We left Helena Montana a couple of days ago where we were visiting our dear friends the Hughes who live out there, and the Mabies who flew in from Vermont to reunite with old friends from college days. We hiked, we ate, we drank local brews and wines and we enjoyed watching our matching chocolate labs fall in love. (Well Charlie might have been slightly more in love than Jussie (named after Wallander’s dog) if her humping activity was any indication.) We had such a wonderful visit in spite of one small blotch…
We had planned a brief exploration of Glacier National Park. We rented an Airbnb in Whitefish, outside the park. The place was located miles out of town, down a long, straight, dirt road that ended at a small compound of cabins. We were greeted by a herd of mangy dogs and two mangy people who indicated with surly expressions that the house was open and we could let ourselves in. (It appeared that this cheery couple managed the property and lived in one of the cabins.) Our cabin, the largest in the compound, was pretty nice. Lodge-like with kitchen and living upstairs and bedrooms on ground level. We made ourselves a meal, played a vicious game of Scattergories and went to bed.
Once downstairs in our bedroom we heard a dog barking hysterically somewhere out in the compound. Brose commented on it once or twice while I got ready for bed. We settled into our pre-sleep routine of online word puzzles and reading. The dog continued to bark. A half hour later we wondered if we should send a text to the managers, who were staying in one of the other cabins, about the barking dog. We debated, worried the barking might be disturbing our friends, and wondered hopefully if the barking was subsiding. It continued. Brose finally sent a text at about 10:30 asking whether anything could be done about the barking dog. We received a pissed off nonresponse of “I’m not sure what you mean. It’s a dog friendly property.” Five minutes later the barking stopped.
About 15 peaceful minutes later we heard a man outside our window shouting. “Does someone here have a complaint?” Brose responded, “All good, thanks.” The man shouted “Someone here has a complaint. Come out here. We need to talk about it.” It's 11:00 pm. Brose got out of bed and went outside, in his underwear, somewhere in the northern woods of freezing Montana, to face a raving lunatic. I objected. I listened through the window to the guy rave some more at Brose. I decided I had to get Brose back in the house before the mad woodsman pulled out a gun. I went to the entryway in the threadbare, ratty pajamas I’ve been wearing every night for the last three months, and hid behind Brose. There were two hairy white guys (well three, if you count Brose) standing outside our window. One hairy guy was trying to coax a very drunk 2nd hairy guy away from our house but Hairy Drunk Madman continued to rant. Brose calmly, but firmly responded to the rants, “The dog was barking for over an hour." HDM: “You people from the city! You come here! You pay $500 to be in this beautiful place! Brose: "It is a beautiful place." “I don’t need this, you fucking asshole" said HDM who's alcohol-fueled ire continued to build. “You interrupt my dinner with friends with your complaints!” (Dinner in the woods at 10:30?) “Why don’t you get the fuck out of here!”
Meanwhile I am feebly pulling on Brose’s shirt trying to get him to come indoors so we can lock the door between us and HDM until I remembered he probably had a key. But at the f-word I got mad and decide to assert my officer-of-the-law persona. I poke my head around Brose’s torso and demand, in a high, terrified voice, “What is your name, Sir.” (Withering launch to the searing cross examination I imagined would follow.) HDM rattles off about four names which I immediately forget and then staggered and shrieked “I am the LLC owner!” (I had no retort to that rejoinder.) Hairy Man #2 continued to coax his bff back to the den. HDM continued to shake him off but with decreasing resistance. Brose continued to offer reasonable explanations. HDM held up his phone and threatened to video the interaction, and Brose said "be my guest".
In sheer desperation I declare intimidatingly from behind Brose, “okay, sir (very professional demonstration of respect even to this belligerent lowlife) “we will leave tomorrow.” (Even though I figured this would be a group decision that we would make in the morning.)
After we were back in bed Brose continued to read his twitter feed while I nursed my raging, deepening anxiety. What if HDM comes back with a gun? Should we leave immediately? We didn’t sleep a wink.
The next morning, we told our friends the story and quickly reached the conclusion that we would not spend another night in HDM’s neighborhood. It had snowed overnight and the clouds were so thick they reached the ground. We could barely see the cars in the driveway much less the mountains that surrounded us, but we agreed to explore the park and then head back to Helena. We entered the park on the west side, took a dog walk in the only place where dogs were allowed outside the vehicle, and then drove up the east side of Lake McDonald. We saw just enough magnificence to promise ourselves to return someday, in spite of HDM.
So that’s a wrap. I am writing this just as we cross into Indiana. The traffic is thick, the sky is hazy, the temperature is 93 F. I miss the mountains, the snow-engorged creeks, the western blue skies, the daily hikes. I won’t miss the packing, unpacking, dirt, crappy gas station snacks, the 80 mph interstates, or other peoples’ kitchens.
Still not sure how much I learned about America. I love it more than I thought I did, and so am afraid of its citizens who refuse to make the sacrifices necessary to preserve the great forests, the beautiful waterways, the wildlife, and the big blue skies. (Thinks the boomer who just bought enough carbon-based fuel to drive her truck in a circle of about six thousand miles.)
Anyway, thanks for following our journey. We are excited to meet up with you all again soon.
Lots of love,
Amy and Brose
p.s. Since this is my last post I should probably say a thing or two about my travel companions. Not once in the last 100 days have we been more than about 10 feet apart so I have a lot to say. First, Charlie. She is the best car sleeper, the best muddy-puddle finder, and has the worst breath. Second, Brose. He is the worst micromanager ever to micromanage. I could not blow my nose without hearing his suggestions for how I could do it better. AND his fussing over the dog! Oh my god, it was endless. She's limping. She needs to poop. She stepped on a thorn. She'll get bitten by a rattlesnake. She has a tummy ache. She has a cold. I'll tell you about a medical problem. Canine Munchausen syndrome. But I forgive him because it is Brose who did all the planning, mapping, Airbnb/hotel/campground reserving, truck packing/unpacking, all of the driving but for about 6 six hours (during one of which I nearly killed us), photographing, blog post production, most of the dog walking and poop collecting. I am so grateful and full of admiration and I love him madly as always.