are the certificates good at multiple businesses, but you are also able to purchase them at a 20%-40% discount of the face value. In other words, buy a $20 certificate for as little as $12—and spend it at any of the participating businesses as $20. Save big bucks on your choice of dining, shopping, lodging, and other services. Visit the website for more details.

Click here for details and current list of participating merchants.

Cat on a Stump

An excerpt from our featured book “How It Looks Going Back: Growing Up in the Montana Woods” by Doris Knowles Pulis; courtesy of Janet Spencer, Riverbend Publishing

A winter day in northwest Montana.

To our Readers: “How It Looks Going Back” is a captivating memoir about a young girl growing up in the remote and beautiful Yaak River country of Montana. When Doris Knowles was in third grade and younger sister Barbara (Bob) was just three, the Knowles family traded their San Diego life for a cabin in northwestern Montana’s woods. This humorous excerpt is just one of many tales Ms. Knowles recollects in her newly published book.

After the first storm of the season, the cold front blew through, the snow became rain, and the yard turned into a slushy mess. The weather stayed wet and nasty, but relatively mild, into November.

One rainy Saturday, Dad saw something odd out in the lake. On the far side, there was a lone tree stump that stuck a few inches out of the water, about thirty feet from shore. There was something on top of that stump, Dad said, something sort of rust-colored. We got out the binoculars and looked.

Nobody could make out what, but we all agreed it was some kind of small animal. It was about thirty-five degrees outside. The heavy sky dragged gray curtains of rain over the lake. Bob and I started in:

“Oh, the poor little thing!” we whined. “Dad! Oh, Daddy, please, we have to go get it!” Dad wasn’t about to take us along, but he decided he would walk around to the other side of the lake to see if he could at least identify the animal. No telling what kind of wild creature it might be, he said. He set out, bundled up against the wind and rain. We stood with Mom and watched him walking miserably along the edge of the lake. Bob and I wished he would hurry. We were worried about that poor little creature.

Dad was a little over half-way around to the far shore of the lake when he stopped and took another look through the binoculars. He turned right around and headed back. As he came up to the porch he said, “It’s a cat. A house cat. Can’t imagine how it got out there, that far from shore. You can almost hear it meowing from here.” Bob and I went into hysterics. Shortly, the rickety rowboat that we had inherited from the lake’s former owner, had been hauled out of dry dock  - a clump of willows by the creek  - righted and launched, and Dad was rowing across the lake in the driving rain. Bob and I were out on the front porch with the binoculars, watching his progress.

After what seemed like an hour, Dad began jockeying the boat around in the wind so he could get as close to the stump as possible. I happened to be the one looking through the binoculars when suddenly, with a sizeable stretch of water still between stump and boat, the animal leaped crazily from its perch and landed square in Dad’s lap. I called out the action to Mom and Bob:

“Omigosh! It jumped into the boat! It’s climbing into Dad’s arms! Ooh, the poor little-  Oh! It’s climbing up onto his head! He’s trying to grab-...Uh-oh! There goes his hat in the water! Now the cat’s stuck to his back! Dad’s trying to get a hold-...Whoa! Dad!” The boat was pitching wildly. Dad nearly went over the side, trying to catch hold of the animal clinging onto his back.

Mom grabbed the binoculars. “Let me see! What on earth?! The crazy thing! It’s up on his head again! Oh, Dar! Oh, shoot! Wait. There, he’s got it. He’s trying to hold it. It’s frantic! It’s stuck to his arm. He’s taking off his coat. He wrapped the coat over it. Oh, good idea! The cat’s inside. He’s got it down in the bottom of the boat. Thank heaven! He’s coming in. Oh, poor Dad!”

Poor Dad, phooey. Bob and I were worried sick about the cat. We went running down to the lakeshore in the rain. As the boat approached, Dad called out a warning, “Get back away from here, you kids. This animal is scared out of its wits.” The bow of the boat slid onto the bank. I could see blood beading along several scratches on Dad’s face and ear. He was holding the bundled-up coat down in the bottom of the boat with both feet. “Get back out of the way,” he said again. “I don’t have any idea what it’s apt to do.” He raised his feet and got carefully out of the boat. The bundle didn’t move.

