Rafting the Alberton Gorge of the Clark Fork River in Montana

 

20150701-IMG_7631

Rapids on the Clark Fork River (photo credit:  Mike Malament of Montana River Photography)

I recently went to Montana on a family vacation in honor of my nephew’s graduation. My family has a long history of summer rafting trips, and I thought it would be fun to continue the tradition with my brother and his family, including my three awesome nephews.

DSCF5242

Kevin, my raft trip guide

My nephews are Boy Scouts and outdoors types, so we picked a full day rafting whitewater rafting adventure through the Alberton Gorge on the Clark Fork River near Missoula.

rotated GIF

Kevin in action on the Clark Fork River

The trip was a good combination of gorgeous scenery, peaceful floating, and class III+ rapids.

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

A day on the Clark Fork River

Raft technology has improved greatly since the summers of my youth when you had to manually bail out the rafts. Now they are smaller, more mobile and self-draining. This made the whole experience pleasant.

DSCF5196

Montana’s Big Skies

About halfway through our trip, we stopped at Split Rock Beach for a nice lunch spread set up by our guides, Kevin and Jake.

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Scenic smooth water on Montana’s Clark Fork River

DSCF5190

My brother and I shared a raft, just like old times

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Split Rock Beach: A lovely spot for lunch

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Human mountain goats

Record warm temps made the Clark Fork River perfect for swimming. We spent a bit of time jumping off this this rock into the river.

rotated GIF 2

Rock climbing in the Alberton Gorge GIF.

DSCF5135DSCF5184

Left: Kevin led the way up the rocks Right: My nephew jumping into the Clark Fork River

DSCF5127

My nephew Reese has mad rock building skills

DSCF5134

Rockitecture on the Clark Fork River

Paddling a raft while photographing can be challenging. Fortunately, Mike Malament of Montana River Photo has a set up to photograph some of the best rapids of the day.

20150701-IMG_7638

Awesome rapid splashiness (photo credit: Mike Malament/Montana River Photo)

Our whitewater rafting trip ending mid-afternoon, just as temperatures were getting uncomfortably hot. We were craving a beer. Our trusty river guides Kevin and Jake suggested we stop at Big Sky Brewing Company‘s Tasting Room, which had free samples.

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Missoula’s Big Dipper Ice Cream made for the perfect ending to the day

Jake suggested we stop at Big Dipper Ice Cream in Missoula before heading back to Paws Up. After a cold adult beverage, ice cream was a good call for the kids.

My Clark Fork Raft Trip was arranged by the concierge staff at Paws Up.

The Resort at Paws Up

40060 Paws Up Road
Greenough, MT 59823
Toll Free: 877-588-7151
Int’l/Local: 406-244-5200
Fax: 800-473-0687
theresort@pawsup.com

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Beauty of Garnet Ghost Town, Montana: a Photo Essay

4V1C6649

A cobblers station in Davey’s General Store

Montana’s best known treasures are it’s two National Parks, Glacier and Yellowstone. But the well-preserved ghost town of Garnet, Montana is one of the state’s biggest lesser-known gems.

4V1C6671

Tall grass in front of one of Garnet’s outhouses

Located in Granite County, Garnet is beautiful and not overrun with tourists. Unlike so many tourist attractions in the United States where rooms are often kept pristine behind plexiglass and rope, Garnet Ghost Town allows visitors to walk in into it’s abandoned buildings and wander pretty freely. The rooms that are unaccessible are cordoned off for obvious safety concerns.

4V1C6692

Garnet was built as a mining town in the 1890s

A thousand people once called Garnet home during the heyday of mining in the 1898. But the mining bubble burst and less than 200 people remained in Garnet in 1905.

4V1C66794V1C6716

Left: Garnet’s old jail Right: a vista of Garnet’s historic district

You can still get a sense of what life was like by visiting the over 30 preserved buildings including the Wells Hotel, Kelly’s Bar, Davey’s General Store and the Blacksmith’s Shop.

4V1C6722

A vista spot near Garnet in the Lubrecht Experimental Forest

Garnet Ghost Town is a great place to discover the beauty of abandoned places. It’s accessible by car from late April until January. The gravel road and scenic ride to Garnet is also a big draw for ATVs, and mountain bikers.

4V1C66604V1C6654

Left: Vintage bottles in Davey’s General Store Right: the former reception desk at Wells Hotel

In the winter, Garnet Ghost Town is a popular destination for snowmobilers and cross country skiers.

