I woke up before my father, packed up my tent, and went for a short hike around the state park’s trails. When he rejoined the conscious, he sent me off in the car to fetch coffee. I drove back to a roadside combination café/casino (really a diner on the side of the road with slot machines) and made our purchase. Talking to the woman at the counter, I learned she was from Oregon and had a college roommate from Massachusetts. She playfully called me a “Mass ass,” but I corrected her, noting that the proper slur is “Masshole.”
Upon my return, we set off driving south again, entering the Flathead Indian Reservation again and enjoyed a drive through the country along the lakes the hills surrounding it. We took some detours to drive a few of the long dirt roads providing access to and marking the boundaries between the cattle ranches in the area. Eventually we arrived in a town along the lake and stopped at a diner called Betty’s Café – where they serve all-day breakfast! A delicious helping of scrambled eggs with sausage and the diner’s choice of potato innovations was happily enjoyed.
Moving on, we saw signs for the “Miracle of America Museum.” Anticipating some minor attraction, perhaps a cabinet of curiosities in a shack, consistent with roadside America’s reputation, we pulled off onto Memory Lane in Polson, Montana. Stepping inside, we were awed. Our six dollars for admission gave us access to an incredible collection of vintage motorcycles, carriages, and knickknacks.
A gorge cut by rushing waters from a melting glacier about 14,000 years ago. Grafton Notch State Park hosts a mountainous section of the Appalachian Trail and is a jumping off point for dozens of miles of backcountry trails, but primeval scenes like this one are also available to day hikers a short walk away from the road.
My dad, Michael, and I have a tradition of attempting to do a road trip together every fall, whenever we can both spare the time. This series follows our most recent journey through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and a little bit of South Dakota (by mistake) as told in a series of messages sent to a close friend. They have been modified somewhat to remove some non-trip related personal remarks, for general copy editing, and to preserve some of the road’s secrets to keep among those who travel it.
Monday, September 12, 2016
Awoke at 5:30 in preparation for our 8:30AM departure to Minneapolis and from there, on to Kalispell, Montana. We checked our bags and I was groped at the TSA checkpoint. Our first flight was uneventful and in the second, my father and I sat next to each other. We had the woman in the window seat laughing as I apologized to her in advance for all of our bickering. As we descended near Kalispell, the plane broke the clouds and we were greeted with the sight of farmers’ fields and ranchers’ pastures forming the texture of the valley plain against the Rocky Mountains.