Page 1

spring 2012

enter the world of


wonders growing spaces


an architect's winning remodel

the spring plague

a taste of new talent

brew town

a look into UM Culinary Arts

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letter from the editor I hear the same refrain each time we wrap up another edition of Missoula magazine: “Wow! This is the best one ever! What a beauty!” And never has that refrain been louder than this week, as we shipped the magazine’s spring edition off to the printer. It is, indeed, a beautiful magazine – beginning with Kurt Wilson’s incredible photographs of the wild residents of Animal Wonders, a relatively new local nonprofit that is home to 72 animals from across the globe. Missoula native Jessi Knudsen and husband Augusto Castaneda established their brood with the goal of teaching Montana children about the wild and wonderful animals of the world, reporter Betsy Cohen explains in this edition’s cover story. They also spend immense amounts of time just tending to the creatures. Wilson took a decidedly different approach to these photographs. He went to the Knudsen-Castaneda home, set up a white backdrop and brought in the animals, one by one, or a few at a time. And waited. For their personalities to emerge. Faced with a new and unexpected situation, the animals were a delight to watch and photograph, Wilson said later. They primped and posed, ignored and fussed, stared down and smiled. I love the resulting photographs for what they show us about these animals so out of place, but seemingly so at home, in Montana. Chili Pepper, the South American cavy, and his best friend Patches, a guinea pig from the Andes. Groucho, an African pygmy hedgehog; Ginger, a green-cheeked Brazilian conure; Blueberry, the bluetongued skink from Australia. Be forewarned: You are going to be smitten. And that’s just one of the amazing features in this edition of Missoula magazine. We’ll also take you for a tour of the Missoula home judged by Fine Homebuilding magazine as the 2011 Remodel of the Year. Architect-homeowner Angie Lipski took her relatively small University Area home and “found” all kinds of new space for rooms, storage and relaxed living. You’ll be inspired by her story and Tom Bauer’s beautiful photographs. I didn’t expect Rob Chaney’s story on Blue Marble Biomaterials to produce such beautiful photography, but then Michael Gallacher walked back into the office with a show-stopping series of shots from the Airway Boulevard lab. They grow 25 strains of algae there, and turn them into commercial products. You’ll be dazzled both by the story behind, and look of, the place. And then came our standing features, all fun to read and beautifully illustrated: an ode to the Kentucky Derby and its signature mint juleps by Joe Nickell and Kurt Wilson; a lovely spring meal, brought to you by Greg Patent and Bauer; a getaway to the Rocky Mountain Front for the spring migration of all things winged, my contribution to this edition, along with Bauer; spring’s hidden Montana book titles and authors, by Barbara Theroux and Gallacher. I could go on ... and on. And on. This is, after all, our best ever ...

bookmark it! Spring is a time to get outside and reenergize the mind, body and spirit. And time to go online to for:

where the wildflowers bloom! News editor Justin Grigg and his wife, Jennifer, are avid flower hunters who love nothing more than reporting on the first blooms of the season on Justin’s blog, The couple knows western Montana like the back of their hands, so they know where to go. Tag along as they explore our beautiful backyard and the beauty that grows there.

where the trout jump! Missoulian sports editor Bob Messeroll has three loves: his golden retriever Brookie, basketball and fly fishing. When he’s not courtside, he’s riverside with his trusty fishing hound, testing his home-tied flies on Montana’s great rivers and beyond. He shares his adventures, tips and fishing stories on his blog,

where the photos are! The Missoulian’s award-winning photography staff loves the Missoulian’s website because they have more room to display all the images they take in a week’s worth of news gathering. Check out the photographers’ slideshows and videos, on the homepage at

where the party is! Joe Nickell knows all about the latest concerts, performances, art happenings and other such motivators to get out of the house and have some fun. Follow his blog,, to keep up on all the events.

where the news never sleeps! Missoulian editor Sherry Devlin takes you into the newsroom and behind the scenes on her blog, Join the conversation about what's new and what's next in the Missoulian and, and in the journalism business.


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5 flagship magazine missoula is is thethe flagship magazine of of the the missoulian missoulian newspaper newspaper

photographers tom bauer michael gallacher linda thompson photographers tom bauer kurt wilson gu il ty l ittl e




publisher vanstrydonck publisher john jim mcgowan editor editor sherry sherrydevlin devlin sales managers tara murphy halls art director kate brooke assistant art director mike lakeredpath photo kurtwilson wilson photoeditor editor kurt art director mike advertising director kristenlake bounds assistantonline art director megan richter director jim mcgowan sales representative jacque walawander writers tim akimoff writers kim briggeman betsy cohen jenna cederberg gwen betsyflorio cohen daryl gadbow sherry devlin lori grannis gwen florio michael jamison jamie kelly bob bobmeseroll meseroll chelsi moy michael moore joe nickell kate murphy greg patent joe nickell barbara theroux greg patent jodi rave

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distribution Available in more than 160 racks in western Montana, distribution .Available in more 160 racks in westernfor Montana, Missoula magazine is than a natural extension people

JA ZZY J EWELRY magazine is athe natural extension for people who read and rely80,000 on the to who read and rely on Missoulian newspaper. Reaching Missoulian newspaper. Reaching 80,000 to 90,000 readers daily,recognized the Missoulianas has long 90,000 readers daily, the Missoulian has long been the been recognized as the most thorough, of newsMontana. in western Montana. most thorough, in-depth sourcein-depth of newssource in western Missoula magazine this award-winning coverage anotherstep, step, showing off magazine takes thistakes award-winning coverage another showing the of Missoula in words and capitalizing on By the capitalizing Missoulian’s offvery thebest very best of Missoula inphotographs. words and By photographs. presence the region and utilizing its established chain and of distribution, on the throughout Missoulian’s presence throughout the region utilizing Missoula. its com magazine and Web siteMissoula reach more readers in more places than any established chain of distribution, magazine and Missoula. other such publication in western more places than any other such com website reach more readers

publication in western Montana.

No part of the publication may be reprinted without permission. ©2007 Lee Enterprises, all rights reserved. Printed in the USA. No part of the publication may be reprinted without permission.

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on Springer the cover: Ryan pedals along the Clark Fork River with a delivery of Crimson-Rumped Toucanette at Animal Wonders. LeMeet PetitGonzo, Outre the breads bound for downtown Missoula restaurants. 

cover by photo by thompson Kurt Wilson cover photo linda

missoula magazine


inside this issue


vol.6 no.1

spring 2012

all year long

in season

9 10 14 18 20 74


enter the world of animal wonders


growing spaces


a taste from the hunter dining room


algae solutions


brew town


ticks, the spring plague


winter's last hurrah


cactus baseball

the way we were missoula cooks missoula reads western montana getaway thirsty missoula parting shot


creating and writing a new script every day. Tony Herbert, page 50

festivities to bid farewell to winter

32 8

Brewers are

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the way we were

catch of the day


Bill Christofferson poses with his catch after a day of fishing the Bitterroot River in about 1910 near Corvallis.

Photograph courtesy of Carol Bay Junkert



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missoula magazine


missoula cooks

spring awakening


by greg patent

photos by tom bauer

or the past three winters, I’ve been fortunate to teach cooking classes at Rancho La Puerta, a world-class spa in Tecate, Mexico. A mere 40 miles by automobile from San Diego, the Rancho lies just across the border in northern Baja California. Founded 71 years ago by Deborah Sekely and her late husband Edmond, Rancho La Puerta fosters the belief that eating well-balanced meals, prepared with fresh, locally grown organic foods and coupled with exercise, can result in good health and well-being. Becoming mindful of what one is eating is one of Sekely’s “secrets.” She wants us to know where our food comes from and how it’s grown. She believes food is meant to be enjoyed and is a necessary pleasure of life. The Rancho’s six-acre organic garden provides much of the food served to guests. The emphasis is on vegetables and grains, and the variety offered at every meal is extraordinary. Breakfast and lunch are buffetstyle. For breakfast, we could choose from cooked whole grains, eggs cooked into omelets with vegetables, frittatas,

ranch-made yogurt, granola, seasonal fruits, whole grain breads, cooked prunes and a variety of juices. At lunches, my eyes lit up at the beautiful mixed salads, a choice of low-fat dressings, roasted root vegetables, vegetable soups, and various tacos, my favorite being fish. For a beverage, I always reached for the acidophilus milk. Dinner meals were beautifully prepared four-course affairs, basically vegetarian, but often included a fish or seafood choice. Portions were spa-sized and entirely satisfying. But if we wanted more, we just asked. The two recipes here are my adaptations from “Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta” (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2008), co-written by Deborah M. Schneider. They are both easy to prepare and feature in-season organic produce available in markets now. Greg Patent is a columnist for the Missoulian and Missoula Magazine. His blog is You can write him at

Above photo: Julienned jicama and carrots and shredded red cabbage are tossed with a lime and coconut milk dressing flavored with ginger and peanut butter for a lively spring salad. Grapefruit segments add sparkle and zing.


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missoula cooks

jicama slaw with pink grapefruit ingredients Dressing ¼ cup fresh lime juice 1½  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger 1½  tablespoons smooth peanut butter ¼cup unsweetened coconut milk (shake can well before measuring) 3 tablespoons water 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest (from ½ lemon) ½ teaspoon ground white pepper ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste Salad 2 pink grapefruits ½ small jicama 3 medium carrots, peeled ½ small head red cabbage, cored 6 Bibb lettuce leaves 6 sprigs fresh cilantro

makes 6 servings

Sweet jicama, the tuberous root of a Mexican vine, is juicy and crunchy and its flavor comes alive under a squeeze of lime. In this salad, jicama is cut into matchsticks (julienne) and mixed with julienned carrots and shredded red cabbage, tossed with a citrus-based dressing with coconut milk, and garnished with segments of pink grapefruit. Make the dressing first and refrigerate it so that it will thicken up a bit.


For the dressing, add all the ingredients to a blender and purée until very smooth, about 30 seconds. Taste and add more salt if needed. Transfer to a small bowl; cover and refrigerate. (May be made hours or a day ahead). For the grapefruit, slice the stem and blossom ends off (photo 1) and stand the fruit upright on a cut surface. Use a sharp paring knife and a downward curved motion to cut away the rind (photo 2), making sure to remove all the white bitter pith (photo 3). Hold the skinned fruit in your hand over a bowl, and use the paring knife to separate the fruit into segments, slicing between the membranes (photo 4). Add the segments as you go to the bowl and squeeze the membranes to release as much juice as possible. For the salad, peel the jicama with a paring knife, making sure to remove all the tough fibers under the skin. Cut the jicama into thin slices (1/8-inch-thick). To julienne, cut the slices into 1/8-inch strips. Peel the carrots, cut into 2- to 3-inch lengths, and julienne. Cut the cabbage into fine shreds. Put all the vegetables into a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss to combine well. Cover and refrigerate until serving. (May be made 2 to 3 hours ahead). To serve, place the lettuce leaves on 6 salad plates, heap the salad onto them, and garnish with the cilantro sprigs and grapefruit segments. (Save the juice to drink!). Variations 1. Substitute Napa cabbage, bok choy or any green that appeals to you for the jicama. 2. Chop ¼ cup roasted peanuts (unsalted or salted) and mix into the salad. 3. Add ¼ cup chopped cilantro to the salad.

how to segment a grapefruit 1. Cut both ends off the grapefruit with a sharp knife. 2. Stand the grapefruit upright and cut away the skin and white pith with a sharp paring knife. 3. Cut between the membranes to release the segments.

