Northwest Montana

Last night at supper we met a couple of motorcyclists from Austin, Texas — Adam and Cherie — and spent several happy hours swapping stories.  One of the things I really love about traveling is meeting wonderful, interesting people we’d otherwise never run across.  I went to sleep with our talk buzzing in my head.

After days of absolutely gorgeous weather, we woke this morning to increasing cloudiness.  It looks like it  may rain, but it hasn’t so far.  We had an easy day north on two- and four-lane roads, with stops along the way we wouldn’t have done if it was going to be a full travel day.

9 Animal Bridge

We encountered an animal bridge over the highway.  I heard of such things but had never seen one.  (The picture is awful — sorry.)  We later read that there are dozens along this highway.  Most of them are under the roadway, so we didn’t notice them.

9 Mission exterior

We stopped to see the historic mission in St Ignatius.  The outside didn’t prepare us for the wonders inside.  They are working to restore it from earthquake damage (and age?).

9 Mission interior9 Renovations

I have been through this part of the world at least a dozen times, but I’d never taken this particular road before.  Coming down into the valley, Flathead Lake reminded me somehow of Lake Como.  I think they are in fact similar in some ways while still being as different as Lombardy and Montana.

9 Flathead Lake overview

Before we left on the trip, Andrea said she just wanted to sit on the shore of a lake for a while, so of course I routed us along the shore of this lake.  We stopped at a state park and sat for a while, staring out to the lake.  It was perfectly quiet expect for the murmur of the water lapping against the shore.

9 Lake marina

At the northeast corner of the lake is Bigfork, a small town devoted to tourists.  We had a good lunch at the Pocketstone Cafe.

9 Pocketstone Cafe

And then on to Kalispell for the night.  Kalispell is one of those towns that I hold fond memories of.  Our being able to come here is enabled by a Tesla destination charger at our motel.  But sure enough, there was a car already plugged in there.  I plugged into the other charger available, using an adapter for the first time.  This charger fills us at about half the rate as the other one, but it will be all we need to get back to I-90 and its string of superchargers.

9 Lone Pine path

We found a nearby state park with trails high above the city.  It’s a lot bigger than I remember.  When we got back into the city I saw that the brewery I remember from years ago — 15? 20? — is now an “Asian Buffet.”  Things change.

9 Kalispell

We ended up at a fun place: Moose’s Saloon.  When we saw the front we drove by — too disreputable.  But we circled around and saw a large parking lot crammed with cars and pickups.  It has sawdust on the floor, initials carved into every wood surface, and 24 beer taps.  It was chockfull of people of all ages, from kids to oldsters and all ages in between.  The pizzas are ugly but tasty.  And on a Thursday night it was loud with conversation of large groups and small.  It was an experience — not for everyone, but we liked it.

9 Moose's Saloon

3 thoughts on “Northwest Montana

  1. Kate, I’m enjoying your travel blog a lot this time. We, too, have driven through many of the same places on our annual treks over about 50 years back and forth from Colorado to Oregon. Montana is so beautiful and truly is Big Sky Country. Loved reading about your experience at the brew pub in Kalispell. Sometimes that kind of vibe is a very good one!


  2. Wow, what could be better: open highways, gorgeous scenery, sitting by a l ake, an historic church, funky lunch place and a bar with 24 taps and pizza. What could be more perfect.


  3. Flathead Lake!! When we visited folks there that we had known in Southern California we were told that residents around the lake got all of their fresh water directly from the lake. Back then there were pipes that ran about 25ft deep that they drew the water from and the water was as pure as any water could be. When I say back then, that was in the early 70’s. Thanks for taking me through Montana again!!! Seeley Lake was another spot we stopped at because a relative was then helping friends restore the place to re-open the lodge which had been closed since there had been a mass murder there. I have no details about that and never bothered to check!!!


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