Boothill Cemetery, “Yellowstone” Kelly and Moss Mansion

09/07/17 Thursday in Billings, MT

We checked out some unique places and people in Billings today.

Boothill Cemetery

This was a disappointment for John. It took a good while to find it (no signs to help), but with directions from the manager at Boothill Inn & Suites, we did. These photos sum it up:

Boothill 1

Boothill 2

Boothill 3

Sacrifice Cliffs or The Place Where the White Horse Went Down

There really was a cemetery of grasses with metal crosses placed all over, but the only grave that was marked with a headstone was that of Muggins Taylor.

Thanks to the same lady’s directions we found the new interpretive site for Luther Sage “Yellowstone” Kelly. This man was an adventurer at heart, accomplishing so much in his life. He was a trapper, hunter, trader, scout, Veteran (in 3 wars). He spent time in a lot of states including New York (where he was born), the Dakotas, Montana, Alaska to the Philippines until he and his wife retired in California. He was friends with “Buffalo Bill” Cody and President Teddy Roosevelt (one of his “Tennis Cabinet”, an informal sportsman group). Along with all those talents, he was pretty darn dashing as well. He asked to be buried in Montana, where he’d experienced his greatest adventures.  I think it’s rather cool that he was born 99 years and 2 days before I was!  Believe it or not, several books have been written about him and even a movie made of him.  

Kelly 1

Kelly 2

Kelly 3

Kelly 4

Yellowstone Kelly’s grave

Moss Mansion

The home of P. B. Moss, a civic leader who loomed large in Billings, was built in 1903 for over $100,000. Regular homes at the time cost $3,000. He and Mattie had 6 children on top of all their accomplishments- his in many businesses and leadership of Billings, hers in the arts (musician and artist).

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Little Bighorn Battlefield Monument

09/06/17 Wednesday in Billings, MT

After a long trip of 535 miles (unthinkable in our RV, pretty manageable in our car), we got to Billings from Spokane by 4:15, then settled in before we enjoyed a simple supper of sandwiches. We brought 2 bins of kitchen supplies in hopes of sort of replicating our RV cooking experience. We’ll see how that goes.

When we left, Spokane was covered with smoke from nearby fires and even blown in from the Montana fires so we were concerned how it would be as we traveled east. Fortunately, the smoke lessened as we got further into Montana, starting in Missoula. Butte was still smokey but by Billings it was pretty clear. Our prayers go out to those still suffering in Spokane and throughout the north west.

The next morning our breakfast was amazing with scrambled eggs, sausages, cooked oatmeal, and waffles – our favorites. We even slept pretty well last night.

At the battle of the Little Bighorn (river), Indians from the Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, gathered in a village of about 20,000, fought against the US Army. The Indians fought to save their families and culture as buffalo hunters while the Army was following Grant’s orders to remove the Sioux and Cheyenne peoples to the Sioux Reservation in Dakota Territory. Never mind that they had treaty rights to be where they were in the Unceded Territory. This was during a Depression, gold had been found in the Black Hills and settlers started swarming in. The Army tried to keep them out, to no avail. Then the USA tried to purchase the Black Hills from the Indians but this was very sacred land for them. The Lakota and Cheyenne resumed raids on settlements and travelers, so the Army was sent to get them back into the reservation.

Bighorn River

Bighorn River

The plan was for a unit under Gen. Crook to come from the south, another under Gen. Terry and Col. Gibbon from the west and a third from the east under Custer.

Chief Sitting Bull was a spiritual leader more than a warrior, inspiring his people to keep their way of life. He had a dream where he saw soldiers falling upside down and hearing the message that they were falling because they’d lost their ears. You could say that communication was the major reason for the failure of the Army at Little Bighorn. Remember, no cell phones, no Internet in those days.

Gen. Crook was knocked out of contention in mid-June and were forced to withdraw at the Rosebud River. Now confident, the Indians moved west to the Little Bighorn River. Terry and Gibbon met near the mouth of the Rosebud. Hoping to find Indians in the Little Bighorn Valley, Terry ordered Custer and the 7th Cavalry up the Rosebud to approach from the south. Terry would join Gibbon up the Yellowstone River to approach from the north. The 7th Cavalry, about 600 men, found the Indian village, possibly underestimating it’s size. The warriors weren’t visible, so they thought they were out hunting, but probably they were sleeping off a very long night of celebrating the Sun party the night before. So Custer divided his men into 3 battalions, under Reno, Benteen and one to guard the slow-moving pack train. Reno’s group met heavy resistance and retreated to woods, then further up a bluff. Benteen was to scout the bluffs, but upon receiving orders from Custer “Come on; Big village, be quick, bring packs.” hurried to join Reno. They could see heavy smoke/dust to the north and started to move northward. An advance company went ahead about a mile but by now the firing had stopped and nothing could be seen of Custer and his men. When the rest of the soldiers arrived they were attacked by a large force of Indians so Reno ordered a withdrawal back to the bluff where they held their defenses throughout that day and most of the next. The Indians withdrew when they learned of the approach of Terry and Gibbon’s forces. Note that these 350 men of the 7th Cavalry did survive the battle.

