I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Blackfoot Memories

I didn't finish the last part of my trip. I'm still dreaming of Montana. It's a place of dreams that has been inside of me for a long time. It speaks of wide spaces, freedom and Legends of the Fall (my favorite movie of all times).... and being in country that is bigger than myself.
We said goodbye to the the small creatures of Logan's Pass. the peaks of the Continental Divide and Grinnell Glacier. Coming down the east side of Glacier is different. It's stark, with it's rivers running east; which seems odd for someone who has always lived on the west side of any big mountain range. There was a fire a few years ago which gives the area an almost ghostly appearance. St. Mary's Lake is beautiful and then the land starts to stretch out. The distances become further and the roads longer.
We drove up to Babb and back into the park along the Swiftcurrent Creek (against the current). It was getting late and we were tired. We parked at the Many Glacier Hotel. This was were we had chosen to stay the night. It was so beautiful.
This is where I want to take a moment to tell you that my "friend "D" and I consider ourselves highly intelligent and capable women. As I said before, we decided not to make reservations because we believed that it wouldn't be necessary. The weather, the time of the year, lack of people in the park.... it seems like a reasonable decision. At dinnertime, with a storm moving in from the west and fatigue settling in faster than the storm, we realized that we MIGHT HAVE MADE A MISTAKE. The Many Glacier Hotel didn't have a room available. None. So we drove back out to Babb and back down to St Mary. NO ROOMS ANYWHERE. Someone at the St Mary Hotel said that there might be a room at some "motel" on the way to Browning. Since we didn't have any other choices we drove toward Browning. When we saw the "motel" we drove right on past it and kept going. We preferred a motel that had lights on and looked like someone owned the place. So we drove on into Browning.
Let me tell you a little bit about Browning. It's halfway to Cut Bank in the middle of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. It may have all the conveniences that are needed on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains and is home to the Museum of the Plains Indians but when you pull into town on a rainy, cold weeknight.... hungry and wiped out tired, you fail to see the beauty of a place.
We finally found the WARBONNET MOTEL on Highway 464( recommended by a lady on the cell phone that had recommended the motel on Cut Bank Creek that looked like we might not wake up alive in the morning. The one we drove right on by a few miles back.) and parked in front of a sign that said "OFFICE", next to four other cars. OK.... this is where you really have to put your "big girl panties" on and bite the bullet. We considered sleeping in the truck but what the heck.... we were there and we were tired. We walked into a small "office" surrounded by a big room filled with paintings and a hall way with more paintings. The counter loomed ahead. The place smelled like smoke. It was to say the least.... dreary.
We rang the bell and a man came out of a room behind the desk. We told him we needed a room. Why else would we be there this late at night? We smiled.
He was very nice and said he had a room. Good! Finally, there was a room available. It was only $89. I envisioned what this $89. room would look like and then said to myself....."Don't think. Stop. Take the key. Go back out to the car. Get your bag. Don't think."
We grabbed some things and walked through a glass door that was shattered.... into a hall way that, again, smelled like smoke. Turning left we found our door number. At one end of the hallway a very small dog was barking, ferociously, at us. At the other end a beautiful girl was sitting on the floor with her door open, listening to her itunes. She waved at us.
We opened the door to our room. Now.... you know what we were expecting. What a relief it was to find a clean room with a really nice, clean modern bathroom, comfortable beds, a TV, toilet paper, little wrapped soaps and a Gideon's bible. We almost knelt down and prayed together. Would have been a first since we were kids.
Someone tried to open our door and then said they were sorry. We hoped it was a guest. That's when "D" went back out to the car and got her revolver. Then we propped a chair under the door knob and went to bed. Sometimes you just have to have faith that everything will be OK..... but just to be safe "D" slept with her gun under her pillow and I slept with my wallet inside my pajama top. It was a little uncomfortable but very reassuring. I had strange dreams which I won't go into. Don't remember much else. We left early the next morning and drove to East Glacier where we ate a huge breakfast and then drove back to Columbia Falls along the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. Beautiful country.
When "D" husband found out that we had stayed overnight in Browning he almost had a heart attack. I heard him on the other end of the cell phone. Yep! He was upset. But, you know what? I saved at least $200. on the room we would have gotten in Many Glacier. and we learned a valuable lesson about making reservations no matter what time of the year it was.

On our drive back around the park on highway 2,we had to stop for some perilous situations that kind of tied up traffic...

and to take pictures of amazingly beautiful scenery....
But nothing will ever seem as much an adventure as driving into Browning, Montana on a cold and stormy night.... and living to tell about it.


  1. Hey, you and your friend had a true adventure, wild west style, with the revolver under her pillow and a chair propped against the door. That makes a grand tale to share.

  2. Wow what a great story. It's really well written and seems like you put back some familiar things on your blog face. Sure feels more like home.
    I guess in this time of living nothing can be left to spontaneity. Sounds like a really great trip, adventure included.

  3. gosh i loved reading this post. you are writing about my old stomping grounds. many glaciers is one of my two most favorite spots in the world (not that i've seen all the world yet. . .)when i was a young lady i escorted some german men (oh la la!) to many glaciers via browning. we ran out of gas. only way to get gas was to hitch a ride to the nearest farm setting. the germans were thrilled about the chance encounters experienced that day. all in all this goes to say that sometimes the things that go wrong are what bond us most to one another, not the events that go right.

    i don't get to the blackfoot area as much as i'd like, so it was a special treat to read your post. thank you. (i hope you still have more stories!)

  4. To say the least, Connie, that had to be some experience. I quess I would have slept with a gun under my pillow also. For some reason your photos this time did not show up on my computer they always have before and I so look forward to them. Have a blessed day. Madeline

  5. Man you have me there too...oh how I long to feel what you felt!

  6. You crack me up! 'Big girl panties' indeed! This sounds like a modern day western with Indians and guns under pillows...what an adventure! And to have your best sidekick with you... Dang! that's mighty special! Love the traffic jam.

  7. What an exciting life you live and I love how you write about it :)

    I feel fortunate to have found someone who shares their travels and I can visit and see these places!

  8. Cute story! Pa and I drove through southeastern Colorado after dark one evening looking for a place to stay... very similar story to yours. We'd drive through what would have been beautiful country in daylight and go for more than 10 miles without seeing a lighted window. No houses so it was really rural. Not what we're used to, even though we live on a farm in the "country."

  9. What a wonderful story. I always think the best trips are those where we encounter the unexpected. Perhaps that is what makes them memorable. I find I forget the times when everything goes to plan but never forget the 'adventures'.


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