Black Eagle Falls

I arrived at another cataract of 26 feet. … below this fall at a little distance a beatifull little Island well timbered is situated about the middle of the river. In this Island on a Cottonwood tree an eagle has placed her nest; a more inaccessible spot I believe she could not have found; for neither man nor beast dare pass those gulphs which separate her little domain from the shores. The water is also broken in such manner as it descends over this pitch that the mist or sprey rises to a considerable hight. This fall is certainly much the greatest I ever behald except those two which I have mentioned below. It is incomparably a geater cataract and a more noble interesting object than the celibrated falls of Potomac or Soolkiln. – Meriwether Lewis, June 14, 1805

These falls were later named Black Eagle Falls for the eagle Lewis wrote about.  They are the first in a series of five water falls that make up the Great Falls of the Missouri River.  Tomorrow I will take you down onto the island Lewis writes about so we can get a closer look of the falls and those trees.  Be sure to check out all the posts in this Winter Wonderland series!

Black Eagle Falls/Dam

Black Eagle Falls/Dam

Winter Wonderland

Come experience a Montana winter through my eyes!  Over the next few days I will be sharing a series of photos I took on my recent trip to Montana.  While I’ve never been a huge fan of cold weather, I’ve always found winter so magical.  A fresh blanket of snow can cover something ugly and dormant, and turn it into something crisp and pure and shimmery.  Anything seems possible!

Enjoying A Winter Wonderland

Enjoying A Winter Wonderland

I’m An Official Polar Plunger!

What an incredible experience!!!!  Friday night I did my first ever polar bear plunge and I think I might be hooked!  The event raised over $41K for Special Olympics Montana.

I checked in about an hour before the event, so I could have plenty of time to warm up and get changed into my costume.  If you’re crazy enough to plunge, you should dress the part.  There were so many cute costumes…Duck Dynasty, Cindy Lou Who, pirates, Santa, the list goes on and on.  The winner of the costume contest, however, was a team of nursing students called Public Enema #1.

My team (The Copsickles) were up first.  I left the warm building to wait in a heated tent.  My plunging partner kicked off the event by giving a short speech (too cold for a long one) and some introductions.  I had planned to wait in the tent until the speech was over, but was rushed onto the platform in that -26°F air. They didn’t want any lag time between the speech and the jump.  If my costume was a little silly on its own, it looked outright ridiculous standing on a platform with a bunch of cops in uniform!

Waiting To Take The Plunge

Waiting To Take The Plunge (Photo by Jennifer Gooldy)

The first two sets of Copsickles made the plunge.  Then it was our turn.  We stepped onto the ledge of the pool.  Three, Two, One.  I flung my hands in the air and kicked my feet up as I plunged into that ice-cold water.  I will never forget that sound or the feel of that icy water completely swallowing me.  I quickly swam to the surface losing a shoe along the way and made my way to the other end to exit.  I grabbed the ladder and immediately let go.  A thick layer of ice had completely coated the ladder.  I lost my other shoe.  A man on the platform reached out his hand for me.  The next thing I remember I was standing next to a hot tub frantically looking for stairs that weren’t there.  I contemplated just diving in head first, my head was already wet after all.  I decided against that and just put aside all lady-likeness for a moment and kind of rolled into the hot tub.  You can see a video of a few of the jumps here.  I am in the second to last set of jumpers on the video.  Oh, and I’m totally creeping in the background at the beginning.

Jump!

Jump! (Photo by Jennifer Gooldy)

The only thing I can compare the rush of a polar bear plunge to is my first time sky diving, jumping from safety into the unknown with life threatening consequences if something went wrong.  It was exciting.  It was exhilarating.  It was something I definitely want to do again.

I made so many great friends at the event, but some of my favorites have to be athlete John and his adorable girlfriend Katie.  John earned the Golden Plunger award for raising the most money.  He raised over $7K all by himself!  Katie just gushed over him.  She leaned in close as if to share a secret with me and told me she was the luckiest girl in the whole world.  How can you not love people like her, so full of joy!

Post Plunge with Katie and John

Post Plunge with Katie and John

Let It Snow

Wow!  I was super excited for the snow, but quickly realized I was more excited about the idea of it.  Yesterday afternoon it had just begun to snow when I got to my hotel.  I couldn’t stop smiling as I unloaded my car and the big, weighty snowflakes covered me.  It brought back so many memories and made me feel like a kid again!  I kept peeking out the window throughout the evening to check the status of the snow.

My Snow Gauge

My Snow Gauge

This morning I was forced to deal with the reality of interacting with the snow, not just my fantasy of it as I watch from a window.  As I walked to the parking lot, I immediately had an “OH” moment as I noticed all the other cars with their windshield wipers in the air.  How could I have forgotten one of the simplest tricks!  While scraping off the car, I maintained that goofy grin as the snow squeaked beneath my feet.  However, after 30 minutes of scraping in single digit temperatures, I think my face may have just frozen that way!

Visions Of Winter Fun Dancing In My Head

It’s official!  I’ll be back in Montana again in a couple weeks!  This will be my first time there during the winter in almost a decade! I know living in the South so long has made me a little soft, but I’m hoping I toughen up to the Montana winter within a day or two.Snowy Cabin

It won’t be the first time that it’s snowed on me while visiting the Treasure State.   During my 2012 trip it snowed my first full day there, since it was the middle of Junuary.  If you’re not familiar with Junuary, it’s when it feels like January in June!  My mom and I were supposed to sleep in a teepee that night for the first time, but we weren’t prepared for that kind of weather and opted for a nice warm hotel instead.

Junuary

Junuary

It’s very typical that the first snow of the year is in October and the last snow in May.  However, I have seen it snow every month of the year in Montana!  I even remember getting snowed on at an Independence Day cookout once!

I’ve been away from it long enough that the snow is now a novelty to me and I can’t wait to go play in it!  These past few days I’ve had visions of ice skates, snow shoes, and sleigh rides dancing in my head.  Stay tuned to see which Montana Wish List events get checked off during this trip!