Onions, garlic, jalapeño, broccoli, carrots, potatoes, red bell pepper, spinach, and tomato, flavored with cumin and baked with eggs and cheese, make a beautiful dish for a brunch or lunch.


missoula magazine

missoula cooks

rancho la puerta frittata with vegetables & cheese This is one of the favorite dishes at the Rancho. My wife and I have enjoyed it there several times. At home it makes a terrific breakfast, brunch or luncheon dish because you can bake it the night before and reheat it in the microwave the next day. Prep all the vegetables before you start cooking. For lunch or a light supper, accompany with a tossed green salad or the Jicama Slaw with Pink Grapefruit.

ingredients 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 small yellow onion, diced 2 garlic cloves, minced ½ jalapeño, seeded and minced ½teaspoon dried oregano or thyme leaves 2 cups mixed diced (1/2-inch) vegetables (broccoli, carrots, Yukon gold potatoes) ¼ pound baby spinach (2 packed cups) 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces 1/3 cup water 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon salt 2 medium tomatoes, cored, halved horizontally, and squeezed gently to remove seeds, cut into ½-inch pieces 7 large eggs, lightly beaten ½teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons chopped parsley 2 ounces crumbled feta (or use cheddar or any cheese you like)

makes 6 servings

directions Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack adjusted to the center position. In a 10-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high until hot. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeño and oregano and cook about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, just until softened. Add the mixed vegetables, spinach and bell pepper. Stir and cook until spinach begins to wilt. Add the water, cumin, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and stir well. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat about 10 minutes, until vegetables are barely tender. Check them once or twice to make sure the vegetables don’t overcook. Stir in the tomatoes and take the pan off the heat. You can bake the frittata right in the skillet, or you can transfer the vegetables to a lightly buttered baking dish of your choice. A 9 x 9 x 2-inch pan works very well. Combine the eggs with the remaining

½ teaspoon of salt, black pepper and parsley, and pour over the vegetables. Stir to combine and sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top. Bake about 30 minutes, or until the eggs are firm and the top of the frittata is puffed and tinged with brown. If serving right away, let the frittata cool for 5 minutes before cutting into portions. NOTE: To serve the next day, after the frittata has cooled, cover and refrigerate. To reheat, place portions on microwavesafe dishes and cover loosely with a towel. Heat each serving for 2 minutes at 50 percent power. Check temperature, and if not hot enough heat another 30 seconds at 50 percent power.

"These recipes are both easy to prepare and feature in-season organic produce available in markets now."

missoula magazine


missoula reads

montana spring stories by barbara theroux


photo by michael gallacher

s I reviewed catalogs and websites for new releases, it became apparent that Montana authors and titles of interest to Montanans were hidden everywhere. It looks like an exciting time for readers. Here are some of the titles I am most interested in:

“Royal Wulff Murders” by Keith McCafferty, published by Viking (February)

When a fishing guide reels in the body of a young man on the Madison, the Holy Grail of Montana trout rivers, Sheriff Martha Ettinger suspects foul play. It’s not just the stick jammed into the man’s eye that draws her attention; it’s the Royal Wulff trout fly stuck in his bloated lower lip. Following her instincts, Ettinger soon finds herself crossing paths with Montana newcomer Sean Stranahan. Fly fisher, painter and has-been private detective, Stranahan left a failed marriage and lackluster career to drive to Montana, where he lives in an art studio decorated with fly-tying feathers and mouse droppings. With more luck catching fish than clients, Stranahan is completely captivated when Southern siren Velvet Lafayette walks into his life, intent on hiring his services to find her missing brother. The clues lead Stranahan and Ettinger back to Montana’s big business: fly fishing. Where there’s money, there’s bound to be crime.


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missoula reads

“More Readings from One Man’s Wilderness”

by Jake Branson, published by Skyhorse Publishing (February)

Richard L. Proenneke built a cabin in Twin Lakes, Alaska, during the spring of 1968, sparking 30 years of personal growth in which he spent the majority of his time strengthening his relationship with the wilderness around him. Many readers came to know about Proenneke from the popular PBS documentary based on his first book, “One Man’s Wilderness.” “More Readings from One Man’s Wilderness” continues to chronicle Proenneke’s experiences with animals, the elements, park visitors and observations he made while hiking in Lake Clark National Park and

Preserve. A master woodcraftsman, a mechanical genius, a tireless hiker with a keen eye and a journalist, Proenneke’s life at Twin Lakes has inspired thousands of readers for decades. Editor John Branson – a longtime friend of Proenneke and a park historian – ensures that Proenneke’s journals from 1974-1980 are kept entirely intact. His colloquial writing is not changed or altered, but Branson’s footnotes make his world more approachable by providing a background for names and places that may have otherwise been unknown.


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missoula reads

“The Man Who Quit Money” by

Mark Sundeen, published by Riverhead (March)

In 2000, Daniel Suelo left his life savings – all $30 of it – in a phone booth. He has lived without money – and with a newfound sense of freedom and security – ever since. “The Man Who Quit Money” is an account of how one man learned to live, sanely and happily, without earning, receiving or spending a single cent. Suelo doesn’t pay taxes, or accept food stamps or welfare. He lives in caves in the Utah canyonlands, foraging wild foods and gourmet discards. He no longer even carries an ID. Yet he manages to amply fulfill not only the basic human needs – for shelter, food and warmth – but, to an enviable degree, the universal desires for companionship, purpose and spiritual engagement. In retracing the surprising path and guiding philosophy that led Suelo into this way of life, Sundeen raises provocative and riveting questions about the decisions we all make, by default or by design, about how we live – and how we might live better.

“The Best Care Possible” by

Ira Byock, MD, published by Avery Publishing Group (March)

It is harder to die in this country than ever before. Statistics show that the vast majority of Americans would prefer to die at home, yet many of us spend our last days fearful and in pain in a health care system ruled by high-tech procedures and a philosophy to “fight disease and illness at all cost.” Dr. Ira Byock, one of the foremost palliative-care physicians in the country, argues that end-of-life care is among the biggest national crises facing us today. In addressing the crisis, politics has trumped reason. Byock explains that to ensure the best possible care for those we love – and


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eventually ourselves – we must not only remake our health care system, we must also move past our cultural aversion to talking about death and acknowledge the fact of mortality once and for all. Byock takes us inside his busy, cutting-edge academic medical center to show what the best care at the end of life can look like and how doctors and nurses can profoundly shape the way families experience loss.

“Empire of Shadows” by

George Black, published by St. Martin’s Press (March)

“Empire of Shadows” is the epic story of the conquest of Yellowstone, a landscape uninhabited, inaccessible and shrouded in myth in the aftermath of the Civil War. In a radical reinterpretation of the 19th century West, George Black casts Yellowstone’s creation as the culmination of three interwoven strands of history – the passion for exploration, the violence of the Indian Wars and the “civilizing” of the frontier – and charts its course through the lives of those who sought to lay bare its mysteries: Lt. Gustavus Cheyney Doane, a gifted but tormented cavalryman known as “the man who invented Wonderland;” the ambitious former vigilante leader Nathaniel Langford; scientist Ferdinand Hayden, who brought photographer William Henry Jackson and painter Thomas Moran to Yellowstone; and Gen. Phil Sheridan, Civil War hero and architect of the Indian Wars, who finally succeeded in having the new national park placed under the protection of the U.S. Cavalry.

“Force of Nature” by C.J.

Box, published by Putnam (March)

He never wanted to tell Joe Pickett about it, but Nate Romanowski always knew trouble was coming out of his past. Now it’s here, and it may not

only be the battle of his life – but of Joe’s. In 1995, Nate was in a secret Special Forces unit abroad, when a colleague did something terrible. Now high in the government, the man is determined to eliminate anyone who knows about it, and Nate knows exactly how he’ll do it – by striking at Nate’s friends to draw him out. The entire Pickett family will be a target, and the only way to fight back will be outside the law. Nate knows he can do it, but he isn’t sure about his straightarrow friend – and all their lives could depend on it.

“The Other Shoe” by Matt

Pavelich, published by Counterpoint (March)

Henry Brusett is the only one who can explain the mysterious death of Calvin Teague. He’s the only one who truly knows how the young man came to be bloodied and lifeless on his land in Montana’s vast backcountry. But Henry won’t say anything. Henry never wanted much more than a family and his days spent as a sawyer deep in the wilderness. But by middle-age Henry is divorced, disabled and isolated on a remote plot of land in Montana. After years of self-imposed loneliness, Henry meets Karen, who’s half his age and knows nothing but her own willful solitude. Their union is the unlikeliest of bonds, a mix of comfort and guilt for Henry, who believes he’s too old for Karen. But it’s also the spark of his undoing, a decision that leads him toward one of his greatest regrets. As members of Henry and Karen’s small town try to both uncover and cover-up the truth surrounding Calvin Teague’s untimely death, “The Other Shoe” moves toward the inescapable in Pavelich’s engrossing novel.

continued on page 70

missoula magazine


western montana getaway

make your own migration by sherry devlin


f tundra swans and snow geese rated their migratory rest stops as humans do hotels, Freezeout Lake would be a five-star attraction. There’s swan-neck-deep water in the swimming pool. And an all-you-can-eat buffet of barley stubble (for the geese) and pond-bottom plants (for the swans). And the winter’s-ending warmth of the winds – chinooks – that tumble off the Rocky Mountain Front this time of year. “This is a wonderful motel,” said Mike Schwitters, a retired Air Force meteorologist who for decades has tracked the arrival – in spring and again in fall – of up to 300,000 migrating snow geese and 10,000 tundra swans. “Everything they need to rest and refuel is here.” The shortgrass prairie marsh between Fairfield and Choteau is a natural sump, a wetland created by retreating glaciers and maintained by mountain runoff. Freezeout Lake covers much of the 12,000 square acres. The remainder is shared by six shallow ponds, two smaller lakes and about 4,000 acres of bunchgrass, cattails and bullrushes. This is waterfowl heaven.


missoula magazine

photo by tom bauer

“Every day is different,” Schwitters said. “I am always surprised.” At the earliest hint of open water each spring, the Canada geese return. Most rest and move on. About 200, though, will stay the summer at Freezeout, establishing nesting territories atop muskrat lodges or on hay bales or in the hay-filled funnels erected on the edge of the ponds by state game managers. Then come the ducks: green-winged teal, mallard, lesser scaup, surf scoter, tufted duck, canvasback, American wigeon, Eurasian wigeon, red-breasted merganser, common goldeneye, redhead and gadwall. Tens of thousands of northern pintails stop at Freezeout, en route north. By the first half of April, huge numbers of ruddy ducks, eared grebes and American coots fill the main lake, shore to shore. Some stay to nest and raise their broods. Most fly away.


he second big migratory push brings 10,000 tundra swans, all coming and going within five days, in a hurry to reach their Arctic nesting grounds. Tundra swans spend the winter in the central valley of California. Hormones and warmer, longer days tell

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You are making the right choice.

in winter, waterfowl migrations in spring and fall, and waterfowl and shorebirds in summer. Call (406) 467-2646 for an automated waterfowl update to help plan your visit.

