The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Summer Bucket List for 2017


June 7, 2017

File Photo

The Garden of a 1000 Buddas is by Arlee, Montana.

By Robert Lucke

The term Bucket List comes from a movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman who go around doing wonderful things they have always wanted to do before they "kick the bucket".

For several years at "The Mountaineer" we have composed winter and summer bucket lists of things to do that are close to home.

We think with pride that our list is so much better than other newspapers who feature things like drive from one end of US Highway 2 from North Dakota to Idaho and to visit the four towns that are closest to the four corners of Montana. Not much excitement there.

However, our list does try to be exciting and who knows, visiting some places like Thornhill Butte in the Little Rockies might just be very rewarding.

This summer we have broken our Bucket List into three categories. Overnight stays, Day trips and interesting places to eat.

Let's start with interesting places to eat. One of the big wars on the High-Line has always been who of the two oldest pizza joints has the best pizza. People from Glasgow swear that Eugene's Pizza is the best in Montana. And, of course, people from this area have always sworn that Nalivka Pizza is the best anywhere. Both pizza joints make their very own pizza from the crust to the toppings and the two pizza joints have very unique tastes and not at all the same. A couple of weeks ago a Big Sandy native came though Glasgow and stopped at Eugene's Pizza just to try how they might differ from Nalivka's Pizza. She told me that while Eugene's Pizza is definitely a different taste, it is not as good as Nalivka's pizza. And, yet, we know a person who works for KGEZ in Kalispell and has eight to fifteen Eugene's Pizzas delivered to him by the railroad every other month. Your assignment Bucket List participants are to go to both Eugene's and Nalivka's and see for yourself who has the better pizza. Report your results to "The Mountaineer".

I first got the word from the ladies who work in the Big Sandy high school administration area. I told them I was heading for Lake McDonald and they told me not to miss the Italian restaurant in Whitefish called Ciao Mambo. I went and I must say that if you are a person who loves spaghetti and meat balls like I do, you will never eat any better than at Ciao Mambo. I have tried to recreate the recipe at home but cannot do it. I have eaten spaghetti and meatballs lots of places but never have I tasted spaghetti and meatballs like these. I don't know about their other Italian food because all I eat is spaghetti and meat balls but the girls at the high school office say it is all great!

And if you are in to Italian food don't miss Borries in Black Eagle, north of Great Falls. People say, and I have to agree that their home made and fried ravioli are worth the trip. Matter of fact, just writing about Borrie's makes me want to head down there this week for a ravioli dinner.

There are lots of great places to eat around Glacier National Park but the best of all is in the Benton part of West Glacier, just across the street from the depot. The restaurant is called the Glacier Highlander and the cook, a lady named Cherrie is without a doubt the best cook in that part of Montana. Her breakfasts are wonderful. Just her hash browns alone are so light they almost take off when eating them. Not only that but order huckleberry pancakes, a short stack should do you, and you will never order huckleberry pancakes anywhere else.

Dinners primarily consist of burgers, sandwiches and home made French fries.

Then there are her pies. I have never eaten any but the huckleberry and I go back for more and more. In fact it is rare that I don't take a whole pie home with me.

And, who would look for prime rib anywhere but here at home at the Mint. I don't think it gets any better than Mint prime rib. That proves that you don't have to go far for really good food!

This next junket should go under day trips or overnight trips but it is about food as well. You need a passport to get there but go to Lethbridge and eat Oriental food. There are over 80 Oriental restaurants in Lethbridge. If you get tired of that make it a really grand trip and head to Medicine Hat and the Cypress Hills. In the Cypress Hills on the west end is the Elkwater end and on the east end is the main resort area. If you love mountains, you are going to love the Cypress Hills.

Well, how about a few day trips.

