Monday, August 31, 2015

The Smokey Mountains of Montana

The Smokey Mountains of Montana: It feels odd to sit at the computer trying to write again after a two week hiatis. Write what you know, Mr. Ford used to tell us in 9th grade English class half a century ago. It still applies. I know what I think, and I try to inform myself constantly, to keep current and to challenge my own beliefs. That's all good, as they say. But today I come to you with a firm and wonderful belief that has been reinforced these two past weeks: love is great. Love is fantastic. Love is the elixir that makes life worth living, even when the landscape is on fire. Four of my family members from the Netherlands spent the last thirteen days with Diane and myself, after also spending time with my brother in California. The time was too short, which in itself is a compliment to all concerned. Although it is good to get back to whatever passes for normal in our lives after a vacation, a good vacation is one you do not want to see come to a close. This was one of those. In the process of their visit Olaf, Anneke, Peter and Kim got to see America's top three National Parks, (in order of ranking) Yellowstone, Yosemite and Glacier. They got to see a bison hold up traffic for half an hour in Yellowstone, a grizzly bear almost casually chasing after mountain goats in Glacier. They got to see Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite, and got to drive up Going to the Sun Road to Logan Pass and then hike to Hidden Lake in Glacier. And they got to shop. We learned that half our party has the shopping gene but half does not. The second half was mercifully patient and cooperative with the first. And Peter, on a quest for the true American hamburger, got to experience home made in Monterey, Elk and Bison burgers in Gardiner, and the best regular beef in the world at Norm's News in Kalispell, where the motto is “Life is short; eat dessert first.” They also experienced the typical Fifties milkshake at Norm's replete with cherry on top and sidecar, but discovered that the milkshake at Glacier Perks in Lakeside where we live (and Diane works) is better even than Norm's. All in all, they and we got to share many simple yet fun things. Best of all, we shared each other's time, passions and interests with much common ground. Thirteen days going from two to six seem daunting on the surface, but these people are easy keepers and wonderful guests. And Meg and Jane, our dog and cat, loved them! The only damper on the whole trip was the air quality. With Washington State on fire, smoke has drifted over almost the entire northwest of Montana and hung there for days and days. Fires in our area even closed the road to Essex alongside the lower edge of Glacier and one day caused the airport to cancel incoming flights. It has never been this bad for this long, the locals tell me. So the Rockies became the Smokey Mountains of Montana for essentially the whole time our family was here. Otherwise, we would have gone to Glacier more than the two trips we did make, and would have found and hiked new trails. We would have gone to Many Glaciers, all the way around the perimeter of the park. Still, we had a great time despite the smoke in our eyes.

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