Friday, July 10, 2009

After Missoula, Bozeman

there weren't a lot of people at the event last night in missoula, but they were sure an interesting bunch. one woman, a professor at the u of montana, had travelled to cuba to research water systems in 2004. they took an informal survey of a significant cross section of citizens, from peasant farmers to urban dwellers, asking them if they knew where their water supply is sourced, and how their sewage is treated. the cubans, vicki discovered, are remarkably aware of their water sources ... moreso than their american counterparts, she said.

missoula's water was previously supplied by the clark fork river, until they discovered giardia, and now they depend on underground aquifers.

last night's event was held at the jeannette rankin peace centre in missoula. jeannette was a woman congressperson who advocated for peace, and she commissioned this painting of sacajawea.

today on the bus i sat next to a young university student travelling to butte for their weekend folk festival. he told me a lot about montana - he grew up on 5 acres and has worked several summers with his dad commercial salmon fishing in alaska. apparently there was at least one salmon stream that ended in montana until recent years. although the returning salmon were able to maneouver up the ladders, the new borns had a much more difficult time trying to traverse the dams and find their way to the ocean. it's incredible to think that salmon spawned this far inland. and sad to realize they will no more.

my friend told me about hiking in glacier park, that some of the oldest fossils on earth are found there, from the pre-cambrian era. he said local agricultural practices are draining the aquifers. and here in butte they moved a mountain for a mining project. he told me a story about a dog who somehow managed to get into the highly toxic abandoned mine area, i think he said it's called the berkeley pit, and actually adapted. maybe it's an urban myth, but the story says that efforts to rescue the dog failed when they realized that the dog was so highly adapted to the otherwise devastating environment that removing it would for sure result in its death. so the dog lived in the pit until it eventually died, and then a monument was constructed to immortalize it.

i also learned that the continental divide, which i can see from the greyhound station here in butte where we have a half hour rest, was intended to be the border with idaho. but someone drew the wrong line on the map, and idaho's border is a long ways from here - i'd estimate about 6 hours west.

next stop - bozeman.

bob and susan met on the 04 caravan. they've built a beautiful home, and so far are gracious hosts, as have all the cuba supporters been. it's a special bunch, these who care about that small island nation, and i feel honoured to be among them.

Click here for photos - Missoula to Bozeman