George & Ella take a break at the edge of the Yellowstone River in Livingston's park.

Downtown livingston retains its charm. The town has a Carnegie library, a bistro recommended by Anthony Bourdain, and lots of writers.

Walks with Ella: Montana

Bluebells - not an English bluebell forest, not a Texas highway, just a little pocket of blue.

I loved this mix of the tiny plants still flowering with large ones going to seed.

A group of magpies are called a mischief, and there were plenty of these large, long-tailed mischievious birds hanging out in Livingston.

There were still flowers along the roadside.

Bozeman is about a half hour away from Livingston, and is much larger. It has a Montana State University, the area airport, and all the shopping you could want. There is an older heart of the city, and then urban sprawl like San Jose.

Fence at sunset

I call these Button Flowers, but is it perhaps Tansy?

Livingston. Montana is at the tip of Paradise Valley, the gateway to Yellowstone National Park. The area is also home to many excellent writers, some of whom we got to interview.

Yet another Thistle – Bullthistle?

Looking south toward Paradise Valley on our morning walk. The rain meant no smoke.


Folks who live in this area seem to love horses, dogs and old farm equipment, probably in that order.

Stickery sunset along the road.

I think this guy was the same age as the tractor.

A few places had chickens, but this rooster was particularly handsome.

The Fence Connection

There are some days you just feel like this. It is a detail from an apartment building in Livingston probably built in the '20s.

A large alien pod getting ready to spilleth its seed upon the ground.


Sidewalk sculpture in Bozeman

The RV park that we had picked out to stay in - mainly based on price - was three steps below Dogpatch. We were able to find a very nice one nestled in an area of small 'ranchettes' with lots of willow and cottonwood trees. Ella and I walked various roads through the area, accidentally spooking deer and jackrabbits who were hidden in roadside bushes. We also made friends with some of the horses we saw and occasionally took carrots to.

There were constant wildfires and smoke while we were in Montana. And Idaho. And Wyoming. New Mexico too.

A sweet garter snake crossing the road. So far the only living snake we've seen on this journey.

Just at the beginning of the seed process

A barn in Paradise Valley

Cowgirls at work outside McLeod

The deer and antelope play . . . with cows in their pastures. This antelope seemed to be keeping watch for his small herd.

Deer cooling off in the shade of a highway sign

Roadside bears near McLeod

Above all, this is cattle country, smoke and all.

Although most of our pictures were taken on walks around our 'neighborhood,' we also took trips to Ringling, Pine Creek, Emmigrant, McLeod, Yellowstone, and more. The local Pine Creek fire kept us from most of the small towns and the hot springs in Paradise Valley.

And of course that makes it haying country too.

Watching the Pine Creek fire from the highway shortly after it started.

All too soon it was time to head further west. We wouldn't miss the fires, winds or impending snow. But we would miss the beautiful country, the interesting people, the long walks. We did manage to get a couple of interviews while we were there, but there are so many writers in the area it would be a good place to go back to.

We headed for Lolo Hot Springs near Missoula and spent a couple of days off the grid. The mineral soak was funky but fabulous.

George at his nippy morning journal writing session at Lolo Hot Springs.

Lolo Hot Springs butte colored with mineral deposits from the springs.

Wild turkeys

George on McLeod Mt at Holly's Road Kill Saloon . . .where Holly is Queen.

Ella searching the riverbank for chipmunks

Field and stream

And the next thing you know, we are in Idaho.