At some point, we all need help for ourselves or someone we love and we have to make the choice. the birds when it’s time to move north. “They’re about one-third of the way through their migration when they get here,” Schwitters said. By mid-May, they’ll be tending nests in central Alaska. By mid-August, they’ll be preparing their just fledged babies for the reverse migration. Tundra swans return to Freezeout each October, again for a brief frenzy of feeding – tail feathers tipped into the air – on pondbottom vegetation. “It’s all quite sudden,” Schwitters said. “Sudden and immense.” Same, too, with the arrival of snow geese, the largest of the migrations through the prairie marsh land known officially as Freezeout Lake Wildlife Management Area. As many as 300,000 of the big geese


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2815 Old Fort Road Missoula, Montana 59804 (406) 549-1300

Hillside Place Assisted Living

4720 23rd Avenue Missoula, Montana 59803 (406) 251-5100

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thirsty missoula

mint juleps by joe nickell

photo by kurt wilson

When the mint is in the liquor and Its fragrance on the glass, It breathes a recollection that Can never, never pass. From “When the Mint Is in the Liquor,� a poem by Clarence Ousley


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here is a man renowned across the land for his knowledge of the storied mint julep, and his name is Joe Nickell. So is mine. According to my father (whose name – Nick Nickell – was itself rather redundant), Joe and I are distant cousins. Joe doesn’t know if that is true, and doesn’t seem to care much. In fact, on the two occasions when I’ve spoken with him, he has taken the opportunity to strongly suggest that I choose a different name for my public activities. “I’m not as amused as you are about us having the same name,” he grumbled when I called him earlier this year. “If you’ll remember, the last time we talked I had suggested that you use your middle name or something, so that we’re not confused.” Joe, you see, is the famous Joe Nickell, the one you might have seen on cable TV shows debunking various myths. As the senior research fellow for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Joe has carved out an unusual specialty as the go-to guy whenever someone needs to discredit photographs of UFOs or sea monsters or a sober Britney Spears. (Not that anyone has ever called him about the latter; but you get the point.) So I forgive him for fretting over our identical names; after all, ambiguity doesn’t sit well in Joe’s chosen line of business. But skeptical Joe has a soft side too, a taste for the sublime and hard-to-quantify. The proof is there on the pages of his loving, 78page ode to his favorite drink, “The Kentucky Mint Julep.” Yes, the man who helped debunk the Shroud of Turin and the

thirsty missoula journals of Jack the Ripper is also Colonel Joe Nickell, author of one of the finest tomes of alcoholica esoterica on the bookstore shelf. It is a fondness that we also share, being fellow Kentuckians. Ironically, my own fascination with the julep only began to steep in the early months of the last year of the last century, long after I had traded the Bluegrass State for Big Sky Country. Bearing a certain nostalgia for the genteel culture of my upbringing, I decided to host a Kentucky Derby Party on the first Saturday in May 1999. Particularly given the diminutive dimensions of the television set in my den, I knew I needed to plan the rest of the party right, in the grandest traditions of my old Kentucky home. There would be burgoo and derby pies. There would be pimento cheese spread and quarter-cut, decrusted Benedictine sandwiches. But most importantly, there would be mint juleps. After all, no cocktail is more associated with a specific event than the mint julep and its Derby. You heard me right: its Derby. For it must be acknowledged that the most enduring and widely shared tradition of the Kentucky Derby is not the ostentatious hats nor the expensive horses, but the communion of the cup: a concoction of mint, sugar, water and spirits that the other Joe Nickell, the famous one, calls “an American classic that excites passion, curiosity, and more than a little enchantment.”

continued on page 72

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enter t he w or l d of

written by betsy cohen photographed by kurt wilson

Pepper and Patches Patagonian Cavy and Guinea Pig

he Knudsen home fits neatly, if unremarkably, into the Potomac Valley’s ever-remarkable landscape of rolling foothills and braided meadows. From the outside, it is simply a structure of wood and glass, spacious and sturdily built – anything but a trophy home. Yet once inside, there is no other home like it. In fact, you won’t find such exotic residents living under one ordinary roof anywhere but here, in this rural paradise just north of Missoula. This is where Chili Pepper, the South American cavy, lives with his best friend Patches, a guinea pig from the Andes. This is the home of Gizmo and Nemo, sugar gliders from Australia; and to Groucho, an African pygmy hedgehog; Cas, an arctic fox; and Kemo, a prehensiletailed porcupine from the Amazon. Here, you’ll get an earful from a flock of smart-talking parrots who have taken an entire room as their own. In this raucous corner of the Knudsen house, you’ll get a curious look from Curly, a white-cheeked turaco from Africa, and a cheerful welcome from an always-flirty Ginger, a greencheeked conure and native Brazilian. Down the hall is where the more secretive residents live: Lizzy, the Russian legless lizard, and Blueberry, the northern blue-tongued skink from Australia. There are plenty of others who call this place home – some 72 feathered, four-legged, two-legged, scaled, furry

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and spineless creatures in all. It is called Animal Wonders, and it is all of that and more.


ove brought these creatures and their caretakers to western Montana. After meeting at a two-year exotic animal training and management program in California, Missoula native Jessi Knudsen and Augusto Castaneda from Peru married and launched their dream to teach Montana children about the wild and wonderful animals of the world. In 2008, the couple transformed a portion of the basement and connected wood shop of Jessi’s parents’ Potomac home and began Animal Wonders, an educational nonprofit that adopts displaced exotic animals and gives them the opportunity to become ambassadors for their species. “I have always loved animals, and before I went to film school I worked for Sara Stephens at Alpine Veterinary in Missoula,” Jessi explained. “I found Hollywood a little too busy for me, and when I learned of the exotic animal training program in California, I knew what I wanted to do.” At Moorpark College’s America’s Teaching Zoo, Jessi and Augusto fell in love while working with a baboon named Rosie. It was there that their shared dream evolved and migrated to Montana. “Education and conservation (are) really big for both of us and we have a real passion to teach people about these amazing animals, and about how for some of them their world is disappearing,” Jessi said. “We are also passionate about rescuing animals that need help. “My big thing with Animal Wonders is to get out the message that we have many of these animals because they were abandoned or homeless, that many of them come to us malnourished and with illnesses because the people who had them got in over their heads and didn’t know how to care for them.” “For me, it’s teaching the children that is important,” Augusto said. “When we are working in our outreach programs – whether it is in inner cities or in Montana communities – so many kids don’t get a chance to see these


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"E ducation and conser vation (are) really big for both of us and we have a real passion to teach people about these amazing animals, and about how for some of them their world is disappearing." Below: Ringo (gray), Meyer's Parrot Loulou (green), Halfmoon Conure Oliver (yellow), Sun Conure Right: Curly White-Cheeked Turaco

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missoula magazine

“ The more they learn about the world of animals, the more they become better stewards of our planet and have a passion for wildlife conser vation.”

Blueberry Blue Tongue Skink

amazing animals, and we can give them an opportunity to see these creatures up close. “For some, it may change their lives.” Jessi still remembers the day when she was in third grade and Kate Davis, a longtime local wild bird educator and rehabilitator, came to her class with live raptors to give a talk and demonstration. “It was the most amazing experience to see those birds – and that’s what we want to do,” Jessi said. “We want to give Montana children an opportunity to see an arctic fox, to hold a blue-tongued skink, to stare down a boa. “The more they learn about the world of animals, the more they become better stewards of our planet and have a passion for wildlife conservation.”


lthough Animal Wonders brings programming and animals to schools, museums, parties, workshops and special events, the rare home tour in Potomac shows a house full of bright-eyed, glossy-coated, healthy, gorgeously feathered animals. During a recent visit, the friendly and engaging menagerie greeted strangers with intense interest. Tumbling through a “doggy door” that separates a shared outdoor pen with a shared indoor pen, Seraphina, the red fox, and Cas, the arctic fox, raced to see who had arrived. Seraphina displayed her cat-like jumping skills to delicately balance on the windowsill for an elevated look at the new arrivals. Not nearly as nimble, Cas stuck his snout through the fencing to get a good whiff. Although they live in the house, the duo are the nonprofit’s most feral residents.

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“They are our most wild – they are not domesticated,” Jessi said. To keep the curious pair healthy and happy, they are put in a light harness and taken for outings with a 30-foot lead. Seraphina, Jessi explained, came from a fur farm in Iowa, and Cas came from a conservation breeding program. All of the animals get special attention from their human caretakers, which is obvious by their blatant good health and bloom. Chili Pepper, who looks like a cross between a rabbit and a deer but is really a giant rodent, let Jessi and Augusto know he wasn’t happy when they took away his roommate, Patches, the chubby guinea pig. Patches, who likes to eat to excess, was not a good match with Chili Pepper, who needs to eat frequently and all day. When Chili Pepper wouldn’t stop his incessant complaining grunts and whines, Jessi said she had to figure out a new plan for the two to stay together. In the end, Jessi located a large plastic tub from which Patches couldn’t escape and his food could be monitored, but Pepper could get in and out of to easily check on his buddy.


s she does every day, Jessi opened the door to Pepper’s room and let Patches out of his tub, and let the inseparable duo roam the long hallway that leads to the other creature-filled rooms. Side by side, the big rodent and the little rodent


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“ T hat’s what makes this work so great. Each of these animals have their own personalities.” Below: Groucho African Pygmy Hedgehog Right: Kemosabe Coendou or Prehensile-Tailed Porcupine

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explored their world, nosing each other along the way and bringing a huge smile to Jessi’s face. “They are best friends,” she said. “They just love being together, and I love watching them. “That’s what makes this work so great. Each of these animals have their own personalities.” Caretaking day in and day out is a full-time, expensive commitment, and the educational programs take a lot of energy, but Jessi and Augusto wouldn’t have it any other way. Augusto works at Petsmart to help augment their income, while Jessi tends the animals full time. Together, the couple provides the presentations, which are as extensive as a five-week grade school course or as simple as an entertaining one-hour show. Every presentation, no matter its length, involves live animals and discussions about the way animals adapt and survive, their native habitats and how to respect and live with wildlife. “This is a lot of work, so we do have a couple of volunteers,” Jessi said, “and we have established an internship program with the University of Montana.” “We really feel that this is important work, and we know that a lot of Montana kids will never get the opportunity to see these animals in their natural habitat, so we are bringing these exotic creatures to them. “We want to inspire a wonder of the world.”

“ We want to inspire a wonder of the world.” To learn more about Animal Wonders Inc. or about the nonprofit’s second annual fundraiser, “Bowling for Animals,” from 5:30-9 p.m. on May 30 at Westside Lanes, call (406) 241-8964 or visit

Betsy Cohen is a Missoulian reporter. She can be reached at (406) 523-5253 or by email at Kurt Wilson is the Missoulian’s photography editor. He can be reached at (406) 523-5244 or by email at

Cas (Castiel) Arctic Fox


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Ash Chinchilla

Seraphina Red Fox

Jessi Knudsen Casta単eda and Augusto Casta単eda, owners of Animal Wonders, take the arctic and red foxes for a run outside their home in the Potomac Valley.

