July 6th, 2006

jay-China-avatar

Ryan Dam (at the Great Falls of the Missouri)

Coz we like dams, we visited Rainbow Dam and Ryan Dam downstream from Great Falls, MT, as well as Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state. Ryan Dam, at the Great Falls of the Missouri, was interesting in that it was very classic dam architecture, with a nice, lush visitors' park on an island in the river. Large catfish were visible in the shallows below the dam, while the park itself was well-done, including an odd little building marked "Electric Stove Kitchen" -- apparently this was a necessity at one time. Like much of the Missouri in that part of Montana, the river is down in a gorge which is nearly invisible until you're very close to it -- from any distance away, the fields just go on to the horizon. Here and at Rainbow Dam just upstream we saw pelicans and cormorants, which surprised me a lot.

Collapse )
jay-China-avatar

The White Cliffs of the Missouri

The essential point of the Montana road trip was to visit the white cliffs of the Missouri, which are part of the Missouri Breaks. This is a key location in Original Destiny, Manifest Sin, and I wanted to see it for myself. The white cliffs are in a roadless area within the Missouri Breaks National Monument, so the only access options were a boat tour (very expensive and time consuming) or a van tour on privately-owned land.

We hooked up with Eaglerider Adventure Rentals of Central Montana for a van tour. George Fultz, one of the partners in the tour company, as well as a life-long resident of the area and former mayor of Fort Benton, was our driver.

Collapse )

The family of his partner Mike owns extensive ranchland within the boundaries of the monument, and it was their holdings that the tour was headed for. We drove for some miles on gravel roads, passing family farms -- George knew all the names -- old one room schoolhouses, homestead shacks and little coulees before reaching the cliffs above the Missouri. George kept up a narration the whole way about the land, its people and its history. He was pretty amazing. The Missouri was astonishing.

Collapse )

I wouldn't have been able to reach the white cliffs up close without a boat, but I could see them. George pointed out a Lewis and Clark campsite, which will be very relevant for me. I also got to taste the air, study the soil and plant life, and learn a great deal more about the lay of the land than I otherwise could have known.

Collapse )

Collapse )

After touring the farmland and viewing the canyon, we headed back to Virgelle, via the ferry. The Virgelle Ferry is a seasonal crossing which has been operated by the same family since 1960, working for the county as part of the roads department. Virgelle itself is an old ghost town which has been revived as a B&B and a river outfitter's.

Collapse )

One final note. the_child found a rattlesnake skin when we were out looking at the canyons. Collapse )

There are loads more pictures at the flickr set if you're interested in more detail on any of this. I can also highly recommend the Eaglerider tours in Fort Benton if you ever travel out that way.
writing-smiling_stone

Talking back to snurri on sizing of fiction

David Schwartz (a/k/a snurri) has taken some polite exception to a statement of mine about the differences between short fiction and novels, specifically:

I've written novel-sized plots in 5,000-word stories, and I'm happy to posit on the flip side that Rocket Science can be considered to be a 65,000-word short story


Schwartz goes on to remark:

The implication of talking about 5,000-word novel plots and 65,000-word short stories is that the one is generally a boiled-down version of the other; that short stories are condensed and novels are bloated. I'm simplifying, but that's how I read this post.


While I find his reading of my original comment to be reasonable given what I wrote, it wasn't my intention to assert that the essential difference between short fiction and novels was simply length. This is a much more complex problem, which can be broken into two portions.

Collapse )

What do the quantitative categories of fiction mean to you? Are they relevant? Do you have a better model than this to talk about length?