Reno/Benteen bluff

Reno bluff 1

Reno/Benteen bluff

Last Stand Hill

The remains of the 7th Cavalry are scattered around this area, with a group that included Custer concentrated at the top of this hill. Markers (white to indicate Army personnel, red to indicate Indians) show were men fell. They were so lightly buried at the time that later the exposed remains were reburied in a group under a monument to them. Across the road are buried their horses. From the position of the bodies and stories from the Indians, the men positioned their horses in a circle, shot their own horses in the head, so when they fell they formed a barricade for the men. When the Indians saw this they realized the men were probably sure they wouldn’t get out of this predicament alive.

Across from Last Stand Hill, on the other side of the road, is the Indian Monument

Custer National Cemetery

Trail to the Deep Ravine

Many bodies were found along the Deep Ravine, although markers were mistakenly placed along the trail to that ravine. Apparently the Indians preferred this heavy cover to shoot from and the soldiers were drawn to it in their attempt to escape.

As we ended our walk on the Deep Ravine trail we came upon this adorable Western Meadowlark, taking a bath. She even let me take photos!


Western Meadowlark

After all that excitement we got some groceries and gas, then home for TV dinner supper. Ahhhh.

I love this motel (Fairfield Inn and Suites), for not only the delicious hot breakfasts but also the very quiet A/C and comfortable bed.

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Marlin Hutterite Brethren (Marlin, WA) and Harrington Opera House

08/16/17 Wednesday in Spokane Valley, WA (HOME)

We enjoyed a lovely tour with Inland Empire Tours today. On our way to see the Hutterites, we watched DVD’s about the Anabaptists, also known as the Plain People, religious groups formed in Switzerland/Germany (later Austria, Netherlands, and Czecoslovakia) during the Reformation. “Anabaptist” means another/later baptism. These people rejected the idea of infant baptism, believing that only a believer can truly be baptized into their faith. Over time and great persecutions 3 separate groups emerged: The Amish are the most conservative, the Mennonites the most progressive and the Hutterites are the smallest and most moderate group. Under intense persecution, they escaped to the United States between 1874 and 1879.

Basically they strive to live as the original church began; in community where all possessions were shared, to live in harmony. That only in true resignation and sharing can the path of discipleship be pursued, thus can love become a concrete reality. They wear the same dress to show to the world their common beliefs. They believe in Baptism, Communion and Marriage. They don’t believe in war and are conscientious objectors. For their church government each community/colony elects a Board of Directors (5-6 elders) which include the ministers (who read the sermons from a book, then they can give additional commentary), the financial manager, the field boss, the German school teacher (that is their first language) who is also the gardener, and others such as the Carpenter, Electrician, Plumber, Blacksmith, Shoe-repairman, Bookbinder or Livestock managers. People’s talents are taken into account but the needs of the community are considered paramount.

The individual works for the good of all. Members receive a monthly allowance for personal desires, needs are supplied from a common storehouse. Early on they developed superior schools. In fact, they were the first to devise the kindergarten in Europe. Besides public school the children attend kindergarten, the German school and the Sunday school. They complete High School, then continue with vocational training – girls for baking, cooking, sewing and boys for field work and skills like electrician, plumber, and carpenter.

On the average they live in groups of 90 people per colony. Large groups can have problems of unemployment so when a commune reaches about 100-115 it seeks a second location to form a daughter colony. The colony is named after the city is resides near. This group is at 130 people now.

Baptism (adults) is performed after 7 weeks of special training. Marriage never precedes Baptism. The boy asks the girl’s father for consideration, her family lets her know his interest and generally lets him know their marriage is accepted. There is an engagement period. Divorce is forbidden. Weddings are celebrated for 3 days with homemade gifts given to the couple. First cousin marriages are forbidden. Normally the boys and girls meet when marriages and funerals are celebrated among different colonies. The girl lives with the boy at his colony. As you’ll see in the photos, nothing in their religion that forbids technological efficiency. They’re also fine with us taking pictures as long as we didn’t ask anyone to pose.