Yucca Red-Footed Tortoise

Ginger Green-Cheeked Conure

Sandy Kenya Sand Boa

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growing spaces

Photo courtesy of Chuck Miller, Fine Homebuilding 32

missoula magazine

Architect's historic remodel creates new understanding from client's perspective, winning awards along the way. written by gwen florio photographed by tom bauer

ere’s what you don’t notice about Angie Lipski and Dean Johnson’s house in the University District. All the doors. There are 15 of them in the upstairs alone, short ones, tall ones, skinny ones, wide ones, tucked into all sorts of unobtrusive places, cleverly concealing impressive amounts of storage space. Which becomes key if you’re remodeling a 1922 house without expanding the footprint or raising the roof.

That was Lipski’s self-administered task. An architect with MacArthur, Means and Wells, Lipski added another 600 square feet of usable space to her 1,600-squarefoot home by taking the dormers to the full width of the house, optimizing space that was already there, but unused. By the time she was finished, “there were only five square feet that I didn’t use in the upstairs, and they’re behind a stacked washer and dryer,” she said.

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"T he words they wrote in the award meant so much to me" -Angie Lipski, homeowner, architect

The project won a 2011 Historic Preservation Award in Missoula and also was chosen from among 350 entries nationally for Fine Homebuilding’s 2011 Remodel of the Year Award. “The words they wrote in the award meant so much to me,” Lipski said. Fine Homebuilding extolled the project’s “practical excellence,” calling it “modest, rational and in tune with the times.” Nearly as important to Lipski is the fact that the work demonstrated that “a construction project doesn’t have to be adversarial.” After five months of having her home’s second floor covered in a big blue tarp, with workers on the Scariano Construction project going up and down a specially built outdoor stairway all day, she said that “I love everybody on the project even more.”

In the master bedroom, architect and homeowner Angie Lipski designed the space between two doors to exactly fit an antique dresser.


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The second floor remodel created three bedrooms, two baths, a sitting room and a sewing room.

ave for a breakfast nook (whose bench seats are atop storage bins) in the kitchen, the remodel was confined to the second floor, which originally consisted of two bedrooms flanking a bath. Now there are three bedrooms, two baths, a sitting room and a sewing room for Lipski off the master bedroom. All – even an interior bathroom – feel light and airy, thanks to the fact that Lipski put the same premium on windows that she put on storage space. In the case of the interior bathroom, which backs up to another bathroom, that meant installing a transom over the shower, to catch the exterior light flowing through the other bathroom’s window. The sitting room, the second floor’s smallest space, avoids feeling cramped because of the thigh-high walls on one side that open the room to the hallway. The room could easily accommodate a small sofa and work as a TV room, Lipski said. The washer and dryer are stacked in a space to the left; to the right, a tall, skinny door hides a linen closet. The master bath, bright with white tile and white-painted wood, is also scary-neat, with nary a single horizontal surface to collect clutter. More low doors along one wall conceal a wealth of storage space – a

The only remodeling on the main level was the addition of a breakfast nook in the kitchen. missoula magazine


The master bath incorporates storage space to reduce clutter and a small window that is one of Lipski’s favorite details in the house.

The stairway connecting the upper and lower levels was opened up with a railing where there was once a wall. 36

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"T he overall results were worth it. I do love it." -Angie Lipski, homeowner, architect

When you want to do your best

it’s helpful to know what your best is. Check with your doctor before you start and make sure you’re training at a healthy level.




hat obsession carried over into making the house as livable as possible during the five-month renovation. Lipski and Johnson lived on the first floor during that time. But they also added $900 onto the project for construction of an outdoor stairway to the second floor, so that workers wouldn’t be trooping through the first floor all day long. The tarp that enclosed the second floor bumped costs up another $3,000. Worth it, Lipski said. It allowed them to live in the house, saving the cost of renting another place, which easily would have exceeded $3,000 during the length of the work. It also allowed work to proceed on rainy or snowy days, and protected them from summer heat. “The tarp was Frank’s idea,” Lipski said of contractor Frank Scariano. “It was really a team effort” with Scariano, she said. When the project went over budget, Lipski and Johnson painted the upstairs rooms

and all the trimwork themselves. “The overall results were worth it,” she said. “I do love it.“ When the project was completed, a neighbor who’d lived her whole life across the street from the house asked whether two street-facing windows on the second story had always been there. At that point, Lipski said, she knew the project was a success. And she learned another lesson, too. “In a certain way, it was a really good experience for an architect,” she said, teaching her “to have empathy for the client.”


long clothes closet, and a smaller one with a shelf for toothbrushes, as well as four 30inch drawvers to hold toiletries. Even the shower encourages maximum storage with minimum mess. Lipski scrupulously measured her hair care containers and then built a nook into the tiles that holds them with no leftover space. Likewise, the space between a bedroom closet and the bathroom door was designed precisely to fit an antique dresser. Just as she does for her own clients, “I will get down to the finest detail,” she said. “I can really obsess about things.” The Fine Homebuilding award encouraged that. “It’s kind of about the recognition of using every little nook and cranny in the house,” she said. “It rewarded me doing that, so it further encourages me to obsess even more.”


Gwen Florio is a reporter for the Missoulian. She can be reached at (406) 523-5268 or by email at Tom Bauer is a Missoulian photographer. He can be reached at (406) 523-5270 or by email at


406.721.5600 • 800.525.5688 406.273.0045 LOLO WESTERNMONTANACLINIC.COM SERVING OUR COMMUNITY SINCE 1922

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A taste from the

Hunter Dining Room written by keila szpaller photographed by michael gallacher missoula magazine



hef Thomas Campbell doesn’t mince words with his Culinary Arts students. The second they walk into the classroom, before they ever have the chance to torch a terrine, he tells them that the dicing and slicing and scrubbing and sanitizing they will do won’t be glamorous. “This is not Hollywood, folks. If you’ve been looking at the food shows, and you think you’re going to be one of these Rachael Rays, you might want to rethink,” Campbell tells them. Many do. The attrition rate for the Culinary Arts program at the University of Montana College of Technology hovers around 50 percent, as is typical for culinary programs, Campbell said. But under his watch the last nine years, enrollment at the state’s only accredited culinary school has roughly doubled, a team of students brought home a national trophy, and Campbell has a vision of expanding the kitchen and augmenting the associate degree program. “I would be tremendously pleased if we could introduce a bachelor’s degree program,” said Campbell, voted 2007 Chef of the Year by the Montana Chefs Association. That’s part of his grand dream for the future, though, and in the meantime this winter, 42 aspiring chefs were awaiting instruction. One day in January, Campbell worked the dining room and the kitchen, imparting the basics to first-year students. They should know how to pronounce “pastitsio,” a Greek baked dish, if it’s on the menu. They should iron their shirts. They should guard against dropping disposable gloves on the


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floor because each costs 5 cents; in a professional kitchen, profit margins are miniscule. Apparently, the lessons stick. Campbell can tick off a long list of places where his students find work cooking, managing and purchasing: The UM Food Zoo. The Silk Road. The Pearl. Iza. Ciao Mambo. And those are just some Missoula employers. “Nearly all of the students before they graduate are employed, and that’s our main goal,” Campbell said.


n the Hunter Dining Room, Michel Richard polished the silver as the establishment opened for lunch. The program stresses sanitation and hygiene, and the action serves a couple of purposes in the restaurant. The silverware gets cleaned, and Richard said customers receive a subtle but important message. “It gives the impression you want the place to be clean,” Richard said. For Culinary Arts students, the dining room isn’t only a place to eat, it’s also a classroom. On a rotating basis, students dine with one of their instructors and critique every aspect of the meal. On this day, Richard seated students Maddie Davis and Duane Yazzie for their first meal of the semester with Campbell. Campbell, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., pointed out the life in the dining room, the fresh flowers, music and lighting. Richard waited on the group, and when he left, Campbell shared pointers with the young cooks, who took notes to deliver later to the wait and kitchen staff. Serve ladies first. Remove menus from the table. Know your menu, and be prepared to pronounce the

names of the dishes. Once the entrees arrived, the chef asked Davis and Yazzie for their opinoins, and the trio agreed the pasta and meat dish with roasted vegetables was a winner. Davis suggested the cooks might have substituted the potato with a lighter vegetable since the main dish was heavy, but that was the only suggestion. “It’s a real cozy dish,” Yazzie said. “It’s really good. Perfect for winter,” Davis said. Campbell agreed and added his own observations: “It’s authentic in its origin, and it’s executed correctly.” Over lunch, the teacher asked the students about their plans for the future, and the cooks talked about the experiences that led them to the program. Davis burnt out of a literature program. After baking cupcakes most of her life, she decided to enroll in culinary arts, and she felt like it was the best decision she’d ever made. “You finally feel like you found your place. This is where I belong,” Davis said. She talked about going to Seattle and possibly opening up a shop to sell wedding cakes and maybe cater children’s birthday parties. Campbell, who taught at the Art Institute of Seattle before he came to Missoula, told her he has many contacts in the business. “Let me know when you go to Seattle. I know about half the people there,” said Campbell. He helps his students network, but Campbell appeared to be just as willing to learn from them. Yazzie grew up in the southwest on a sheep ranch, where he learned to use every single piece of an animal. “We used to butcher our own sheep. We never wasted parts,” Yazzie said. The family drained the sheep of blood and mixed it with cornmeal and diced potatoes to make blood sausage. Sometimes, they’d throw in hot peppers. Yazzie said he learned a lot from his grandma, and Campbell told him he’d like to participate if Yazzie butchers a sheep and makes blood sausage in Montana. On one trip abroad, he remembered watching some women stir hog blood with their arms and end up armpit-deep in crimson. “I always wanted to do that.”


hen Campbell first started teaching at the College of Technology nearly one decade ago, the program needed a lift. “It was a sleepy ol’ Missoula kind of place. I think the caliber of the education here was archaic, behind the times,” said Campbell, whose work day starts at 5 a.m. “So it’s been an ongoing process to bring it to the level the industry demands.” He and two other instructors have been pushing it forward since, and the chefs have seen their students succeed at high levels. In 2006, the first team from Montana to ever compete at the American Culinary Federation’s Regional Conference brought home a bronze medal. Campbell said it cost $10,000 just to ship the equipment to Hawaii, where the competition was held. One member of the team, Carol Chandler, went on to be named the top student chef in the country, the 2006 National Student Culinary Champion. Another team is forming this year and looking to compete in 2013. Enrollment seems to be higher every year, and Campbell is ready to see the program grow. It can’t do so in its current location, though. “We pack the place. It gets a little scary because our facility is finite,” he said. Somehow, despite the breakneck speed of the program, Campbell himself is studying to finish his bachelor’s degree so he can get his master’s degree. He’s taking a poetry class. Last winter while taking a course in Chile, he toured the house of Pablo Neruda, who writes a lot about food. Neruda wrote a poem that’s an ode to conger eel chowder, and Campbell developed a menu based on it and cooked for 12. He’s demanding on himself, demanding on his students. Teaching, Campbell said, is the hardest job he’s ever had, and the best one. The best students have passion for the grueling work, and he joked that some may have a dash of insanity as well. Either way, his goal for them is simple: “You will be able to walk into the finest kitchens in the world and get a job.”

