We drove through the skinniest part of the panhandle. It was a blink of a drive, but gorgeous all the same
. We saw endless mountains and towns that looked like they hadn’t been changed in over 100 years. Surprisingly, no potatoes. About an hour later, we made it to Montana. We stopped at exit 0, which claimed to be a viewpoint, but was nothing more than a dried up ski resort. So, onward ho. The scenery seemed to get better and better as the elevation increased. It was as though we were driving in the clouds. Pillowy white nimbuses seemed to rise like smokestacks out of the trees. The mountains seemed to weave in and out of the clouds as if they were woven together in an intricate tapestry of sky and land. After a quick nap through construction, we were moments away from Kalispell. Alyssa began to get agitated at the slow drivers in front of us and I tried to ease the tension by looking for longhorn sheep. Around 5:30 we began looking for a place to rest our weary heads. We decided on a place called Big Creek campground, which was on the border of Glacier National Park. We drove down miles of windy road, before it turned to miles of dirt road perforated by thousands of potholes. The road got windier, it started to rain again, the mountains disappeared into the fog, and it was beginning to look like a setup for a cheap horror film. Discouraged and hungry, we turned around to find a more familiar (and easily accessible) KOA. A little after 7 we finally arrived at the KOA campground in a little town called Whitefish. After staking claim to our little plot of land known as site number 11, we effortlessly set up sleeping arrangements in the back of the SUV and made a feast of scrambled eggs and toast while there was a break in the rain
. We double-wrapped our food in tarps just outside the car, tied it off with rope and strategically placed boulders on top to ward off any hungry woodland friends. We nestled ourselves in our "cozy" car for the night and watched “Cars”. Getting situated in comfortable sleeping positions in a bed that was 5 in. too small for us, proved to be something of a task. We both knew we were in for an interesting night’s sleep. Alyssa’s Anecdotes:
-So for the real version of our day after 5:30. I was driving as we searched for Big Creek campground. The road was just as windy and frustrating as Nate described it, and I started to get a little nervous and stressed that it was nearing 6:30 and we still had no place to sleep. I also wasn’t completely convinced we were going the right way to begin with. With the rain picking up and me getting quieter and more visibly nervous, Nate gave me the OK to stop searching and just go to the KOA that we had seen signs for earlier. (Later, we found Big Creek on a map, and it was
down the road we were on. So, Nate was right, if we had kept going we would have found it. But I definitely am glad we turned back, I think my hands would’ve been stuck to the steering wheel had we kept going)
. Once we arrived at the KOA, we checked in and got to our site. (Have you ever been to a KOA?! It’s like an outdoor hotel. There was a spa, indoor/outdoor pool, restaurant with free hot breakfast, mini golf, bocce ball, horseshoes, “kozy kabins”, laundry rooms and a play structure.) We had devised a plan earlier to tie the ginormous tarp Cameron gave us to the roof of the car and make a small shelter to cook under and store our food under. After 10 minutes of struggling to get the tarp attached to the car, I pulled it out to see how much space we would have under our shelter. Turns out, it wasn’t much. We searched for things higher up to tie the tarp to so it would be more of a canopy than a triangle, but nothing was close enough or tall enough. (The whole time, our neighbors in their comfy, dry and warm RV were no doubt watching and laughing at us. Also, 10 minutes later they put up a tarp that went from their MUCH taller RV to their MUCH more conveniently placed trees. Damn them.) We gave up on the shelter idea and decided to just wrap our food boxes in the tarps. We hadn’t eaten dinner yet and tensions were a little bit high again (it was nearing 8, we had no bed, and no dinner. Considering the circumstances, we still were getting along VERY well). Nate decided on eggs for dinner (they were supposed to be fried, but our frying pan is not nonstick and so they turned into scrambled) and a side of toast. I was very content with our scrumptious meal, but you could tell Nate was angry at the stove, pot, eggs and anything that had touched them during the cooking process. However, nothing a little food and a bottle of beer couldn’t fix. We finished dinner and finally finished blowing up and shoving our air mattress into the back of the car (the air mattress is a full but the back of the car is about the size of a full air mattress minus 5 inches on every side). My always happy and optimistic attitude (hint: sarcasm) helped end the night on a high note as we settled into our squishy bed and watched the ever-uplighting movie, Cars. How the night’s sleep went is for tomorrow’s blog.
So I woke up this morning in a bed two sizes too small for me, and it was one of the better night's sleep I’ve had in awhile. Alyssa’s cousin, Cameron, lent us her kids’ beds for the night to recharge. After a breakfast of muffins and coffee, we tried to plan a home for us that night and started packing our clothes (now clean, thanks to Cameron’s washer and dryer) once again. While we were planning, we noticed the forecast called for thunderstorms during our stay in Montana. Cameron, being the generous and hospitable person she is, lent us the world’s largest tarp to shelter us from the upcoming threat. After saying our goodbyes and our thank yous, we made our way back into town for supplies and to ship off postcards. From there we were Idaho bound.