Ski Montana! Where Powder is Abundant and Lift Lines are Short.

Colorado may get most of of the attention, but with major improvements Montana and its underrated ski areas deserve a second look. Montana resorts feature challenging terrain that is seasonally blanketed in waist-deep powder from passing snow storms. Montana ski resorts are beginning to rival those of Colorado and Utah.

Big Sky
Big Sky

1. Bigger Big Sky

Big Sky buys Moonlight Basin and has now become the largest ski resort in the nation boasting 30 lifts, a 4,350 ft vertical drop and 5,750 ski-able acres. From the top of the Lone Peak Tram down the double black diamond North Summit Snowfield all the way to the bottom of the Six-Shooter chair lift of Moonlight Basin, skiers can ride the longest ski run in the lower 48. Expect ticket prices of around $100.

montana-snowbowl

2. Montana Snow Bowl Expansion

MT Snowbowl has won approval from Lolo National Forest to add more beginner and intermediate runs around the TV Mountain north of Missoula. Snowbowl plans to open an additional 1,000 acres of ski-able terrain, total terrain will increase from 1,138 to 2,243 acres and total runs will increase from 52 to 80. The area of expansion has been previously logged making the project environmentally low impact.

Lookout

3. Lookout Pass Expansion

Over the next 20 years Lookout Pass plans to expand their resort by over 2,000 acres. Their master plan includes opening up 2 additional 6,200 ft peaks west-southwest of the existing ski area. This plan includes the construction of a new 20,000 sq-ft base lodge located at what is currently the “back-side” of the resort. Phase 1 of the expansion plan has undergone the pre-screening process; this face includes two new double chair lifts off of Eagle Mountain. It would offer 700 acres of terrain with a 1,400 foot vertical drop. This could become a reality withing the next few years.

Bridger Bowl

4. Bridger Bowl Uprgade

Bridger Bowl Ski Area, located outside of Bozeman, Montana, has completed an installation of 2 new chair lifts. The 4.1 million dollar project replaced a 1967 Riblet double chair with 2 triple chairlifts, laid out in a V shaped pattern. This project will make it much easier for skiers to access all of this terrain.

Whitefish

5. Whitefish Mountain Resort Improvements

In April 2013, the Flathead National Forest approved a plan to add an additional 200 acres of ski-able terrain to Whitefish Mountain. The resort purchased a triple chair lift from Kimberly Ski Area that will be transplanted in to the Flower Point area. this plan also involves the clearing of 32 acres of timber. 100 seats will be added to the base lodge with its recent 1,200 sq-ft addition. This new room is located on the northeast corner and includes windows with great views of the mountain.

Discovery

6. New Access Road to Discovery Ski Area

The Federal Bureau of Land Management has given the OK to build a road connecting the town of Phillipsburg to the Discovery Ski Area. The road would connect the existing Rumsey Road to another private road that leads to Discovery. It would also permit the construction of a bridge across Fred Burr Creek. This new road will save visitors leaving Missoula and surrounding area around 25 miles of driving.

 

 

12 Reasons to Live in Bend, Oregon

1. Best place to live with your canine companion

With the highest percentage per citizen dog population in the world it is not uncommon to bring Fido along for dinner. Over 40 restaurants are ready to accommodate the two of you.

Dog Dinner

 

 

2. McMenamins

Whether you want to watch a movie in the Old St. Francis Theater for $3 while enjoying a beer and dinner, have a dip in the soaking pool (also $3), enjoy homemade brews at the Pub, or be entertained by live music, McMenamins has it all and then some. Renovated from an Old Catholic schoolhouse to hotel/events center, it is one of the highlights for locals and visitors.

McMenamins

 

 

3. 18 Breweries and counting

Bend is known as Beer Town USA. Enjoy your drinking adventures on the Bend Ale Trail Beer Tour. The interactive phone application allows you to meet friends, join a tour, find a party, play a game, book a hotel or call a taxi home. When you’re done simply send in your “stamped passport” and receive a commemorative Bend Silipint.

Breweries

 

 

4. Spork

A Food truck turned restaurant and featured in the New York Times, this is one of the best places to eat in town. Local ingredients, quality vegetables and humanely raised meats, following green materials and policies help create their famous global cuisine.

Spork

 

 

5. 300 days of sunshine a year

A high-desert environment, low humidity, cool nights and sunny days make the weather one of Bends best kept secrets.

Bend

 

 

6. 71 parks and 48 miles of recreational trails

Less than an hour outside town, you’ll find 26 golf courses, whitewater rafting and fly-fishing on the Deschutes River. You can paddleboard on one of the 40 lakes in the region, hike and camp in the Three Sisters Wilderness, or summit Pilot Butte, a 479-foot-tall cinder cone in the center of town. Floating the stretch of Deschutes from Bend Park in the center of town is a favorite pass time in the nice summer weather.

