“Are there really ghosts in ghost towns?” My friend Scamp was worried as we prowled around the abandoned buildings. No silly, it just means the town has been abandoned. It happens when a natural disaster happens such as drought or floods. A war could drive people from an area, or maybe the main business of the town like a mine or manufacturing plant closes. Sometimes a train will stop providing service or a freeway will change the traffic flow and leave a town isolated. The term was popularized when the California Gold Rush of 1849 ended, but there are ghost towns all over the world. Some have been preserved and have become tourist attractions or movie sets. Others have slowly drawn people back to live and work in the area. No need to be a “fraidy cat”, Scamp, we won’t be ghost hunting today. Purrs, Gulliver
I’m the King of the Mountain! I got to cross the Continental Divide, where rivers on the west flow to the Pacific Ocean, and rivers on the east flow to the Atlantic Ocean. The Blackfeet tribes originally settled Glacier National Park, and still consider this place sacred to this day. They call it “The Backbone of the World”. I took a bus on the Going to the Sun Road to Lake McDonald, and saw glaciers. A glacier forms when more snow falls each winter than melts the next summer. The addition of snow above presses down on the layers below, and makes them into ice. This ice will move down a mountain, making peaks, canyons and valleys. It is a beautiful place!
Kip laughed when I asked him what his mother thought of his job as a smokejumper. “She thinks I am crazy… truly nuts and need my head examined.” Kip and his co-workers have a dangerous job jumping out of an airplane to fight fires in remote areas where there are no roads. There are only 450 smokejumpers in the USA who attend special schools like the one in Missoula, Montana which has been around for 75 years. The school trains smokejumpers how to jump out of airplanes and use parachutes, fight the fires by hand, and then carry out equipment that can weigh up to 120 – 140 pounds. This has been a busy year, with 81 fires going on around the Western United States, and I told Kip I admired his dedication to keeping people and property safe. “I love the outdoors” he simply said. Purrs, Gulliver
Do you have a nickname? Mine is Gully. Montana has a couple: The Treasure State and Big Sky Country. Montana is Spanish for mountain. When the territory was being named there were suggestions that a Native American name would be more fitting. Shoshone was a popular suggestion since it was the tribe of Sacajawea, a young Native American girl who traveled and interpreted for the explores Lewis and Clark. After much disagreement, the name Montana became official. Purrs, Gulliver
The word “carousel” was first used to describe a game played by Arabian and Turkish horsemen in the 12th century. The game, which involved tossing a clay ball filled with perfume between riders, was played with such seriousness that the Italian crusaders who first observed the game called it a “little war” or “carosello.” In England, carousels have been called roundabouts and galopers. In America, in addition to carousels they have been called whirligigs, flying horses, hobby horses and of course merry-go-rounds. Horses with at least 3 feet touching the floor are called “standing figures.” Horses with two back feet resting on the platform and front feet posed in the air are called “prancers.” Horses with all four feet in the air and called “jumpers” and are the ones that move up and down. Sometimes other animals were added to the carousel like tigers and frogs. Purrs, Gulliver
For many years, the native people were called “Indians” because the explorer Christopher Columbus thought he had landed in India. There are many different “tribes” or groups of natives, each with their own customs and language. The natives in the middle part of the USA, the Plains Indians, would gather once or twice a year to trade goods, learn about good hunting areas, talk and share food, dance and show off their wealth and strength. These gatherings still happen, though now everyone is invited. Maybe I will get to go some day! Purrs, Gulliver