A taste of

new talent


ample food from Missoula’s aspiring chefs: “Located just inside the main entrance of the Administration Building (at the University of Montana College of Technology), the Hunter Dining Room showcases the talents of the Culinary Arts students and features contemporary fare culminating with an international buffet every Friday,” reads the Culinary Arts website. “The menu is centered around simple and elegant preparations emphasizing fresh seasonal ingredients prepared with love. All of our selections are available for takeout or to enjoy in our relaxed, reservation-free dining room. We offer several short-term parking spaces along the north side of the parking lot closest to the county fairgrounds.” Seating: Monday through Friday Lunch: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Grill: 7:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Closed: During holidays or when classes are not in session. More information: businesstech/ culinaryarts/culinaryarts_ hunter.aspx

Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller can be reached at 523-5262, or on

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S o lu t i o n s written by rob chaney photographed by michael gallacher


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he formula sounds like a mad scientist’s mud pie: Combine leftover beer mash and pond scum, zap with entrepreneurial fizz and stir in one evolutionary biologist. Make money. The mixing bowl may have contributed as well. There’s little other reason why Jason Lind’s sewer cleaning business, James Stephens’ production of high-end food flavorings and Carrine Blank’s research into ancient algae should combine, other than they all share a Missoula connection. Algae has been a building block of life on this planet for billions of years. And now it’s making life better in Missoula, Montana. But it took some chance collisions to turn primordial soup into present-day success. What’s so good about algae? How about plant-based dyes and flavors that can go into vegetarian and vegan food production, or Omega-3 fish oil without the fish (since it comes from the algae the fish eat – thus, removing the “middle man”). Other oils can replace the skin-rejuvenating compounds in beauty lotions, without sacrificing animals to produce them. Many of those products now come from coal-based compounds that need a lot of energy to produce and give off a lot of carbon pollution. But what if there were an algae that doesn’t need petroleum-based fertilizer and actually eats the carbon waste other processes give off?


inding the start of this story isn’t easy. But let’s begin with Jason Lind. The son of a Montana farming family with an MBA from the University of Montana had been working with some startup financial firms in Missoula. About three years ago, he got a phone call from another Montanan named Craig Hurlbert, who owned a clean energy business in Houston, Texas. “Craig contacted me, said, ‘You don’t know me, but I’ve made this investment, and I need somebody to run the business,’ ” Lind recalled. “I didn’t know anything about algae when I got involved.” The company was AlgEvolve, and was Chemical engineer Adrienne Bull inspects the algae-growing photo bioreactor at Blue Marble Biomaterials in Missoula recently. Algae grows on the light-emitting diode rods when submerged in water, providing Blue Marble with a source for their research material. Among other things, Blue Marble is working on cutting-edge research into the evolution of algae and it’s importance in the future. missoula magazine


based in Corvallis. It intended to use algae to purify wastewater. The obstacle was that algae need sunlight to grow. That typically means big ponds where the algae do their work on the top inch and a half of water. “Things like water treatment plants and breweries and mills have limited land space,” Lind said. “We wondered, ‘How do we take advantage of vertical space, not horizontal space.’ ” The idea his colleagues came up with flew in the face of contemporary fluid dynamics engineering. Essentially a fence of pipes with algae-infused wastewater rushing about, AlgEvolve’s system manages to clarify the water without plugging the pipes with pond scum. “What I learned about commercializing technology in early stage development is, it’s best to leave technical people on the outside looking inside,” Lind said. “Otherwise it gets overdeveloped, overanalyzed.” “Traditional engineers told us it would cost about $100,000 to build a system that would treat 40,000 gallons a day,” Lind said. “I looked my guys in the eye and said, ‘We can do this, and we can do it for $7,500.’ And we did it.” AlgEvolve’s growing system runs nutrient-laden water through what looks like a fence of tubes. Algae in the tubes cleans the water, which rushes through so fast the plant scum doesn’t stick to the plastic. That works great in a municipal water treatment plant, where city sewers provide plenty of nitrogen waste to feed algae. But to clarify water coming out of a pulp and paper mill, the algae need additional nitrogen to grow. So Lind had a problem.


t about the same time, James Stephens was giving up on algae. Another UM grad, Stephens had moved to Seattle in hopes of doing something more with his science degree than being a lab technician. He started experimenting with algae as a source of biodiesel fuel. But the cost of fertilizer for the algae kept it more expensive than traditional petroleum diesel. Then he explored using algae as an ocean cleanup agent. But government was the biggest potential customer, and government didn’t want to pay for it. By 2007, Stephens suspected the economic crash was coming, and decided he didn’t want to do anything that involved either market speculation or government subsidy. So he focused his chemical knowhow on making little things with big, steady demands: colors and flavors. Coffee grounds were piling up outside specialty drink shops, and Stephens knew


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how to distill intense oils and scents from them. Craft breweries had a similar waste stream, and the leftover mash yielded flavors and colors that could go in other food products. Stephens set up Blue Marble Biomaterials to extract additives that sold for $5,000 a kilo. Then one day, a Florida man who’d invested in both Blue Marble and AlgEvolve pointed out the proximity to Lind. The one was making valuable products out of waste biomass, and had a wastewater problem. The other was cleaning wastewater and producing huge amounts of extra biomass it needed to get rid of. “He said, ‘It could be a very interesting life cycle if the two of you get together,’” Lind remembered the investor saying. “So I reached out to James one afternoon by email. He was still in Seattle. I was in Missoula. We just met up at the Iron Horse one day. James was a significant skeptic of algae as a water treatment platform. But when I took him to our facility and he saw what we had done with the investment dollars we had, he was floored.” Except for one thing. Blue Marble can’t make its food-grade dyes and flavors out of public sewer water. And its coffee and beer distilleries didn’t produce enough nitrogen to make AlgEvolve’s system work without extra (and expensive) fertilizer.


bout 2.3 billion years away from the entrepreneurial business world, Carrine Blank was working on an entirely different startup. The University of Montana professor of evolutionary biology wanted to know how some ancient algae species switched from freshwat er lakes to ocean environments, where Earth’s explosion of life forms got under way. Landlocked lakes suffer from a short growing season, huge temperature swings between day and night, and food supplies locked up in rocks. Single-celled organisms had to be tough and inventive, exploring a lot of different ways to generate energy from their limited environments. The move to oceans took away many of those hardships. Oceans covered most of the planet, had much lower daily and seasonal temperature shifts, and distributed dissolved nutrients more effectively than air could. Photosynthesis allowed those plants to unlock oxygen from the planet’s chemical soup, and that easily consumable energy source became the fuel of choice for thousands of new species of life. Most of them also needed a supply of nitrogen to make their chemical engine work. And it takes a lot of time to transform nitrogen into usable forms like

Blue Marble has more that 25 strains of algae under review for commercialization at its Airway Boulevard laboratory. missoula magazine


Bull and Blue Marble co-founder James Stephens with the 2,000-liter bioreactor at the company.

nitrate, urea and ammonia – what we now think of as fertilizer. Humans figured out how to speed up the process by extracting nitrogen fertilizers out of petroleum, but at a relatively large energy cost. Blank concentrated her research on the algae forms that skipped that oxygennitrogen gravy train. Some species still exist in exceedingly harsh environments like Yellowstone National Park’s hot springs and Washington’s super-alkaline Soap Lake. And she discovered they thrived on a source of nitrogen most other plants never learned how to exploit. “I was working with Nancy Hinman, another geoscience professor, and she said this could have important industrial applications – we should patent this,” Blank recalled. “That had never crossed my mind. I had always done basic science. Working to commercialize a discovery was a whole new aspect to what I do as a scientist.”


o how does all of this come together? AlgEvolve grows a lot of algae that it needs to get rid of. Blue Marble needs a lot of algae to make its products. And Blank’s novel nitrogen source revealed a new way to grow algae that doesn’t need traditional, expensive fertilizer.


missoula magazine

When Stephens moved Blue Marble to Missoula, he paid a visit to UM Office of Technology Transfer director Joe Fanguy. “I asked for their list of patents – who has what?” Stephens said. “Usually I look in the forestry or pharmacy departments, but Joe said he’d just seen an interesting disclosure about algae. I said I wasn’t interested in biofuels anymore. Why would I ever talk to an evolutionary biologist? It’s not a traditionally tapped resource.” UM has already received a provisional patent on the metabolic process Blank uncovered. It is now applying for an international patent, which has strict disclosure rules that limit what she can publicize about her findings. That application should be finished later this spring. And on Jan. 24, AlgEvolve received its U.S. patent on its wastewater treatment process. It already has a cooperative agreement with Blue Marble in place to provide algae, using Blank’s feedstock, that Blue Marble is turning into product samples. By teaming with the private companies, Blank was able to shave her research timeline to an evolutionary eye-blink. Where she might have waited years for a

grant to pay for an algae growing tank to test her hypothesis, Blue Marble was able to throw one in a U-Haul trailer and deliver it in a week. “We helped finance the research past the bench stage,” Stephens said. “It might have cost millions to start this from scratch.” AlgEvolve generated about $750,000 in revenue in the last 18 months. Blue Marble employs 15 people and six interns who keep track of miles of distilling pipe in the plant’s Airway Boulevard facility. Blank has more than 25 strains of algae under review for commercialization, with more on the way. “We’ve demonstrated we can do this on a large production scale,” Stephens said. “We’ve helped the university step forward and say this is valuable. That’s the great promise of public-private partnerships.”

Rob Chaney covers natural resources for the Missoulian. He can be reached at (406) 523-5382 or by email at Michael Gallacher is a photographer for the Missoulian. He can be reached at (406) 523-5270 or by email at


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Jurgen Knoller, the founder of Bayern Brewing and likely grandfather of commercial craft beer brewing in Missoula, runs the only German-style brewhouse in the state.


missoula magazine

Missoula's breweries boast almost 60 flavors of beers


written by jenna cederberg photographed by kurt wilson

t’s no secret, this love affair Montanans have with sipping a good beer under the Big Sky. When it comes to the innovative, creative and distinctive world of craft beers, Montana is No. 2 in the nation for breweries per capita. Craft breweries here generated more than $25 million in sales last year. The Montana Brewers Association trail map now has 32 stops. As the culture of craft beers grows throughout the country, Missoula in particular has become a place where the brews flow as freely as the river that runs through it. The three largest breweries – Bayern Brewing Inc., Big Sky Brewing Co. and KettleHouse Brewing Co. – call Missoula home. A fourth – Draught Works – opened late last year. Combined, the breweries boast almost 60 different flavors of beers. The power of their pints draws

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KettleHouse Brewing made a bold move by canning its brew, including Cold Smoke, the craft beer superstar in Missoula.