The women put their hair into braids, twisting those braids into a bun near the top of their head. They wear a scarf or cap that sits upon that bun. Their homes are built with 3 together, sort of like triplexes. Our guide invited us into her home, where we saw more of their carpenter’s work. The guy with the beret is our tour guide and owner of Inland Empire Tours. I really liked the back massager, that you can slide up or down according to your massage desires. Notice the saying next to it? Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth.

Hut 01

Hut 02

One of the many large buildings for their farming enterprises.

Hut 03

Inside their mechanic’s building. Note the parts cabinets.

Hut 06

Inside their carpenter and leather working building.

On to the women’s pursuits. This is a very organized group, so once a girl turns 17 she has her name added to the list of workers. Her name will come off when she is 50. They spend a week at the bakery, at cooking meals, rotating with other responsibilities. They process their own chickens, ducks and geese, as well as their garden produce but those activities aren’t as constant as those they rotate.

Hut 07

Laundromat where each couple has their own slotted day and time to use it.

Hut 09

They make their own bars of soap from old soap slivers, lard and lye. The large steel tub has soap bars and water to make a liquid soap for use in the machines.

Hut 10

Outside the laundromat is a cart. Each couple receives this cart from the community for a wedding present. They use it for moving any heavy items.

Hut 12

This is inside the canning kitchen. Every time our guide mentioned the canning kitchen I was sure she was saying candy kitchen, so this was sort of a disappointment. What they preserve, naturally, is from their own gardens.

Hut 13

They are proud of this machine that takes produce, especially tomatoes, and quickly chops them into very small pieces.

Hut 14

Here is the bakery. Those rolling pins are just beautiful. When marrying, the woman gets to choose which wood she wants her furniture made from: cherry, walnut, or hickory (not oak)

Hut 15

Hut 16

Their new dish washing machine that she was very proud of.

Hut 17

Their kitchen with ovens at the back. These have settings to automatically cook certain items.

Hut 18

The children’s dining area, which looks a lot like the adult area which is in another part of the building. The German teacher is in charge of the children’s morning school in German and guides their eating experience. They have private school in the afternoon as well as time with their folks, working.

Hut 19

Their chapel. Note the lack of any pictures or statues. They celebrate baptisms, weddings, communion, and funerals, but not birthdays or holidays.

Hut 24

These little birds seemed to enjoy watching our group parade from one building to another. They’re sitting on outdoor clothes dryers.

Hut 25

I had never seen this before: its a hummingbird moth. Very aptly named, because when you first spot it you think it’s a hummingbird until you look more closely and see it’s coloring and wings.

We were treated to a scrumptious lunch at their dining room, just before the rest of the community sat down for their noon meal. All home grown and so delicious: borscht (cabbage soup), mashed potatoes with gravy, meatloaf, green beans, cucumber pieces, corn on the cob and bread and butter. At another point Teresa (our guide) explained more about the Hutterites, giving us a slide show of activities they do in this colony. Later we could purchase small bags of information (including a cook book!) and a photo as well as loaves of bread and preserves.

I think it was about 2pm when we headed off to Harrington where we got to experience their Opera House. For a small farming community, this was impressive. The first image is of the ticket counter from the bank that occupied this building around a hundred years ago. We even got to listen to a lady playing the piano as we walked around.

Next up: Gardens in a couple Harrington yards.

That was a long but thoroughly enjoyable day. We watched some more DVD’s and Dick shared more information as we traveled back to Spokane.  Big day, and SO much fun!!

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St. Helena Cathedral (Helena, MT)

07/27/17 Wednesday in Spokane Valley, WA (HOME)

When we first got a glimpse of this cathedral I told John it sure looked like Notre Dame, a smaller version of course. When we began our tour we learned that it’s in Gothic style. That’s what Notre Dame and Chartres are too, so I was on the right track.

Built on a hill, it stands with great dignity and a lovely view. The property was purchased in 1905 but the cathedral wasn’t ready for the congregation until 1924. The most phenomenal sights are the stained glass windows. In the early days of the church those windows were how the faithful were taught. I loved how these have the scriptures written in the glass, in English. It’s rare to see any words, much less than they are in English.

Hel 3

Hel 4

Central Aisle with Baptismal font near, main altar far.


Hel 5

Central Altar. Note the organ and organ pipes behind it. There is seating there as well.


Hel 6

Side altar to Mary (left of main altar).


