Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Leaving Helena, Mt (Sleeping Giant Wilderness Area)

Sleeping Giant

When we were taking the motorized tour around Helena, the guide pointed out the mountain range called “The Sleep Giant.” Few landmarks in the Helena Valley are as easily recognizable as The Sleeping Giant in the North Hills. You may have to stretch your imagination to see it in my watercolor but as we left the city, and headed east, the giant accompanied us for quite a long ways.


Now the land is getting flatter and flatter, the harvest is in and rolls of hay dot the yellow stubble. We saw cattle, horses and even an occasional deer but no more buffalo. I guess they are all corralled into parks which is just as well, given how destructive those who fancy themselves hunters can be.

 The "real" Sleeping Giant

 Sleeping Giant Wilderness Study Area is a non-motorized recreation area located on the west side of the Missouri River and Holter Lake located about 30 miles (48 km) north of Helena, Montana. Designated as a wilderness study area in 1981, the Sleeping Giant Wilderness Study Area contains approximately 6,666 acres (2,698 ha) of nearly roadless land, about half of which is forested. A portion of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail is contained inside the study area. (WIkipedia)

 Gates of the Mountains.

The Sleeping Giant land form was well-known to Native Americans in the United States. Members of Native American tribes as far away as present-day Minnesota knew of the landmark, and told the leaders of the Lewis and Clark Expedition about it. The Lewis and Clark Expedition camped below the Sleeping Giant and explored the area around it during their initial passage through the region in 1805.

Rocky Mountains in our rear view mirror as we headed into the plains.

The plains of eastern Montana were historically populated by Plains Indian tribes such as the Sioux, Blackfeet and Crow but they have long been herded into reservations. I had hopped to find some Indian jewelry in some of the small towns that we passed through but no such luck.


A lot of the food we had on the road was great but the very best steak and potato meal that we had was in Miles City (named after the nephew of some Civil War general). Apparently there is an older part of the city but we were on the new highway on the outskirts and the part of the town that we saw didn’t have any defining features. We were on the edge of a long drive through North Dakota and needed our red meat protein. The restaurant was recommended to us by the guy at the motel desk and he didn't steer us wrong. The place was hopping with people who did not look like tourists - men in straw hats and sturdy jeans, everybody with sunburned faces and whole families down to the baby.

My brother-in-law, Mike had baby back ribs, my sister, Jolene had Fillet Mignon and I had lamb chops. We all had baked potatoes and while travel writers aren’t supposed to stoop to drool over meals, I have no such reservations. I still dream of those potatoes. My attempts to draw the steak and potatoes were just pathetic so I will just let you imagine the best steak that you ever had.

Bundle of hay.

2 comments:

Karen Graham said...

Oh my, Nancy, What a delightful excursion. Your watercolors really add to the narrative, too. On my son-in-law's side of the family, he has a brother who lives in Montana. So my daughter and the grandchildren have been to that beautiful state.

Why in the world did you get lamb? I certainly would have enjoyed a steak! But the baked potato sounds like it was delicious.

nancy namaste said...

I should have gotten the baby back ribs but the lamb just called to me. I think we could have all had seconds but then, it would have been impossible to walk out of the place.