The town of Fort Belknap, Montana,
sits atop the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation on U. S. Highway 2 in northcentral
Montana.Locally, we call the portion of
Montana though which Highway 2 runs the Hi-Line.The area—extending east and west just below
the Canadian border—represents the westernmost fringes of The Great Plains.Soon the plains will falter at the feet of
the Rocky Mountains.
Weather is a real thing there.
Last Tuesday, Fort Belknap had what
you might call a “weather event.”Early
that morning, a low temperature of 37 below was recorded.A bit later in the day, a warming Chinook
wind swept across the plains and along the Rocky Mountain Front to the west.The temperature at Fort Belknap rose to a
high of 45 degrees above Tuesday afternoon.A temperature swing of over 80 degrees in one day.
Last evening, I spent the waning
minutes of daylight soaking in my hot tub.The light of day failed quickly as a snowstorm lowered shawls of snow
all around me.Soon, the green pine
trees turned a deep blue.Giant, gently
sinking snowflakes dropped straight down from the clouds immediately above.The snow closed in, obscuring all sense of
I thought: Wow, this is so cool!
I outstretched my arms and turned my
face up so the snowflakes could melt directly against me.Each one delivered a kind of exhilarating sting
of chill upon touching my skin.Not a
single sound penetrated the storm.
The snow accumulated quickly.By the time I scampered back inside, a new
layer of pure white covered everything.
The snow continued into full darkness.
Late last night, I came awake to
strong winds shouldering against my house.
This morning, after feeding my 20
pounds of housecat and brewing my coffee, I stepped outside as I always do to
get a feel for the day.
I have been in the Montana Club dining
room a total of three times in my life.The first time, I was a sophomore in high school.I applied for a job in the kitchen.
They didn’t hire me.
I managed entrance again some forty years
later as a guest at a Rotary Club luncheon.
Last night, that girl and I went to
dinner at the Montana Club.
The club is located on the corner of 6th
Avenue and Fuller in downtown Helena.Until only a few months ago, the Montana Club was private and a strict
dress code was in place.At the end of
last year, due to a dwindling membership, the Montana Club opened its private
spaces to the public.
The Montana Club was the oldest
continuously-operating private club west of the Mississippi.The club originated in 1885 and was highly exclusive
for next 132 years.
The dining room is beautiful and offers
an expansive view of downtown Helena.
We both enjoyed our dinner and plan on
After dinner, we stepped downstairs
and had a drink in the Rathskeller, a small lounge in the basement of the
club.A pair of guitarist were playing
live music in one corner.
The name “Rathskeller” is of German
origins and is a combination of “rat council” and “cellar.” A rathskeller is
typically a bar or restaurant located below street level.
All in all, that girl and I had a great
time.I am posting some photographs I
captured with my smarter-than-me-phone.