An animal adventure | TheFencePost.com

An animal adventure

Candy Moulton
Encampment, Wyo.

Dog Bark Park, Cottonwood, Idaho.

I’ve just spent nearly three months on the road and traveled well over 12,000 miles in the process, along the way encountering quite a few interesting people, places, and animals.

My travels began in July in Idaho for time at the Oregon/California National Interpretive Center, and then at sites along the Oregon Trail in Idaho before I turned north into the Boise Basin to visit some of the gold camps. Eventually I reached Cottonwood, Idaho, where you can literally sleep in the dog!

At Dog Bark Park Inn Bed and Breakfast near Cottonwood, Idaho, accommodations are in the belly of a beagle named Toby. And if you wish, you can even climb into his head to curl up with a book or spend the night sleeping. The bathroom in this unique lodging space is, appropriately, located under Toby’s tail. Toby and his nearby companion Sweet Willy (a miniature version of Toby, but very large as beagles go) are the creations of Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin. In their whimsical yard at the Inn you will also find oversized toaster, coffee pot, and even a larger-than-life fireplug (which is an outdoor privy).

My trail buddy Ben Kern traveled with me through Idaho and had the good fortune in one of the mining camps to meet a woman he thinks he can keep up with!

My travels then took me to Montana where I found plenty of evidence that dinosaurs had once roamed the countryside. The Montana Dinosaur Trail has sites ranging from the excellent Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman to quarries and research areas near Choteau. The Old Trail Museum in Choteau has Maiasaura and Einosaurus skulls, nestling, hatchling and adult Maiasaura skeletons and bones, and a Sauronitholestes skeleton casting. These items came from the area’s Two Medicine Formation. Near Choteau is Egg Mountain, location of an unusually large collection of dinosaur eggs (some of which you can see in Bozeman and others in Choteau).

Leaving Choteau, I had the opportunity to meet Al Wiseman, a Metis, who shared his culture with me, and even though it was raining, took me to an eagle catching site, something I had never had the chance to see before. Al explained how the native people would place a rabbit or other small animal atop the rocks, and then lie in wait in the chamber created by the piles of rocks until an eagle came for the bait. Once the raptor struck, the hunter would grab hold of the eagle’s legs. Sometimes he would kill the animal, but on other occasions would just take some of the eagle’s feathers and allow the animal to fly free.

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Just imagining the strength of an eagle, and its twin weapons of sharp claws and beak, would be enough to keep me from ever attempting to catch one from such a trap. But of course to native people, the eagle is one of the most powerful symbols of the animal world and therefore worth any risk to personal life or limb to possess. The eagle trap, and others like it that Al said are nearby, has not been used for generations since of course catching the national bird is not allowed. Even native people who can possess eagle feathers, must have proper permits to hold them.

The story of Shep, the faithful dog, is well known in Fort Benton, Mont., and a sculpture by Bob Scriver recognizes this canine. Shep came to town in 1936 when a sheepherder fell ill and was brought to the St. Clare Hospital in Fort Benton. The dog held vigil, getting a few scraps of food from a nun who ran the hospital, but the herder died. As the man’s body was placed on a baggage car for the trip home to his family in the East, the shepherd dog watched, whining as the door was closed and the train pulled away.

The dog followed the train down the tracks, but then returned to Fort Benton, holding vigil by meeting trains when they rolled into town for the next five and a half years. Soon known as Shep, the dog rebuffed attempts by people to take care of him. He was no doubt waiting for the man who had been his master to return. Railroad employees fed him, but he never became “their” dog, and he died when his old body could not move fast enough to get away from a train. He was buried near where he had waited so long for his master to return. On the 50th anniversary of his death, Fort Benton honored the dog with the Bob Scriver sculpture, and so Shep continues his watch.

The Washakie Museum and Cultural Center in Worland, Wyo., has a new sculpture in place – a massive mammoth created by Chris Navarro. Standing in front of the recently opened museum, the mammoth certain attracts attention, and dwarfs shrimpy writers who stand beside him! The museum will have another outstanding display in its grand foyer when an 82-foot, fully articulated Sauropod is in place from the end of November through January 2011.

Undoubtedly the most exciting animals I have seen this year were Belgian Blue cattle. Not because of the breed so much, but because I saw them for the first time ever in Belgium – the Old Country to my family since that is where both my Grandmother and Grandfather were born and raised. My trip there in September was quite simply the best “On the Trail” adventure I have ever had.

I first spied Belgian Blue cattle from the window of the train as I traveled from Brussels to Brugge and was struck by the massive muscling in their rump. I did not at the time know what the breed was, nor that they had been specifically bred for that double muscling, but the only news I could watch and understand in Belgium was the BBC (which was in English), so I began calling those cattle – Big Butt Cattle, and was quite delighted when I found out that the Belgian Blue Cattle (BBC) is a recognized breed both in Belgium, where they originated, and also in the United States.

My travels are winding down for this year, but I have many adventures yet to share. In the meantime, “In Pursuit of a Dream,” the film I produced with Boston Productions for the Oregon-California Trail Association, will screen twice at the Heber City Cowboy Poetry Gathering. The first showing will be Thursday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m., and the second will be Saturday, Nov. 6 at 1 p.m. If you can make it to Heber City for the Gathering, try to schedule time for the film screenings. I’ll be on hand to talk about the film and Steve will be sharing some of his music.

And finally, if you want to have an adventure of your own on the trail, contact Quackgrass Sally, 72 Buckboard Lane, Bridger, MT, as she has a really nice carriage for sale.

