Mountain High 

As Keanu Reeves’ character, Tod, stonedly intoned in the 1989 Steve Martin vehicle Parenthood, “You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car—hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.”

Maybe there ought to be a test for child-rearing eligibility—hold off with the spittle-flecked editorials, Libertarians, it was just a passing thought—but until that day, abused and neglected children in Missoula have the valiant volunteers of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) on their side. Throughout Montana, CASA volunteers speak for nearly 900 kids who’ve found themselves ensnared in the court system through no fault of their own. Here in Missoula, the 50 active CASA volunteers are overwhelmed, and the organization seeks to add 24–36 new advocates.

If you’re wondering what this all has to do with your pursuit of fresh air recreation, here’s the lynchpin: The fifth annual Park 2 Park Montana Ride—Sept. 7–11, 2009—seeks riders to raise money for and awareness of CASA’s critical mission. So far, 18 cyclists have registered for this year’s event, a 400-mile “trip of a lifetime” from St. Mary, on Glacier Park’s eastern border, to Yellowstone Park’s north entrance at Gardiner. Your sturdy legs and stout touring frame are invited to be among the ride’s 50 participants, so sign up at park2parkmontana.org. Your deadline is July 15, but I won’t be mentioning this again for a while, so get on it. Call LaNette at 542-1208 with questions.

Another opportunity for that philanthropic—or terranthropic, rather—streak within you comes as the Wilderness Institute announces its schedule of summer monitoring trips in the Sapphire and Blue Joint Wilderness Study Areas in the Bitterroot. From June 19–Aug. 23, a guided trip’s planned for nearly every weekend, and now’s the time to sign up at www.cfc.umt.edu/wi, or by e-mailing wi@cfc.umt.edu, or by calling 243-5361.

One final registration note: Missoulians on Bicycles (MOBI) hosts their annual two-day fundraising ride, the Tour of the Swan River Valley, on May 30 and 31, but the deadline to sign up is nearly upon us: Visit missoulabike.org by Fri., May 22, or you’ll just have to watch the whole thing on ESPN.

And with that done, you’re ready to join the Rocky Mountaineers (TRM) on the fiercely named four-day Massacre Rocks Climbing Trip, which departs for south central Idaho on Fri., May 22. Gather your climbing and camping gear and contact Joshua at 543-0898, or mtsurveyor@gmail.com.

An event of an entirely different stripe takes place in Darby this weekend, where the Townsend Ranch’s 10th Annual Grand American Shoot begins at 2 PM on Fri., May 22, and features three days of mounted cowboys with side arms a-blazing. You can forego the Kevlar vest, however, as they fire only blanks. Virtually recon the situation at townsendranch.com.

The Montana Natural History Center (MNHC), 120 Hickory St., hosts three events with celebrity impersonator Brian “Fox” Ellis this weekend. Beginning with the 7 PM lecture by “John James Audubon” on Fri., May 22, Ellis takes on the persona of the great American naturalist and artist. There’s a $4 suggested donation for that one. Call 327-0405.

And Fox earns himself precious little sleep, as he’s in that 19th century get-up the next morning, as the MHNC hosts an Early Morning Birding Walk with that same Audubon impersonator at 8 AM on Sat., May 23. ‘Tis free, so call 327-0405 only if ye wish.

Two great tastes that go great together: Seeley Lake’s 17th Annual Loon and Fish Festival begins at 10 AM on Sat., May 23, and runs through Sun. evening, with nature and art activities, book readings and signings, and much, much more. Visit alpineartisans.org, or call 793-5706.

The day wouldn’t be complete without the grizzled visages of MOBI, who offer up the 100-mile Hamilton and Back ride on Sat., May 23, with an 8 AM meeting at the old 4-Bs Restaurant at the corner of Brooks and Reserve streets. Call Bob at 543-7704.

And we’re back to the MNHC, where Fox Ellis continues his work as the venerable John James Audubon, host of the storytelling workshop “Breathing Life into Dry Bones,” at 1 PM on Sat., May 23. This one’s a touch spendy: $35/$30 members. RSVP 327-0405.

As Jerry once sang, “The compass always points to Terrapin,”: This weekend, you’ve two opportunities to point your compass toward Whitefish’s Terrapin Farm, which hosts two days of Open Houses on Sat., May 23 (3–7 PM), and Sun., May 24 (10 AM–5 PM). Tours, gratis grub, gardening knowledge and free starts await. Call 862-6362.

Get your rest in time for another early morning meeting with MOBI, who host the 75–95 mile (depending upon the route) Mission Meanderings Ride on Sun., May 24, for which you’re to meet up at 7 AM at Adventure Cycling, 150 E. Pine St., or at 8:30 in downtown Ravalli. RSVP with Patty at 745-4549.

And while “Mountain High” might be a little misleading, you’ll definitely be able to see mountains from this event, but whether you’re high or not is between you and your god: Splash Montana, which opens for special hours (noon–6 PM, Sat.–Mon.) this weekend, hosts their Memorial Day Ice Cream Social from 1–3 PM on Mon., May 25. Regular admission prices apply, but the cream’s free. Hey, the library’s closed, so what else are you gonna do?

And with that, I leave you to your own devices. Rec well.
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