Thursday, June 29, 2017


A moose-watch

            LOLO, MONTANA – When last we left, Mark and Kay had moved their collection of accumulated household stuff into a 10’ by 20’ storage unit in Conroe. What couldn’t be crammed into the small facility was stored with the Plilers and Jill, people who still have homes.

 Mark and Kay accepted an invitation to live on a small farm in Grandview, Washington, in a small home owned but not occupied by Mark’s sister Susan. Mark and Kay plan to stay on the farm while their new home is being constructed in Conroe.

The Hayters began their journey to the Northwest last week. Let’s join the charming couple to check on their progress. – Cue Mark in three, two… 
            Now? Am I on now? Sheesh! Are we going to have to go through that explanation each week? That was as long and drawn out as the road from Wichita Falls to the end of the panhandle. And, nearly as boring.

 But we’re past all that now. Way past. At this very moment it is five in the a.m. here at Lolo Hot Springs Lodge in Montana. I intended to have this article finished last night, but stayed up too late on our moose-watch. We were told that baby moose (meese) accompany their moms into the meadow at the lodge. Fortunately, none showed up. I have every confidence that a mom moose would’ve taken one look at me and given me a rack-ride into the nearest outcropping.

Outcroppings? I don’t know, either. Mountains, cliffs, big rocks? They’re all around us. Beautiful country. They call it “Big Sky,” because when you’re in the mountains, you don’t have to look up to see the sky. It’s all around you. That’s just a guess.

One thing I don’t have to guess at is the fact that there is enough unoccupied land in Wyoming and Montana to house the entire country. It might take awhile for some of the people to find jobs, but they would all fit here. The population of the entire Western Hemisphere could be housed in the Texas panhandle, but nobody would want to move there.

I’ve got so many things to tell you about this trip, but only have time for a few observations. The farther north you go the fewer Whataburgers you find. There are none in Wyoming and Montana. They’ve got Dairy Queens and Burger Kings, McDonald’s out the wazoo, but no Whataburgers.

They do have Sinclair gas, though. Shocked I was as we entered Wyoming and saw a sign featuring a giant, green dinosaur, the image of what we originally thought of a brontosaurus. Now we know the head is all wrong, but it’s still a dinosaur. By the way, do you know that petroleum doesn’t come from decayed dinosaurs? It comes from the layers of decaying algae, plankton and other plant matter in the ocean. And, no, Bradly, I didn’t say you cared. I was just pointing something out.

I started getting cerebral while in Missoula. Missoula is not only the home of the University of Montana, but it’s also got more art galleries and bookstores per capita than any other place in the world. I haven’t researched that. It’s just a feeling. 
What else? Oh yeah, the interstates that run across Wyoming and Montana are near litterless. You could adopt a highway in either state, and pick up the liter while driving. – “Frank, pullover! I think I spied a Peanut M&M wrapper. -- Nope. It was a flower. Make a note. Pick up some peanut M&Ms on the way back.”

Speaking of which, just yesterday while driving out of Butte, I asked Kay why there’s not a Popcorn M&M. Everyone knows that when you’ve got a mouthful of popcorn it’s always good to throw in some chocolate. Why not have the same sensation come in a single bag?

That’s another observance from this trip. Kay and I have been getting in a lot of quality time. Granted, the Popcorn M&M topic died from lack of a response, but other topics have taken flight. We’re often talking about things we forgot to pack, and things we packed but can’t find.

I even brought up the idea about the benefit of knowing you’ll never again see the people you run into while on a trip. I’ve been wearing the same pair of shorts this entire trip. They’re so comfortable. They don’t ride up no matter how much I slump. Next to my red, silk underwear, they’re the most comfortable shorts I have. Get this. For the past five days, no one has come up to me and said, “Hey, aren’t those the same shorts you wore yesterday?”

It’s brilliant. Kay doesn’t see the brilliance, but she’s somewhat less cerebral. At this very moment, she’s also less conscious. I’m going to go ahead and wake her up, so we can go feed at the breakfast bar. It’s the same stuff in every hotel. Even the same waffle makers and coffee dispensers. All of ‘em have Cheerios, too. Who gets to vote on that stuff?

After breakfast we’re going back to the spa. They’ve got two indoor pools that are fed from a hot spring. It’s the first time I’ve ever been to a spa. I almost went to one in Hot Springs, Arkansas, but there were too many people going inside, and I just didn’t feel right sitting in hot water with other people.

But, yesterday, Kay and I had one of the pools to ourselves. I just about overstayed the suggested soak time. I want to do the same thing after I finish off my boiled egg and muffin. Then it’s – On the road again! Next stop: a small farm in Grandview. I’ll tell you about it next week. I'm leaving off the long intro, though. 
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