“Brewers are creating and writing a new script every day.” taprooms full of patrons looking for another taste of an old favorite or perhaps the next big beer. “Missoula is very close to our heart when we talk about craft beer,” said Montana Brewers Association executive director Tony Herbert. “Through all these businesses you get a variety of opportunities to try these beers. The brewers are doing a great job creating a seasonal, not stagnant, market. Brewers are creating and writing a new script every day.”


issoula is home to the company that made Moose Drool taste so good that half the country has fallen in love with it. Big Sky Brewing is by far the largest in the state. The company pumped out 45,000 gallons of brew in 2011. Big Sky’s beers are distributed to 24 states, including Oklahoma and Alaska, making it the 38th biggest brewery


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in the nation, Herbert said. Co-founder Neal Leathers sees Big Sky as fitting perfectly into a Pacific Northwest area that is particularly charmed by craft beer, and the wide variety of flavors and options that come with it. Big Sky’s thundering bottling operation rattles next to the silver kettles that tower in the north side of its warehouse west of Missoula. That’s where Big Sky’s 10 varieties of beer are brewed and bottled. The Big Sky India Pale Ale will be canned for the first time this spring, and Leathers said an expansion for the warehouse is due soon. No other brewery in the state has the reach Big Sky enjoys – although it’s because of that reach that Big Sky can’t sell beer for fans to drink on-site in its taproom. What many brewers call a weird, arbitrary Montana law dictates that breweries producing more than 10,000

gallons a year can’t sell the beer for onsite consumption. (Taprooms also aren’t allowed to serve a customer more than 48 ounces per day.) Both Bayern Brewing Inc. and KettleHouse Brewing Co. are butting up against that limit. But Big Sky’s business plan always included going big, Leathers said. Instead of selling pints, Big Sky gives away samples. Merchandise sales in Big Sky’s “taproom” fill the gap that might exist in pint sales, and fans seeking a fresh pour can fill growlers there. If nothing else, the company is proof that the novelty of the Big Sky state sells. It’s got Moose Drool, yes, but Montana’s outdoor wildlife and Old West reputation is conjured, too, in Big Sky’s Slow Elk Oatmeal Stout, Cowboy Coffee Porter and Heavy Horse Scotch Ale. “I think it works in a lot of ways,” Leathers said. “First of all we get an awful lot of people visiting. I immediately get emails, ‘How do I get your beer?’ If they’re in New York or Florida, I say, well you can’t get it. From Oklahoma, I say, ‘Well we’ve got it there.’ Beer is part of their experience. “Big Sky is a big deal once you get outside the state.”




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ayern Brewery Inc., to be sure, has settled in nicely in Missoula, bringing an outside influence to make its mark on the craft beer industry. Bayern (pronounced buy-earn) is the only German-style brewhouse in the state. Its upstairs taproom captures the German influence that defines the company’s roots, from its high-backed chairs to the impressive collection of authentic, silver-capped steins. Everything in the brewery comes from Deutschland. Bayern’s founder, Jürgen Knöller, may well be the grandfather of craft beer in Missoula. Knöller, who was raised in Bavaria, Germany, started Bayern on north Higgins Avenue nearly 25 years ago. He is one of two German brewmasters west of the Mississippi. The second works on Bayern’s brews, too. Lore holds that Knöller came to the states with two suitcases. One held his clothes; the other, his brewing books. Knöller found Montana was the perfect spot to brew beer, with Missoula’s pure aquifer and the bounty of malt and wheat from farther east, said Bayern marketing and sales manager Jared Spiker.

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Jeff Grant, along with co-founder Paul Marshall, opened the Draught Works, Missoula’s newest brewery, in October.

“You can’t make good beer without good water.” “You can’t make good beer without good water,” Spiker said. “It’s easy to find good products here and that makes good beer.” Dump Truck Summer Bock and Face Plant Doppelbock are two of Bayern’s most popular beers, but brewing new beers is a point of pride, Spiker said. “In this world, what keeps you on top is creativity and new beers,” Spiker said, and Knöller’s expertise in the craft means there aren’t test batches, just new brews. “Our process is pretty much flawless. You do it right the first time and people remember it,” Spiker said. “It tastes good and people want more.”


hanks in part to Bayern’s influence, Missoula’s newest brewery is a place where the Garden City’s sophisticated palates meet a novice ready to join the craft brew craze. Co-founder Paul Marshall came of age, he said, drinking


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Knöller’s “crazy Bayern amber.” “We didn’t know beer could be like this. I think we’re further along in the market because we had an early entry into the market,” said Marshall, sitting on a high stool at the new brewery he founded with Miles City native Jeff Grant. Draught Works opened its doors on Oct. 5 and became Missoula’s fourth brewery. Bayern was first to open in 1987, then came Big Sky and KettleHouse in 1995. “When we first opened it took everything Paul and I could possibly do to even have enough beer to sell,” said co-founder Grant. “We were running out of beer. We’re just now to the point where we’ve kind of figured out our inventory and keep our product on hand.” Both Grant and Marshall were trained at the Siebel Institute of Technology and World Brewing Academy in Chicago. They fulfilled a dream of opening a brewery that they concocted while working together at Nightingale

Brewery name: Big Sky Brewing Co. Year founded: 1995 Founders’ names: Neal Leathers, Bjorn Nabozney, Brad Robinson Address of brewery and nearest Missoula landmark: 5417 Trumpeter Way. The production facility is located just north of the Missoula International Airport and a stone’s throw from the Missoula Harley Davidson shop. Hours of operation: Mondays through Fridays 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Saturdays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Number of beers brewed: 10 Most popular beer: Moose Drool Brown Ale Best beer for a “beginner”: Trout Slayer Wheat Ale Brewery claim to fame: Far and away the largest brewery in Montana, Big Sky Brewing is the only brewery that the state does not allow to sell its beer to visitors to drink on-premise, so we give away samples instead. Describe the mood of the taproom in five words: Fun, busy, loads of goodies

Brewery name: Bayern Brewing Inc. Year founded: 1987 Founder’s name: Jurgen Knöller Address of brewery and nearest Missoula landmark: 1507 Montana St., one block north of Westside Lanes bowling alley Hours of operation: All week, 12 to 8 p.m. Number of beers brewed: 14 Most popular beer: Dump Truck or Dragon’s Breath Dark Heff Best beer for a “beginner”: Pilsner, one of the best around Brewery/taproom claim to fame: Authentic German taproom Describe the mood of the taproom in five words: Energetic, friendly and laid-back atmosphere Secret about your taproom/brewery even a regular doesn’t know: Newly remodeled upstairs is open for private parties and events.

Brewery name: KettleHouse Brewing Co. Year founded: 1995 Founder’s name: Tim O’Leary Address of brewery and nearest Missoula landmark: Location No. 1: 602 Myrtle St., aka, the “original KettleHouse’” which is a Missoula landmark. Location No. 2: 313 N. First St. W. is directly above the Orange Street underpass. Hours of operation: Mondays through Saturdays, 12 to 8 p.m Number of beers brewed: At least 23 Most popular beer: Cold Smoke Scotch Ale Best beer for a “beginner”: Cold Smoke. This beer makes light beer drinkers dark beer lovers. It’s a very smooth and drinkable beer. Brewery/taproom claim to fame: We were one of the first craft breweries in the country to put beer in a can. First in the state, and we did it before New Belgium, Fat Tire or Sierra Nevada. Our “flagship” brew, Cold Smoke, has won medals at the nation’s largest brewfests. Describe the mood of the taproom in five words: Something for everyone Secret about your taproom/brewery even a regular doesn’t know: Our Facebook page gets updated from the men’s room.

Brewery name: Draught Works Year founded: 2011 Founders’ names: Jeff Grant and Paul Marshall Address of brewery and nearest Missoula landmark: 915 Toole Ave., on the railroad tracks, two blocks northwest of St. Patrick Hospital Hours of operation: All week, 12 to 8 p.m. serving pints, serving growlers until 9 p.m. Number of beers brewed: Seven Most popular beer: Scepter Head India Pale Ale Best beer for a “beginner”: Shadow Caster Alt or Clothing Optional Pale Ale Brewery/taproom claim to fame: First brewery in Missoula to offer cask-conditioned ales served from a traditional beer engine, which are tapped every Wednesday. Brewing equipment and operations completely visible and part of the ambiance of the taproom. Outside features a 1,600-square-foot patio with amazing views. Describe the mood of the taproom in five words: Social, relaxed, family-friendly, neighborhood brewery/taproom Secret about your taproom/brewery even a regular doesn’t know: Ground-source well powers radiant floor heating and cooling.

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"Big Sky Brewery is the 38th biggest brewery in the nation" Nursing in Missoula. At Draught Works, the brewing process couldn’t get more personal. No walls separate the taproom from the kettles that brew their beer. They began their selection with five flagship beers, including the Clothing Optional Pale Ale and Scepter Head India Pale Ale. Draught Works’s second seasonal, a California Common beer, will debut this spring. “We’re big on the eduction of the brewing process and the world of beer,” Marshall said. “We want this to be a place where people can come and feel safe about learning about beer.” When winter finally arrived in January, bringing a foot of snow with it in one night, Draught Works offered a free pint to anyone who skied to the taproom. The neighborhood and its families use Draught Works as place to meet. The taproom comes complete with a chalk board and box of toys. Draught Works brews its own ginger ale and root beer. Grant pointed to a table full of women drinking IPA on cask. “There aren’t a lot of towns where you’ll find a congregation of women drinking the biggest beer we serve in the most unique way,” Grant said.


hen it comes to taste, KettleHouse Brewing Co. has set the standard by delivering awesomely innovative flavors for the past 16 years. KettleHouse’s “south hole” opened in 1995, a beer


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By far the largest brewery in the state, Big Sky Brewing poured 45,000 gallons of beer in 2011. Because state law does not allow a brewery their size to sell beer on premises, Big Sky lets you taste for free.

laboratory that has turned into a local favorite at which to try flavors like Olde Bongwater Porter. Or try it fresh, with Fresh Bongwater Pale Ale. “I feel like we started out as this funky, hangout taproom that wasn’t afraid to try anything,” KettleHouse manager Al Pils said. “We put hemp in beer, we put ginseng in beer. We were lucky enough to have great people working here that know how to hit the home run.” KettleHouse’s popularity is due in part to Missoula’s bonafide craft beer superstar, Cold Smoke Scotch Ale. It’s a 6.5 percent dark beer that’s smooth enough to convert Miller Lite fans. Missoulians flock to hang out at the KettleHouse’s two taprooms. On Wednesday when 50 cents of every pint sold goes to a local nonprofit, it’s hard to find room to slip in the door let alone snag a stool. What’s on tap depends on what’s brewed at each location (another Montana law). Pils rightly suggests that if the taproom were closed to allow more production, it might incite a riot. Cold Smoke’s popularity has pushed Kettlehouse to the verge of hitting the 10,000-gallons a year limit. “We get contacted from distributors in the Billings area all the time, ‘Please, please, please can we have Cold Smoke?’ I have to say no, because when you go to the prom, you have to dance with the girl you went there with. That’s Missoula,” Pils said. “Missoula is our date, we have to keep dancing with Missoula. We could probably even sell more

“There aren’t a lot of towns where you’ll find a congregation of women drinking the biggest beer we serve in the most unique way.”

beer in Missoula, but we’re so up against that 10,000 gallon thing, and every drop is sacred.” KettleHouse expanded to its second location several years ago, solidifying its innovator status in the craft beer scene by canning its brews. It was a risky move, Pils said, becoming the “little brewery that cans.” Before the push to aluminum, craft brew drinkers demanded their beer in bottles. Missoulians’ preference to live life outside – taking brews with them while they do it – trumped that prejudice. The eagerness to pack a good craft beer into the wild makes more sense when it’s a four-pack of cans. “Now, Big Sky does it, New Belgium started after us. Sierra Nevada started after us,” Pils said. “That’s flattering.”


pring will bring a couple of new things to the bar for craft brew enthusiasts in Missoula. Draught Works will debut its second seasonal, a California Common beer brewed using lager yeast fermented at ale temperatures. Big Sky is bottling its Big Sky IPA and will have its Heavy Horse Scotch Ale out.

