Summertime Road Trips through Montana

Whitefish River is full

No matter how many summertime road trips through Montana and its Rocky Mountains that I take, I find the vastness amazing.  We hear so much about the global village, the tight networking that makes commerce flow. We also encounter invasion of privacy on every level, at work, on our streets, even in our bank accounts. Soon we start thinking in those terms. An essentially abstract notion begins to circumscribe our world and we see it full of constraints.

But out on a freeway driving cross-county, the sky is immense, the weather a constantly changing surprise, the solitude profound.  I drive west all day, writing in my mind all the ideas that flit and flood through a sometimes empty space. I face into the setting sun and stop only when the light fades. At night in the hotel I catch the ideas as best I can, my computer on my lap, in a big bed in an empty hotel room.  Bliss.

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My destination is Whitefish, a wonderful little ski community that purrs along under majestic Big Mountain, where the winter ski runs on Whitefish Mountain Resort are still full of powder even when the trees are in leaf. Traveling north from Kalispell, I can see that it’s still early springtime in the Rockies. The rivers and streams are running to full capacity, spilling out a little into grassy areas where the banks are lower.  The cool weather is slowing the snow melt, but if the sun comes out . . . then what!

Moving water draws me

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There’s something about rapidly moving water that draws me to it. I’m not alone in this–waterfalls the world over are noted and named. But I may be the worst kind. If I’m driving alongside a river I feel a strong impulse to join the river on its journey. Swerve into it. I force myself to resist, to keep my eyes on the road. So, when a friend wants to take an exploratory outing to see the spring-time swollen rivers in Montana rivers, I don’t offer to drive.

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Driving into town, the lush green of the lower Rocky Mountain slopes in view, I embrace the air with nothing to fill it but the scent of pine. I love the silence and safety of the nights. The size and the stillness of the world envelopes me in Montana, a destination to flee toward, to embrace.

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