Top four things to see and do at Makoshika State Park
We shared a spread of photos by Jason Savage featuring Makoshika State Park in the March/April issue Portfolio that was pretty incredible. I hope you had a chance to check it out.
And now, I hope it inspires you to go take a look at the park in person.
Makoshika’s 11,538 acres – located just outside Glendive – are filled with giant formations of light colored capstone that reach toward the expansive eastern Montana skies like elegant pedestals.
I talked with Makoshika Park Ranger Tom Shoush for some insider tips about what visitors should do and see once they reach the park. Here’s a Top Four list based on Tom’s recommendations:
- Drive the 10-mile road through the park.
“If the road system is open, I always tell people to drive to the top. That’s where the views are,” Shoush said.
- Watch out for dinosaur bones.
The bones of 10-12 species of dinosaurs have been found inside Makoshika. Most of the finds, Shoush said, are large herbivores that lived near end of the age of dinosaurs. The most significant is an entire Thescelosaur, a “very rare” and “tremendous find” Shoush said.
- Stop at the visitor center.
It’s home to dinosaur bones and rare artifacts left behind by ancient peoples. “A human presence in the area dated back to 10,000 to 12,000 years ago,” Shoush said.
- Stop by during the “spring green up.”
Shoush recommends visiting from Makoshika in mid-May through mid-June.
“I tell people somewhere around June 1 you have the best chance of seeing the flowers in bloom and the migratory birds have returned,” he said.
Meet the people who make Montana Magazine
Each issue of Montana Magazine includes about 12 features, from our Portfolio photography spread to a handful of features from around the state. In all it’s about 15,000 words and dozens of photos. That you probably know.
We also want our readers to know a little bit more about the talented group of people who bring write the words and make the images that fills each issue. They really are a great group – from retired journalists to full-time photographers who make a living making images from across Montana to historians to the deputy director of the department of commerce.
One, Jeremy Lurgio, (who made the images for the story in the March/April issue about Missoula bowyer Jim Rempp) is a adjunct professor of photojournalism at the University of Montana who has taken countless photos across the state while working as a professional photographer.
Many do work for the magazine for the same reason readers read it: They love Montana.
To help give readers a better idea of who our contributors are we began including a contributors pages in each issue. We have a contributors page online at MontanaMagazine.com . It’s a compilation of all the writers and photographers who have contributed their work to Montana Magazine in 2014. We’ll add more as the year goes on.
Check it out. Chances are you know one or two of the contributors, this is Montana, right?
Stained-glass, sun create symphony of light and color inside Cathedral of St. Helena
Even from a distance, it’s easy to recognize the beauty of the Cathedral of St. Helena.
Finished a century ago to stand in Montana’s capitol city of Helena, the Cathedral is a gorgeous building made of Indian limestone. But as writer and photographer Gordon Sullivan told us in the March/April issue, when you step inside the cathedral you’ll be greeted by an incredibly stunning setting thanks to the building’s stained-glass windows.
As the sun moves through the sky, the colorful glass creates a symphony of light and color. It’s a show Sullivan says upstages all the other wonderful elements of beauty inside the cathedral.
It’s no easy task to capture that show with a camera. Sullivan spent hours inside the cathedral to make the images he included in his photo essay in Montana Magazine.
“…for me, as a professional photographer,” Sullivan wrote, “the most outstanding feature revolves around stained-glass light and the sublime tone it casts on marble, polished brass and carved oak. It is the technical challenge this type of light presents and the pleasure of seeing each image suddenly duplicated electronically for others to see.”
What else does Sullivan love about the stained-glass inside the cathedral? He answered some questions for Montana Magazine about his work there.
Do you have a favorite portion of stained glass inside the cathedral?
I guess I have two favorite portions of stained glass inside the cathedral. The first is located on the southeast corner. Here low angle, morning light is particularly interesting. The stained-glass panels featured in this section, from both the higher and lower levels, spread illumination across the interior in colorful bands. It lights up the east facing side of marble pillars and walls and sweeps nicely across the oak pews.
Another of my favorites is the stained-glass panel behind the grated back-alter and crucifix. Here a mixture of brass and stained-glass is vibrant and provides a sense of texture, depth and physical dimension. This panel however is best photographed in low light, allowing just enough illumination of accent color without getting bright enough to wash out detail. Both areas require long exposures, tight metering and a tripod.
What is the best time of day for readers who visit the cathedral to see the splendor of the stained-glass?
The best time of day to visit and witness the splendor of stained-glass light is when the sun’s outside angle is at its greatest, which means early to mid-morning or late afternoon. Morning light enters from the east and in afternoon it comes from the west. The sharper the angle, the better the reflections inside the church and the more possible it will be for the illumination to be contrasted by interior shadows. Best time of year is autumn or early winter.
Another very special “mind blowing” time to visit is the last hour before sunset when the exterior light is low, warm and angled. It is almost unbelievable what goes on inside the cathedral during a vivid sunset. The effect is quick but very impressive.
Tell us about the time it takes to get shots like you did.
Once I set my sights on photographing the stained glass light, I first needed to study the patterns and determine what time of day or year would best demonstrate the effect I was after. This took some time and several dry runs and more or less pointed to times when the outside light was at its greatest angle to the windows. Mid-morning and late afternoon seemed to be prime – especially for the visible bands of light falling on inside attractions like marble pillars, oak pews and high contrast walls.