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Anyone who missed Bayern’s (late) winter seasonal Bad Santa can grab a pint of Killarney that’s been in the tanks all winter. At KettleHouse, the Cold Smoke will continue to brew. And, Pils said, you never know what might come out of the beer lab. The power of the pint will continue to grow in Missoula and surrounding areas, Herbert said. More breweries are planned for places around the state. Flathead Brewing Co., which brews its beer in Bigfork, and Tamarack Brewing Co., which brews in Lakeside, also sell Montanamade craft beer in their bars, including locations in Missoula. And the Montana Brewers Association will bring its brewers festival to Missoula in October. “We know Missoula has a lot of appreciation for beer and some discerning palates there that are looking for the next exciting flavor,” Herbert said. Jenna Cederberg is a Missoulian reporter. She can be reached by calling (406) 523-5241 or by email at Missoulian photography editor Kurt Wilson can be reached at 523-5244 or by email at

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missoula magazine

ticks the spring plague

written by michael moore


h, the glories of spring are upon us. No, we’re not talking about warmer days and more sunlight. We are talking about the most unpleasant way that spring is, quite literally, upon us. Reader, the ignoble tick. Yes, the miniature vampire, spreader of disease, plague of the spring mountain-goer. We are loathe to anthropomorphize, but the tick is sinister to its core. The tick may not actually be evil, but it’s certainly not a force for good. What can a tick do for you? Consider: Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, Colorado tick fever, tick paralysis. Here’s what the federal Centers for Disease Control have to say about Rocky Mountain spotted fever: “Typical symptoms include: fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting and muscle pain. A rash may also develop, but is often absent in the first few days, and in some patients, never develops. Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be a severe or even fatal illness if not treated in the first few days of symptoms.” All from a dastardly arachnid the size of a pebble. So do not come to us, you tick apologists, with your unfounded claims that ticks serve some useful purpose. Because they just don’t. About the best thing you could say about ticks – and we’re not saying you should, just that you could – is that they have produced a cottage industry here in Montana. Ticks, of course, have been with us forever. But in 1896, folks

photo courtesy of Rocky Mountain Laboratories missoula magazine


About the best thing you could say about ticks – and we’re not saying you should, just that you could – is that they have produced a cottage industry here in Montana.


recognized that ticks appeared to have something to do with the transmission of a disease then called the “black measles.” The first case was found in the Snake River Valley of Idaho. Ten years later, the U.S. Public Health Service sent University of Chicago pathologist Dr. Howard T. Ricketts to the Bitterroot Valley, which had revealed itself as a hotspot for tick fever. Ricketts’ work nailed down the path of disease transmission and also set out a foundation for what would eventually become the Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton. Ticks are now just one of the uglies studied in Hamilton, but RML remains ground zero for tick research, and in that small way, ticks are good for the economy. Fact is, if you are in the Bitterroot Mountains in the springtime, you will be your own tickological research project. By all means, wear long pants and use DEET, but be prepared to pick up some ticks. The emergence of ticks coincides with warmer spring days and a bit of humidity. Some like it hot, some like it cold, but ticks take the middle ground, hiding out during extremes of temperature.


lthough it’s easy to attribute magical powers to ticks and their ability to find their way onto you, they’re really just opportunists. Let’s face it, their to-do list is short. Drink blood and have sex. (Perhaps the “Twilight” films could have drawn a lesson from that, but that’s another story.) So they just hang out, their hind legs clinging to grasses and low-lying bushes while their forward legs are suspended in the air, waiting for the unlucky next meal to wander by. By the time a Rocky Mountain wood tick reaches a human host, it’s already fed on two other warm-blooded critters. A so-called “three-host” fiend, the tick has likely had its way with a rodent or squirrel before latching onto the main event – humans, deer and other charismatic megafauna.


nce they’re on you, they’ll look for a good place to burrow in and lock down with their own version of cement, which they excrete to bond to the host. Again, just gross. If there is a good thing about ticks aside from their contribution to the economy, it’s this: It takes them a while to settle in and really get their chompers into you. That means you’ve got some time to comb your nether regions after returning from a stroll in the mountains. If you find one of the penetrating pests, remove it with tweezers. Old wive’s tales about burning them with a match


missoula magazine

or coating them with Vaseline are just that. Now, we’re sure there is someone out there who can advise you on how to release these creatures back into the wild, but that’s not us. We are pro-death penalty when it comes to ticks. The less of them the better. If ticks had the reproduction rate of say, American humans, we might not be so harsh. But did you know that a mated female will lay a single cluster of 3,000 to 5,500 yellowish-brown eggs over a period of 10 to 33 days? So killing the few that make the trip back home from your adventure isn’t going to tip the scales.


ome March, our little tribe of rock climbers can hardly wait to get back up to Mill Creek, a steep and wondrous drainage just northwest of Hamilton. We’ve been putting up new climbs there for the past couple of years, and there’s still much work to be done. Our first efforts in Mill were done on a wall that eventually became known as the Tick Farm. If you could, in fact, farm ticks, this would be the place. A given spring day in April or May will net you no less than 50 tick sightings and only slightly fewer removals. The little demons are everywhere – on the rope, in your pack, on your lunch. Worse, they’re probably already on your head. We’ve developed a system based primarily on the disdain that our wives have for both us and ticks when we arrive home together. It works like this: Each guy brings two plastic bags and a full set of extra clothes. We leave that stuff in the car, go climbing, then hike back to the rig infested by the relentess Dermacentor andersoni. At the car, we strip down and make like baboons, combing one another’s hair for ticks. Once you’re clean, you bag the tick clothes, then change into your new duds. Your entire climbing pack goes in the other bag. Once home, the clothes go straight from the bag to the washer, which generally gets run on hot. It’s true that a few ticks have survived both washing and drying, but they’re pretty woozy after that spin and easy to catch. It’s also true that a few ticks have managed to escape both the baboon-picking treatment and the wash/dry cycle. They have not survived the spouse, however, who issues an all-points bulletin on their location and calls in the death squad. Ticks, be forewarned. Your time is coming. Michael Moore is city editor of the Missoulian. He can be reached at (406) 523-5252 or by email at

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winter's last hurrah written by chelsi moy photographed by linda thompson and david erickson


here’s one day each year when it’s perfectly natural for skiers and snowboarders to sport board shorts and swimsuits on the slopes. No, it has nothing to do with the “frosting” craze spawned by Missoulians on Facebook this winter. Rather, it’s a longtime tradition for the mountain community: end-of-season ski parties. Over the last decade, Montana Snowbowl owner Brad Morris has witnessed more and more customers showing up for the last day of ski season wearing rather unusual outfits. The chairlift is chock full people in superhero costumes, furry ape suits and banana outfits. Some carry boom boxes. Skiers forego their backpacks in exchange for fanny packs and their helmets for wigs. “It’s one of those things that just kinda started,” Morris said. “Over the last five or six years, it’s really become more of an event.” End-of-season snow parties are a rite of passage for skiers and snowboarders as they transition into spring sports like mountain biking and fishing. People dressed in outrageous costumes arrive at the mountain midmorning to squeeze in a few last turns on soft corn snow. The sun is out, unlike most ski days in winter. People bid farewell to winter and welcome spring with a few celebratory pints on the balcony. It’s a day that’s less about skiing and more about reflecting on the season and enjoying the company of people who have become friends throughout the winter. For the mountain community, it’s the last hurrah until next year. “Skiers celebrate because the season has come to the end, even though you hate to do it,” said Riley Polumbus, spokeswoman for Whitefish Mountain Resort. “You often have great weather, the snow is decent and it’s a fun time getting out and enjoying Mother Nature.”


missoula magazine

Pond skimming is a rite of season’s end, and bragging rights for the rest of the year.

missoula magazine


After months of bundling up, skiers and riders strip off a few layers to bask in the sun. Sunglasses replace goggles. It’s an opportunity to change the outfit you’ve worn all season long, Polumbus said. “Why not go crazy on the last day and do something different and fun, even if it’s just adding a boa?” she said. Some call the end-of-season antics “a tribal ritual.” Others blame spring fever.

symbolic transition from snow to water skiing. Hundreds of spectators – many nonskiers – turn out for the event each year. They line the sides of the pond, cheering on participants, some of whom are actually better skimmers than they are skiers. So when something thrillingly absurd works perfectly, it only makes sense to ramp up the absurdity.

the time they hit the water, they are in their underwear. I’ve seen the striptease a couple of times.”


he mind-set of skiers and snowboarders changes in the spring. Rather than racing up to the mountain to catch the first chair, they sleep in, waiting until midmorning when the sun warms the slopes and the snow becomes soft and slushy. Some may only ski one run on the last day. “A lot of people don’t ski that much,” Morris said. “The idea is not to get a lot of vertical.” Rain or shine, Morris knows customers will show up for the last day of the season. Snowbowl traditionally hosts a free end-of-season barbecue as a way to say thanks to customers. But even after the bar closes and the parking lot is nearly empty, there are always a few skiers who refuse to leave the mountain. “They move to the parking lots down the road,” Morris said. “They’ll build bonfires and tailgate. They don’t want the season to end.”

"Skiers forego their backpacks in exchange for fanny packs and their helmets for wigs."


hile some of the celebrating is impromptu, western Montana ski resorts have accommodated the revelry with their own take on the last day. Pond skimming, a time-honored end-ofseason sport, brings out the kookiness in everyone. Ski areas dig a huge pit at the base of the mountain and line it with vinyl tarps before filling it with water. Skiers and snowboarders take turns charging down the mountain and zipping across the pond, hoping to reach the other side without getting wet. Not enough speed or balance and you take the dunk. Think of the sport as a


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To that end, Lost Trail Powder Mountain last year dug two consecutive ponds. Other ski areas have dug pits in the shape of an arc to make the event more challenging. “Obviously if you’re dressed up as a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, as someone was last year, they’re not taking it very seriously,” Polumbus said. “But it is a competition.” At Lookout Pass, it’s called the “Slush Cup.” At Lost Trail, the end-of-year bash has several names: “Skiesta Splashdown” or “Summer-Sucks, End-of-the-Year Party.” Some skimmers have taken the notion of shedding a few layers to a new level. “People even do a striptease,” said Lookout Pass spokesman Bill Jennings. “By

Chelsi Moy is a reporter for the Missoulian. She can be reached at 523-5260 or at, or via her blog,

