Find Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.
ARIES (March 21-April 19): I have coined a new word just for your horoscope this week. It's "zex," short for "zen sex." Zex is a kind of sex in which your mind is at rest, empty of all thoughts. You breathe slowly and calmly, move slowly and calmly, grunt and moan slowly and calmly. You are completely detached from the sensual pleasure you are experiencing. You have no goals other than the intention to be free of all goals. Zex is the ONLY variety of sex I recommend for you right now, Aries. APRIL FOOL! I lied. Zex may be fine to practice at any other time, but not these days. The style of sex you need most is exuberant, unbridled, expansive, and even zany.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): In Somalia, there's a law that forbids you from putting your used chewing gum on your nose and walking around in public. Fortunately, you don't live there, so it's fine if you want to do that. In fact, I encourage you to go right ahead. To do so would be right in alignment with the cosmic omens. APRIL FOOL! I lied. You should definitely not take yourself too seriously this week; you should look for opportunities to playfully lose your dignity and razz the status quo. But there are craftier ways to do that than by sticking gum on your nose.
GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Tata Massage is a salon in San Francisco that provides an unusual beauty treatment: face-slapping. The Thai masseuse named Tata claims to be improving your complexion as she smacks your cheeks and forehead with her hands. She also does "massage boxing," in which she administers health-giving punches to your body with her fists. Is there a comparable service available where you live? I highly recommend it. APRIL FOOL! I lied. Here's the truth: You should be absolutely firm that you won't tolerate whacks and wallops—including the psychological kind—even if they are supposedly good for you.
CANCER (June 21-July 22): Now would be an excellent time to launch a new tradition or instigate a fresh trend or make a beautiful thing that will last for a thousand years. I'm talking about an amazing marvel or useful innovation or unique creation that will improve the lives of countless humans all over the planet for the next 40 generations. APRIL FOOL! I was exaggerating a bit. Producing something that will last a thousand years is too ambitious. How about if you simply launch a new tradition or instigate a fresh trend or create a beautiful thing that will last for the rest of your long life—an amazing marvel or useful innovation or unique creation that will continue to teach and amuse you all along the way?
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Your patron saint for the next three months is surrealistic artist Salvador Dali. Regard him as your muse and role model. In fact, you might want to spout some of his famous declarations as if they were your own. Start with these: 1. "The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad." 2. "I do not take drugs; I am drugs." 3. "Mistakes are almost always of a sacred nature." 4. "Have no fear of perfection. You'll never reach it." APRIL FOOL! I lied. Salvador Dali is your patron saint, role model, and muse for only the next 14 days, not three months.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): You know how Jesus could supposedly turn water into wine? Well, St. Brigit, a sixth-century Irish nun, was legendary for an even greater miracle. When visitors came to her monastery in Kildare, she changed her old bathwater into beer for them to drink. I think there's a good chance you will develop that precise talent sometime soon. APRIL FOOL! I kind of lied. You won't really possess St. Brigit's supernatural power. However, you will have an uncanny ability to make transmutations that are almost as dramatic as changing bathwater to beer.
Mike Goulah, owner of The Walking Moustache, hustles into the kitchen and comes back with a plate full of tradition. One half of the dish boasts a large slab of beer-battered and deep-fried tilapia, while the other half is covered with a mound of french fries and a bowl of coleslaw. It’s Lent—the six weeks before Easter when Christians make sacrifices to prepare for the holiest of holy days—and the time-honored Roman Catholic practice of forgoing meat and sticking to fish dinner on Friday night has found a home at this 24-hour restaurant on the corner of Ryman and Main.
“It has always been a Lenten thing and so I decided to offer something that I grew up with when I was a kid: an old-fashioned fish fry,” says Goulah, who grew up Catholic and attends St. Francis Xavier Church. “It’s a special. The price is less, and the response is good.”
He is selling the fish dinner for $10 and a fish sandwich during lunch for $8.
The fish is salty, mild and not too heavy on the home-made batter. It goes down easy with a forkful of coleslaw, and patrons get to choose between tilapia or walleye pike.
Goulah says it’s not just churchgoers and pious pescetarians who come in for the fry. The Walking Moustache, which opened just nine months ago, has become a reliable source of sustenance for the downtown bar crowd.
“We have a pretty good late night [crowd], and a lot of them eat the fish fry,” says Goulah, smiling. “They aren’t the traditional Lent crowd.”
Where to get the fish: To try the Lenten Fish Fry, head to The Walking Moustache at 206 W. Main St. It’s open 24 hours a day, six days a week, and closed on Mondays.
Hangriest Hour serves up fresh details on western Montana eats. To recommend a restaurant, dish or chef for Hangriest Hour, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Josh Quick's "Camp Sleepover" appears every Tuesday online, and can be seen in the Indy's printed pages every Thursday.
NPS scraps vaccination proposal for Yellowstone bison
Following a 30-day comment period, the National Park Service vetoed a proposal to vaccinate bison in Yellowstone National Park against brucellosis.
