Whitefish Vol. 2

**EDIT- Whitefish Vol. 1 (Just a note for my own memory) ** As I was cleaning out my bags, I found written on the back of a receipt a description I had jotted down of how Glacier smelt at the bottom of Going to Sun Road. It must have been a combination of the rain all day, the cedar trees, the surrounding ferns, and the glacial stream. Whatever it was, I wanted to bottle it and have it nearby forever.  The best I can articulate it is it was slightly floral but really crisp and almost sweet similar to the sweetness of sunscreen. Do you think some day we’ll be able to share how something smells, like a smell-o-vision snap chat of the future?

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On my second day in Whitefish I decided to head further north of Glacier National Park to a hole in the wall town called Polebridge. The main draw (and only draw as far as I can tell) is a mercantile first erected during the gold rush area. The drive up there would take me back through Glacier National Park and then through Flathead State Park. The day was one of those crystal clear, bright blue sky, huge puffy cloud kind of days- a perfect day for aimless driving.  I had the road to myself the whole way through Glacier. Then I winded through the Flatheads on a gravel road blasting classic rock and feeling both invincible and insignificant against it all. I made it out to the mercantile and hung around for a cup of coffee and a huckleberry bear claw. Both highly recommended. I jumped back in my car and began my windy way back to the hostel. I switched over to some country station. And with the stunning backdrop and drawn out lyrics on the radio, I have to admit I got a little inside my head. My mind wandered to all the people I’ve ever let close enough to me. I thought about how each of those people have a way of shaping us. We’re like a little collection of every good friend we’ve ever had. As my mind summersaulted through past lives, I toyed with the idea of living off the grid here. I pictured being married with our dogs just living away from it all. Suddenly among those thought this house popped up. So like a total creep I pulled to the side of the road and stared a while.

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This house was the complete fantasy I was just having. I talked myself back out of this fantasy, reminding myself why this Jersey born girl wouldn’t survive very long this far off the grid. I let it go and continued down the gravel road in hopes that I was heading back in the direction of Whitefish. A ways down the road a little shop sat to the right. I figured I might as well poke my head in and see what it was.

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I walk in and rounded the corner to see a small bar. The bartender says to me “Are you hungry, thirsty, or lost?”  “I may be all three” I replied. I asked how far from town I was then sat down and asked about the beers on tap. I took a seat between the only two guys at the bar watching Sunday football. The bartender asked to see my ID. “Jersey?” the guy on my right asked. “Haha yup” I sheepishly replied. He pulled out his ID to show me he was from Dover (this is like two towns over from where I grew up). I was so stunned I stammered out “Shut up!”. The other guy in the bar couldn’t understand our excitement.  He tried interjecting but Paul and I excitedly discussed `landmarks’ back home. I asked what Paul was doing so far from Jersey and he explained he was between jobs so he jumped in his car and started traveling. He had just come from Milwaukee, South Dakota, and Yellowstone. He would continue on to California, Arizona, and Louisiana before getting home mid November. I was stunned. A little too serendipitious. Somewhere in conversation, in this random bar, in god knows what town- the bartender shared that her and her husband bought the bar last summer. They had always vacationed in the area, got married at Glacier, and on drunken night last summer they jokingly made an offer to the bar owner. He accepted and that evening they signed paperwork. Now they owned a bar in the middle of no where Montana, how adorable.

I spent the night exploring downtown Whitefish and waited for my train. It appeared my train would be incredibly late, so I headed back to the hostel where I hoped I could wait as the town shut down for the evening. The only employee of the hostel, Derek, was incredibly welcoming. We talked until my train came at 2 am. Chatting about travel- where we’ve been and where we’d like to go. I so appreciate him occupying me (and keeping me awake) as I hung around. There are definitely people you run into and hope you get to chat with again. I feel like this trip is just a a ‘collection’ of people and all their wonderful stories.

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