Prairie Lights: A long-overdue adios to North Dakota

Five hundred trips later, I may have seen the light at the end of the tunnel.

The number could be an exaggeration. Maybe I’ve only driven between Montana and the Twin Cites 70, 80 or 90 times. However many it’s been, we will be making the drive a lot less often. Our daughter and her husband and their daughter will be moving to California this summer.

Billings native’s ‘Taliban’ book to be basis of Tina Fey movie


Billings native Kim Barker learned to fish and backpack in Montana, but she learned to sing karaoke, interview warlords, shoot Kalashnikovs and jump-start a car using a metal ladder in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Barker describes her antics, trials and triumphs working as a foreign correspondent in her 2011 memoir, “The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Continue Reading →


Miles City wagon train is a Sprague family tradition


Rancher Roger Sprague’s annual Miles City wagon train started on a warm and calm Wednesday evening on the Coffee Ranch just north of Miles City.

Wagon train enthusiasts and their outriders gathered that evening to set up camp and prepare for a 14-mile wagon train on Thursday and a 12-mile trail into Miles City on Friday to officially open the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale. Continue Reading →

Touche! ‘Community space’ planned for Minnesota Ave.


Bryan Stafford, director of the Big Sky Fencing Association—think swords, not cattle—had one small goal in mind when he approached the Montana Rescue Mission last year.

His fencing club needed a new space to practice and compete, and he knew that MRM owned a huge, almost entirely vacant complex of connected buildings on Minnesota Avenue. His plans grew more expansive after he toured the buildings with Mission Director Perry Roberts. Continue Reading →

‘Dark money,’ free speech and a long way to go


In a routine Sunday column about things the Montana Legislature did right in the recent session, Billings Gazette Editor Darrell Ehrlick wrote this sentence: “Free speech is not the right to say anything to anyone without having to sign your name to it.”

Actually, the right to say anything to anyone without having to sign your name to it is pretty much the definition of free speech. That’s why questions about campaign spending have become so tortured in Montana and in the nation as a whole. Continue Reading →

Give me that old-time religion, please

First Baptist

First Baptist Church, 218 N. 35th St.
Service, 9 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014
Length of service: 1 hour, 5 minutes. Length of sermon: 31 minutes.

A few minutes into his sermon, Pastor Ross Lieuallen apologized for an equipment malfunction that was preventing him from displaying the next point of his homily on the two big-screen TVs in the front of the sanctuary. Continue Reading →

Graduates, the future is yours, but don’t rush


Graduates, first let me apologize for not actually appearing at your graduation ceremony.

But surely you will understand, even if your parents do not, that flesh-and-blood commencement speakers are relics of the past. Indeed, some of those speakers were themselves relics, tired old politicians and so-called self-made men who dispensed fool’s-gold wisdom about “the real world.” Continue Reading →

Author tells of women’s visits to early Yellowstone Park


CODY, WYO. — Any visit to Yellowstone National Park comes with at least some sense of adventure. And packing the car for even a short family trip through the park can be a logistical challenge. But the next time you’re flummoxed by packing for a Yellowstone weekend in the RV with the kids, consider Eleanor Corthell.

Corthell spent two months in Yellowstone in the summer of 1903. With her seven children. Traveling by horse-drawn wagon. Camping out the entire time. Continue Reading →