Thursday, July 11, 2013

Dead Bugs in the Deadbolt

Tuesday evening.  The kids are tossing the Frisbee around.  Mike is a skilled ultimate Frisbee player, and the girls are doing a good job of maintaining.  They’re playing in a gravel parking lot so it’s a little dicey at times.  The fire is settling down in preparation for s’mores, and the chocolate bars are cooling after having gotten almost liquid soft in a hot bag in the car.  It has been really fascinating to watch them together the past four days.  In many ways adults, responsible and moderate, and yet in varying degrees still kids, wanting attention or privilege. It has been fun to have Heidi around.  Of course, to some degree I’m still acting like a parent in ways that aren’t helpful anymore.  And there are all the normal communication dynamics that go on with four folks in a small space for a period of time that have nothing to do with age.  Being with them is another of this summer’s gifts.

We left Absarokee Monday morning expecting to be at Flathead lake mid-afternoon.  It was a longer haul than expected, and then we added two hours to the journey by running out of gas on the road into Missoula.  Katie was driving beginning in Butte and we didn’t gas up there as we had more than half a tank.  With the Prius getting only about 30 mpg, and being a little foggy from dozing while she drove, I miscalculated how much gas we had in reserve and just four miles from the gas station the Prius suddenly disengaged the cruise control and slowly decelerated.  Running a Prius out of gas is an interesting experience since it doesn’t just stop.  First, the electric engine engages and the car slows down to about 50 mph.  The car continues to decelerate as the various indicator lights come on or go off to indicate both trouble and a steady shutting down of systems.  After a few minutes, the dash board pretty much shuts down and while the car continues to move, it is by now slowing down to a crawl.  Then you stop.  The whole process takes about four or five minutes, during which hope for the chance to make it to a gas station slowly dies.  We called AAA right away and we would have been out of there in just a half-hour but the tow truck had gotten a call just before ours, so the process took almost two hours. 

It’s an indication of how the trip is going that the long wait was mostly relaxed and without too much impatience.  Katie managed to get all the way through 100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall, which amused all of us and when she would appear to give up we would urge her on. 

We arrived at Big Arm around six and after a few minutes of trying to figure out how to get checked in [conversation with camping host… me: We’re staying in one of the Yerts.  Him: They’re all booked up tonight.  Me: I reserved and paid online.  Him: Well, then, you’re staying in a Yert tonight.] we arrived.  The Yerts here are quite nice and unexpectedly modern.  There is electricity, a fan, a table and two chairs, a couple of shelves and cots.  We opened it up to air out and cool off and then headed back into town to get some groceries for dinner.

Flathead Lake is a beautiful place.  It isn’t what I expected in that it is very developed and more of a resort than a remote area.  The place is much like Lake Tahoe, and there are lots of lodges and resorts and high end retirement housing.  Today, after a vigorous hike through the hill above our campsite, we amused ourselves by driving around the lake, which took about five hours and included stopping at a park to swim and having lunch in Bigfork.

Bigfork was a beautiful little resort town.  Should you drive through this area, stop there and drive up the road to the historic district and make sure you get up the hill and around the corner to where all the little galleries, shops and restaurants are located.  We had a lovely lunch in a French deli.  This part of the trip has not really been like camping at all.   It was also nice to get normal gas mileage with the car since we were driving at more reasonable speeds and without the roof bag.  After the journey around the lake, I had a long nap followed by a brisk jump into the lake.  Mountain fed and deep, the water is cold, crystal clear, and refreshing. 

At the campsite, we’ve had great meals that have included roasted corn on the cob, baked potatoes, and pancakes.  We had some baked potatoes left over from dinner so we cut them up and added bacon to make a delicious morning hash brown dish with our pancakes.  Tomorrow morning will be the same only with eggs instead of pancakes. 

In contrast to last week’s stay at Shoshoni, this has been an area that is populated by folks with fancy RVs, large boats and plenty of recreational toys.  The camping has been pretty comfy with the Yert to stay in and there are no bears here, so we don’t have to be so diligent about keeping a clean campsite.  It’s been a perfect place to hang out with the kids…wish Martin could have been here as he would really have enjoyed it.

This part of the trip has been more like a vacation.  More expensive food costs and more doing and less just hanging out.  We’d been here for almost a full day before I had a moment to sit down and make some notes about what we’ve been up to.  Tomorrow we’ll take Heidi to the airport in Helena, where she is continuing on to the west coast to visit her sister.  We’ll head back to Mitch’s place and have a couple of days together before Mike and Katie take the bus back to Minnesota.  Despite that, this whole trip is already yielding results for me.  My blood sugar is down and while the long days of driving have interfered with getting exercise, I’ve had a lot of days with good exercise.  I’m looking forward to seeing what it’s like when I am alone.  I’m not in a hurry to start that part of the journey, but I am intrigued by how that will change the feel of the trip.  I like having people around, so I’m a bit nervous for them to leave.

And there are no mosquitoes…which is remarkable.

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