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Nothing feels more old timey than Prince Albert in a can

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Left: Ghost Town Kitchen Still Life Right: Vintage wooden skis in Davey’s General Store

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

One of the decaying rooms in Well’s Hotel

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Left: A Victrola and peeling wallpaper at Wells Hotel Right: this chair was probably the epitome of comfort in the 1890’s

4V1C6638

Welcome to Montana’s Coolest Ghost Town: Garnet

Garnet Ghost Town

Admission price: $3 (per person over the age of 15)

Map and driving directions can be found here.

Bureau of Land Management
phone 406-329-3914
BLM_MT_Missoula_FO@Blm.gov
Summer: 9:00am – 5:00pm Inquire about winter hours.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Montana Big Sky Cloud Lapse at The Resort at Paws Up

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 preset

A late summer sunset at Paws Up

Earlier this month I visited Montana with my family. In honor of my nephew’s graduation, we spent a few days at The Resort at Paws Up.

This summer has been very dry. The state banned fireworks on the 4th of July and wildfires were burning in Glacier National Park, which made Montana’s sunsets a bit less vivid than usual. The clouds, however, were fantastic!

Cloud Lapse at The Resort at Paws Up (shot on iPhone 6)

Summer sunsets in Montana are late. It was around 9:30 pm the evening I shot this one. I set up this time lapse on my iPhone 6 using the time time-lapse feature on the native camera. I clamped my iPhone to a fence behind the Pomp Restaurant using my In-Your-Face Viewbase and let the camera run while we were eating dinner.

I hope you enjoy the resulting cloud lapse. It’s a brief digital visit to my favorite resort in Big Sky Country.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Glamping in Australia’s Red Centre: A Stay at Longitude 131

4V1C5564

One of the luxury tented accommodations at Longitude 131

Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, has been on my list of places to visit for years. Last month I finally got my chance to visit Australia’s Red Centre, with a few nights at Longitude 131. With a reputation for being the finest accommodations in Outback glamping, Longitude 131 doesn’t come cheap. My husband and I tried to maximize our bang for the buck by staying one less than the recommended three nights/four full days, and attempting to see as much as we could during our time.


First glimpse of Uluru HyperLapse (shot on iPhone 6)

The cranked up pace was a bit too crammed for me. While I totally enjoyed my time, I think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been so hurried. I also had a difficult time with jet lag on this trip, which did not help the situation.

4V1C5232

Some of the stunning scenery seen on excursions from Longitude 131

My hotel review posts usually feature lots of images of hotel room interiors and bathroom amenities, but photographing the room did not happen during my brief stay at Longitude 131.

Fortunately Longitude 131’s own website photos are very realistic. The tents are glamorous and comfortable, but we did not spend much time there other than to sleep or change clothes. The bulk of your day at Longitude 131 is spent exploring nearby Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which was the point of the whole trip anyway!

DSCF4425

My first glimpse of Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock

We had about 35 minutes from the time we arrived at the Longitude 131 until we headed out for our first excursion, the Mala Walk around the base of Uluru,  followed by a sundowner and light bites in the Kantu Gorge.

The guides at Longitude 131 are friendly and great and I felt that I learned a ton on this excursion. The couple I met from Sydney who were staying the recommended three days seemed more relaxed than I was (and less jet lagged).

IMG_5499

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Left: sunrise at a viewing area in Kata Tjuta National Park Right: My room at Longitude 131

Both my husband and I were tired when we returned from this excursion, so we skipped the formal dinner service and headed straight to our tent.

I fell asleep immediately and woke up in time for a quick bite before heading out for our next excursion, headed to a sunrise view point in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. The Kata Tjuta range (also known as the Olgas) domes are visually interesting, and the sky and scrubby landscape looked gorgeous in the soft morning light.

IMG_5585

Gorgeous desert landscape and clouds at Kata Tjuta

After admiring the sunrise at Kata Tjutas we headed out on the lovely Valley of Winds hike , which can range 6-10 km around a sacred Anangu men’s site in the domes of Kata Tjuta. We finished our hike just before the day got too hot. The only thing missing was a cold beer before we headed  to the Cultural Centre in the park for a visit. Then we got back to Longitude 131 in time for lunch.

DSCF4502

A view of the Kata Tjutas at sunrise

Our day finished with the Uluru sunset excursion (again complete with cocktails and nibbles). It was a delightful day. Dinner that evening was served at outdoors under the star filled skies at Table 131 set up outside. Once again, jet lag made me decide to skip the main course and get as much sleep as I could.

Processed with VSCOcam with c9 preset

A vibrant sunset view of Uluru (Ayers Rock)

Your days are paced similarly to those on safari at Longitude 131– most activities happen around sunrise and sunset leaving the hottest hours in the middle of the day free for you to enjoy the resorts lovely pool, the nearby Cultural Centre in the park or even arrange a camel ride or motorcycle ride. Unlike being on safari, you come to Longitude 131 for the landscape and outdoor activities, not for the wildlife. You might see some wild camels or feral cats, but this is not the place for those who want a game viewing experience.

