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Slot Canyon Magic

Monday, October 12, 2009

Every now and then I think about my favorite days ever. A few stand out in memory, like the day I took Phoebe, 17 mo. old and just walking, in a bike trailer along the coastal trail in Monterey, California. I remember every detail, every sparkle on the water from that day.

The Slot Canyon Adventure on our Missouri River canoe trip in Montana certainly ranks up with the Monterey day. We'd camped under some cottonwoods, and got up the next morning to go into the most magical of canyons. As its name suggests, a slot canyon narrows down until it's a squeeze to get through, making for a whole lot of fun. That's a whole 'nother post, seeing Bill of the Birds through that canyon.

The view across the river included some sheer cliffs and a prairie falcon nest!
Bill of the Birds had brought his spotting scope along, and we watched the falcons tend their young.

A bull snake greeted us at the campsite. Liam spotted it first!

Our guide Nick caught the placid snake and relocated it a short distance away. Bull snakes climb after birds' nests, as rat snakes do back home in Ohio.

What a gorgeous creature. He looked like someone tried to make him a T. Rex for Halloween.

This canyon had it all. Gorgeous wildflowers with extraneous minutiae (Nick and Liam).

There's a rock wren in this picture. Take my word for it.

Gumbo lilies, a kind of primrose, spread their huge white flowers along the cliffsides and tops. I scrambled up to this one and confirmed my suspicion that it would have a heavenly fragrance! Barely any leaves, any plant at all--just a huge flower that looked like someone had dropped a Kleenex on the scree.

Rock pigeons nested along the canyon walls, filling the space with their eerie moans. It was as if the rock walls were breathing, weeping.

We took turns shooting pictures of each other in the great arch atop the canyon.

Here's Bill of the Birds, posing.

I don't know why we feel we have to stand, face the camera and smile, but we do, again and again, even though it makes for some pretty prosaic shots.
To me, the rock looked like a big camel, or a wonderful turkey.
Al Batt, humorist, writer, exemplary human being, was along on our trip, by the grace of Mountain Bluebird Trails and the Great Falls Chamber of Commerce. Such a gift they gave us, letting us experience Montana's Russell Country in this way. Al barely fit in the arch.

Back at camp, Al and Bill muttered about needing some yaller mustard for these here hot dogs hmmmmmm
I don't think there was a pop culture, music or movie reference that Al didn't get and fire right back, and they flew thick and fast. Not to mention his wide-ranging knowledge of natural history, and the obvious mutual affection between Al and our kids. What a wonderful traveling companion!

Oh, thank you, Russell Country. I hope my readers are inspired by this post to book their own trip on the Missouri.


That sounds like a trip and a half. Bill and Al together sounds like a handful just like Bill and John Acorn.

Hmmm. Am I seeing a pattern here?


Genuine comedians they are - I love that last shot.

The entire journey just seems magical! Thanks for taking us along.

Wow, what fantastic beauty. I especially love that photo of them yellar flars with blurry people in the background. And to share your time with silly Slingblade-quoting men... must have been a laugh a minute!

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