Parks and rec

 

 

7. More than 1,000 established climbing routes

Smith Rock State Park lies 25 miles north of Bend, a dramatic fissure in the high-desert floor carved by the Crooked River. Each spring and fall, climbers from all over the world flood into this climbing mecca.

Climbing Bend

 

 

8. The Bank of Cascades Summer Festival

This Bend Festival draws in 75,000 visitors each year. Five stages offer a variety of music including blues, jazz and rock. Artists, craftspeople and performers make this the place to be every summer.

Bend summer festival

 

 

9. Skiing season that lasts up to eight months a year

21 miles from downtown Bend stands Mount Bachelor with 3,600 skiable acres. Don’t forget to enjoy a beer at the open-air brew pub.

Bend Ski

 

 

10. Coffee-Bikes-Beer

Crow’s Feet Commons is an adorable and inviting backcountry ski/boutique bike shop right next to the Deschutes River. A bike and ski shop that also offers quality coffee and beers has made this the community gathering hot spot.

photo

 

 

11. Traffic circles

Roundabouts are a great way to decrease traffic delays, but in Bend they are also a form of Art. Join the Roundabout Art Route Map tour. A collection of over 20 pieces of public art on display throughout the City in the center of traffic circles.

Bend traffic circle art

 

 

12. Lifestyle

“Your vacation is our life.”

— A Bend bumper sticker

Bend lifestyle

Russian Spies Make Electric Fish

In a small town in Alaska there is something strange swimming in the water.   Something so different, so fantastic, that it seems almost unreal.   So, how did this fishy phenomenon occur?   And what will become of these extraordinary creatures?
This incredible story, I actually stumbled upon myself when talking to a friend of mine who recently transferred from the Alaska DNR to the Montana DNR, started with a call from the very small fishing town of Skankpuk, Alaska. Skankpuk (population 34) is located on the Koyuk Inlet on the coast of the Bering Sea, approximately 60 miles north of Unalakleet, the nearest city and at least 100 miles from Nome, where the nearest DNR office was. Unfortunately for Nome’s DNR, this was a relatively common occurrence. Ms. Julia O’Brian, a lifetime resident of the small fishing village, was known as something of an alarmist and was reported to have called into the DNR at least five times in the past year alone on varying instances. Because of her reputation and the distance between the Nome office and Skankpuk, it was nearly a year before anyone from the DNR came down to check out her complaint. When they did, they received the surprise of their life.
In a small pond a couple of miles from Ms. O’Brian’s house on the coast, there was a small population of salmon left over from one fisherman’s unsuccessful attempt at starting a fishery. Though the plan had been long abandoned, a few of the fish had survived and adapted to pond environment. What surprised the DNR conservation officer, though, was the fact that that salmon appeared to be “glowing.” When the officer turned in his report to his superiors and was able to make them believe that he wasn’t  joking with them, an investigation was launched.

glenn-ross-image-04
After several months talking to people from the town and investigating the pond itself the gist of what the investigators discovered was this: About twenty-four years previously a couple of Soviet scientists by the names of Levi and Sarah Katayev fled their home country, taking with them all of their research on nuclear materials and settled in a small cabin just a few miles north of Skankpuk. There they hid, living a quiet, unassuming life for about ten years before they felt it safe to move on. Later records show them both dying in 1994 in the state of Indiana.

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When looking into the cabin in which they lived, though, the DNR investigators were able to find evidence that the Katayevs had been continuing their experimentation on uranium and other nuclear materials, finding a secret laboratory behind the small bedroom, and stairs that led down into a small cellar which still contained the spilled remains of nuclear waste and Uranium 232 (half-life 68.9 years.)

While this certainly explained how the radiation was getting into the lakes, it didn’t explain why the fish were glowing instead of simply dying. Experts were brought in from CDC, the DNR headquarters in Alaska, and even experts on Nuclear science to study these fish. The results were even more surprising than expected: as it turned out, not only were these fish glowing, they were emitting an electrical charge of what approximated 3,000 volts per fish per day (for reference, that is approximately 5 times as much as an electric eel). This made the fish highly dangerous to all of the researchers, but all the more interesting. As one of the amazed scientists said, “This is quite possibly the greatest biological find of our time; if we can figure out how to create more of these fish and harness this energy, we could potentially power the world.”

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While at this time there are no plans in the works for either harnessing the energy of the current pond of fish or attempting to replicate this brilliant mistake, it is fascinating to see how our future energy needs might be provided for not by non-renewable resources, but by biology.