The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in different ways; caregivers, patients and families alike are all experiencing new types of stress, grief and loss. This complicated grief has inspired many members of the community to develop new programs that are designed to meet this need. Here is a sampling of some of the free virtual support groups available in your area.
Did you spend as much time as you could outside last year to avoid dealing with indoor COVID-19 protocols? I know I did. I’m not just talking about parking lot fitness classes and eating takeout on your patio—if you spent extra time hiking, camping, and exploring local parks in 2020, you’re not alone. According to Yellowstone Public Radio, last year was a record-breaking year for Montana State Parks, with over a 30% increase in visitation.
One of best things about living in Montana is that the many types of ecosystems here are home to an incredible amount of wildflowers. Over 2500 species of flowering plants can be found in the state! That’s an overwhelming number, and the purpose of this article is not to help you decide which variety of lupine you encountered on your hike. For that, I’m going to direct you to a botanist. But I think that being able to identify a dozen types of wildflowers is manageable, don’t you? Each flower listed has a short description and a link to its page in the free, state-run Montana Field Guide database if you want more detailed information.
But first, real quick: Please remember to practice leave-no-trace hiking, don’t pick flowers without permission from the landowner, and definitely DO NOT eat things you find in the woods, as many plants have poisonous lookalikes.
Bitterroot, Lewisisa rediviva
This list would be incomplete without including Montana’s state flower. These unusual-looking wildflowers can be found in either a pale, whitish color (pictured) or a bright pink. Look for these around Western Montana in late spring—they don’t bloom for very long!
Keep an eye out for these small, two-toned anemones. They have pale centers with striking pinks or reds with on the edges. True to their name, these Cliff Anemones can sometimes can be found on rocky ledges. They are members of the Buttercup family and a relative to the Pasqueflower listed below.
If you already have some background in plant identification, your first reaction might be to call this an “Indian Paintbrush,” but did you know that Montana is home to twenty-two different species of paintbrush? The Wyoming state flower, castilleja linariaefolia (common name: Wyoming Indian Paintbrush), is one of the best known types. That said, recognizing a plant as a “paintbrush” will probably be all you need.
Remember the beginning of the article when I mentioned different types of Lupine? There are over 200 species of Lupine worldwide, and seventeen species have entries in the Montana Field Guide. The page for Silvery Lupine, which is found all over the state, is linked below.
You might hear this plant referred to as a “Prairie Crocus.” A close relative to this gorgeous purple blossom, the American Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla hirsutissima) is the state flower of South Dakota. The “pasque” in the name may be a reference to their early spring appearance.
Aren’t these squat purple flowers cute? Depending on what you use to identify this plant, you may be scared away from getting too close! Another common name for this plant is “skunk leaf.” These plants are common throughout the western United States and grow at higher elevations.
Montana has both Plains and Brittle Pricklypear. These short cactuses can be painful to accidentally step on, but aren’t the yellow flowers beautiful?
Note: While the image above is an example of a Pricklypear blossom, the I am unable to determine if it is from from a species of Pricklypear that grows in Montana. There are around a hundred species within the genus Opuntia.
Montana is home to a couple types of wild rose, but the Wood’s Rose is a common one found all over the state. If you’ve been out hiking in the fall, you might recognize the red fruit produced by a rose plant, which are called “rosehips”.
Would you believe that the beautiful flower pictured in the header is actually a noxious weed? Carduus nutans, or Musk Thistle, was introduced to North America in the 1800s. It is now commonly found on roadsides throughout the United States. Musk Thistles can grow up to six feet tall!
If you just can’t get enough of Montana’s wildflowers, below are some of my favorite resources. Remember that while these can be fun to use, always check with a professional if you need to identify a specific plant for a special use. Additionally, while I’ve tried to make all this information as accurate as possible, please let me know if you notice an error.
The current housing market seems to be a hot conversation topic around Montana right now. It is well known that there is a high demand with a very low supply of housing. Housing prices have increased considerably which can be explained by the law of supply and demand. When there is a shortage of supply and an increase in demand, prices increase.
According to InfoSparks provided by MLS, Missoula’s median sales price in January of 2020 was $325,000. Whereas in August of 2020, the median sales price was $365,000. The median days on market for Missoula in January 2020 was 53 days. In August it had decreased exponentially down to a median of 9 days. The parameters included all ranges of prices, property types, years built, square footage, bedrooms, and bathrooms with each data point being one month of collected data. The significance of this data is that while houses are selling at a much quicker rate in August than they were in January, they are also selling for a lot more money. This can indicate that multiple offers are received, and many buyers are willing to pay inflated prices to obtain their dream homes. Interest rates have also recently hit new historical lows.
The question at hand is, “Will we see a housing market crash in Montana in the near future?” No one can say for certain as the future cannot be guaranteed. However, we can take similar events from past years and predict an outcome. The market crash of 2008 was caused by an influx of buyers and shortage of sellers combined with historically low interest rates in 2007. Unfortunately, buyers then purchased real estate at an inflated market value which is not sustainable. This ultimately led to a crash in the market which translates into foreclosures.
