Feel free to close your eyes, take some cleansing breaths, and let the healing begin…
Shortly after arriving in Helena, I came across this beautiful magazine at one of the eateries in town (Karmadillos). I pawed through the pages of Volume 3 while noshing on my Veggie Salad (with citrus vinaigrette – highly recommended) and knew I wanted to be a contributor.
And so it came to pass – huzzah! I worked on four stories in the most recent issue, Vol. 4 and had the best time at each of the businesses I photographed. I love the local scene here – it’s not like anything I’ve ever experienced before having come from a large city.
I’m in love with this town.
Nord owns Firetower Coffee on Last Chance Gulch. He might be mildly obsessed with the Beatles – hard to say. They roast their own beans – all fair trade and organic. Buy your coffee here – it’s the right thing to do – plus it tastes way better than Barstucks.
I dare you not to like this place and I double-dog dare you not to make it your new, favorite hang-out-and-listen-to-the-best-music place. Hey – maybe with that new book you picked up across the street, eh?
Photos I took for The Local Magazine (Vol. 4)
I love The Base Camp. Period. You can rent anything you need to hang out with Mama Nature in any season. The folks who work there are as nice as they come – bend over backwards helpful. This was the first business I visited after having moved to Helena and they couldn’t have been any kinder. REI, who?
I took these photos for a story in The Local magazine (Vol. 4).
Photos I took for a story in The Local magazine (Vol. 4).
Helena may be a small town, but it’s just as cool as any big city I’ve ever been to. I almost hate sharing how awesome it is because, selfishly, I want it to stay the way it is. By all means, come visit – but then please go back to your own home. 😉
I owned a brick and mortar bookshop once upon a time. Then the economy crashed. And Kindle happened. And Amazon wiped out tens of thousands of independently-owned businesses – like bookshops.
Like our bookshop.
There’s nothing like a real book. The printed page. The tactile experience of smelling a book and turning its pages with an eager finger tip.
The Montana Book Company in Helena reminds me a lot of my own bookshop. There’s an inviting homeyness; a warmth that beckons and encourages visitors to linger – to touch, turn, and explore the pages of the books that are carefully – thoughtfully – selected to occupy the shop’s weathered shelves. The books they choose are for you, the community it serves: Knitters, yogis, hunters, gatherers, children, grandparents, new parents, dog lovers, nature lovers – and if they don’t have it, they can get it.
It’s ok, you can wait a couple of days – marinate in the anticipation. Remember that feeling? It’s been awhile. Things seem to come to us as fast as our desires can conjure them anymore.
Take a step back, and maybe a nice, long, deep breath – what’s your rush? Pick up another book and read that while you wait for your book to come in. Then maybe head across the street for a cup of coffee – you know, the place where the jukebox plays the Beatles because the owner is a fan.
Doing some volunteer photography work for the York Fire Rescue/York Volunteer Fire Department and decided to take some footage of the race route while we were out exploring one day. Shot with my Samsung 10+ (on basic settings – will adjust next time), edited in Premiere Pro CC. It’s a bit rough, but not too bad considering the last minute decision to pop up out of the sunroof and take some video. Also – it was hella fun being a human GoPro out in the gorgeous Helena National Forest.
I take the Rollei with me every time we go exploring. I don’t think it’s necessarily ideal for photographing landscapes, though. Maybe I just need to learn to do a better job of managing larger scenarios with this particular format; regardless, I’m finding some pretty interesting subjects within a more accessible focal range. Not far from the entrance to Avalanche Gulch, we came across the remains of what must have been a pretty grisly scene. Two large fur beds in the shapes of deer with a bone debris field scattered in a 50-foot radius. Coyotes, I’m guessing, dragged the lifeless bodies of their kill into this scrubby bit of brush so they could enjoy their meal in a more secluded spot.
It’s hard for me, someone who’s grown up in the city, to digest the reality that plays out in the wilderness. I’ve watched hundreds of nature shows, and I still get upset when one animal falls victim to another – doesn’t even matter where they are on the food chain, it just hurts my heart. I can’t even watch Disney movies with animals in them because I get so upset if they get lost, hurt, or … you know.
Now that I live in a place where I’m confronted by the reality of the natural world on a daily basis, I’m starting to allow myself to appreciate the rule of animal instinct. I see that trying to ascribe my tender sensibilities to their inherent need to survive is, well, ridiculous. While it’s possible that an underdeveloped part of my thinking is starting to evolve, it doesn’t mean I don’t hurt when I see things like this; I am, however, learning to appreciate how each species must function in this wild and oftentimes harsh environment just to survive.
Helena’s history is both rich (literally) and storied. There are so many layers – so many possible rabbit holes down which to tumble; it’s hard to know where to begin. Gold. Probably the gold. There was a lot of it at one time – in fact, at one point Helena was home to more millionaires per capita than any other city in the United States. Times were high and happy and the good times were definitely rolling. Little by little, the claims began to lose their yield and the millionaires moved on.
The landscape is covered with reminders of all the hopes, dreams, and ambitions of folks who more than likely risked everything they had with the hope of striking it rich here.
It’s history before your very eyes, and it fades a little more with each passing day. Helena’s oldest buildings bear the marks of businesses that, like the signs, faded away many years ago. What was once certainly a collection of vibrant commercial messages is now a collection of faded vagaries, only half hocking products or businesses that the modern residents of town still recognize. (source)
The devastating fire of July 16, 1928 destroyed the building on this site, along with many others on the west side of Main Street. The F. W. Woolworth Co. store had move into the building just the year previous, in 1927. Undaunted, the Granite Building was rebuilt and F. W. Woolworth moved back into the newly completed building. Woolworth’s would remain in the building until its closing in 1981. (source)
The new Granite Building, being built in the late 1920s, was built in one of the newest styles of the time, Beaux Arts. While the name of the building may have Granite in it, it appears that the building itself has Limestone in it. The building’s face appears to be limestone and was given six recessed decorative panels that would normally be of terra cotta, but here appear to be of limestone. Each panel is above a large window. The six panels across the facade have garlands comprised of fruits which hang between shields, both heart shaped and square. A stepped pediment in the centre has several more decorative panels with shields carved in them, while atop the pediment is a limestone urn sitting on a small plinth flanked by ogee brackets. (source)
Ernie Palmquist opened Palmquist Electric in the 1920’s, and despite being sold in 1978, the company’s mural sign has remained since it was first painted in the 1930’s. Wanting to preserve Ernies legacy, the Palmquist joined forces with local historians and specialists from WallDog Public Art in Iowa to restore the faded sign. Restoration was completed recently with the intent to bring the sign back to life while keeping its well-earned aged look. (source)
In the old days, loaves of Eddy’s bread cost 3 cents a loaf. He operated for many years beneath a house of ill repute known as the Imperial Hotel, across from the Marlowe Theatre on Edwards Street (now the parking lot of the Holiday Inn), where a large brick oven cranked out 2,000 loaves a week — just a preview of the operation that a half-century later would produce one million loaves a week in 15 bakeries. (source)