28 July 2010

Summer Fun: Elk Rib BBQ, Camping, Celebration, Floating

Summertime in Butte, Montana: hot (80+ deg F) clear days, cool starry nights, maybe the occasional cloud or thunderstorm. It's time to party and live outdoors.

Elk Rib BBQ
Normally we time our annual elk rib BBQ with the blooming of Bitterroots on the Butte Hill, but we postponed this year in deference to daughter Emily's visit home. It all begins with elk season and the added bit of labor of hauling the ribs (bones and all) out of the mountains instead of boning the meat. Cooking starts off with a 24-hour vinegar-based marinade, followed by a dry rub and long, slow, moist smoking:

This year we were blessed with hickory scraps -- next to apple wood, my favorite for smoking meat -- from the custom cabinets Ben built for our kitchen. I use a big kettle grill with a pan of water under the trays of meat, drink a lot of Quarry Brew Pub beer, and fuss around keeping the temperature between 150 and 200 deg F for an entire day (or, sometimes, the previous night):

As party time approaches, the ribs get a finish mopping with raspberry chipotle sauce and a bit more time in the smoker to produce a nice glaze:

Add Quarry Beer, tasty side dishes, and a yard full of friends:

And enjoy:

My old friend Don Kieffer and his wife Kathie blessed us with a visit from upstate New York. Don & I took off for a night in the hills to watch the full moon rise and be serenaded by song dogs (coyotes) & chirping herds of elk (you might recognize this favorite spot of mine from last month's camping pics at the same place):

On the high prairie, the temperature went from the afternoon high of mid-80s to a frosty (yes, ice on anything above grass level) morning. Here's the morning mist rising from the spring meadow above camp:

Morning sun bathing Saddle Mountain (East & West Goat Peaks) in the nearby Pintler Wilderness:

And a big pot of coffee on a crackling fire:

On the way home, we stopped for an hour of fishing on the Big Hole River. Fishing was great although the catching left a lot to be desired, at least on dry flies:

MollyTheDog had a great time too, fetching sticks from the swift currents:

Celebration with Live Music
Our friends at Farm 51 near Bozeman hosted a party to celebrate their adoption of B--a wonderful party complete with live music from Mountain Moongrass, a keg of beer from their local brewery, and more yummy BBQ. Here's new mom Jen dancing with B to a lively tune:

Our friends Don & Kathie taking in the friendly fest (Montana is truly a small town with very long streets--in this case, those streets extended all the way to upstate NY):


And more kids:

Donkey (aka "Brave Protector of All Goats) would have liked to party with us too, but had to make do with frequent visits over the fence:

If you're in the Butte America area and have a chance to give Mountain Moongrass a listen, don't miss 'em--they play a nice range of tunes, including my favorite TownesVan Zandt tune,  "Pancho and Lefty" and originals such as "Miner, Oh Miner." (note Donk listening in at upper right in pic below):

For many years, ever since daughter Emily began investigating the connection between entomology and water quality in local streams as grade school science fair projects, we have floated our Tahiti Boats (inflatable "kayaks") on the "Mill-Willow Bypass"--two nice streams that were built into a new channel to bypass the minewaste polluted waters of Silver Bow Creek. It's one of several creeks that converge to form the Clark Fork River. Here's Emily enjoying a perfect Montana summer day--hot sun & cool clear water:

And here's MollyTheDog in a rare moment when she's sitting in my boat instead of swimming, running, and leaping:

Emily again, this time negotiating her way over a beaver dam:

We saw lots of wildlife--including ospreys, great blue herons, ducks, muskrat, and beaver. But only the darning needles (Look out, they'll sew your mouth shut!) held still long enough for me to get my camera out of its protective ziplock bag. I like the way they have stolen the blue of the summer sky:

As the shadows drew long, a long peculiar cloud stretched over the sky--smoke from a forest fire near Hamilton about 100 miles away:

Oh yeah, in between all this good fun we managed to find Emily her first car--a sweet, blue, bug-eyed 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX (yep, with the turbo...). I figure after 6 years of driving my 1972 Series III LandRover, she's ready for a car like this. As Neal Young might say, "Long may you run" (pic from hoobly.com--I forgot to take one!):


Anonymous said...

Hey glad yous guys got that way cool car! Is Emily letting Mr. Rover drive it? I wouldn't. Haha.

Judy said...

Wonderful photos, as always, but I regret to inform you that the ribs you sent did not arrive yet. The post office can be awful that way...
And what is it about girls and spiders? Sarah used to wake me up at night when she found a spider. At least she has gotten older, and can now fearfully attack them on her own.

mdmnm said...

Great post illustrating lots of summer fun. Lovely ribs, too. I usually take all the meat off the bone but ought to re-think that.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Good Gosh---why can't George and I be your 'good friends'---so that we can visit you and have such a wonderful time like Don and Kathie had.... Mercy Me!!!! I'm so envious... You are living in Heaven on Earth for sure....

I love East/Middle TN --but this summer has just about killed me (since we have had so much heat, humidity and dry conditions)... It's discouraging!!!! Give me Montana anytime....

Thanks for sharing the beauty with us.

Maria said...

Oh my goodness! What an incredible time you all had!
A camp out
full moon
coyote songs
gorgeous mountains
coffee in the morning
and most importantly

love Emily's new car! We had a Subaru that lasted years... almost everyone in my family needed it in their lives at one point or another.
My '96 Toyota is about to roll to 200K ... I love the mechanical odometers...
Wishing you and your family many more wonderful summer moments!
ps. Thanks for the cloud name! Mammatus ... we googled it and learned more about them along with other awesome cloud formations!
Thanks for the clearing up the clouds :o)

Frostbite and Sunburn said...

What a fabulous set of photos - and how busy you have been. Can I invite myself for an elk BBQ next year - that looked wonderful?! You're not too far away - hee hee.

Janie said...

The BBQ elk ribs look delicious. I'm sure all the party guests enjoyed the feast.
Love the great photos from your campout and float trip. You've been doing your best to make the most of the Montana summer!

The Hunter's Wife said...

Looks like the perfect way to spend those summer days!

Lisa Wilson said...

I'm suddenly hungry for ribs!

Pete said...

Great post, Pat. As a 2002 WRX owner myself, she's about to have a lot of fun. One thing, though: you'll want to make sure that the vehicle has had its stock fuel hoses replaced. The dealer will do this work under warranty. The problem is categorized as technical advisory rather than a recall, as its effects are only noted during winter in cold weather states when the fittings compress and the cabin begins to reek of raw fuel. Otherwise... pedal to the metal!

tsduff said...

I want to live that life.

Kristine Nadal said...

WOW! Elk rib BBQ, I miss that menu. I ate elk rib BBQ last year when we had a family reunion. My dad bought elk cuts then my mom and my brother cooked them. Oh, I wish we will have a family reunion again this year.