Hel 7

Side altar (right of main altar) to St. Joseph.


Hel 8

Cross above main altar.

Stunningly beautiful.  We also attended their noon Mass, with our priest concelebrating. That was lovely as well.

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Our Lady of the Rockies (Butte, MT)

07/26/17 Wednesday in Spokane Valley, WA (HOME)

Our Lady of the Rockies is this amazing 90’ iron statue of Mary. It sits on the Continental Divide, at over 8,000 feet. It’s the 4th tallest statue in the US. Most amazing is the story of the individuals who made it happen: all volunteers. In short, Bob O’Bill’s wife got cancer. He prayed that if she got well he would build a 5 ft statue of Mary in thanks. Once that happened, several friends felt that it would be better to build something bigger, maybe a statue for the Continental Divide, where the rain that fell on her front would flow to the Pacific Ocean and what fell on her back would flow to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Eventually they talked Leroy (Laurien Eugene Riehl) into building an iron structure of the statue. As each part that he attempted (hand, then face) was met with enthusiasm among those excited about the project, he felt guided, that he might actually manage to engineer it. The volunteers even managed to get rights to the property they wanted her to sit on, visible from the 2 freeways that reach all the way across the US: I-90 (E-W) and I-15 (N-S). They even got free space vehicle paint for her white color.

She is near Butte, MT. Because the property leading up to her is private you must get a school bus ride from the Butte Mall (Our Lady of the Rockies Gift Shop) to go up and down the mountain.

Roc 1

Once there Fr. Joe Bell (our parish priest) celebrated Mass for us in the chapel/activity building there.

Roc 2

Then we made our way to “the Lady”, entering her from the rear, then we posed at her front. Our dear school bus driver lay on a bench to take our photo in front of her (along with anyone else who wanted it).  Those fibrous looking rectangles in her robe (wings) are there to allow the wind to flow through, not knocking her down.

Then we enjoyed the view. The third image is of the City of Butte, the fourth is of the Berkely Pit, where toxins left from prior mining operations still exist and an open pit mine where they mined copper, silver and molybdenum mostly.

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St. Ignatius Mission (St. Ignatius, MT)

07/25/17 Tuesday in Spokane Valley, WA (HOME)

On our pilgrimage to Montana Catholic sites, we first saw the St. Ignatius Mission on the Flathead Indian reservation.

This church, named after St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, was built in 1891. This happened only after 4 separate delegations of Indians went to Father Peter DeSmet pleading for missionaries. In response, he sent educational and religious help for the Salish and Kootenai tribes. Within 35 years this mission included a large school, a sawmill, a printing press, flour mill, hospital, farm and the present church.

Ig 1

The murals in this church (stunning when you first enter) were painted by Brother Joseph Carignano, SJ, the mission cook.

Ig 4

I loved the “shell” piece they placed over the speaker’s podium. Note the area marked for repairs on the painting of Mary. Considering how old this building is, they’ve done a great job of trying to keep it in shape.

There were paintings of many saints, including St. Francis of Assisi and St. Gonzaga.

The Ursuline sisters who arrived in 1890, began the first kindergarten, then later staffed a boarding school and a day school. By 1972 all were closed.

Providence sisters were the first Catholic nuns in Montana. They came from Canada in 1864, running the first Catholic boarding school in Montana until it burned in 1919. These sisters also ran a hospital until 1914, when real doctors and nurses came to staff it. In 1977, due to a shortage of personnel, the hospital was given to the community of St. Ignatius.

This building was the first home of the Providence sisters. Inside are historical explanations and a lovely painting by Brother Carignano.

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Palouse Falls State Park with Grandchildren

6/20/17 Tuesday in Spokane Valley, WA (HOME!)

Palouse Falls is a place we’ve wanted to visit for some time but it is 2 hours away from home. So we chose to bring our grandchildren there to enjoy the experience with us.

This amazing gorge was formed millions of years ago by a glacier. Now we have the joy of watching water flow over into that gorge.

After we were home we found out that the next day (Wednesday) the road into that park was closed due to fire nearby. Whew!!! That would have been rough traveling all that way with the grand kids only to be disappointed.

A week later we took them to our Thousand Trail campground, Little Diamond, for a fun hike in the morning followed by a picnic lunch, then swim time in their pool.

2017-6 (46)

We all had a grand time. On the way home John noticed a card stuck in our windshield. It was a business card from RV friends that were camping there and inviting us over to visit. So we came the next day (without the grandchildren) to play Fast Track with Roger, Diane, Scott and Lois. We had lots more fun that day as well.

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