Extraordinary MONTANA!!! (part one)

Clark Fork River, Montana

Let me take a moment to express my feelings…..

It has taken me way too long to write about Montana but honestly I was totally bummed about being back.  I had this really crappy moment when I was leaving Glacier.  I woke up on a crisp sunlit morning, neatly packed up my tent, loaded the rest of the stuff in my car and started driving to my new found favorite spot along McDonald Creek just north of McDonald Lake.  I was just about there when I felt a strong urge to leave and move on to my next destination.  So I turned the car around and said to myself, “I don’t want to rush my time here.  I don’t want to try and see everything in one fell swoop.”  I knew I’d be coming back Glacier sooner rather than later so I felt that it was a good time to leave.  I drove along Route 2 down the south end of the park and into the east end.  The southeast end of the park is beautiful with rolling landscapes of tall grasses and subtle views (compared to the stark ones of Going To The Sun Road) and way less traveled than other parts of the park.  This long winding quiet road allowed me ample time to get lost in my thoughts and desires about this magical, humbling, nurturing place I just spent the past several days in.  Glacier is a place that resets every part of your being.  It is pure and lovely, towering and intimidating, patient and raw.  Glacier will make you fall in love, threaten you with crazy storms and then it will wrap it’s arms around you with it’s wild, raw and free loving energy.  I fell in love with Glacier…hard…I fell in love fast.  I hated to be leaving but knew it was time to go.  That wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning.

Driving down route 2 to East Glacier I just started crying, sobbing buckets of tears.  Screaming in my head, “I KNOW I AM NOT READY TO STAY BUT I AM NOT READY TO GO HOME EITHER!!!!!!!!!!”   I was just done.  DONE in every sense of the word.  I just wanted to wander off into the woods, follow the rivers, find a great place to take a nap and wake up with all the answers.  I wanted to drive back up to Bowman Lake, dive into it’s crystal clear cold waters and just SCREEEEAAAMMMM.  Scream so loud that the fish scattered and the mountains trembled.   I pulled off the road somewhere in Black Feet Nation and just sat there staring out into nothing, wishing like heck I could fast forward to the place in time where I am ready to be ready.  Five to seven years ago I would have just given my notice to my boss, had someone pack  up my apartment and just stay.  Now I am in a different place.  This place of making a life that I can take on the road.  I don’t want a house, land or permanent address.  I want the country to be my home and the landscape of this wondrous land to be my life’s work….

Now back to the beginning…

Sometimes you experience moments and are happy you are by yourself.  Then there are some moments that are so EXTRAORDINARY that you wish you had someone by your side to share it with because you want someone to feel what you just felt.  Whether that someone be a lover, friend, niece or nephew, anyone to just to soak in that moment with you.  The emotion, the beauty, the chills flowing all over your body!  I had two of those moments on my travels this past month!  TWO!  I also experienced many many other great moments…how lucky am I?!?!?! 😀

Montana:  (facts courtesy of  http://www.50states.com/facts/montana.htm, except #10….that’s mine own fact!)

  1. Montana is the only state with a triple divide allowing water to flow into the Pacific, Atlantic, and Hudson Bay. This phenomenon occurs at Triple Divide Peak in Glacier National Park.
  2. Home to more elk, deer and antelope than people.
  3.  Has the largest grizzly bear population in the lower 48.
  4. It’s river and streams provide water for THREE oceans!!!
  5. Has the largest variety of mammals than any other state.
  6. It has the largest migratory elk herd in the United States.
  7. Montana means mountains in Spanish.
  8. At Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge it is possible to see up to 1,700 nesting pelicans.
  9. 46 out of Montana’s 56 counties are considered “frontier counties” with an average population of 6 or fewer people per square mile.
  10. So far THE MOST BEAUTIFUL STATE I have ever been to.

After I had five wonderful days with my best friend Shannon I was anxious to get on the road and travel to my homeland.  I was born in Great Falls, Montana.  I was a wee baby when we moved away but that is where I drew my first breaths and they have stayed with me all this time.

I never thought that I would be able to live in a state that is land locked.  I learned that the hard way living in Florida for a short time and although Gainesville is nice, it was torture living inland!  Never again.  And that is why when I lived in Venice and San Francisco, CA I had to be with in walking distance to the ocean or no more than a 10 minute drive.  Same goes for here in Ohio.  The country is beautiful for a little Sunday drive with its little farms and back roads but nothing is more beautiful than the wide open waters of the Pacific Ocean and Lake Erie!

Somewhere outside Butte, MT

Well…until I hit Montana.  Montana with it’s wide rivers, towering mountains, cloud shadows on the rolling hills and glacial lakes!  I cried when I experienced this beauty.  I was driving out of Butte, Montana when I hit a thunderstorm.  The rain was pouring down and dark clouds hovered above but all the while the sun was still shining.  A rainbow that was so bright, arced high above the mountains.  Between the rainbow and the sun the rain looked like crystals flickering to the ground.  That my friends, I have never seen anywhere else.  I cried.  I was soooooo contently happy and overcome with peace that I had to pull over just watch it for a while.  This happened many times while driving through Montana.  It really is one of the last frontier states and it’s vast openness is unsurpassed by any other state in the lower forty eight.

Montana rivers are huge.  I am talking wide, with clear rushing waters that just BEG you to go swimming in them.  One of my goals this trip was to swim in as many bodies of water as possible!  So I did!  I was driving into Montana moseying along down the road when I spotted a nice cool river to take a dip in.  Now Montana has great rivers for fishing and they have fishing access points all along the rivers.  Lots of fly fishing happening up there.  So when I came upon my first access point I pulled off and there was one camper and one car.  The only person I saw was a cute fly fisherman from Vermont (didn’t get his name…shucks!)  So I scurried down to a spot where the water pools and waded over to two giant rocks.  I saw the cute “fly” guy (hahaha) but had to wait until he made his way down stream so I could get in.  Yes, I swam in my t-shirt, bra and underwear that time and it was AWESOME!!!  Clear sparkling waters, tall pines and gorgeous river rock.  Gosh I felt SOOOO free!

So nice to cool off after driving for several hours!

Look at that technique!  Lol…  I came up with a way to take pictures while traveling solo.  Setting a timer was not conducive to getting a decent candid shot.  I cannot pose for anything and when I try I look ridiculous!  :p  So I set up my flexible tripod ($5 on amazon), hooked my phone up, set the camera to video that way I could record and swim around for as long as I wanted.  This way I wouldn’t have to rush out trying to get in the frame and not look like a dork!    When finished, I just played the video, paused it on a shot I thought was cool and screen shot it.  Wahla!!!  Last time I traveled out west it was with a disposable camera…lol!   But hey dudes I took some great pics without knowing if they were going  to be good or not!  Technology man…it’s a love hate relationship 🙂

But with Montana….it is just pure love!

To be continued…


“Give what you have.  To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow






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