Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Montana’s Flathead Valley–Not So Good For Your Health

©Bert Gildart: And so we departed yesterday from our home along what I call “The Last Country Road,” because it is so suggestive of our vanishing rural life. We’re heading to North Dakota, rendezvousing this evening in Missoula with other members of the Outdoor Writers Association of America where we’ll then caravan to Bismarck. Our drive yesterday was short, about 100 miles.

Departing the Flathead

Departing the Flathead

The road you see in the accompanying photograph is 1.5 miles from our house. This section of the road is gravel, and though I’m delighted most is paved, I’m worried that should this bend and dirt section ever be straightened and paved, it will become an “expressway” for those seeking a slightly shorter route from Bigfork to Kalispell. As it is, there’s not a week that goes by in which we don’t now see a dead deer, turkey or some other species along the road because of careless, speeding motorists.


The mountains back dropping our Airstream are known as the Swan Mountains and as I’ve mentioned in previous postings, they offer much good hiking. The snow you see is fresh snow, dropped just a week ago during a not-so-unusual June storm.

The mountains are home to grizzly bears, and my daughter’s family, who live just a few miles north in an area that is similar to ours, called excitedly on Father’s Day and reported they’d seen a grizzly bear running in the neighbor’s field.

Several years ago our neighbor Rand Robbin, whose family was one the valley’s earliest settlers, told us that on the day we’d departed on a trip to Alaska, a grizzly bear had walked through our yard, then (apparently in its search for food), had poked its head into the small door that provided egress for one of the family pets. The lady who owned the home, hearing a strange noise, ran to the kitchen to discover the head of a huge grizzly bear peering back at her. She screamed, ran, and called the sheriff’s office. The bear responded by jerking its head from the hole and galloping to the nearby Flathead River, which it swam, not to be seen again that year.


There’s a powerful lesson to be learned from all this, and that is: if you are thinking about moving to the Flathead, you should remember that it often snows in June (has in fact on the 4th of July), that sometimes grizzly bears prowl the area; that the state has had its problems with members of the Freemen militia; that the smoke from forest fires often blanket the valley; that Theodore Kaczynski (the unabomber) hid out in Montana for years; and perhaps most discouraging of all, that the mosquitoes here are so big they can stand flatfooted and make love to a turkey.

My recommendation is that, yes, certainly you should visit Montana and the Flathead Valley, but then leave–never ever to entertain the idea of moving here permanently.

Really, it’s for your own good.

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