Thursday, October 31, 2013


Meadow Lake, Mission Mountains:

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Crystal Lake, Mission Mountains:

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Kilbrennan Lake:

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Petty Mountain:

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The incredible Yaak River:

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Lily Lake, Idaho:

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Lower Miner Lake, Beaverhead Mountains:

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Hub Lake:

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Below Trapper Peak, Bitterroot Mountains:

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The Bitterroot from the crest of the Sapphires:

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Undisclosed location in the Mission:

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Near La Push, Olympic National Park:

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Hurricane Ridge:

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The Rattlesnake:

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The Mission from Red Butte:

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The Missoula Valley from the Death Star:

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Near Hoodoo Pass along the Stateline:

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The Clearwaters in Idaho:

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(Click on the images, then to expand click on the magnifying glass.)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Mise en place.

Everything in its place.

At his namesake lake on the edge of the Scapegoat.

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After a week of highs in the 40s, a 63-degree afternoon feels like it might as well be 90. Seeley Lake.

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Wildlife blind a long the upper Clearwater. All we saw was a stupid deer.

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What part of ‘party’ don’t you understand?

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Glacier Lake: too cold for a swim.

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Beached at a not-so-secret island on Lake Alva.

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Midway through a 2,400 vertical foot mountain bike descent from University Mountain to my garage.

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Crystal Lake.

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No pictures, please.

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Naptime on the climb out of Crystal.

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Meadow Lake, Lindy Peak.

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Mommy’s 5k.

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Party: Mardi Gras beads and chocolate cupcakes.

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The end of fall.

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Western Montana does a lot of things well, but in general fall is not one of them. Most vanish under lingering heat, early snowstorms, persistent smoke, or neverending drizzle. Not so 2013: a late-September snow broke the warmth and ushered in nearly four continuous weeks of Chamber of Commerce fall – highs in the 50s, lows in the 20s, blue skies, snowcapped mountains, and memorable foliage. Going by the forecast, it’ll be a distant memory by Sunday.

This is warmer:

(People from the interior of Democratic Republic of Congo (the old 'Zaire') continue to stream into Kinshasha, but in this case they bring their dance with them. The concrete-and-plastic bar this is filmed in reminds me a lot of the hotel I wound up in after I was discharged from the hospital in Mombasa. Nevermind. This video is so incredibly kickass it defies coherent description. I believe the dude with the cowboy hat is Mputu Ebondo 'Mi Amor', and the dance is from the Songye, who live in the very center of DR Congo. The music is dubbed 'Congotronics' -- electrified traditional music.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Because who doesn’t want a satay recipe every once in a while?

“Chicken on a stick! Of course I want one.” That comment came from Whitney on Sunday but I think it’s a fairly common sentiment. Chicken on a stick is the national go-to snack dish/dinner in Thailand, a country that has perfected the art of food stuck on sticks, poured into plastic bags, or wrapped in banana leaves.

Pre-made satay sauces are easy enough to come by, I guess, but not particularly cheap. This recipe won’t win bragging rights at the night market in Udon Thani, but I think it does well enough considering it’s made with mostly regular around-the-house ingredients.

1. Take some bamboo skewers and marinate them in water for about an hour. I used a coffee cup to hold them under water otherwise they just float to the surface.
2. Chop 4 cloves of garlic and 4 small dried (or fresh) red chilies (seeds removed). Drop a few tablespoons of sesame seed oil in a pan and heat; add the garlic and chili and cook until fragrant.
3. Put the chili/garlic mix in a food processor and pulse for a minute. Add about 1 cup of chunky peanut butter, and then some soy sauce and lime juice. Mix it up good.
4. Take 2 chicken breasts, and pound each until decently thin. Then use kitchen scissors to slice the breasts lengthwise so they are like 6 inches long or so and a quarter-inch wide.
5. Remove the skewers from the water and thread the chicken on them. If you wound up with extra odds and ends pieces of chicken, add those pieces to the skewer as bonus chicken. Take the satay sauce and spread it all over the chicken and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two. All told, you'll probably have 15 skewers' worth of chicken.
6. Now this is actually the hard part. Fire up the grill and place the skewers on the grates. The first thing you will notice is that any peanut butter that falls off the chicken and on to the burner will flame up considerably. The chicken has to sit on the flame long enough to cook (duh) but not so long that the skewers catch fire. A few probably will, but that just proves that you are a suburban American trying to be cool and not a Thai street vendor.

See? Babies like satay too.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Transcript of a letter not sent to The Missoulian on Oct. 10 because Laura said it was a bad idea and she was probably right.


The current government shutdown should offer President Obama the chance to do what’s been needed to be done for years: suspend the Constitution and dissolve Congress.

Many people suggest we “throw the bums out”, and I’m all for this, but due to gerrymandering, most of the bums never get thrown out (although our own Denny Rehberg was one notable exception). Because congressional seats are drawn to be safe, the bums actually just get bummier.

It’s been a while since the House of Representatives has done anything useful. Once set up with the noble notion of representing “the people”, this group of intellectual lightweights is simply no longer needed. Just trash it.

The Senate does on occasion serve a purpose, but not in its current configuration, which favors career politics over rational thought and money over common causes. I’d recommend replacing it with a true citizen-led system similar to jury duty selection – say, everyone who registers is eligible to serve a term, you’re called up for a set period, and it’s possible to claim hardship and defer your seat to others.

I understand that my plan will cause unemployment in America to increase by 535, but I think most of these guys would be eligible for job training assistance. They voted to fund that, right?

Jeff Schmerker

Morning in America

Even before Laura vetoed this, I had already self-edited the final paragraph, the gist of which was that while the Constitution was temporarily off-line someone could take about five minutes and rewrite the stupid Second Amendment so it made sense.

Lately I’ve had the radio alarm set to Bill Bennett’s ‘Morning in America’. Despite having an AM talk show, Bennett is sometimes not completely irrational, yet there he was the second morning after the shutdown, saying: ‘This is good. This is unity for the party.’ Did he see this ? I’m long past the point where I will ever vote for another Republican, but still I think having such a weak party is bad for the two-party system. (Which, when I come into power, will be done away with, of course.)

I guess this guy did not see that poll, either. But he’s probably not the type to give a shit.

Some people have better things to do, I guess.

In this morning’s paper, instead of my letter to the editor, was this quote, from Richard Layne, who is about to embark on a three-year quest to hike the Continental Divide across Montana on snowshoes.

‘Before David, before Solomon, even before Abraham, there was snowfall on the Continental Divide and the horrific conditions I get to see when I go out. I get to see what was here 10,000 years ago. That means more to me than anything else.’

Anyway, here’s a picture of a baby climbing a mountain:

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