Building an air park, and commemorating the luck of the draw 

In these parts, where recreation often takes precedence over such trivialities as sleep, food and gainful employment, there’s nothing unusual about sports and hobby enthusiasts locating their domiciles within striking distance of their favorite recreation spots: golf condos built on the back nine, cabins abutting the ski slopes, houseboats anchored near choice fishing holes. So what’s so unusual about wanting a pad along an airport runway? That’s right, a local developer has proposed building an 11-lot, 23-acre subdivision at the Rock Creek Airport, that dinky grass strip runway just south of I-90 near the Rock Creek Lodge, for those aviation enthusiasts who just can’t stand being too far from their flying machines.

The property is owned by Gary Lundberg, a private pilot for more than 20 years who himself lives in a hangar on the site. Each of the proposed homes in the Rock Creek Airpark would have an attached airplane hangar similar to an automobile garage. According to Living with Your Airplane magazine—and no, we didn’t even ask who (or what) is featured as the centerfold—there are already 400 such airparks across the country. And just imagine the fun in naming all the new streets: Windshear Way, Downdraft Drive, and Tray-Tables-In-Their-Upright-and-Locked-Position Boulevard. Some nearby residents have raised concerns about the effect of increased air traffic on local wildlife, notably the eagles and osprey, but the subdivision must still pass muster with the Missoula County Commissioners. This place will also give new meaning to the expression, “Hey, do you mind if I crash at your place?”

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If there was a single force that held sway over life in the Wild West, it must’ve been the luck of the draw—that combination of fate and fortitude that was key to winning at poker as well as at gunslinging. If Hollywood has taught us anything, after all, it’s that guns and cards went hand-in-hand back then. And apparently, they still do.

On Monday, The A&A Engraving Company of Huntley, Mont., announced that it was issuing a peculiar commemoration—a series of 89 Special Edition Colt 1847 Walker revolvers, each specially engraved to honor the late Lester “Benny” Binion, the Jordan, Mont., rancher who founded the now-famous Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas. Not peculiar on the surface of things, perhaps. But if that name sounds familiar, it’s because Benny was the father of Lonnie “Ted” Binion, who was vaulted into the headlines in 1998 when he was found dead in Vegas of a suspicious-looking drug overdose. To up the ante of local curiosity, the man arrested in connection with his death was none other than Rick Tabish, scion of a wealthy Missoula family.

The case, as you may know, is ongoing. But the whole gamut of Missoula-Las Vegas connections so far seems fraught with intrigue, violence and fortune—in both senses of the word. And what better way to commemorate that than with a 5-pound, custom-made gun? On each one is engraved a slogan that seems to say everything you need to know about living by the luck of the draw: “Tribute to a cowboy in honor of a gambler.”

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