DSCF4573

Yummy steak for lunch at Longitude 131

All the food and beverages at Longitude 131 were excellent.

DSCF4576DSCF4571

Left: Pasta with shrimp for lunch Right: a colorful salad with edible flower at Longitude 131

While I did not eat every dinner I was totally satisfied by the appetizers served during the sundown excursions and did not feel I needed much more.

Processed with VSCOcam with n1 preset

 Glacial toothfish and broccolini for lunch at Longitude 131

IMG_6106

A stunning sunset view of  Longitude 131 Resort

Processed with VSCOcam with e2 preset

Rainbows in the bathroom at Longitude 131

My Longitude 131 experience was very good. I made the decision to do a shorter, more concentrated trip and I’m not sure I’d recommend that unless you are 100% over jet lag or the sort of person who loves having every minute scheduled.

I was impressed with my experience enough that I am now curious about other Baillie Lodges and am considering a visit to Kangaroo Island on my next trip down under.

Longitude 131

Yulara Drive,
Yulara Northern Territory 0872,  Australia
Tel: +61 08 8957 7131
Fax: +61 08 8957 7130

Luxury tent rate is $1,200 AUD per person, per night including all dining, open bar with premium wines and spirits, in-suite bar, signature experiences, and return Ayers Rock Airport transfers.
My trip was booked through Suzy Xiu at SmartFlyer.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Australia’s Red Centre As Seen From a Helicopter Ride over Uluru

4V1C6077

If you want a bird’s eye view of Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) Helicopter is your best bet 

During my recent visit to Uluru- Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia’s Red Centre, it was incredibly clear that the one thing you shouldn’t do is climb Ayer’s Rock. Fortunately Longitude 131 offers scenic helicopter tours as part of it’s menu of “Bespoke Experiences.”

4V1C6041

My pilot and the R44 Raven II helicopter

The ride in the R44 Raven II helicopter was smooth. I liked this little helicopter!

Taking off from Longitude 131 in a helicopter for my scenic ride

The photographer in me always likes to get shots from different vantage points, so I booked the 30 minute scenic flight over Uluru & Kata Tjuta to Ayers Rock Airport instead of taking the car transfer. I’m glad I did. The bird’s eye view from the R44 Raven II helicopter gave me a great perspective of the vastness of the desert and stunning views of Uluru and the 36 domes (not all visible by ground) of the Kata Tjuta range (formerly known as the Olgas).

Photo Jun 16, 8 06 36 PM (1)

A nice view of Uluru from a helicopter

 The helicopter ride was smooth and 30 minutes long and took me over both Uluru as well as the Kata Tjuta ranges before heading to the Ayers Rock Airport.

Photo Jun 16, 8 31 54 PM

Approaching Ayer’s Rock Airport

Seeing the scrubby dotted landscape below also made me appreciate the tribal prints of the native Aboriginal people, the Anangu. You can buy their prints at the cultural center.

4V1C5423-2

Different domes of the Kata Tjutas are visible from the ground

Photo Jun 16, 8 05 47 PMPhoto Jun 16, 8 08 41 PM

Left: Approaching Uluru Right: Uluru/Ayers Rock is more solid than nearby Kata Tjuta

I shot some video on my iPhone 6 during my helicopter ride. Check it out:

 Flying over Uluru (Ayers Rock) in a R44 Raven II helicopter

Photo Jun 16, 8 15 47 PM

A view of The Kata Tjutas (formerly known as The Olgas) as seen from helicopter

Photo Jun 16, 8 20 01 PM

The domes of Kata Tjuta are visually more interesting that Uluru

While I went to Longitude 131 intent on seeing Uluru, The Kata Tjutas were far more visually interesting for me.

Photo Jun 16, 7 55 01 PM

Obligatory helicopter selfie

The 30 minute scenic helicopter ride over Uluru and Kata Tjuta from Longitude 131 to Ayers Rock Airport costs Australian $570 for two people and can be arranged directly from the resort. It’s great for both photographers and aviation geeks. Since I am both, to me it was totally worth the money.

Longitude 131

Yulara Drive,
Yulara Northern Territory 0872,  Australia
Tel: +61 08 8957 7131
Fax: +61 08 8957 7130

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Facebook YouTubeTwitterSubscribe via RSSSubscribe via RSSSubscribe via RSSSubscribe via RSSSubscribe via RSSSubscribe via RSSSubscribe via RSS