Tag Archives: Montana

Living In Two Places

I started writing this while we were in the process of moving.

We’re driving back and forth between the new house and the old. It’s an 8 hour drive each way, though this last time was 13-15 hours. I lost track.

I always struggle with big transitions, and I’m never aware of how much until the transition is over. We’re experimenting with a slower transition to Seattle. While this is delaying the acquisition of a P.O. Box for us, it is providing me plenty of time to enjoy the scenery of the Pacific Northwest along I-90.

There are quite a few lesser known towns and cities along our route that have incredible tourism potential if you want to stay within range of a cell tower. They all have access to trails or other outdoor sports year round, while also offering options for the less outdoorsy-types.

For our next trip west with a load of belongings, we’ll be starting in Missoula, Montana. Missoula offers a unique culture and downtown, plus the benefit of a growing airport with Westphalia rentals. Unlike Bozeman, you can’t get direct flights to Missoula most of the year from anywhere except Denver and Seattle, with the occasional Salt Lake City or Minneapolis option available. Seasonally, this expands to include Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, and a few other destinations that have changed based on demand throughout the years.

I-90 mostly follows old US Highway 10.

You can still visit parts of this route in cities like Wallace, Idaho, where I-90 bridges over the old road. Wallace is an adorable town that warrants more tourism, especially in their incredibly well preserved historic downtown. There are plenty of parks and green spaces. As Americans itch to travel post-vaccination, but border closures limit us to cities within our own borders, I recommend checking out what Wallace offers.

I hope you’ll consider checking out these destinations 🙂 Just be sure to check avalanche conditions along route 90 in advance.

December Poetry Roundup

17 December 2020

Freedom is found
In knowledge sought
Connections imagined –
New dawning era of thought
Yet none speaks wisely
Who claim to know all
Pushing forth their opinions
As to not seem so small
Compensation calculation
For indiscretions of past
Look instead to the future
Nothing Can Last

11 December 2020

There’s a light in the forest
Beyond the break in the trees
Where water flows gently
Among the rustle of leaves.
Pardon the intrusion
Where humans should not be
I’ll return to the shadows–
Darkened path no one sees

9 December 2020

I hold space in the darkness
Where someday I pray
There will be light

8 December 2020

“Dans Macabre–” you say
With a permanent pearly grin
“It takes your breath away.”
As your long limbs sway
Stripped of their flesh
Now immortal as stone
With your clattering bones:
Restless soul with no home.


Thank you for taking the time to read my poetry today! These originally appeared on my Twitter account.

How To Shop For A Sextant Online During A Global Pandemic

Or… Shopping For My Spouse’s Birthday Gift

I shake my head and stare at the screen.

“I want to feel the brass and hold it. Feel the movement of each piece and know I’ll be able to calibrate it for him,” I whine to the cat. The autumn winds blowing down from Alaska drown out my words as they wind their way over the Rockies.

Staring at the pictures, I imagine the heavy brass of my family’s sextant balanced in my clumsy hands as my father lets me look at it. His calloused palms poised to catch the instrument should I falter.

“This one won’t do.” I toss it into the mental pile of surveying and mapping equipment I look at; never purchase.

Who can afford to spend over a thousand dollars on something like this over the internet? I mentally discard another with a fancier, more modern black finish.

I call my parents. “I want to buy Jacob a sextant for his birthday. What’s the story behind ours? Does Dad have any advice?”

Thousands of miles of static and telephone lines crackle. “The one your dad has was your great grandfather’s from the maritime academy. Why do you want one for Jacob?”

I pause and shrug into the phone. “To record our locations for dark sky photography. GPS can’t be trusted out here.” I grasp my forehead and castigate my own thoughts. But I’m the one that knows how to use one for surveying, navigation, and astronomy – that would be a terrible gift.

I stare out at the horizon hidden by mountains and try to find the ocean beneath the curvature of the earth. Jacob doesn’t care about the difference between a mile and a nautical mile. What does he care about?

I catch him and ask about his feelings around flying and clouds pass over the sun – visibility down to less than 5 miles and he gives me a look that says VFR ain’t going to fly. He never got a seaplane rating and this dream is about to try a water landing without pontoons. “I don’t know when the next time I’m going to fly is. Please don’t get me anything that could be related to flying.”

