Around mountain ski towns we talk a lot about the Norse god of winter, Ullr, not just because it's everyone's favorite icy cool drink, but because we live and breathe snow. But this time of year it's important to know who the summer god is, and maybe ask ourselves why we don't talk about him.
Odur, also known as Od, is the Norse god of summer and sun. Very little is known about Odur. In fact, more stalk is taken with his wife, Freya, and her love, beauty, and exploration. However, one of the reasons little is known about Odur is because he too would take long journeys, which were not chronicled. Traveling and exploration is one of the most important aspects to Norse culture. While we may never value Odur as much as we value Ullr in our little mountain town of Big Sky, perhaps it's time we give a little more attention to the god of summer travels as we make our way in and out of Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and up and across Lone Peak on a Lone Peak Expedition.
Summer exploration be nigh for all those who hear the call of Odur; wherever he may be.
Lone Peak in July.Photo: Anna Husted
When the rain comes it's only natural to look to local museums and theaters for inexpensive and fun entertainment. For me that means Bozeman's Museum of the Rockies, West Yellowstone's Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center or IMAX, and Big Sky's Lone Peak Cinema.
Founded in 1957, The Museum of the Rockies is a Montana staple with dinosaur specimens from all over Montana including the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex collection in the world. A great time to visit is when the museum's curator of paleontology, Jack Horner, is speaking, or time it just right to catch a light show in the Taylor Planetarium. I would also highly recommend the current temporary exhibition: Chocolate, which delves deep into the science behind the delicious dark treat.
Catch another glimpse of dinosaurs in Jurassic World at Lone Peak Cinema or on the IMAX in West Yellowstone. Nothing beats a rainy day like the movies, but I enjoy the drive to West Yellowstone to check out Hollywood blockbusters, new to the regional IMAX, or to see a movie like Titans of the Ice Age, about great wooly mammoths. The field-trip type science experiences in and around Big Sky, Montana, cannot be taken advantage of enough. Last year I had the chance to catch Yellowstone Wolves and Alaska. Neither would I have seen if I did not live so close to such amazing facilities or in a community that values using technology to express nature.
From time to time when I do drive down to West Yellowstone I stop at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center to see the northern saw-whet owl Acadia, who is blind in one eye after being hit by a car, but is easily the cutest owl I've ever seen.
Rainy days in Montana are a normal part of spring and early summer, but they are easily enjoyed with the right plan and right attitude. The clouds are breaking up as I write this, yet now all I want to do is hold an owl named Acadia.
Northern saw-whet owl Acadia at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center.
Trex at the Museum of the Rockies.
A group of foxes is called a leash, skulk, earth or pack. Fox can identify each other's voices like humans. The red fox has 28 different sounds used to communicate, including yips, growls and howls.
Elk bark to warn each other of danger.
Grizzly bears live 20-25 years and raise their cubs for two to three years.
Moose have a flap of skin known as a bell beneath its throat. The bell is for identifying status of males, warmth, scent, and may also play a role in communication.
Mountain Goats live 12-15 years and can be found on Lone Peak year-round. See them on the Lone Peak Expedition this summer.
3 million visitors see Yellowstone National Park each year. Don't go to Yellowstone without checking out all Big Sky Resort has to offer!
Discover more wildlife facts in the next issue of Live Big Magazine available at Big Sky Resort this summer.
Graphic by Michel Tallichet
My Montana childlike wonder makes it easy to write about all the fantastic places and activities I explored in Big Sky as a kid, but it also makes it easy to write about all the new and wonderful activities offered in Big Sky for kids today.
First of all: Basecamp to Yellowstone. Yellowstone Park was the neatest, most odd thing to 9-year-old me: Geysers, hot beds, bison, and low-lying mountains that seemed to move with every breath of the molten underbelly. But I'm getting ahead of myself, before venturing south of Big Sky, the activities right at the resort were something I would have devoured as a kid. I still love ziplining, a high ropes challenge, archery, paddleboarding, jumping on a bungee trampoline, or scaling a climbing wall. These things came after my childhood for the most part, but I was enthralled as a sixth grader of my friend's tall tale of ziplining through a forest. Now kids can zipline all the time and in so many cool places, not least of which is Big Sky Resort.
Second: Hiking. I remember taking a guided hike as a kid in Montana and being shocked that the guide could remember all the flora and fauna of the area. How did he know what flower that was? How could he tell an elk had been here? Take a hike around Big Sky for free or go on a guided hike right at Big Sky Resort.
Third: Whitewater rafting and horseback riding. One of my biggest regrets, that I may not have had full control over, was that I didn't go whitewater rafting until high school. Although it is not for the smallest children, rafting the Gallatin River is such a great kid-friendly family past time, I don't know how anyone can even pass by the rafting outfitters without booking. The same can be said for horseback riding. Not only is horseback riding classically Montana, it is also one of the most challenging and then relaxing things a kid could do. I was afraid of horses as a young girl, but once I got on horseback it was like I was meant to be there.
Big Sky, Montana, invites kids and adults into childhood. The adventures to be had are endless and unforgettable.
Photo: Glenniss Indreland
Photo: Glenniss Indreland
So there I am standing in line behind a 6-year-old girl waiting my turn to get on the bungee trampolines in the Mountain Village Plaza at Big Sky Resort. She and I watch an 8-year-old boy attempting a flip and a 3-year-old girl bouncing as she giggles looking at her parents, both of them have ear-to-ear grins on their faces. Well, here I go a 40-something year old woman about to find her inner child.
Barefoot I climb onto the trampoline. The Basecamp bungee trampoline guide connects two bungee cords to my harness, I look over at the 6-year-oild girl and she already has it figured out- jumping and laughing on the twin trampoline next to mine. The guide explains some how-to's for jumping, she steps off, and tells me to have fun.
I start off a little on the shy side- I haven't done this in a while and I make some baby jumps at first. I put some more leg into it and it's like an instantaneous transformation...
BAM... my fearless inner 6-year-old comes out and I'm using those bungees to launch me in the air, bouncing higher and higher. I can't stop laughing and smiling and feeling free. As I rocket again in the air I start singing out loud "sky rockets in flight... [insert sound effect]... afternoon delight" by the Starland Vocal Band (yes, I had to Google it). Now I hear my guide laughing and yelling to me to do a flip. Woo Hoo- I'm six again! Ahh yeah I can do flips- watch this! My first attempt at a flip brought me back to the reality of my adult form. Not as easy and nor as graceful as I pictured in my head.
I fly up again, my inner 6-year-old tells me I can do it. Using what little abs strength I have I throw a backward flip. Yeehaw! I did it!! Now I'm trying to jump even higher, the bungee cords stretching to heights of 30-feet. I do another flip and another. My inner 6-year-old is roaring, I'm laughing, and the crowd of parents are cheering me on. Then my 40-something year old body pipes up. This is on heck of a workout. I'm using all my core muscles. I become breathless and my legs are tiring. Of course my brain interjects on my body's behalf, "time to let the other kids have a turn." So I slow my jumping to a stop, dismount and slap a high five with a 3-year-old boy waiting in line.
As I walk across the plaza, my inner 6-year-old girl skipping in my heart, with an ear-to-ear grin on my face.
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