Calf-A, a resturant in Dell, Montana

This week I happened to be driving by a restaurant that has always provided me a nice lunch or breakfast and excellent piece of pie on past visits.   I had my daily lunch of PBJ, fruit and veggies in my cooler, but the idea of a real meal at the Calf-A, won me over and I stopped in.


The Calf-A is located in Dell, Montana.  Dell is an exit off of I-15 as you head south to Idaho.   Dell is a small community of buildings, but not a true incorporated town, that serves the locals and travelers alike.   It has a mercantile, a couple of gas pumps, some rental cabins, has even managed to still keep their post office and of course the Calf-A.

The Calf-A was a functional school house until 1963.   It became a restaurant in 1978.   The inside still has lots of feel of the old school house.   More importantly today, is the food.   It is real food, made by the folks in the kitchen.   Their menu is small but real.   If you want variety, you get the special.  The mashed potatoes started out with skins that morning.  The burgers are made by hand in kitchen, not some ready-made patty from a restaurant supply.   One of the the most amazing things is the homemade pies.   Not just one or two kinds but usually five or six kinds.   It is hard to pick just one kind of pie to have.

I only have 30 minutes for lunch so I opted for the special, BBQ ribs, french fries and a glass of iced tea.    I was not disappointed.   The ribs were moist and fall off the bone tender.    The pies were sitting there in the cooler and I kept eying them and the clock.    The customer next to me had a piece of coconut cream with real whipped cream, I watched the cook beat to put on his pie.   I wish I’d had time to enjoy a piece, but work was calling and I was back on the road heading to my next survey site down in the Centennial Valley near the Idaho border.

If you ever happen to be driving on I-15 in southern Montana I highly recommend you make a stop in Dell for breakfast, lunch or dinner at the Calf-A.

Here is  a link to another person’s write up about the Calf-A.   They took a lot more pictures than I did and I think you will enjoy his write up as well as more pictures than I have to share. .

Waves of Grass

Last week I was in Lake county, Montana.   I stayed in a nice Mom & Pop motel that looked out onto the Flathead lake.    I loved the fact that in spite of it being right on the highway, it was also right on the lake.   In the evening when I was finishing up paperwork I would sit at the table with the window open listening to the waves break against the shore.

My accommodations last week were a classic mom and pop place, built right on the highway  with an awesome view of the lake.

My accommodations last week were a classic mom and pop place, built right on the highway with an awesome view of the lake.

When I got home on Friday, the wind was blowing as it usually does at our place.   The spring has been good to us with moisture and my rangeland grasses are tall.   Watching them bend with the winds, they undulated and reminded me of the waves from the Flathead Lake earlier in the week.   Though I may live a distance from water, my tall grasses are like the amber waves of grain from the song America.

Summer Relevation #1- All Time is Not Equal

This summer job has taught me lots of things about life and some about myself.  I continue to learn things each week.   I plan to share them under the title of Summer Reflection on Thursdays.    I am hoping that what I am learning sometimes the hard way provides fodder for your personal reflections.

All time is not equal.   Have three days non-stop is not the same as having a few hours each day.   You really can’t make up on Saturday, what you woulda/shoulda done one Tuesday.   The flowers are dead, no amount of watering them will bring them back.

Bitterroot – Montana’s State Flower

Like the cactus the Montana state flower, the bitterroot, is not an easy flower to find.   It is low to the ground and not surrounded by showing vegetation year round.      I was lucky in that one piece of rangeland I was surveying last week there were tons of bitterroot plants getting ready to bloom and there were even a few blooming.


Before the bitterroot flower blooms it is just a couple of small pink buds. You need to be watching closely or you will miss it.


I love this one because it has the bunchgrasses, sage and in the background the lupine of Montana’s rangelands

These were taken in Lake county Montana.

Not All Deserts Are Hot

This week I was reminded that not all deserts are sand and cactus.   We often think of deserts as full of sand and cactus, aka Arizona or Africa.   The Great Basin of which Montana is part of is also covered in part by a very large desert, a cold one.  The vegetation one usually sees is bunch grasses and sage. In some places you will find even find cactus.   They are generally clumped together and low to the ground not easy to see or find.   But this week I was in the right place and the right time to see the cactus blooming.

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These were taken near Glen, Montana.

Making It Work

One the things that feeds my soul is my creative pursuits.   This new job has made it a little more difficult to feed that outlet.   I work ten hour days in the field and spend my nights away from home.   It has made access to my creative supplies limited and most nights my energy is completely maxed out.    This said, I am not giving up on being more than a worker bee for four days a week.

I always have my camera in my work truck in case I come upon something great driving on the backroads of Montana.    I have also started to explore some of the advance settings available on my smart phone, that I am starting to carry with me when I am out doing field work to capture some of what I see in “my office”.   I discovered just this week my phone has a macro setting, that I can use for close-up photographs.

I thought I might  do more with my writing this summer.   I had hoped to start editing the novel I started in November nights in my motel room. I had hoped to do more travelogue blogging about what things and places in Montana.   So far I have been doing my blogging at home and scheduling them for the next week.   There have been no spontaneous blog posts.  That doesn’t mean there might be one yet in my future.   It is too soon to give up.

I planned to finish binding on three quilts that could be done if they had a binding.   They have been around my house as unfinished projects for way too long.  I imagined that I would finish the bindings in front of the TV in the motel room.  Not having TV at home, I thought I would spend time watching things I don’t get to see at home.    So far I have not found TV that I wanted to watch, so I guess it is okay that  I haven’t even packed a quilt  to take along at this point.   There is so much I have to take each week, a quilt seems like just too much to tote each week.

This week I am adding my sketch book to my collection of personal stuff I take along in my work truck.    I am not sure exactly why.   I don’t seem to have any talent in the drawing arena, but it might be interesting to see what I put in there with a few minutes I hope to carve out when I break for lunch.  Maybe they will be sketches, doodles, a few words or something else.    I will pack some sort of pencil case at this point and call it another grand experiment.

This job is all about doing something out of my comfort zone and exploring life in a way I have never done before.    I have always found that I often do my best thinking when I am being creative, so I am still figuring out ways to make it all work.