>Into the Wild
Today I took the day off to venture back up to Lincoln, MT, where I had just been about a month ago, with my dad. The plan was to just head up there in the morning, see if we got lucky in the wildlife viewing department, and check out the big stuffed grizzly that has been drawing folks to the ranger station there. And score some more jerky. We were pretty successful all the way around.
Heading north on Highway 200, I don’t think we’d even hit the Johnsrud exit when we came across these hitchhikers feasting on someone’s discarded fast food refuse.
Bighorn sheep really are magnificent animals, especially when seen up close. We have a lot of them around here. They are one of those animals that make you catch your breath every time you see one. It’s a shame the NFL team that bears their name and horns is so freakin’ awful.
One we arrived in Lincoln — which is really only about a 1/2 mile stretch of businesses along the highway — we found the ranger station to see the famous grizzly.
They really don’t have room to display him properly, and he really is one magnificent animal. He was struck and killed by a pickup about five miles west of Lincoln a couple years ago — it was a pretty big story. At the time of his death he was 12 years old, weighed 830 pounds and would have stood over 8 feet tall. That’s a whole lot of bear. More than another shitty football team’s worth, in fact. The ranger said they found a lot of buckshot in his hide, and his left eye was completely missing. Since he was struck on the left side, they speculate that his blindness on that side likely contributed to his demise. Here are some shots from the day he was hit, taken by Dennis Smrdel, a local who was familiar with the bear while he was alive.
Here’s a shot of my dad taking a picture of him. You really can’t get a sense of his size, even from this. It’s a sad story, really, but it is also pretty humbling to know these magnificent* animals roam the area. It’s one of the things I love about living out here.
I remember the moment I decided I didn’t like Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, his book about hiking the Appalachian Trail. At various points he remarks on his worry about encountering a black bear, and then at another point, if memory serves, he actually encounters a moose and he’s all flippant about it being big and dumb and goofy. I’ll tell you what: I’d rather encounter a black bear up close any day than a friggin’ moose. Moose are big, ornery, and they will chase you down and they will fuck you up. The first time Julia came up to Montana and we went camping (Lake Como, near Hamilton), we were eyeballing a moose near a pond about 50 – 75 yards away, and that beast decided it didn’t want to be eyeballed and came charging up the hill after us. Luckily we were just camping out of the truck and didn’t have much of a retreat or we (Julia, rather, because I was totally outrunning her) might have had a problem. It ran right up to the edge of our campsite, looked around, huffed and puffed a little, then trotted off, presumably to savage someone else’s tent.
Lesson? Don’t irritate a moose with your presence. And always be faster than your companion.
The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful. We saw hundreds of beeves (including one in grilled patty form adorning a bun which I devoured for lunch with barbeque sauce and french fries), but no more wild critters. It was a good time. We’ll do it again.
The way it works is the contestants — there were 16, the biggest turnout ever — each received a grab bag of odd fabric and had to make something with it. Contestants will be eliminated with each challenge, until after 6 weeks only 2 remain for the 7th and final challenge. They had the middle of the floor all cleared out, and people started queuing up along the runway where the models would strut by the crowd.
By the time it started, the place was packed with people. I got drafted — I always ended up drafted to do stuff at Julia’s events, it seems — to make sure the doorway remained clear, as the models actually went all the way outside and back. Luckily I didn’t have to rough anyone up. I was fully prepared to, though, believe me. There were a couple old ladies that seemed like they might get all uppity, but they backed down after a hard stare and a knuckle-crack.
Things got started and Julia was the first one down the runway! She looked great. She had made this fancy little corset thing that looked cool, and really accentuated her . . . eyes. Unfortunately I wasn’t prepared with my camera to catch her flouncing along the runway, but I did get her in front of the judges, where she had to answer questions about her design.
Those three people seated at the table are the judges. The pretty lady in the middle with the big smile is Aimee, owner of Betty’s Divine. She is always smiling. I love that about her.
Next to Julia in this previous picture is Leah; she and her mom, Mary, are the proprietors of Selvedge. Leah’s husband, Scott, is a drummer and hell of a soccer player too. That gives him high marks in my book. Mary’s husband asked if, should they do a contest requiring male models, I would do it. Of course I would. I’d own that friggin’ runway.
Julia modeled her own creation. Most of the other designers had others model their clothes. Turned out my friend Toni was a model for one of them.
And waiting. And waiting some more. With that many contestants, the judges had a lot to sort out, and obviously took their time in their deliberations. Which is good.
So it was a long night, but all’s well that ends well. Julia didn’t win this individual challenge (winners get a bye in the next round, so they automatically advance from there), but she did advance. She is in Las Vegas right now at a fabric buyer’s show thing, and she took her sewing machine with her so she wouldn’t fall behind. Yes, my girl is in Sin City, and she’s sewing away in her hotel room.** She’s definitely TCB girl these days, no doubt about it.
Selvedge has a complete rundown, with pictures of all the designers and their designs, right here. Check it out! Me, I’ll probably be a sewing widow for the next few weeks, but that ain’t stopping me from hoping she wins the whole shebang!
* yeah, that’s three uses of “magnificent” in three paragraphs. my thesaurus can’t compete with the awesomeness of these animals, so sue me.
** that’s what she said, anyway. she’s probably at Thunder From Down Under right now!