I’ve just spent nearly three months on the road and traveled well over 12,000 miles in the process, along the way encountering quite a few interesting people, places, and animals.

My travels began in July in Idaho for time at the Oregon/California National Interpretive Center, and then at sites along the Oregon Trail in Idaho before I turned north into the Boise Basin to visit some of the gold camps. Eventually I reached Cottonwood, Idaho, where you can literally sleep in the dog!

At Dog Bark Park Inn Bed and Breakfast near Cottonwood, Idaho, accommodations are in the belly of a beagle named Toby. And if you wish, you can even climb into his head to curl up with a book or spend the night sleeping. The bathroom in this unique lodging space is, appropriately, located under Toby’s tail. Toby and his nearby companion Sweet Willy (a miniature version of Toby, but very large as beagles go) are the creations of Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin. In their whimsical yard at the Inn you will also find oversized toaster, coffee pot, and even a larger-than-life fireplug (which is an outdoor privy).

My trail buddy Ben Kern traveled with me through Idaho and had the good fortune in one of the mining camps to meet a woman he thinks he can keep up with!

My travels then took me to Montana where I found plenty of evidence that dinosaurs had once roamed the countryside. The Montana Dinosaur Trail has sites ranging from the excellent Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman to quarries and research areas near Choteau. The Old Trail Museum in Choteau has Maiasaura and Einosaurus skulls, nestling, hatchling and adult Maiasaura skeletons and bones, and a Sauronitholestes skeleton casting. These items came from the area’s Two Medicine Formation. Near Choteau is Egg Mountain, location of an unusually large collection of dinosaur eggs (some of which you can see in Bozeman and others in Choteau).

Leaving Choteau, I had the opportunity to meet Al Wiseman, a Metis, who shared his culture with me, and even though it was raining, took me to an eagle catching site, something I had never had the chance to see before. Al explained how the native people would place a rabbit or other small animal atop the rocks, and then lie in wait in the chamber created by the piles of rocks until an eagle came for the bait. Once the raptor struck, the hunter would grab hold of the eagle’s legs. Sometimes he would kill the animal, but on other occasions would just take some of the eagle’s feathers and allow the animal to fly free.

Just imagining the strength of an eagle, and its twin weapons of sharp claws and beak, would be enough to keep me from ever attempting to catch one from such a trap. But of course to native people, the eagle is one of the most powerful symbols of the animal world and therefore worth any risk to personal life or limb to possess. The eagle trap, and others like it that Al said are nearby, has not been used for generations since of course catching the national bird is not allowed. Even native people who can possess eagle feathers, must have proper permits to hold them.

The story of Shep, the faithful dog, is well known in Fort Benton, Mont., and a sculpture by Bob Scriver recognizes this canine. Shep came to town in 1936 when a sheepherder fell ill and was brought to the St. Clare Hospital in Fort Benton. The dog held vigil, getting a few scraps of food from a nun who ran the hospital, but the herder died. As the man’s body was placed on a baggage car for the trip home to his family in the East, the shepherd dog watched, whining as the door was closed and the train pulled away.

The dog followed the train down the tracks, but then returned to Fort Benton, holding vigil by meeting trains when they rolled into town for the next five and a half years. Soon known as Shep, the dog rebuffed attempts by people to take care of him. He was no doubt waiting for the man who had been his master to return. Railroad employees fed him, but he never became “their” dog, and he died when his old body could not move fast enough to get away from a train. He was buried near where he had waited so long for his master to return. On the 50th anniversary of his death, Fort Benton honored the dog with the Bob Scriver sculpture, and so Shep continues his watch.

The Washakie Museum and Cultural Center in Worland, Wyo., has a new sculpture in place – a massive mammoth created by Chris Navarro. Standing in front of the recently opened museum, the mammoth certain attracts attention, and dwarfs shrimpy writers who stand beside him! The museum will have another outstanding display in its grand foyer when an 82-foot, fully articulated Sauropod is in place from the end of November through January 2011.

Undoubtedly the most exciting animals I have seen this year were Belgian Blue cattle. Not because of the breed so much, but because I saw them for the first time ever in Belgium – the Old Country to my family since that is where both my Grandmother and Grandfather were born and raised. My trip there in September was quite simply the best “On the Trail” adventure I have ever had.

I first spied Belgian Blue cattle from the window of the train as I traveled from Brussels to Brugge and was struck by the massive muscling in their rump. I did not at the time know what the breed was, nor that they had been specifically bred for that double muscling, but the only news I could watch and understand in Belgium was the BBC (which was in English), so I began calling those cattle – Big Butt Cattle, and was quite delighted when I found out that the Belgian Blue Cattle (BBC) is a recognized breed both in Belgium, where they originated, and also in the United States.

My travels are winding down for this year, but I have many adventures yet to share. In the meantime, “In Pursuit of a Dream,” the film I produced with Boston Productions for the Oregon-California Trail Association, will screen twice at the Heber City Cowboy Poetry Gathering. The first showing will be Thursday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m., and the second will be Saturday, Nov. 6 at 1 p.m. If you can make it to Heber City for the Gathering, try to schedule time for the film screenings. I’ll be on hand to talk about the film and Steve will be sharing some of his music.

And finally, if you want to have an adventure of your own on the trail, contact Quackgrass Sally, 72 Buckboard Lane, Bridger, MT, as she has a really nice carriage for sale.