We planned this stop way back in late December, when my family was all together for the holidays in Charleston. I booked a campground that was near Columbia Falls due to its central location within reasonable proximity of the Whitefish downhill mountain biking park, Glacier National Park, and my sister’s home south of Bigfork. It was a good plan.
What we didn’t anticipate was a lightning storm sparking fires in Glacier National Park the day after we arrived. The fire quickly flared up in the hot, dry conditions, leading to evacuations and closure of the Going to the Sun road on our side of the Park. As it is unlikely that the fires will be fully extinguished until the winter snows, our plans to hike the Park this summer went up in smoke. Literally.
But, not to worry, there is plenty more to do here! Visiting my sister and brother-in-law’s beautiful home on Flathead Lake is always a treat. We’ve been enjoying some great food, wine, and fellowship. They took us out on their new boat for an afternoon lake cruise and a little fishing. And, although cherry season is just past and their small orchard has already been professionally picked, my sister and I gleaned 6 gallon bags of the large, sweet fruit. They are washed, pitted and in our freezers, ready for delicious recipes.
Whitefish is home to a ski resort that also hosts a variety of summer activities. Jeff purchased an all-day lift pass so he could ride up and cruise the downhill bike trails to his heart’s content. I purchased a one way lift ticket up to the top of the mountain, and set off down the Danny-On trail in search of huckleberries. I searched very diligently, but berries were sparse. Either others beat me to it, or the unusually dry conditions have impacted the harvest. I did manage to pick about a cup of berries, which added to the cherries should make a nice cherry/huckleberry cobbler. I’ll let you know how it turns out!
This weekend is the Northwest Montana Fair and Rodeo in nearby Kalispell, which we attended last night. I just love county fairs with their carefully-crafted 4-H exhibits, livestock exhibits, and family fun. Being a farming area, they had lots of livestock including horses, mules, cows, pigs, goats, sheep, poultry, bunny rabbits, and even llamas and alpacas. The stage was busy with local performance groups demonstrating their clogging, line dancing, and musical skills. After a BBQ sandwich and a visit to the beer garden, we headed to the rodeo arena. This was the real professional deal with all of the trimmings – bronco busting, bull riding, barrel riding, calf roping, the works. These guys and gals are good! All in all, a thoroughly entertaining evening.
And we’re not done! My other sister and her husband arrive tonight for more family fun time together! Just this week she finished her last radiation treatment for breast cancer and we are grateful that her prognosis is excellent. But her health scare is just another reminder that any time together is precious and should be cherished.