Bob wailed, “It’s been killed!”

“It’s far from dead,” Dad said, and with one of the oars he lifted a fold of the coat, gently nudging the package. Still, nothing happened. Dad bent cautiously and caught hold of a sleeve and pulled off the coat. A big, orange-and-white striped cat huddled, unmoving, in the bottom of the boat.

“Oh!” Bob and I cried out together.

“Stay away!” Dad said. He pointed out his scratches. “Look here, at this.” Just then the cat looked up and blinked its eyes. Black and orange eyes. It opened its mouth and out came a hoarse, “Meow-yow?” We bypassed Dad and were in the boat before anybody could stop us. Bob squatted down and started petting and cooing, “Oh, poor itty kitty!” The cat sat and looked at us without moving. The next thing we knew Bob had it in her arms. It lay there, dirty, soaked, but calm as could be, shivering with cold. “Pooor baby,” Bob cooed.

“Well, hell,” said Dad.

We named her ‘Ching,’ Dad’s idea, since, as he pointed out, she was wearing spurs. And the mystery of how she ended up out on the stump was never solved. Probably, we decided, she had been lost by someone passing through, and then been chased by some sort of predator, maybe even a pack of coyotes  -  lately at night we had been hearing their eerie howls  -  and she had been frightened enough to take to the water. Still, after the mauling she gave Dad, she was hardly a favorite of his. He wasn’t a cat person anyway; he was a dog man. But Mom said we needed a mouser, so we put the word out on the Grapevine and when no one claimed her, Ching became ours.

And wouldn’t you know it, she turned out to be your basic rotten cat. She stole food off the table, clawed the furniture, and roamed the house at night meowing and jumping up on peoples’ beds, usually Dad’s. She carried off wool socks and mittens, and they were never seen again. Worst of all, as far as Dad was concerned, she could steal a fish right out of a man’s creel. After her busy nights, she spent most of the day asleep on a favorite windowsill in the living room. Meanwhile, mice ran rampant. One day Mom came into the kitchen and there was Ching, way up on top of the high cupboard, eating coconut frosting off a newly frosted cake. Coconut didn’t agree with Ching, and a while later the frosting reappeared as a nasty mess on the living room rug.

“That’s it,” said Mom. “I’m sorry girls, but that’s the last straw. Maybe there’s someone else who might be able to appreciate Ching more than we do.” Bob and I pleaded. Ching was an orphan. Dad saved her. She had a double meow! Mom gave in, but only on the condition that Ching would become an outdoor cat. Ching had other ideas. Once outside, she climbed up the screen door and hung there, howling, until we gave up and let her back in.

A favorite stuffed animal of Bob’s, another cat named ‘Patches,’ was Ching’s final victim. During the night, Patches was horribly disemboweled, his innards scattered all over the living room. Bob, in shock, declared that, “Daddy should have left Ching out on the stump!” The decision was made to find Ching another home. If possible.

The dilemma only lasted a few days. Then, according to Dad, a miracle occurred. Reverend McCoy dropped by and happened to mention that he was having trouble with mice at his house.

“Dar, shame on you,” said Mom, as Reverend McCoy drove away with his new cat. Dad was glowing. “I agree with Mac about one thing,” he said. “The Lord truly does work in strange and wonderful ways!”


Excerpted from “The Ultimate Montana Atlas & Travel Encyclopedia”

A celebration on Main Street Eureka.

In recent years the term, "Last Best Place" has been used to describe the State of Montana. Few who live in this vast and varied state would argue the point and what’s more, those who live in the Tobacco Plains country consider it to be the "Last of the Last." It was not until the late 1880s that a handful of cattlemen found their way to this remote valley. Until then, it was strictly the domain of the Kootenai Indians who moved freely back and forth across the border with Canada, not knowing or caring about the imaginary line.