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written by jamie kelly illustrated by josh quick


e go to Arizona because there, unlike Montana in March, the sun plays ball. Most of us who make our annual pilgrimage to Major League Baseball’s spring training have grown weary of winter’s long, bruising assault on our psyches. The sun is a fickle friend in western Montana, all too reluctant to do its work of renewing our land, of warming our skin, of rescuing us from winter’s doldrums. Winter hangs on far too long here, even after the sun has begun to retreat back to the equator after its dip into the southern hemisphere. But in southern Arizona, winter only happens in theory. And there is no better place on Earth to be than at the 10 ballparks of spring training’s Cactus League in the month of March. Suddenly finding oneself basking in the heat under a deep blue Arizona sky, feet propped up on stadium chairs and a cold beverage clamped between one’s knees is a hug from from a long-lost friend. And it’s friends, too, of the human kind who you find at spring training. You can’t

walk 10 feet, it seems sometimes, without meeting and greeting a fellow Montana refugee who has come here, like you, to remember what the sun was designed to do. Wear University of Montana Grizzly attire, and you won’t quite believe the number of knowing smiles and handshakes you’ll get from fellow Missoulians. I discovered spring training in 1998, when my father and I first drove to Tucson in a big RV. That was the year the Missoula Osprey opened its inaugural season here and my father, a lifelong baseball fan, got us unprecedented access to the Seattle Mariners training camp because of his friendship with the Mariners’ team doctor. I shook hands with a young Alex Rodriguez that year. And I haven’t washed my hands since. Well, that’s not quite true. But it is true that spring training gives fans a much more intimate baseball experience than an evening in one of Major League Baseball’s cathedrals. There are 10 spring training ballparks in the Phoenix area (Tucson lost its status as a host city to spring training last year, to great uproar) – Sun City, Peoria, Surprise, Mesa,

Tempe and other suburbs. None of them holds more than 13,000 fans, giving the rarely sold-out games a picnic-like feel. Adding to that is the fact that nobody really cares about the win-loss column of their team, because spring training is exactly what it says it is: a training and proving ground for minor league players, a warmup for those already in the show and a chance for fans to see how young prospects fare in big league competition. Cheap are the tickets, long are the days, glorious is the sun. Missoulians can find cheap airfare to Phoenix directly from Missoula International Airport. The faces of the passengers on the flight down are beaming with anticipation of being renewed in spirit, because many of them are being airlifted, like you, from the cold Montana earth to life-giving days of play in the sun. They will not be disappointed. Jamie Kelly is a Missoulian reporter. He can be reached at 523-5254 or at

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montana spring stories ...continued from page 16

“When Women Were Birds” by Terry Tempest Williams, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (April)

Terry Tempest Williams’ mother told her: “I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me you won’t look at them until after I’m gone.” Readers of Williams’ unconventional memoir, “Refuge,” will remember that mother. She was one of a large Mormon clan in northern Utah who developed cancer as a result of the nuclear testing in nearby Nevada. It was a shock to Williams to discover that her mother had kept journals. But not as much of a shock as what she found when the time came to read them. “They were exactly where she said they would be: three shelves of beautiful clothbound books ... I opened the first journal. It was empty. I opened the second journal. It was empty. I opened the third. It too was

make your own migration ...continued from page 19

recharge their batteries here, arriving in flocks of 300 after an 18-hour non-stop flight from refuges in southern Oregon. They leave Oregon at sunset, and arrive at Freezeout the next noon. Recognized by their black-tipped wings, snow geese roost on the water and feed in the grain fields north and east of Freezeout Lake. They prefer the waste barley found in fields on the Fairfield Bench, “the brewing barley capital of the world” according to the sign in town. It’s high in the carbohydrates they need to build fat. Once they reach the Arctic, the goose will lay and incubate the eggs while the gander stands guard beside the nest. Neither bird eats until the goslings hatch. Snow geese nest in enormous colonies – a nest every 10 yards or so for most of 40 square miles – in central and western Canada, Hudson Bay and Wrangel Island (in Russia). Snow geese are white, in fact, because it helps them locate others of their ilk – not to hide them in the snow. Their roosting behavior on the ponds at Freezeout is proof. “You can tell the snow geese by the


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empty ... Shelf after shelf after shelf, all of my mother’s journals were blank.” What did Williams’s mother mean by that? In 54 chapters that unfold like a series of yoga poses, each with its own logic and beauty, Williams creates a lyrical and caring meditation of the mystery of her mother’s journals. “When Women Were Birds” is a kaleidoscope that keeps turning around the question “What does it mean to have a voice?”

“Canada” by Richard Ford, published by Ecco (May)

When 15-yearold Dell Parsons’ parents rob a bank, his sense of a happy life is forever shattered. His parents’ arrest and imprisonment mean a threatening and uncertain future for Dell and his twin sister, Berner. Willful and burning with resentment, Berner flees their home in Great Falls, Montana, abandoning her brother and her life. But Dell is not completely alone. A family friend intervenes, spiriting him across the Canadian border in hopes of delivering him to a better life. There, afloat on the prairie

long lines they form across the water. They stay together,” Schwitters said. “The swans are more solitary. They’re scattered all around. But the white geese want to be with other white geese.” By mid-April, the snow geese are gone and are replaced by a smaller, similarlooking bird called a Ross’ goose. Then come the shorebirds, small wading birds with long legs and nearly-as-long bills. They wade in the shoreline grasses and pick in the mud for things to eat. They’re American avocets, black-necked stilts, killdeer, snipes and phalaropes, marbled godwits and whimbrels. “The shorebirds are the last of the migrants,” Schwitters said. It’s May by the time they arrive, nearly time for the goslings to hatch and the ducks to start their summer molting.


he state of Montana made its first purchase of property in the Fairfield area early in the 1950s. With the exception of some Bureau of Reclamation property, it now owns all of the wildlife management area. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks does the management. Before the state took ownership, Freezeout Lake often flooded in the spring, cutting off U.S. Highway 89 between Fairfield and Choteau. So Fish, Wildlife

of Saskatchewan, Dell is taken in by Arthur Remlinger, an enigmatic and charismatic American whose suave reserve masks a dark and violent nature. Undone by the calamity of his parents’ robbery and arrest, Dell struggles under the vast prairie sky to remake himself and define the adults he thought he knew and loved. But his search for grace and peace only moves him nearer a harrowing and murderous collision with Remlinger, an elemental force of darkness. “Canada” is a profound novel of boundaries traversed, innocence lost and reconciled, and the mysterious and consoling bonds of family.


very day I hear about more books coming out by Montana authors. The book industry may be going through a period of change, but it’s a great time for bookselling in the West.

Barbara Theroux writes a regular column, “Missoula Reads,” for Missoula magazine and for the Missoulian’s monthly Booming section. She is manager of Fact and Fiction Bookstore in downtown Missoula.

and Parks excavated a series of ponds and connecting ditches that both controlled the yearly floods and increased the waterfowl habitat. “They’re perfect,” said Schwitters. “People in Choteau can get to Fairfield year-round, and all these birds can stop and refill their tanks.” There was a migration before the ponds were built, but not one of such magnitude and diversity. Now, at least 20,000 people come to Freezeout Lake each year to hunt or watch birds, a lot for such a remote location. Still, you’ll never see as many people as waterfowl at Freezeout Lake. “That’s the beauty of it,” Schwitters said. That and the veritable roar of 10,000 wings, and the bunchgrasses and volcanic buttes of the prairie, and the fortress of the Rocky Mountain Front beyond. That and the silent certainty of a fat-bodied Canada goose sitting atop a muskrat house, signaling the season’s change. Sherry Devlin is editor of the Missoulian. She can be reached at (406) 523-5250 or by email at Tom Bauer is a Missoulian photographer. He can be reached at (406) 523-5270 or by email at

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mint juleps

...continued from page 21


rom the day in 1875 when Churchill Downs first opened its grandstand to the public, the hallowed horse track has served mint juleps. In his book, Nickell traces the specific association between julep and Derby to 1938. Yet mint juleps were popular for at least a century prior to that. In the course of his research (most of which, he admitted to me, he does not now remember), Nickell found mention of silver julep cups being awarded as prizes at county fairs in Kentucky during the early years of the 19th century. Charles Dickens wrote of an inebriated night in 1842 spent at a hotel in Baltimore, Md., with Washington Irving, where the two shared “quite an enchanted julep.” Like most old-school cocktails, the mint julep comes in many variations. In the interests of expediency, most bartenders today opt for mint oils or extracts and simple syrup to invoke the drink’s aromatic decoction. Those with even less time on their hands can opt for premixed, bottled mint juleps from Maker’s Mark or Early Times. (I must admit, they’re not half bad, at least in comparison to other premixed cocktails.) Traditionalists, on the other hand, insist on a painstaking process in which sprigs of fresh spearmint are muddled, or bruised, in a silver julep cup prior to the addition of spring water, bourbon, and crushed ice. Churchill Downs has taken the process to its far extreme, offering $1,000 mint juleps served in goldplated cups with silver straws, made from imported Irish mint and Australian sugar, cubes of frozen Bavarian spring water, and Woodford Reserve bourbon. Joe Nickell has his own recipe, which he unabashedly calls Colonel Nickell’s Perfect Julep. (Nickell earned his appellation as a member of the Kentucky Colonels, an honorable order of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.) His version, like mine, calls for the mint to be steeped in hot, sugared water, the better to extract its flavor. “The idea that you shouldn’t get the mint flavor out of the mint is lacking, to my way of thinking,” he says. “And hot water seems to do the best job in that regard.”


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Once the mint-water cools, he blends it with a roughly equal amount of bourbon and enough crushed ice to create, essentially, a boozy Slurpee. It is a fine concoction, eminently potable and deceptively powerful. If it seems like a lot of work for a little drink, Nickell advises that steps can be liberally improvised, or left out altogether, after the first or second round of drinks is served. “Once you’ve had a couple of them, it really doesn’t matter,” he advises. “The only complaint I ever had was once at one of our winter solstice parties, when one of the people came up and said, ‘Please don’t give daddy any more of those.’ ”


ndeed, it is a strong drink – a sipper’s balm; a guzzler’s nightmare. Caveat potor. Taste being taste, I prefer my own variation, which departs somewhat from tradition by employing honey, which I find mellows the edge of the bourbon while preserving its smoky-oaky overtones better than plain sugar. Pretense being pretense, I provide my recipe with a fittingly grand name: The Other Joe Nickell’s Even More Perfect Mint Julep. As to a preferred bourbon, I must confess an out-of-my-own-league adoration for George T. Stagg and Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve bourbons; but at upwards of $75 for a 750 ml bottle, those bourbons may be a bit extravagant if you plan to share. More affordable, but still more than fine for the purpose, is Evan Williams Single-Barrel, which costs a bit less than Woodford Reserve – the “official” bourbon of the Kentucky Derby – and offers a far more complex flavor. But any bourbon will do in a pinch. And, for that matter, any flavoring too: The other Joe Nickell – the famous one – said that he has been observed using spearmint chewing gum to flavor his julep, once upon a time. I’m not sure I believe him. But I suppose that’s just the skeptic in me. Joe Nickell covers arts and entertainment for the Missoulian and presides over the blog Missoulian photography editor Kurt Wilson can be reached at 523-5244 or by email at

The other Joe Nickell’s even more perfect mint julep Drop four or five sprigs of fresh spearmint, stems and all, in the bottom of a heatproof glass measuring cup. Add one tablespoon of honey and enough boiling water to cover the mint. Stir, let stand for 10 minutes, then chill in the refrigerator. Fill a silver or frosted glass julep cup with crushed ice (if you can talk Hoagieville out of some of their ice, it is perfect for the purpose). Add two ounces of bourbon and 2-3 ounces of the mint water; stir and serve with a fresh mint sprig as garnish.

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parting shot

p.s. 74

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In the time of the seasons when weather can change quickly from sun to storms to sun, even several times a day, a fast-moving storm blows over the Garnet Range north of Drummond.

photograph by kurt wilson

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missoula magazine

Missoula Magazine 2012  

2012 issue of the Missoula Magazine.

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