Out West '97

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Havre, Montana

Notes from the road

Peter Kohlsaat
Thursday, August 14, 1997
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Lake Ewlett, south of Chester, Montana -- Yesterday afternoon was an Ubu-Skeleton Key-Jesus
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Lizard- kind of driving afternoon. The kind of music that begs for your attention. Driving west from the Sawtooths, the eastern edge of the mountains brings you into flat, glaciated, ancient sea floors, with lots oil, gas, and dinosaur fossils. They just found a dinosaur skin fossil just east of here.

What follows is just some bits and pieces gleaned from having nothing else to write about:

In Shelby, Montana’s weekly paper, The Promoter, (a newspaper that obviously has no trouble coming to terms with its purpose as a newspaper) a couple observations:

From the Montana Highway Patrol report: There were four citations given for night speed limit violations. Three were to out-of-state drivers.

From the Toole County Sheriff report- there were two criminal possession of dangerous drugs and criminal possession of drug paraphernalia citations, both from out of state- Hollywood, CA and Dover, OH.

From the Arrest/Incarceration report- five out of the ten arrests and six out of the nine incarcerations were for deportation proceedings.

In the Shelby Promoter there were two open wedding invitations and two birthday invitations. It seems the whole town gets invited. And you thought your wedding/birthday celebration had some embarrassing guests. And then there was this ad (at right). At first I thought it was an ad for a movie.

I am camped this morning at a run-down, spartan, VFW recreational site on Ewlett Lake. This official notice was placed in the men’s outhouse:

Public Notice- Recreational Area Vandalism and Theft Alert:

Your campgrounds and recreational sites experience vandalism every year. Please take the time to report incidents and violations of campground rules as soon as possible-

  • obtain license numbers and description of vehicles
  • keep and maintain a note pad and writing instrument in your camp or vehicle at all times for reporting information.
  • safely get descriptions of the persons involved; don’t risk your safety or you family’s safety. Remember that these individuals are participating in criminal activities and could be dangerous.
  • The age of communications is here- use it through the following:
  • Cellular telephone (you may have to drive to a high point.)
  • Your local marina or business (name and phone # listed)
  • Campground host or hosts site (no host or host site in existence)
  • Contact your local law enforcement office (listed w/#)
  • Contact your local agency office (agency and # listed)

Thank you. You should have this information written down in case of emergency.

Fishing Report -

Lake Ewlett, a large reservoir created by the damming of the Marais River by the Tiber Dam, 14 miles south of Chester. They fish walleyes here. No live minnows allowed. What would the good walleye fishermen of Minnesota think of that? Sun up- not one boat on the water. Sunset- again the lake empty. What kind of walleye fishermen are these? If I have time might bring out the canoe, although my monofiliment line is badly twisted from all that trolling in Gibson Reservoir.

Enter the Duck

The dog was barking. It was a warning bark. It was the distinct bark warning me of an approaching
human. It was a guy named Duck. He was coming over to "bullshit." He has been staying at the campsite four down from mine. He has been there a month. Duck is fifty-ish, short and stocky with unruly reddish hair that with a brush could be tamed if need be.

He is wearing a pair of faded pink No Fear baggy shorts and sporting the kind of tan one sees in the tropics on people addicted to the sun. Duck’s campsite, like all the campsites on the little, perhaps eight-acre, Bear Paw Lake, 14 miles south of Havre, Montana, has no shade. The sun has been brutal. It soon becomes apparent that Duck has come to see if he can borrow some "doobie" material. I tell him, I can’t help.

He says it’s no big deal, he’s got friends in Havre. No big deal at all. Then Duck starts to talk. It’s like Duck hasn’t talked with anyone for a long time. He goes and goes. He’s a professional card dealer, just back from Reno where he was working a tournament, 36 hours of dealing, plays cards too, better dealer than player, got gigs lined up in Reno, Tahoe, got a gig next month subbing in Vegas, lived in Kona with a guy who brought in 1500 pounds of hashish, stood in a marijuana field on the island of Hawaii where the plants were this high, buds this big, goes to Zihuantanejo (Zee), Mexico in the winter, has been for ten years, likes the old Mexico, been all over Mexico, likes the old Mexico, is a double English major, sometimes subs as a teacher when he’s in these little towns, just wrote a piece for the Harve paper on a friend of his that just died, old pal, learned a lot from this guy, learned about life, it’s a little testimonial, should come out tomorrow, paper usually waits a couple days, couple months ago best friend died, couldn’t make the funeral, was in the middle of a tournament, he woulda understood, but woulda like to have been there, born in Havre, lived all over Montana, Whitefish, Missoula, Billings, all over, thinks this particular spot is the best place in all of Montana, and he’s lived all over, don’t tell anyone about it, caught 40 fish in the lake yesterday, little bass, some trout, small, this big, liked my set up, nobody would ever think I have anything of value in a van looks like this, well, gotta go, I looked busy, liked my tarp, didn’t need shade himself, sun person, can’t get enough sun, liked the dog, what’s the name again? Zelda, and mine? Oh, yeah, and he went.

Couple things from the Havre local paper, possibly the smallest daily I have ever seen. Eight pages. Fifty cents. The Havre Daily News.

The lead story, the same lead story in every newspaper I have picked up in Montana- Death Toll Mounts on Roads. It’s the same story: record pace for highway fatalities. Most deaths occurring at night, when there is a speed limit, most accidents involving out-of-staters, it’s the aggressiveness of the drivers, not their speed. For the year deaths are up, 148, 31 more than last year. The articles are often accompanied by comments by selected locals, "With the change of the speed limit, have you felt any less safe traveling this summer?" With the exception of the mandatory "yes" everyone thinks the no-speed limit is great.

Also appearing on the front page is:

Kremlin (MT) man sets high mark for Pronto Pup record. "Ricky Martin surpassed his goal of fifty Pronto Pups at the Great Northern Fair without any visible side effects Sunday night." He consumed 43 pups over the first five days of the fair and finished off the week with 52 pups eaten by devouring nine on Sunday. He said, "I might have a challenger for next year- my brother, Randy. He says I better practice up to beat him."


Montana Jerks. Historical Society researcher tells students about our states biggies.

"Ike Gravelle was a jerk. George Gore was a jerk too. And Montana Historical Society researcher, Dave Walter says Gravelle and Gore- two dubious characters of the 1800’s whose shady deeds wrote them into the black book of Montana history- aren’t that different from jerks in the area today." It goes on to tell about these two jerks and some other jerks, including the Unabomber. There is an inset that reads, "At least most of the jerks came from somewhere else."

Several Montana papers have a "Heros and Zeroes" or "Cheers and Boos" feature, where good deeds are publicly applauded and bad deeds are put out there for public chastisement. The Zeroes for today are:

The lady at the fairgrounds who was setting on the rail in front of the handicap area who when asked to move made the comment that next year she should bring her wheelchair.

The 16-year old New Hampshire boy who killed a classmate with a blow to the head in an after school fight.

It was not mentioned whether or not the lady at the fair was from out of state.

Lake Ewlett

Lake Ewlett 

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