Working inside the Cathedral of St. Helena requires both patience and planning, simply because a few special shots appear only during certain times during the day and in some cases vanish at a moment’s notice. Some of the shots were planned very carefully while others seemed to appear out of nowhere.
World renowned wildlife sculptor describes Montana using three words
If you could pick only three words to describe, Montana, what three words would you use?
Hard question to answer?
We put a Montanan on the spot with that question in each issue for our Big Sky Spotlight feature. We created the feature because we figured there are plenty of Montanans you ought to know. So why not put one in the magazine?
Clark Schreibeis, truly a hidden treasure in our state, is a world renonwed wildife carver and sculptor who has won dozens of best in world awards for his work. Clark was featured as the Big Sky Spotlight in the March/April issue. He answered several questions for the story’s writer Jim Gransbery, telling us about how and when he finds creativity to create such amazing art. Check out the full post of the story to learn more about Clark and what three words he uses to describe Montana.
Have you thought of your three words yet?
Check out our January/February Big Sky Spotlight if you need more inspiration.
Penny postcards help pioneer women stay connected
It’s always fun to send and receive postcards.
Back in the day of the western pioneer, as contributor Ednor Therriault explained in the March/April issue of Montana Magazine, postcards weren’t only a sources of fun, but a crucial way to stay connected. Therriault wrote about Philip Burgess’ book that chronicles the lives of his aunt and grandmother, Anna and Dikka Lee, who came to Montana in the early 20th century and settled near Sidney.
Burgess uncovered boxes of “penny postcards” written and received by the Lee sisters. The postcards revealed a strong bond between women of the pioneer west. They were able to share news and well wishes through these pretty card. It makes for a great story.
The postcards (named for the penny stamps attached) make for a colorful slideshow.
Want to know more about this story? Montana author Philip Burgess’s latest book, Penny Post Cards and Prairie Flowers, chronicles the journey of two Minnesota sisters who did just that, leaving their town of Norwegian transplants to seek the autonomy promised by claiming a chunk of land in the harsh territory of eastern Montana.
Penny Post Cards and Prairie Flowers is available in Missoula at Fact & Fiction, and at www.amazon.com. More information and Philip Burgess’ performance calendar can be found at www.badlandsrequiem.com, and at www.humanitiesmontana.org.
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Have you met Brutus the Bear?
I’d heard about Brutus the Bear a couple times before I was fully introduced to him in the March/April issue of Montana Magazine. The first time I ran across his name was when he showed up inside Washington-Grizzly stadium in Missoula and because he learned to swim in swimming pool in Helena.
He really is an unusual bear. And, as it turns out, so is his best friend. Writer Corinne Garcia profiled Montanan Casey Anderson and his quest to educate people about wildlife like grizzly bears in her great piece for us.
Anderson grew up in Helena and after years working with and tracking wildlife, became the host of his own National Geographic Channel show America the Wild.
As for Brutus (who was rescued by Anderson in 2002), he’s found a home at Anderson’s Montana Grizzly Encounter outside Bozeman. If you get a chance, maybe you can go visit him.
For now, here’s a little more about Brutus the bear:
- Age: 12
- Demeanor: Laid back, cool, charismatic, charming. “He’s like a hot surfer dude of a grizzly bear,” caretaker and best friend Casey Anderson said.
- Favorite place to hang out: In his customized travel trailer, complete with air conditioning, with his buddies at Montana Grizzly Encounter, or on Anderson’s Paradise Valley property.
- Best Bear Pals: Lucy, 3, his girlfriend, and Sheena, 27. “When he first met Lucy, she was intimidated, and he just laid there until she came over to him,” Anderson said. “They’ve been together ever since.”
- Favorite Foods: The bears at Montana Grizzly Encounter eat a diet that’s comprised of 80 percent fruits and vegetables. But Brutus’ all-time favorite meal is sockeye salmon and avocados, and cake on his birthday.
- Typical Day: Likes to sleep in late (like a typical teenager) in his private denning area (cave). He tends to interact with any of the other bears that are out and about then. “It’s like a soap opera sometimes,” Anderson said. “Every bear loves him and wants to hang out with him, and he’s the only bear they all love.”
I will live there one day if at all possible!
From Shelley Burke, sent on Jan. 1, 2014
Hello and Happy New Year! My name is Shelley Burke. I’m originallyfrom upstate New York but have lived in Charlotte, N.C., for over 30 years.
I traveled out west for the 1st time when I was 15. I immediately fell in love with the West and to this day it feels like home when I’m there. I’ve made several trips to various places out West and into Canada but NOTHING will EVER compare to my trip this past September to Montana/Glacier National Park.
Montana is my new love and I will live there one day if at all possible! I have thought about my trip EVERY single day since September and just can’t get it out of my mind. My mother shared the experience with me and for Christmas, she got me subscription to your magazine. I just finished reading my first one! Love it
I attached some pictures from Glacier. I’m certainly no professional but I love taking pictures and find it so relaxing. There is so much beauty in our country, but nothing like what I saw there. Have a great day! Look forward to my next magazine!