Day Five: Sweet Serendipity
Although the photos can very well speak for themselves, Day Five was a tale to tell all the same.
When: Wednesday, August 17
Where: Kalispell, Mont. to Dodson, Mont.
Miles Traveled: 412
Best Thing We Ate: Bison Burger at Glacier National Park
Song of the Day: "Late to the Party" by Kacey Musgraves
When I think of Montana, I think of the yellow patchwork quilt that I’ve seen sprawled flat over the Pacific Northwest on many occasions from the window seat of an airplane. I can remember looking out at the hundreds of miles of dusty farmland and thinking to myself, “Who would ever want to live there?”
The fifth day of the Miles women adventure was quick to remind me of my ignorance.
We’d spent Tuesday night with my “Scio-grandma’s” son and his wife, Tom and Misti Thurston, in Kalispell, Mont, where Misti had a warm feast of chicken tacos and fresh guacamole awaiting our arrival.
I’d spent most of the evening giggling on the front deck with their 16-year-old daughter, Sophie, but it wasn’t until I saw the sun coming up over the obtrusive Montana mountains forming a bowl around us that I realized that there was a whole lot more to Montana than I thought.
We’d planned to stay a couple days in Kalispell, but with a minor hiccup we were already a day behind schedule and needed to be on the road.
Before we headed out of Kalispell on Wednesday morning we stopped at the legendary Norm’s Candy Shop where Sophie has spent the summer working.
There were four tables pulled together in the back corner with eight old men gathered around swapping enhanced fishing tales and nostalgic recollections about “the good old days” over coffee and sweets.
From heart shaped reds to spherical blues, glass jars lined the walls, leaving space only for a 17th century marble countertop with all the fixings for tin-canister milkshakes and ice cream sodas.
The child in me was in seventh heaven.
Mom drug me, pretty much kicking and screaming, from the magical land of coconut clusters and fresh maple fudge, and we got back on the road and headed East.
Due to our “lost day,” mom, the mature adult in the situation, had decided to forgo the trip to Glacier National Park (GNP) so that we could make it across Montana in time to stay with friends in Glendive that night.
The signs for GNP started popping up as soon as we got out of town. For nearly forty miles we kept our cool, eyes locked on the road like good little roadtrippers -- I even had my sunglasses on.
Butttttt, when the last sign came into view, we broke.
We found that the Jeep can turn pretty darn sharp from 60 miles per hour. Magellan was not impressed.
There was no talk of schedules or plans. Just silence as we drove through the pine admissions gate and started the procession through the park up the “Road to the Sun.”
It was nice enough at first. There was an opaque lake filled with purple river rock surrounded by glacier-carved mountains that stretched on for miles.
“Yeah, that’s neat,” I said to mom. I thought it was beautiful, but I wasn’t sure that it was National Park beautiful.
Up the road a ways we came to a waterfall. We sat on a rock on the other side of a wooden walking bridge, watching the tourists on the other side of the creek.
There was a family of four arguing over who’s turn it was to take the picture, and a young couple who were obviously far more interested in looking at each other than the scenery. I smiled as I watched a little girl of about seven painting a picture with water on a flat stone before her, swatting at her long dark hair that kept falling into the way of her masterpiece.
Upon inspection I deemed that ok, that was “pretty neat” too.
A few miles more up the road we started up the mountain trail and I was reminded of my ignorance for the second time that day.
Once we were past tree-level, the mountains opened up into steep pyramids adorned with lush foliage and amethyst flowers. My “oh that’s neat” commentary escalated into me hanging halfway out the window over the cliff with my camera, trying to hold my skirt down as I snapped pictures by the millisecond.
I’ve learned a fair bit about writing in school, but I could never describe what we saw. I do have approximately 1,447 photos that I could show you, but I’ll tell you now that they don’t quite do it either.
It was late afternoon by the time we left the park, but the flowers stuffed into the safety handle above me in the passenger’s seat and the water dripping from my hair kept us entertained with fresh memories of picking Indian Paintbrush and running through waterfalls for the next 300 miles that we drove that day.
By 8 p.m. it was pretty clear that we weren’t going to make it to our friends’ place at a very polite hour, so I got on my phone and started looking for a place to sleep — taking time to research a bit more thoroughly this time.
By this point we were smack dab in the middle of the yellow Montana patchwork quilt, so my options were limited to the Fiesta Fire Motel on the indian reservation or the Stage Road Inn B&B on a ranch in Dobson.
We decided to go the B&B route, resting our heads that night on vintage pillowcases with western paintings on the warm walls around us.
What was supposed to be a place to crash soon turned sweet serendipity and the beginning of new friendship that will keep a piece of Dodson, Mont. in my heart wherever I go.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blogpost!