It’s been said (but no one seems to know by whom …. not that it matters) that travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer, and I certainly couldn’t agree more. I love to travel and it doesn’t have to be travel with a capital T to make me happy. Even a short little road trip will do the trick of just making me feel more expansive and appreciative and excited about life and the world.
Earlier this week we took a road trip to Great Falls. The main purpose – as if travel even has to have a purpose – was to visit The Paris Gibson Museum and Gallery and see an exhibit by friend Jean Albus. But the secondary point of it was just to enjoy the journey of a road trip.
This time of year, Montana’s landscape can seem a little bleak. The up-close snow is melting and the landscape is a bland kind of cardboard color. But, this time of year, that bleak landscape is also dotted with spritely calves and lambs, ponds with striated frozen waves, rickety grain towers and decaying (but in an artful kind of way) barns.
Off in the distance, though, the mountains are still shimmering in their ermine-colored coat. Everyone out here likes to see lots of snowpack this time of year, because as it gradually melts, it provides irrigation to farmers (at least those with water rights) in the valleys over several months of spring and summer.
Parts of Montana can be consistently windy. We pass through an area known as Judith Gap – notable for its wind and where a wind farm, with 90 turbines, has been in operation since 2004.
Each turbine weighs over 108,000 pounds and is absolutely massive, but, from a distance and encased in the high dome of the Montana skyline, they can look pretty puny.
Up close, though, it’s clear how massive they are.
Approaching Great Falls, we pass through rolling wheat fields, delineated on their distant horizons by the Little Belt Mountains. We pass by a town named Straw, a road called Dipping Vat Lane, and a horse-and-buggy icon highway sign. While we didn’t see any horse and buggies on the highway, we were passing through through Hutterite colonies, so it was surprising we didn’t see any horse and buggy transportation.
Once in Great Falls, we went to The Paris Gibson and thoroughly enjoyed Jean’s exhibit.
It was called Rapture on the Plains and features her photographic images of Montana, enhanced, often, by dresses, as well as other objects that elevate and enhance the photos into something much greater. They cause you to stop, look, think, feel, enjoy ….. One of the reviews in a Great Falls magazine noted that she “…uses the Montana landscape as a backdrop for expressions about her own history, the history of the land, her connection to it and the human conditions of joy, transition and mortality.” Check out the online curated catalogue and see many of the same images we enjoyed (along with the rest of the exhibits – both current and permanent).
After that we cruised through the thrift stores in Great Falls (great stores with better prices than many in other areas), and checked into our room. Even though we had brought food, I always like to look at restaurants and menus in different areas, and came upon this:
The cognitive dissonance of “Chuck’s Oriental Palace” just struck me as funny.
The next day we’d planned to visit other galleries, but, being winter, many didn’t open until mid-day and some didn’t open at all. So we walked around the river a bit, and enjoyed the natural and created wildlife art, as well as views along the frozen river.