The Montana X-Files

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Far in the distance, the Mission Mountains snow peaked caps shine brightly in the sunshine and provide a stark contrast for the grisly scene that lays before us. Only a few yards away, lie the remains of a cow that has only recently perished. Not sensing anything out of the ordinary, I urge my horse to approach the scene to further investigate. We take two steps and my horse balks, as well as the other man and horse next to me. The other man however, doesn’t balk from fear as the horses did, but because he knows that something isn’t right. He has seen this exact same scene before, not a half mile away, and to the exact day one year ago. He knows that this death isn’t a natural one that is to be expected while tending to hundreds of cattle. This was something else entirely.

The first cow ‘mutilation’ that Lonnie experienced was on this same ranch and less than a mile away. On June 24th, 2012, he approached a cow that was healthy only days ago, but lay stiff and still and decomposing today. Time of death, June 20th, the summer solstice. Not sure what he was seeing at the time or why he felt uneasy, Lonnie took several pictures of the body and left the scene to continue with the days work. The next day, he returned with a Lake County Sheriffs Deputy to further examine the scene. Upon investigation, both men concluded that this cow had not died or been further harmed by what most would deem ‘natural causes’. Experts were called in to assess the situation and all walked away in disbelief or with shrugged shoulders. All said the same thing,

“I don’t know”

All they could say for certain was that they had never seen anything of the sort and that they believed there was a human culprit to be found.

The cow laid in a lush bed of grass that had been grazed short until within a few feet of her. Within this invisible boundary, it seemed as if no animal had dared to tread. The Lake County Sheriffs Department called its search and rescue trackers to determine how the culprits approached, operated, and left. The trackers spread out and scoured the property. They could not find any vehicle sign, footprints, point of entry, or any predator tracks on the surrounding property. They looked again. And again. Still nothing. Finally, they looked at each other and shrugged,

“I don’t know”

The cow laid on her right side with a large portion of hide missing from the left side of her ribs, several slits were cut in between each rib, and her reproductive organs had been removed. All of this would be attributable to the work of predators and scavengers had there been any blood on the ground around, but the ground was bone dry. The skin and organs had all been removed with a surgical precision and had been done without spilling a single drop of blood. To verify the findings, an autopsy was performed. A local vet confirmed what they believed and revealed further information.

The arcing cut that exposed the ribs was made with a knife. The heart was also missing and had been removed with staggering precision. She believed that someone had to have done that. The only opening large enough was at the base of the neck. No predator could have removed the heart through such a small opening without damaging the lungs and surrounding tissue. When asked who she believed did this or why, she shrugged,

“I don’t know”

The second cow that was found on this same ranch, was eerily similar to the first. Both bloodless, removed of organs, and untouched by anything around it. This cow had died the night before, the same night as the last. June 20th, the summer solstice. I had heard the story of the first cow several times and was always hesitant to believe. Not that I doubted the multiple sources who credited the story, just that things like this are too wild to really believe. I didn’t know what to think until I personally rode upon that animal scorching in the sun. Having lived my entire life in a ranching community, dead animals and the circumstances surrounding it are no stranger, it is merely a fact of life. After close inspection of this particular animal, I fully believed everything was not as it seemed in the Mission Valley.

Not a single person who viewed the scene could determine who had done this, how they had gotten there, or why. The cow seemed to have been dropped out of thin air after all of the work had been done without a single shred of evidence to be found. If you were to google this topic, thousands of reports can be found from locations all over the world. Many are easily attributable to predators or natural occurrences. Many are not so easily dismissed. There are a great many people that believe this is a great government conspiracy or that extra-terrestrial life is involved. Some believe that it is a combination of the two. What I saw that day didn’t suggest either of those explanations but that doesn’t mean I have a good answer for you. Ask me who or what is responsible for this and I’ll shrug and say,

“I don’t know”

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Easter: Culture Changes, The Story Doesn’t

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Having grown up in the 90’s and now living in 2016, I’ve seen many aspects of our culture here in America change. I remember riding my bicycle without a helmet, drinking water from a garden hose and riding in the back of a pickup truck. These things are now considered “unacceptable” by today’s societal standards. I also remember combing over my hair before school, checking my flip phone for texts and listening to The Red Hot Chili Peppers. These things are now outdated.