Billings Gazette; March 25
Wyoming county to consider permit for flammable storage facility
On Wednesday, the Natrona County Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on Wednesday on the application of Texas-based Thomas Petroleum LLC to build a storage facility capable of holding up to 500,000 gallons of diesel fuels and other combustible and flammable fluids used by the company for its oilfield service company in the Wyoming county.
Casper Star-Tribune; March 25
Idaho U.S. Rep. Simpson's CIEDRA bill makes 'languishing lands' list
The report issued last week that examined 10 stalled pieces of federal legislation to protect lands in the United States contained Idaho U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson's Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act, which has been introduced six times to no avail.
Twin Falls Times-News; March 25
EPA director steers clear of coal states on her road trip for climate rules
North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp invited Environmental Protection Agency Director Gina McCarthy to the state to meet with representatives of the coal and oil and gas industries to explain her agency's new round of climate change regulations, the first stop in a coal-producing state for the EPA director, an omission that Wyoming U.S. Sen. John Barrasso has noted.
New York Times; March 24
Consistent winds make construction of Montana wind farm tricky
The winds that come down the Rocky Mountain Front are a steady gale, making the area around Fairfield a perfect place for a wind farm, but those winds also make putting up the 430-foot-tall towers on which the turbines will spin challenging.
Great Falls Tribune; March 24
Curses, Foiled Again
A clerk at a Radio Shack in Clearwater, Fla., identified Andre T. Puskas, 20, as the suspect who tried to rob the store because Puskas worked there. The clerk told police that Puskas tried using a Taser on her but instead tasered his own hand and then fled empty-handed. Police arrested him when he showed up later for his shift. (Tampa Bay Times)
A man walked into a Taco John’s restaurant in Des Moines, Iowa, pointed a gun at the clerks and demanded, “Give me everything you got.” One clerk responded, “I don’t have anything for you. And plus, that’s a BB gun.” The suspect denied it, authorities said, and then racked the slide and fired the gun, but it apparently wasn’t loaded. The suspect fled empty-handed. (Des Moines Register)
In the handful of times I’ve visited Missoula, Montana, the grassy slopes of neighboring L- and M-emblazoned Mounts Jumbo and Sentinel have never looked any more threatening to me than the hogbacked foothills that yaw out of the ground west of Boulder, Colorado, my hometown. Velvety, yes. Curved like a set of relaxed shoulders, yes. Welcomingly draped in the low-angled sun of late afternoon, yes. Avalanche death zone? Not so much.
But on Feb. 28, an unusually intense blizzard snapped a wet quilt of deep snow over the valley, rumpling it into drifts and slabs with gusts up to 50 mph. Atop Jumbo and Sentinel, as well as the surrounding mountains, a weak crust of ice that unseasonably warm weather had glazed over the existing snowpack earlier in the week strained beneath the weight. When a group of snowboarders started down Jumbo — closed since November to protect a wintering elk herd — around 4 p.m., that strain released spectacularly. A large slab avalanche ran from near the mountain’s peak almost 1,300 vertical feet into a neighborhood on the valley floor, obliterating a two-story house, damaging several other homes and vehicles, and worst of all, burying three people. Over 100 first responders, search and rescue personnel, neighbors and volunteers converged on the area with shovels and probes to find and dig them out. All were recovered alive; one ultimately died from her injuries.
It was, according to most accounts, a freak accident. No one can remember a big slide coming down that path in the 60 to 80 years homes have been at its base, says Assistant Director of Missoula Development Services Don Verrue. In fact, any in-town avalanche fatality is kind of a freak thing these days; most folks unlucky enough to get caught (and it’s been a bad winter, with 22 killed to date) are far in the backcountry, chasing turns on fresh powder. But it wasn’t always that way: Avalanches used to exact their biggest toll on unlucky travelers, miners and mountain communities, not on farflung skiers.
The worst such event in U.S. history occurred March 1, 1910. During an epic snowstorm, blizzard-drifted snow and avalanches stranded two trains in the small Cascades mountain town of Wellington, Washington, about 85 miles east of Seattle. Then, the weather turned suddenly to rain and warm wind, sending a slide down in the middle of the night that knocked both trains — and the 50 passengers and 75 railroad employees sleeping on board — into a deep ravine. Ninety-six people died. Just three days later, Canada experienced its own superlative avalanche, when a slide in British Columbia’s Selkirk Mountains killed 58 men clearing avalanched snow from a railroad line below Rogers Pass.
Report details lack of progress on wilderness bills in Congress
The Center for American Progress and the Center for Western Priorities' report "Languishing Lands: Conservation Bills Stalled in Congress," released Thursday tracks the lack of progress on dozens of conservation bills, and during a press conference call on the report, former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Utah Rep. Rob Bishop was responsible for the lack of progress on bills involving lands in Utah, a charge which the Republican congressman immediately dismissed as a rehash of previously discredited accusations.
