The Montana visit….

August 29, 2010

(written evening of Aug. 28)

It was cool and overcast with a little rain today, but I enjoyed the weather and the day even so. Heck, why not? I’m in Montana!

While I doubt that as a Californian I am hardy enough to withstand the coming winter, it’s only August, and I won’t be here then anyway.

Tagged along with the family gang for a round of golf at a local course. Didn’t play. Never have. But I think I can see how one could easily get hooked. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to tell that I tagged along. Don’t know if that’s allowed.

Someone said if you can get off a couple of good shots or drives or whatever, you get your confidence built and tend to forget the rest of them — I could see that.

“The idea out here is to have fun”, one of my nephews told me, adding that you also should strive for not hurting anyone and not putting yourself down range (and I myself would suggest that if you’re with the gang I was with learn to duck). And he said you should try to refrain from getting into arguments — it tends to defeat the purpose of the whole thing.

Both my nephew and one of my brothers hit a ball into someone’s front yard. They threw my nephew’s ball back. My brother had to retrieve his. I guess there’s a limit.

The Golf game over, some of us took a drive around Flathead Lake — stunning! They tell me it’s bigger than Lake Tahoe back in California — I’ll have to check that one out (should be able to quickly look that up on the computer).

Okay, I guess what I was supposed to say is that Flathead Lake is slighlty bigger than Lake Tahoe and it is the largest natural fresh water lake in  the western part of the lower 48 states. Hey it’s big and beautiful.

I knew I had one musically-inclined nephew, but I didn’t realize I had two. They gave us all a little Blue Grass music concert, one on the guitar and one on the mandolin.

I’m more than a year into my sixth decade now and I got a chance to reunite with one nephew I haven’t seen since I was a teenager.

One of my other nephews has designed a portable combination weather station and highway camera that the state road department uses on its projects. I have to say my oldest brother has raised some big healthy boys — no longer boys; well into-middle-aged men now — must be the Montana air. And they are all quite talented. And let’s don’t leave out the girls. One of my nephews has a daughter who teaches at a college back east. Met several other people, family and in-laws of family and so on. All healthy and good looking and sturdy stock.

The only downside to family reunions is that you get reminded that you may have been shorted in the family gene pool.

My sister and I are probably leaving for home tomorrow. Don’t know if I’ll ever get back this way. But if I don’t make it to Heaven, at least I got a glimpse of it. Glad I finally made it to Montana after all these years of my oldest brother and long-time Montana resident urging me to come.


The Road to Montana, Day 3:

August 28, 2010

Friday dawned clear in Spokane, no smoke or dust left over from the previous day and the wind had died down.

My sister and I went down to Riverfront Park and parked across from City Hall and viewed the Spokane Falls — a spectacular sight in the middle of a city! Still trying to make photos with my cell phone. I used to be a news photographer and saw a perfect shot with some wild apples in the foreground and the falls in the background but I could see with my set up it would not come out (and maybe not wild apples, but not a domesticated orchard).

Went over to the Merry-Go-Round. I didn’t go on the ride but I bought one of those throwaway cameras and retraced some of my steps and made more photos.

I kept wondering what that strikingly huge and magnificent castle-like building was in the distance. Drove over there and found out it was the county courthouse. Never have seen anything like it.

If you haven’t been to Spokane — go. The downtown with its magnificent buildings — lots of brick– is worth the trip alone.

Oh, and I forgot. You can get an aerial view of the falls by taking a gondola ride out of the park — but we were too chicken for that.

I still needed the sleeping gear I forgot to bring and some other items. We headed west out U.S. 2, which doubles as a local thoroughfare, and stopped at The General Store. Didn’t buy my bedding there, but I did buy a western belt and a Stetson hat and my sister bought me a new pair of outdoor shoes as a belated birthday present (Aug. 13). I was going to buy some cowboy boots, but the shoes seemed more comfortable for now. Great selection and great prices. I highly recommend the store.

We needed to get heading east again to Montana and so we did. But I still needed a sleeping bag or some kind of sleeping gear. We stopped at the Paul Bunyan hamburger place for lunch in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. No Walmart in town, but the girl told me how to get to Kmart, but I messed that up so we headed east, hoping to find something on the way. I was holding forth with a discussion on economics and was suggesting we throw up tariffs and that by buying cheaper costing goods from China we were cutting or own throats.

As it happened, out of the clear blue a Walmart appeared just before Kellogg Idaho. I bought a ten dollar sleeping bag made in China and on the way back out to the car told my sister to forget what I said about how bad it is importing all that stuff from over there.

And let me go back and mention that the Coeur d’ Alene downtown is pleasant and I noted an interesting turret on the corner of a building going back out of town.

It wasn’t long and we arrived in Montana and headed northeast at St. Regis.

I knew Montana was beautiful, but I was surprised nonetheless — it’s downright gorgeous!

It was an enchanting ride along the Flathead River and the road up through Ronan and up through Polson where my brother lives was scenic as well. And then there it was spectacular Flathead Lake.

Oh, yeah, at Ronan I called my brother on the cell phone and asked whether we should stop to eat or whether there would be dinner at the cabin camp we were supposed to meet at. Found out it was about a half-hour drive and family members were waiting on us — no pressure.

And we arrived. I talked to nephews I had not seen in years. More family coming tomorrow.

This Montana country is great. I think I could get used to it — that is until winter hits.