Our cultural norms and standards of what is “ok” and what is “not ok” change. They always have and always will.

Another thing I’ve seen change over my short 23-year span here on earth is standards or expectations on how a church service is held. I grew up in a very traditional Christian Reformed (a specific denomination of Christianity) church. My family dressed up every Sunday morning, found our spot in the pews and stood up or sat down IMG_6178depending on whether the pastor was speaking or we were singing hymns along with the choir. The pastor wore a suit, the lights were always on and there were no screens. There is nothing necessarily right or wrong, good or bad about these things. It’s just how it was.

Today’s church culture is vastly different than the one I grew accustomed to. Pastors don’t always wear suits, the lights aren’t always on and you won’t get pinched by your mom or dad for using your phone during the service – Bible app for the win. Many churches now cater to the younger generation and feel more like a concert than a traditional service to the veteran church-goer. There are now hip clothes, drums, electric guitars and the occasional YouTube video during a service. It’s safe to say, things aren’t the way they used to be in church culture.

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the gospel message. The Bible. God has provided us with this timeless salvation story. This is the story in which Jesus Christ, the son of God, came down from Heaven, died the death that we deserved and saved us from eternal damnation. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

That is of utmost importance. It is important that this story never changes. We should never dilute it or add to it. It does not matter that the music is louder and the lights are dimmer. Those things will continue to change and adapt to whatever society deems “normal.” We should not let those changes divide us as believers. We should be united knowing that the other believers around us have their faith and hope in the same promises that we do – that Jesus will come again. John 14:1-3 Ephesians 4:1-5

Here is a quote erikfrom Roger Flynn, church manager of Zootown Church – the church I attend in Missoula, MT. “We’re different than some of the other churches in town, we don’t do anything that would be traditional. We try to avoid tradition in the sense that we don’t want to just do church to do church. We want to do church to reach the city of Missoula.”

It would be detrimental for Christians to “do church to do church.” That is religion for religion’s sake instead of pursuing a real, meaningful relationship with Jesus. Then, when we pursue Jesus together, we can unite to reach the unbelievers in our communities just as we were called to do. Mark 16:15

So, I hope on this Easter Sunday you were able to celebrate and share the resurrection story of Jesus in unity with believers and unbelievers, whether or not you were comfortable with how dim the lights were or how tight the jeans were. Culture is ever-changing and we will all be uncomfortable with some standards at one point or another. Let’s look beyond that – culture changes, the story doesn’t.

Luke 23-24

If you’re not a believer, I pray that you give a church in your community a chance. Not because you have to go to be considered a good person but because they will, hopefully, introduce you to a relationship with Jesus that will change your eternal future. Romans 10:9-13

By: Nate Christoffels

Top 3 Cars Suited for Missoula

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Ever since I moved to Missoula back in late summer of 2012, something stuck out to me about the cars that I was seeing everywhere around town. No matter where I went– the university district or downtown, Brooks St. or Reserve, there was a constant presence of Subarus. The unique trait about these robust Japanese cars is the lack of a target demographic who drives them. From new drivers to the elderly, (lots and lots of elderly people drive these things) the Subaru charm knows no bounds. But there are very good reasons for buying these sturdy and odd looking cars: affordability, build quality and reliability. Due to these reasons and more, let us begin looking at the first contender.

The Subaru Forester

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A delicious ’04 World Rally Blue Forester ‘Sports’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These boxy station wagons are a staple of any street, corner, or parking lot in Missoula. Introduced in 1998, these quirky looking cars quickly came to popularity by offering symmetrical AWD, high fuel economy at an incredibly low price. These days, a clean Forester can be had for as little as $5,000.00. They are incredibly well-suited for winter conditions as well as Missoula’s notoriously poor street conditions.

