February, 2005

Getting Back on Track

Since our last report, we have continued with the process of getting a permit for the construction of the Main House. We met with the Bridger Canyon Volunteer Fire Department board of directors to discuss issues they have with our driveway. We interviewed contractors in anticipation of getting the permit by the end of February; we selected Ken Ryder as our new contractor and have been working with him to make sure things can get underway as soon as the permit is in place. The key meeting was our presentation to the Gallatin County Zoning Commission February 10 to review our application for a conditional use permit (required to have a caretaker's residence on the property). We went armed with piles of documentation and flanked by architects and engineers in case there were any questions or challenges. Things went very smoothly, and the vote in our favor was unanimous. What we have now is the approval to get a permit; the actual permit is a matter filling out the forms and paying the fees. Lest anyone get the wrong impression: everyone at the County has been very fair, professional and helpful through all this.

— 20 Jan 2005 —
Picture taken through the north window of the Carriage House.
What's wrong with this picture? (click for answer)

The weather has been unusual: after a couple of weeks of snow and lows well below 0°F, we have had highs in the upper 50's and nights that did not get below freezing. At least it is not raining, so the Main House has dried out. If it does not get cold and snow soon, Bridger Bowl may have to shut down and wait for normal weather to return. Worse yet, low snowpack will mean very high fire danger once summer comes. After over 4 weeks of unseasonably warm, dry weather, we have had a week of colder weather, but still very little snow.

The elk pictured above wandered on to higher pastures — a sign that the "good" weather will continue. We'll be watching for the elk to wander back down!

Pumpkin has adopted Neko as her mother. She follows Neko closely everywhere. Neko is usually quite patient, but does give Pumpkin a well-deserved nip when she gets too rowdy. Pumpkin has learned that Neko is not a "morning dog" and approaches her carefully until she is ready to play. Pumpkin nuzzles Neko about the neck and ears until her mood improves, then the play fighting begins (1.8MB movie).

Arthur did a black and white "study" of Neko as an assignment for his class in photography. A scan of the result is here.

This picture does not do justice to the Whitetail Deer that hang around the lower property. The tails are fluffy white and the deer flick them around as they run off. We try to take a camera every time we go for a walk, but forgot last month when Pauline counted 75 elk below the Main House, and recently when we spotted a Bald Eagle atop a tree down the driveway. Then there were the two moose Gary spotted about three months ago; we still see tracks and scat that suggest one or more moose are around. Two or three yellow bellied marmots live in the wood piles down the driveway — they're asleep now, but should be out next Spring. It took over a year to get a picture of "our" bear after the first sighting; perhaps we will get lucky with more pictures soon.

Rumored to own property in Bridger Canyon: Johnny Depp and Steven Spielberg. This is difficult to verify, since they protect their privacy by using aliases. Known to own property in or near Bozeman: Mark Emmert, president (and alumnus) of the University of Washington. He was provost of Montana State University from 1992 to 1995. Not a famous movie personality, but interesting because of Gary's (and now Kendal's) association with the UW.

A Matter of Priorities

In the February 4 Bozeman Chronicle, the front page headline was "Bridger Bowl Expansion OKed". Also featured prominently was "Dog-at-Large Ticket Lands Man in Jail". Third in prominence was "President Speaks in Great Falls". There was a picture of the president, but the picture of the jailed man was almost 4 times larger.