I decide against getting him a sextant and reminisce about when we spent hours talking about the intersection of history where airplanes and ships used the same navigation systems and why. I stare at the stormy sea of sky lapping against the mountain sides and remember our last aerial photography trip. I order his birthday cake and continue to brainstorm better gifts.

Montana now has the highest rate of transmission of any state. Distracted, I stare at the news and try to process how dangerous it is to step outside. This was all predictable based on the behavior patterns of 1918.

Birthdays have to remain special in the face of COVID, so I order wine and check our reservation for the weekend. I check that his favorite decaf pop and breakfast cereal are in the pantry. I try and decide what else we should do to make it a special day about him.

While most of the United States has been living with this since March, Jacob has been living with COVID since it first hit obscure global news last autumn and I brought it home by explaining how diseases follow human behavior patterns. In February I set up forecasting models and told him how to prepare before the preppers drained the stores of paper products, resulting in channeled anxiety and full isolation.

My incredible husband and love of my life sits with me in my mind while I wonder how to celebrate someone as amazing as him. I think of bonfires, quality time, adventures, and our daily lives. I think about these acts of preparation and foresight and how they are gifts and acts of love in themselves.

I buy Jacob 2 books and 2 glass vessels for his birthday following the theme: Scientific Magic. I write a blog post about not buying a sextant and realizing that was a dumb gift idea. I refuse to spoil the surprise while I continue further preparations and celebrate his existence everyday.


Happy Birthday to my amazing partner and best friend, Jacob. I have many best friends, but you are the one I married and the one I celebrate today. My forever partner in adventure 💕

Galaxy Rise Vs. Moonrise in Adobe Lightroom

In July we stayed at a cabin outside of Salmon, Idaho in a pocket of true dark sky. Before the wildfires started we had the benefit of high clarity photography conditions, giving us the opportunity to witness a “Galaxy Rise” as the Milky Way galaxy came into view after the moon set around midnight/1 am.

Under dark sky conditions, our exposure conditions were kept more constant. We weren’t having to worry about the changing light conditions associated with the moon even though a lot of light is emitted by a light sky. This is more a matter of human perception of light (I have better night vision than Jacob, he still struggles under dark sky conditions) and less a matter of the actual light produced.

The moon is a heck of a lot brighter. We’re talking the difference between a 30 second exposure maximum and a 6-8 second exposure maximum. The Milky Way was visible both during the photography trip in July and the recent hop over to Alberton, Montana to catch the moonrise. The issue is that the moon is so much brighter than many other celestial bodies.

With that in mind, there are techniques for getting around these issues. Dark sky photography has the unique benefit of being able to pick up details that can be missed by the human eye, plus you can take advantage of telephoto and telescoping lenses to capture celestial bodies that could otherwise be missed.

With the moonrise (waning gibbous inside Taurus) with Mars from 5 October 2020, I wanted to mention using Adobe Lightroom as my preferred method of photo editing compared to other photo editors. That said, this is not a free program. It was also all Jacob’s idea to invest in decent photo editing software that wouldn’t piss me off.

*Insert standing ovation to Jacob*

Often times I find that I turn up the “highlights” and “dehaze” tools the most in these pictures when editing all of the long exposure shots from the Canon Rebel.

I mentioned previously when I was giving an example of the moonrise picture edited using Instagram.

Comparing this to what I uncovered in Lightroom is a little stark. That said, Lightroom isn’t perfect. It won’t get rid of the noise that’s the result of us using a camera with limitations associated with the electronics. This is why some photographers use film, then a film scanner, instead of direct digital. There are also dual digital and film cameras that shoot film with a digital back up (though these have tended to have short lived generations on market).

It’s important to note that I don’t “photoshop” – I don’t add details to photos that weren’t captured with the original image.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed these dark sky photos! If you want to see more posts like this, please like, comment, or share.

Thank you for spending time with me today!

If you would like to use any of our photos from this post:

  • For unpaid projects, simply credit us by linking back to this website.
  • For paid projects please send me an e-mail and we can exchange a fair use contract with more details.