Honda CR V

2016 Honda CR V AWD 4WD
Fiery Red 2016 Honda CR V

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My girlfriend has an older version of the Honda CR V and it has been a very welcome addition to our family. Honda introduced the CR V in 1999 to compete in the cross-hatchback category, and it absolutely killed. The sloping roof and increased head room make for an excellent daily driver easily capable of hauling a massive trunk-load of things as well as 4 passengers in comfort. The high ride height, ground clearance and off road suspension in addition to part time 4WD make this eager commuter car a very capable off-road companion. The thing that amazes me most about the CR V is the dependability. Over 2 1/2 years of abuse and neglectful oil changes and maintenance, our 2006 CR V has never gone amok once. It has started every single time, even in the dead of Missoula’s harsh winters. For all of these reasons and more, the little CR V will always have a special place in my heart.

Mazda CX 3

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2015 Mazda CX 3

For as boring as these new Mazdas look, they are just as much fun to drive in the snow. Being a relatively new release by Mazda, these new crossover SUV’s have been selling by the boat loads all over the country. The reason is due to the very affordable price tag for a brand new CX 3. I have seen them advertised for $25,000 out the door. Having driven two now, I can say that a $25,000 AWD car with this nice of an interior with a factory 100k mile warranty is an AMAZING deal compared to the crossover market’s other offerings. These little cars are very similar to the other two mentioned above. I believe that these crossovers are perfect for Missoula’s climate. This is because they are very capable of driving in the worst road conditions while at the same time being able to hold a good amount of stuff in the trunks. But the biggest reason I love these cars is because they are a great alternative for people who think they need a truck to satisfy their driving needs. Trucks are wasteful, dangerous and in most cases, unnecessary for most people’s daily driving needs.

 

By: Grant F.

5 Montana Ski Resort Gems

Montana winters are often portrayed with ten feet of snow and a guy covered in furs (somewhat reminiscent of Leo in The Revenant) but the Big Sky Country has a lot more to offer. Thanks to being in close proximity to a number of mountain ranges, ski slopes cover Montana. This portrayal is quickly turned into life changing experiences and truly exposes the tremendous potential Montana has. There are some recreational activities and some particular resorts that really help stereotype Montana but the list of resorts below are some “hidden gems” that many people might not have ever been to or even heard of. They are all experiences that a Montana lover must try!

5. Montana Snowbowl

  • Snowbowl is a smaller resort located about 15 miles from Missoula making it the perfect destination for a simple day ski or for last minute ski plans.
  • Despite being a smaller mountain, Snowbowl gets optimal snow, has reasonable prices, and is great for any level of skier.
  • When Snowbowl shuts down the lifts for summer, its focus turns to weddings, concert series, and other events.

Website: http://www.montanasnowbowl.com/

4. Red Lodge Mountain

  • With the closest Montana “city” to Red Lodge being Billings, this ski resort is often overlooked and considered to be an underrated mountain.
  • Red Lodge is actually a bigger Montana ski hill despite its location and is a very nice resort to take vacations to or to just simply ski for the day and enjoy the nice little town of Red Lodge.
  • Red Lodge is great for skiers of any skill level with a “top half” and “back side” of the mountain that provides a lot more space for many skiers to freely roam without feeling crowded.
  • The mountain hosts a series of different events, has live music at the lodge, and turns its focus to the Red Lodge Mountain Golf Course when the weather permits.

Website: http://www.redlodgemountain.com/

3. Bridger Bowl

  • Less than an hour away from Bozeman, Bridger Bowl is great for day trips to hit some serious powder (gnar bro).
  • Even though Big Sky Resort casts a big shadow for the Montana ski industry, Bridger Bowl does a great job of making a name for themselves keeping a considerable reputation.
  • Bridger has a great atmosphere made for skiers of any skill level and is considerably priced (about half of Big Sky Resort).
  • If you have an avalanche beacon and guts of steel, Bridger Bowl offers the opportunities to put your skills to the test.