Not until 1904, when the Great Northern Railroad rerouted its tracks through here, was there any significant movement of settlers into the valley. Before that, the only commercial hubs in the area were the small settlements of Tobacco and Mills Spring. Oddly enough, they were about one half mile apart and considered themselves to be rivals. Their rivalry was ended, however, when the railroad missed both towns by less than two miles. The center of commerce was moved south to what was to become Eureka.

There was no shortage of entrepreneurs and homesteaders who came here looking for opportunity. Those people faced the future with unbridled optimism. Eureka began as a "flag station," but within two or three years, every passenger train stopped here. The editor of the Tobacco Plains Journal was one of the area’s greatest promoters with weekly exhortations meant to draw more settlers this way. G. E. Shawler could not say enough about the potential riches that this country had to offer. Number one, of course, were the seemingly unlimited timber resources. Once the trains came through, the loggers and saw mills followed. But beyond that, Shawler foresaw the Tobacco Valley as an ideal place for families to come and grow fruits, grains and vegetables as well as livestock and poultry. Talk started almost immediately about the prospects of building a "big ditch" from the water rich mountains to provide irrigation for the semi-desert plains country to the north of Eureka. That project, begun in 1910, continues to improve even to this day, providing water to many small farmers and ranchers and gardeners all around Eureka.

Many thought that the surrounding mountains were rich with mineral resources. Prospectors poked and prodded every rock outcropping they could find, and while there were eventually some copper mines in the mountains to the east, gold and silver were never found in any worthwhile amounts.

By 1908, the town claimed over 60 businesses, including two each of banks, drug stores, meat markets, confectioners, barbers, doctors and lawyers. There was a school, a library, a newspaper, four churches and plenty of saloons. By 1910, a handful of people had driven automobiles into the valley over the wagon road that ran up from Kalispell.

Eureka boomed throughout the teens and into the roaring twenties. With its close proximity to Canada, the Prohibition era saw many dramas, great and small, played out between bootleggers and the "dry squad."

By the mid-twenties, the writing was on the wall as the area began to suffer some setbacks. Mainly, the Eureka Lumber Company planer burned and was not rebuilt. As for the farmers, the “Big Ditch,” did not provide many of them with enough water and the Farmers and Merchants Bank foreclosed on them and then the bank failed. Eureka and the Tobacco Valley lay virtually dormant then for the next four decades. But since the early seventies, the trend has been reversed as more and more people come here seeking a less harried existence.

Source: U.S. Forest Service pamphlet researched and written by Lost Trail Publishing.

Montana Forest Trivia

From “Montana Trivia” by Janet Spencer, Riverbend Publishing

Click here for price and order information and to view more Ultimate Press products

Q. What national forest was the first in Montana and one of the first in the nation?
A. Bitterroot, formed in 1887.

Q. The 19 million acres of national forest in Montana are about the size of what eastern seaboard state?
A. South Carolina.

Q. Which of the state’s ten national forests is the largest, with 2.3 million acres?
A. Flathead, which is about the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

Q. In Maine, 82 percent of the state is forested (the most in the nation) and in North Dakota only 1 percent (the least) but what percentage of Montana is forested?
A. Twenty-four percent.

Q. What percentage of Montana’s forested land is owned by the federal government?
A. Sixty-four percent.

Recipe from:
Montana Private Chef, Sarah Knecht

Sarah Knecht is a Private Chef in Montana with clients from all over the world. She also teaches cooking classes and loves to share her passion for cooking. Check out her website, and be sure to call when you head to cowboy country!    

Visit Sarah's Website

Fillet With Bearnaise & Port Wine Reduction

A note from Chef Knecht: This recipe is us Montanans getting sophisticated. It is perfect for a romantic dinner; my husband will cook the steaks while I prepare the sauces.  Then together we make the side dishes.  A gruyere/dijon gratin potato and fresh sauteed green beans with garlic complement this dish beautifully.  Before you know it, you'll be feeling sophisticated too!

4 -10 ounce center cut beef tenderloin steaks seasoned with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper; grill or pan sear and bake to desired temperature.

