Published: August 31st 2011August 30th 2011
Monday, August 15th 64 degrees and rainy at 9:15. Rained on and off all night. Some blue can be seen in the south and east. Great Falls Wal-mart parking lot. Mileage is 15095.
Drove to the Charles Russell Museum a few blocks in a residential area from where we were. The museum has a large collection of Russell's paintings and is organized in five galleries by dates, which show the changes in his style from a young man until he died in 1926. Russell came to Montana from a wealthy St. Louis family and worked as a cow hand on several ranches in the Judith River Valley and other areas near Great Falls until he was famous enough to make his living as an artist. He was a great painter in watercolor and oils of cowboys, Indians, wildlife, and ranch life. Valerie and I had expected more bronze works like Remington's, but those works didn't seem to be housed here. They did have a collection of crude figurines he made from plaster/wax that look like something done by a folk artist. If we had run across them in an antique store we would have never thought they were done by anyone
The museum housed other collections of western art and artists, plus a bountiful collection of American Indian ceremonial clothes and headdresses. The bead work was fantastic! We looked through his home and his studio both on the same grounds as the museum. His studio was very large with a big fireplace that he cooked over when he entertained his friends there. It was a real contrast to the small studio of Norman Rockwell we toured a few years ago in Massachusetts. When he died, he wanted horses to pull his coffin as he hated the motorcar. The very elaborate hearse that was used for his funeral is also on display. Charles, his wife Nancy, and their son Jack, spent their summers in a cabin they built in 1905 at Lake McDonald before the area became Glacier National Park. Many paintings were painted during those summer periods.
It was noon by the time we finished up and so we drove down to a large inside mall and had lunch in Rosie II before going inside to find a place to get our hair cut. Saw a number of men, women, and children dressed in old order clothing going
into the mall. Don't think they were Amish since one of the men was driving and the dresses had both color and a pattern, so maybe some branch of Mennonite or Hutterite. The young girls were all dressed the same in the same patterned fabric and at first we thought they might be a singing group or something like that but then were saw some adults and a couple of young boys wearing dark pants and flat hats.
As soon as we left Great Falls, now on highway 200, and went by the air base, we were into a continuation of the rolling hills covered with fields and fields of wheat. There were ranch houses here and there but mainly tucked down into the shelter of a hill or gully near some water. Trees could be found only around the houses or along the small creeks.
Continued east through the Judith River Valley to the community of Hobson. We turned onto County roads for about 7 miles to Lake Ackley State Park spotting a doe in the field as we got near the park. This park is on a small to medium size lake with trees just in
a ring around the lake, stuck out in the middle of farm land. There were about 4 other campers set up around the lake who looked like they were there to fish. There was a small aluminum fishing boat out on the lake when we arrived. The good thing about the park was there was no fee at all---of course no services either, but it sure beat the ambience of a Wal-mart parking lot. Rain storm clouds hanging out all day kept it cool as absolutely NO shade trees.
There are more photos below