The data presented above is mirrored to the economy of 2007. Now, we have to add in the fact that a pandemic is present. If the pandemic continues, will more people lose their jobs? There are many factors that could contribute to an economic downturn in 2020. Some examples could include the presidential election outcome, consumer spending changes, and global market changes due to the pandemic. In heading months, Montana may see an economic crash.
Yeah that’s right. Bears are terrifying. That’s the blog.
I am so sick and tired of this Winnie the Poo sounding, “Man, I hope we see a bear on this hike” having bullshit I hear every time I go into the woods with my friends. Sure, seeing a little black bear in the distance while you’re in your car on “Going to the Sun Road” gets the dopamines flowing. But when you’re actually in the woods without the protection of a massive metal cage on wheels while driving a road traveled by millions of visitors every year, spotting a bear is a whole different story. Bears are big and dangerous, wild animals that should be left alone to tend to their own business.
Let me just start with a brief history of notorious bear and human relationships.
Short Faced Bear
Back in the olden days of 1.8 million years ago until only 11,000 years ago, an absolute beast of an an animal existed, deemed the Short Faced Bear. This freak of nature weighed a solid 2,500 lbs., had a height of about 12 feet standing up, and if you can recall early history, LIVED WHILE HUMANS DID. As people much smarter than me can speculate using geographic means, there was a bering land bridge that stretched from Russia’s North-Eastern point to Alaska’s Western coast, in which people who lived in Asia would use to travel in order to inhabit North America.
What they couldn’t count on was this ginormous tank, murder beast that literally could not be stopped by any means. Scientists say this bear was so deadly, that it prevented human migration entirely across the bridge for a period of time. Nobody was stopping to admire nature when they approached this thing; they either died trying to get past it or cut their losses and turned back to Russia. Just imagine, you freeze your nuts off in Asia for years while fighting Woolly Mammoths and Saber Tooth Tigers, so you decide to march 620 miles to possibly find something better, just to be met with a big hairy killing machine that prevents you from crossing.
No thanks. I’ll fight Manny from Ice Age any day of the week over the Short Faced Bear.
2. Hugh Glass
Alright the story of Hugh Glass is pretty insane. This guy was a frontiersman and fur trader who operated around Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota in the early 1800s. He had built himself quite the resume of badass activities, from being a pirate to living with the Pawnee Native American tribe. He was an expert navigator and survivalist who had taken on many dangerous missions across the Western United States, until his legendary encounter with a Grizzly in South Dakota. Upon running into a bear and two cubs, Glass prepared to be charged and was able to get one successful shot off from his musket as the bear began to maul the shit out of him. I mean, have you seen The Revenant? This bear comes back for seconds, then thirds “Oh don’t mind if I do”, just annihilating Glass before ultimately dying of the gunshot wound. This griz tears the guys scalp off, absolutely shreds the entire rest of his body and leaves his legs utterly useless.
But guess what. Glass isn’t dying like this, he’s a former pirate of the Black Pearl for Godssakes. And this is what the movie doesn’t show, Glass could not use his legs at all so he -crawled- the entire 500 mile trip to his fort destination. He survived the ordeal and became a legend in his own right. Take a guess who would not be able to navigate, survive the elements, and crawl 500 miles to the next help station while bleeding relentlessly? Me. Or probably any normal human that lives in the 21st century, because that is WAY too hard. There’s no chance I’d survive that initial mauling even. Bears aren’t snuggly or graceful animals. They have giant knife hands along with pointy teeth and beady little dark killer eyes. Hugh Glass would certainly attest to that.
3. Timothy Treadwell
What if we were nice to the bears and wanted to treat them like one of our own? Maybe we try and bridge human society and bear society together? Sounds like a nice idea. Having a bear friend would be awesome, I bet he would know some pretty legit fishing spots at least. I know the University of Montana football team could certainly use a grizzly bear as a linebacker; he’d probably even become All League.
Timothy Treadwell thought similarly. The titled “Grizzly Man” thought he could cohabitate with bears in Alaska and they would learn to accept him as family. To the amusement of many, he was able to successfully do this for 13 consecutive summers. Each bear had a name and different personality, and they would all reside in the same area. He was never armed, and did not even carry as much as pepper spray. Unfortunately, this fairytale story came to a tragic halt in October of 2003 when he was mauled to death by a fully grown Alaskan Brown Bear.
Looks like we aren’t meant to live with bears after all.
To wrap it up:
No, I don’t want to see a bear in the wild, bro. We aren’t meant to mess with them. Sure it would be cool at a distance, if I’m in a bear resistant, protective unit. Bears will not wander over, lick you, and beg for some pets like a dog. Bears will literally rip your face off and walk away as if nothing happened. There is no other thing on the planet where it is recommended to carry a gun and pepper spray in-case you come into contact, and many people still want to have that BeAuTifuL and nATurAL encounter. That’s like saying you’d love to run into a serial killer on a jog because it would be so cool to see one, but hopefully it won’t attack.
No thanks. I’m totally good without meeting any bears in my travels.