Salt Lake Tribune; March 21
Idaho Fish and Game make changes to wolf, big game hunting seasons
At a meeting on Thursday, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted a number of rule changes for wolf hunting and trapping, including opening trapping seasons in eight big-game units in the local Sawtooth and Southern Mountains zones.
Idaho Mountain Express (Sun Valley); March 21
New report blares alarm on climate change
The American Association for the Advancement of Science released a report Tuesday that paints a stark picture on human-caused climate change, and warns that the window for addressing the drivers of that change is rapidly closing.
New York Times; March 20
Alberta premier announces resignation
Just 896 days after becoming Alberta's first woman premier, Alison Redford announced she was resigning.
Calgary Herald; March 20
Back in late January, Bozeman cyclists Bill Martin and Mo Mislivets rolled up to the trailhead leading to the Gallatin National Forest’s Yellow Mule Cabin a few miles south of Big Sky. It was a “beautiful, bluebird day,” Mislivets recalls, and the duo had left their travel options open, stocking the car with both cross country skis and their fat bikes—a bulkier breed of mountain bike with thick tires catered specially for pedaling through snow. The area hadn’t seen fresh snow for several days, leaving the trail up Buck Creek Ridge toward the cabin well-packed by snowmobile traffic.
Martin and Mislivets had been to plenty of U.S. Forest Service cabins, but both Yellow Mule and the Buck Ridge area were new to them. After a quick review of the signs highlighting permitted recreation, they opted to ride the fat bikes in. “Unfortunately,” Martin says, “we chose the wrong weapon of choice.”
Halfway to the cabin, which they’d rented for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend, two Forest Service employees on snowmobiles pulled up to Martin. The first seemed genuinely excited to see a fat bike, Martin recalls, and wanted to check it out. But it was the second ranger’s response that sent Martin into shock.
“He was like, ‘You know, it’s illegal to be out here.’ I was pretty surprised,” Martin says.
The illegality the ranger referred to stems from a special order issued by Custer and Gallatin National Forest Supervisor Mary Erickson on Feb. 7, 2013. The order specifically prohibits using “a bicycle or other wheeled vehicle between December 1 and April 15” on all designated snowmobile and ski/snowshoe trails throughout the Gallatin. Martin had never heard of the rule; it wasn’t posted on the forest’s website, nor was there any signage indicating such a ban anywhere at the trailhead.
Martin says the incident left him confused. The rangers didn’t ticket him, and were both unclear on how widely the ban applied. With the day waning, Martin and Mislivets decided to continue on to the cabin.
“I just had this feeling like the rangers told us we were illegal but they weren’t going to issue a ticket,” Martin says. “I couldn’t wait to get back to research what he told me. I just didn’t have this strong feeling that we were indeed a criminal aspect up there.”
The next day, however, Martin and Mislivets decided to take a short fat bike jaunt farther along the Buck Ridge trail. That’s when Martin was stopped by a Forest Service law enforcement officer who issued him a ticket for $175 for violating the special order. Martin was shocked again, “and a little mad now.”
The incident highlights a potential problem for those who have taken to the trend of fat biking. Any new activity on public lands comes with the possibility of user conflicts, and fat bikes are no exception. Boyd Hartwig of the Lolo National Forest says his office is well aware of the fatties’ popularity, and recreation specialist Al Hilshey from the forest’s Missoula Ranger District notes a definite increase in the sport in recent winters. So far, the two are only aware of one complaint posted on an online forum last year by a cross country skier upset over alleged fat bike use of a ski track in the Rattlesnake’s main stem.
Hartwig says the Lolo hasn’t reached a point where user conflict has necessitated any kind of special order. “We don’t want to preempt something or step in where we don’t need to step in,” he explains. “If you don’t need to limit folks in an area because there’s no problem, then you shouldn’t.”
Officials with the Bitterroot National Forest issued a similar statement regarding fat bike use.
One week after Martin was fined, the Gallatin issued a press release addressing fat bike use. The release emphasized that the forest’s current travel management plan—completed in 2006—prohibits all wheeled vehicles from traveling on marked or groomed winter trails. “This decision pre-dated the common occurrence of fat bikes and the growing trend,” it states, adding that the forest “plans to review the potential for accommodating this growing popular activity in the future.” Gallatin spokesperson Marna Daley confirms the special order was intended to clarify existing restrictions in the forest travel plan.
Martin ultimately decided not to contest the citation after a Gallatin representative finally showed him a copy of the special order. “I felt confident that, yes, we did break a law,” Martin says. “We were up on a trail that wasn’t supposed to be ridden by a fat bike, and that was good enough for me.”
Martin hopes change will come to the Gallatin soon, but that such a change will include input from all winter trail user groups. In the meantime, he and Mislivets have changed the way they prepare for outings. While planning a recent fat bike tour in the Beaverhead National Forest, the duo called ahead to the ranger district they’d be traveling through to make sure they wouldn’t be violating any rules.
“It’s like you’ve got to do research,” says Martin, “before you can ride.”
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