Port wine reduction
Pour 1 liter Port wine (any brand works) in thick bottom pot. Simmer 45+ minutes until bubbly and thick. Keep a close eye on your reduction as it can burn quickly from the bubbly and thick stage. Remove from pan, put in small bowl, and keep at room temperature until service.  This reduction can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three months.

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. white wine
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon leaves
2 tsp. Worcestershire
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 extra large egg yolks
1 / 2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and fat skimmed off top.  Keep warm.

Place egg yolks, vinegar, tarragon and white wine in a double boiler with a stainless or glass bowl on top. Whisk constantly over heat until yolks thicken slightly and the bottom of the bowl is visible.  Remove the bowl from heat and start whisking in clarified butter slowly in an even stream (2 ounces of butter for every yolk).  Once your sauce is thickened, add Worcestershire and salt and pepper. Finish with fresh tarragon leaves.

Place fillet on plate with accompaniments. Drizzle Béarnaise over steak, and drip port wine reduction onto plate and through the sauce.

Featured Books

How It Looks Going Back: Growing Up in the Montana Woods

by Doris Knowles Pulis; Riverbend Publishing

When Doris Knowles Pulis was an intrepid young girl eager to explore her new home in Montana’s remote and beautiful Yaak Valley, an old-timer offered her this advice about traveling in the woods: “Turn around every once in a while so you know how it looks going back.” Fortunately for readers, she did, and her new memoir, How It Looks Going Back: Growing Up in the Montana Woods, is a delightful account of quirky neighbors, growing girls’ adventures, wildlife huge and tiny, and especially one loving family.

“It was a cozy, scary, painful, hilarious, dangerous, interesting, and grand time,” Pulis writes, “and the most fun I ever had.”

When the Knowles family left San Diego on a camping trip in 1949, they stumbled across the Yaak River country and found a two-bedroom, story-and-half log cabin on a small lake. Darwin Knowles saw a peaceful life, and adventurous wife Marilyn agreed. Third-grader daughter, Dee (for Doris), could attend the one-room school, and three-year-old Bob (Barbara) would have a safe place to play. Enthusiastic but ignorant of wilderness living, the family moved in that fall—working together to cook and heat with wood, hunt and fish for food, haul water, and wash clothes by hand. They stayed for six years, during which son Stevie was born.

Pulis’ reminiscence of her childhood in “the Yaak” is a beautiful narrative. Clem Work, University of Montana School of Journalism professor and author of  Darkest Before Dawn: Sedition and Free Speech in the American West, said, “Doris Pulis’ sweet and sassy memoir of her family’s back-to-basics idyll in the Yaak shows that spirit, guts, and grit are priceless qualities in any era.”

The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia - Yellowstone Gateway Edition

by Michael Dougherty, Heidi Pfeil-Dougherty and Kristin Hill

Click here for price and order information and to view more Ultimate Press products

The newest offering from Ultimate Press covers the Yellowstone Gateway Region from Red Lodge to Virginia City. Now in full color, the book exceeds the reputation of Ultimate Press for providing the most comprehensive books available on areas in the Northern Rockies. The book has 184 color pages packed with maps, photos, history, attractions, dining, lodging, camping, fishing, hikes, scenic drives, and more. It also contains a complete guide (50+ pages) to touring Yellowstone National Park. Over 72 maps including highway, town and city, demographic, tours, ski areas, camping and fishing, and more. But rather than waste space telling you about the incredible amount of content in the book, visit the Ultimate Press bookstore and order a copy for yourself today or download the entire book for free!

Includes complete guide to Yellowstone National Park — Complete information on the Montana gateway area from Virginia City to Red Lodge — 73 maps: highway, city and town, tours, specialty — All restaurants — All Motels — All public campgrounds — All private campgrounds — All Forest Service cabins — Travel and relocation information — Airports — Fishery information — Lewis & Clark points of interest — Public golf courses — Museums and historical sites — Historical information — Hot springs — Hikes — Cross-Country Ski Trails — Downhill ski area information — Scenic drives and sidetrips — Ghost towns — Attractions — Adventure — Hundreds of photographs — Weather information — Information on all cities and towns — Directory of schools, churches, government offices, municipal offices, businesses and more!

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