I love to go back again and again and explore the public access roads around the north of the Missouri Breaks, specifically in the Power Plant area and the mouth of Cow Creek. And, that leads to another good adventure. Take off from Big Sandy and see how close to the Missouri you can get following what is left of the Cow Island Trail in those parts. You will be in the neighborhood of Bull Whacker Coulee along the way and can follow the trail of Chief Joseph when he and his brother Looking Glass led his people north, trying to get to Canada. When captured he have his famous speech saying, "I will fight no more forever." Most all is there yet and it is like time has stood still these days. The mouth of Cow Creek is in private hands these days but according to the BLM, the owners let people go down to where Jim and Tavie Kipp built their homestead cabin. Get to the BLM for more information.

I do not hesitate to say that a person could spend most every weekend all summer long in the area along the Missouri from Jim Kipp Park to Big Sandy and never see it all. When the time is right, don't miss the Slippery Ann wildlife viewing area and as long as you are donning there cross to the south side of the Missouri via the Fred Robinson Bridge and locate the remains of Rocky Pint and the Carroll area.

There is another day trip that can be done on its own. That is to explore Thornhill Butte which is the most south butte of the Little Rockies. Some of it is private land so do get permission before entering private property. You can view what is thought to be Kid Curry's hideout just east of Thornhill. Anyway, it was thought for years and years by many that the when the Curry gang robbed the Great Northern mail train on July 3, 1901 and got away with the loot, some have said that that loot is still buried to this day on Thornhill Butte.

So, how about some longer sojourns. If you love Glacier and the Swift Current valley and Many Glacier Hotel, get a reservation soon and head there this year or next year if you can. Great renovations have taken place. The hotel dining room roof has been put back in place like it was meant to be and the double staircase leading from the lobby to the gift shop and lower level restaurant should be completed by the middle of July.

For many this is the most beautiful of all the Glacier Park hotels. Certainly it is the largest. It was the largest hotel in Montana for some time. And it is right in the middle of some of the wildest and most scenic of all the Glacier Park area. If you are there and are looking for an easy hike and the best hike of all, take your time and head in July to Iceberg Lake. The flowers are glorious and to see this little lake just under the Continental Divide, filled with icebergs is simply magnificent.

Visit the Farmer's Markets at Missoula, Kalispell, Great Falls and Havre this summer. You will get great eats at very low prices. Don't miss out on what the best summer venders have to offer in Montana.

If you are staying near Glacier in a travel trailer, motor home or tent, don't miss staying in the Park itself. Best west side campgrounds are Avalanche at the Avalanche Lake trailhead, Sprague Creek near Lake McDonald Lodge is wonderful and caters to tents.

Apgar campground and Fish Creek close to Lake McDonald are nice but get too filled up for me.

On the east side of the mountains, there is only one campground for many people. That is Two Medicine Campground at Middle Two Medicine Lake. It is a wonderful campground and there is a very old camp store there as well. In the old days when there was no limit to how long you could camp in the Park, many Havre people would set up large hunting tents and stay there with their children all summer and their husbands would come up on the train for summer weekends. We will be having a camping guide in "The Mountaineer" from Glacier either this week or next and it will give you much more information about camping there.

Lastly, I could not get through the summer without spending a couple of nights in Zortman. I stay in some very old log cabins called the Buckhorn and I eat and have a drink or two at the Miner's Club and Restaurant. It is wonderful scenery; a wonderful place to start out your day's adventure the town is surrounded with limestone cliffs that prove it was part of a huge underwater sea at some time. You will find many tiny fossilized star fish and marine worms. Very interesting and close to home too.

File Photo

Avalanche Lake in Glacier Park

If you are in the western valleys of Montana, check out the new Garden of One Thousand Buddhas located close to Arlee on the Flathead Reservation between Missoula and Polson.

The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas is a spiritual site near Arlee, Montana. It is currently under construction. The monument portion of the site is 750 square feet in area and the surrounding garden is spread across 10 acres of land. It is intended to be a pilgrimage destination for the Western hemisphere and is expected by its builders to become a major place of worship for people of many faiths. It is free to the public and will feature over one thousand statues.

You might have your own bucket list. If you do, now is a great time to get going on it.


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