Website: http://bridgerbowl.com/

2. Lookout Pass

  • Lookout has the most optimal location for a ski resort being a stones throw off the interstate at the top of Lookout Pass.
  • One of the most unique experiences is being able ski on both the Montana side and the Idaho side of this ski resort since it lies on the Montana-Idaho border.
  • Even though Lookout is located on a busy interstate, it is still big enough to enjoy skiing without feeling crowded by fellow skiers.
  • Lookout is constantly putting on events and in the warm summer months serves as the central hub for taking a bike ride on the Hiawatha trail (which is an amazing experience).

Website: https://skilookout.com/

  1. Showdown

  • 2016 reached the 80 year mark of Showdown and I swear it gets better every year.
  • Although a smaller mountain, Showdown is the perfect hill for skiers/boarders of any skill level.
  • 2 chairlifts take you directly to the top of the mountain so you don’t have to worry about switching chairs at midway.
  • Showdown offers everything from the “bunny hill” to terrain parks and even advanced skiing such as cliffs and moguls.
  • Hosts a lot of fun events and competitions throughout the year such as the popular mannequin jump.
  • After a long day of skiing, enjoy local beer and live music at the “Hole in the Wall Saloon” located in the lodge on the hill.

Website: http://www.showdownmontana.com/

The goal of this blog post was to hopefully bring awareness to anyone who enjoys skiing in Montana looking to try something new. The true Montana outdoor experience isn’t a fancy experience with all the bells and whistles. The best way to experience Montana’s beauty is to escape from the world and simply enjoy the little things in life. Given the proper settings these “gems” will not disappoint anyone looking for a new Montana skiing experience.

 

 

Post By: Dawson Auck

Lace Up: Anyone Can Be A Runner

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 2.51.02 PM The amount of times I have heard “I’m not a runner” or “I’m not built like a runner, therefore I can’t run” has really started to piss me off and honestly, whoever I walked by this weekend saying these things, thank you for the inspiration to prove you all wrong.

I’ll start by being completely candid, I am a bit biased to the whole physical activity hoorah. I grew up playing competitive soccer up until the day I left for college. I mean, yes, it’s a lot of running and disciplined conditioning, but I never had to run longer than 3-4 miles at a time in those 15 years of playing. I should also add that each of those miles had to be in 7 minutes or less (the struggle was totally real).

Once college started, all concepts of physical activity went out the window and I was now struggling to run 1 mile, on a Sunday, while trying not to gag over the smell of Captain Morgan and Fireball seeping through my pores. Cool.

Freshman year ended and those attractive 15 pounds needed to go (this isn’t where running saved my life, I just got cut off of my campus meal plan when I moved out of the dorms). Exercise became important again and I was back in shape but I still couldn’t run more than 2 agonizing miles, maybe 3 on a good day.

IMG_8584Come Junior year I accepted an offer for an internship in Seattle and decided I should find things to do that would let me see the city in a unique way. This is where running made my life great. I signed up for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Seattle, by myself. Turns out I wasn’t alone, a few of my friends had already signed up and planned on taking a road trip to run as well. Training became fun as we increased our distance by one mile each Sunday and spent the majority of our runs singing and talking in very breathy sentences. Come race day, 13.1 miles never seemed so doable.

To make a long story longer, I caught the running bug. Since my first half in Seattle, I have completed two more half marathons, improving my time each time.

The point of this was to show that anyone can lace up some shoes and hit the pavement. I can’t lie like some Pinterest post and say it’s as easy as that. Running is an investment in your time, your body, and your wallet. Ugly running shoes changed the way I felt about running. YOU MUST INVEST IN UGLY RUNNING SHOES. My GPS watch complimented my competitive drive by keeping my pace (so that I wasn’t trying to run 7 minute miles for 13.1 miles straight) and my running belt was crucial for holding my phone, keys and ID. Looking the part makes performing the part so much easier.

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 3.15.13 PMI’m not saying go sign up for five half marathons or to start out running 9 miles at a time. I challenge every one of you to start by going outside (weather is a horrible argument), plug in some pump-up tunes or grab a friend to distract you, and start off slow. If 1 mile is all you’ve got, then it’s one more mile than those sitting on the couch. Happy Running 🙂

*Serious about it? Comment below for more tips and help on joining a world wide community.