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Cheap Thrills in Las Vegas

I’m not a big Vegas guy. The soul-sucking bombast of the Strip leaves me cold, and the only gambling I do these days is when I sit on the toilet to drop a deuce before I check to see if there’s paper. But on a recent trip to visit family in Sin City, I discovered an attraction that got me as excited as a martial arts fan who opens the front door to find Jean-Claude Van Damme delivering his pizza. It’s the Pinball Hall of Fame, the world’s biggest collection of classic, fully functional pinball machines.

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How to Ski the West’s Luxe Resorts Affordably

If you love to ski but are intimidated by the high costs of large destination resorts, hold on – there's good news. Nearly all major ski resorts in the West offer ways to make skiing less expensive:

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The Muskies of Minaki

Beware of Muskie Fever. It can ruin the life of a perfectly normal fishaholic. And contagious? You betcha. I caught it even before I went anywhere near water where the mighty muskellunge lurks. Then, last year, I finally had my first chance at a muskie, and what an introduction! Six long days and 8,600 casts without a single hook-up. (Click here to read the gory details.) But even such a royal butt kicking can't come close to curing Muskie Fever. Instead of giving up and going back to trout, I couldn't wait to go back for another beating. Catching a muskie was high on my life list, so it had to happen. All I needed was a better time and place, eh?

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A Gem at the Foot of the Bighorn Mountains

It was 1866 when Samuel W. Hyatt moved to a scattered settlement at the confluence of Paint Rock Creek and Medicine Lodge Creek. But what he and other early settlers of what is now Hyattville didn’t know was that people had been living in that same area for the last 10,000 years. For the ranchers and others who now make Hyattville home, it’s easy to see why. Tucked away amid the red, rolling foothills of the Bighorn Mountains in north central Wyoming, Hyattville is only six miles from Medicine Lodge Archaeological Site, home to numerous petroglyphs and pictograms. Over the years, Hyattville has had a doctor, newspaper, hotel, mercantile and grocery stores — even an opera house — that served a thriving ranching economy. Today, there’s a post office and two cafés, each with a bar. Groceries or gas are 17 miles or more away, in Basin, Worland and Ten Sleep.

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Christo’s Plan for Arkansas River Wrapped in Controversy

In a repurposed garage in Denver’s trendy Lower Downtown neighborhood, the artist Christo stepped up onto the makeshift stage. Across the street in the museum of contemporary art hung sketches from his latest proposed project, Over the River, an ambitious – and highly controversial – work that, if approved, would suspend industrial-strength fabric over Colorado’s Arkansas River. The plan is loved by some and despised by others, but among this crowd of art enthusiasts, Christo, with his mane of untamed silver hair and a rumpled khaki vest and jeans, received a standing ovation before his first slide wheeled around on the carousel projector.

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Selwyn Lake Lodge: Remote Island Paradise Surrounded by Trophy Fish

I've had all kinds of fishing experiences, and some of them--perhaps too many of them--have been in somewhat primitive, if not brutal, conditions. Roughin' it is okay, I guess. I've done plenty of it, but now, as I get older every year, I've discovered that a little relaxation and indulgence goes just fine with fishing. Which is one reason I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Selwyn Lake Lodge.

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How To Do Yellowstone in Winter

In winter, Yellowstone National Park is nature's crystal cathedral. The landscape transforms into a marvel of textures and shapes all sparkling with an icy diamond allure. It's why ski-touring or snowshoeing here is a completely unique experience. Imagine skiing near thermal features that exist nowhere else as herd of bison moves across the distance. I'm reminiscing about a trail I ski-toured at Yellowstone not too far from the snow lodge where I stayed. It led to "white" water crossing, not the fast-river running type of crossing we're used to. The scenery was stunning. Diamond icy crystals dripped from rocks forming icefalls, pristine white snow blanketed the landscape offering up tracks of the elusive snow hare. I completed a round of turns and the overlook gave way to the valley below with puffing geysers sending off signals that filled the sky. It took my breath away, literally and figuratively. Truly, a winter vacation in Yellowstone is an overwhelmingly beautiful experience. That is, if you can stand the cold. Here's a tip if you plan on going: Layer, layer, layer. Packing a few toe- and hand-warmers are key, as well.

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Ena Lake Lodge: Secluded Luxury and Good Fishing, Too

Way up north in northern Saskatchewan on the 60th Parallel within sight of Northwest Territories is a massive body of almost-virgin fishing water called Ena Lake. The owners describe it--and the overall experience--as "unspoiled, uncrowded, and unforgettable." Since I was fortunate enough to spend a few days this year, I know that slogan isn't merely marketing hype. It's more like an understatement. Ena Lake Lodge is the only speck of civilization on the enormous lake and many miles of trackless wilderness in every direction, so you not only get that feeling of remoteness, you know Ena Lake and several other smaller lakes lodge guests can fish have incredibly low fishing pressure.

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Back on the Horse: What It Means to be a Westerner

We were riding through rugged mountains, past meadows busting with wildflowers, while a big blue sky hung overhead. I was looking down at the blond mane of the horse that had carried me 10 miles into the Taylor-Hilgards and back when my saddle started to roll. I leapt from the seat and landed on my feet. My horse, Towson, was totally unfazed and kind enough to stop while I regrouped. Until then, I had been feeling pretty cocky about my horse skills. Here I was: A real Westerner atop a horse, wearing cowgirl boots in the backcountry. I should have known better than to leave my cinch too loose. At home, my 3-year-old son and I read “Cowboy Small” ad nauseam, prompting Anders to run around the house telling me to “pull the girth tight.” Sometimes the girth is a hatband from his straw cowboy hat, other times it is a bungee cord, but the point remains the same: Don’t leave your saddle loose. There are certain things Montanans should know how to do: Run a river, navigate in the backcountry, grow a garden amidst all odds, stomp and cheer at the rodeo and ride a horse. I’m raising two Montana boys, so I figured I better giddyup.

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On the Walleye Trail

You ever heard that rumor about Montana being Trout Country? Well, I guess it's true, sort of, at least in the collective public consciousness. In reality, though, Montana is also Walleye Country. Especially up in north central Montana, officially known as Russell Country. In July, in fact, with the kind assistance of the Russell Country tourism office, my fishing partner, Gene Colling, and I spent nine days up there trying to prove it.

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