So we headed north and managed to reach Glacier in the daylight – though it was misty and rainy. (I would like to state right here, that I explained all this to the doctor and she said it would not have been the rainy (but fresh) air at Glacier that made whatever I was catching hit me like a ton of cement – but rather the stale, closed-up airplane air that did me in – that my resistance would’ve been low and some germ settling in the dead air of the plane took the opportunity to attack.)
We only made it to Logan Pass before the night began to settle in and we headed back down again, but we stopped for a lot of good photo ops – which, although it would’ve been cool to see the tops of the mountains, was fascinating in itself – to actually be in the clouds.
As we reached the area of Avalanche Creek, the MMs pulled over and cooked us a delightful meal of salmon cakes, beans and salad which tasted all the better in the darkness and rain with the gurgling of the creek behind us and the grizzlies roaning in the woods around us (ok, we didn’t SEE any grizzlies, but we couldn’t see ANYTHING, so whose to say they weren’t there?)
The rangers came to check us out, but decided the food smelled good (they were invited for supper) and we didn’t look all that threatening, so they let us stay.
After finishing supper (and continuing to struggle to speak), the MMs (MT. miss.) drove me to their home in a small town nestled in the valley off of Highway 141.
This is what I figured out about Montana – other than states that I’ve actually lived in (and there’s been a few), I have been in Montana more than any other state – make that about six months of my life. I love Montana. People who haven’t been there often think of Montana as all mountains – but like Colorado, the eastern part of the state is actually flat and for most of the year, rather dull and brown. But when you hit Billings, you begin to get hints of what you’ll see in the western part of the state – majestic mountains, pine-bordered streams, avalanches of water falls. Nothing compares to the beauty of western Montana. The wide open spaces attract deer, elk, moose, wolves and a bear or two. This is as far away from downtown Chicago life as you can get.
The town (where the MMs) live has about 300 people and can be adequately described as a cross between Tuscola (MI) and Macleod (MT). Although I didn’t see too much of the town on Saturday night, by Sunday morning, the sun was shining and I wandered around before church.
(By this time, my voice had decided that it wouldn’t be giving a testimony during the SS hour, as much as my brain wanted to do so.)
I got to sit through the Journey lesson (which was fun – and I found a mistake in the text which will now go to marked copy) and then the church service itself.
We had planned on heading up to Glacier, but between the end of the conference and Sunday morning, the MM found out that Sunday was the last day Going-to-the-Sun-Road was opened for the season (because of construction, not weather).
That meant we had to get a quick start north. So off we went.
So, it all started a week ago Friday. I was sitting in my motel room in Missoula, Montana, getting ready for the next day’s conference. All was well. The flight had been smooth and even the layover in Denver had been painless. I did kind of feel like I was getting a cold, but it was in the background and I decided not to worry about it at that point. The fam had all just been through colds, so I figured it was possible, but theirs had only lasted a couple days, so I figured I could shake mine off, too.
By the next morning I knew for sure I had a cold, but at that point was more concerned about coughing than anything more.
I had three workshops and a general session to do – as I completed each one, my voice became softer and softer. By supper at Fuddrucker’s I was coughing and barely talking.
Otherwise, the conference went well. I especially enjoyed meeting a lady who writes for the same SS papers I write for. We recognized each other by name and it was like connecting with an old friend (and now are FaceBook friends), so that was very cool.
The church used to be a store in a strip mall and they are still in the process of rennovating. Because of the update, they rent out parts of the building to other businesses. Some unique facilities.
In fact, during the first workshop, a foodbank was happening in the hall behind my room. That particular wall was all glass, so I had kids knocking on the windows and waving to the class all during the workshop – which wasn’t really a problem for the specific class I was teaching because it was more informal.
So I coughed and whispered my way through the day.
The Sunday morning Sue and I headed north from Chattanooga – I drove and she navigated. Those of you who know me, know I collect counties, so as we’re riding Sue says, “Look, if you cut across this back road – you’ll get some new counties.” (No, she doesn’t have every county I haven’t been in memorized, but I had circled a few I still needed on the map.)
Sounded like a plan, so I turned on the back road. The sun was shining, the sky was bright blue – the weather was perfect.
And then suddenly, after going many miles – the road STOPPED!
Just like that!
We had run into the Ohio River. I got out of the car to figure out what was happening. One other car was there – the people looked like they were heading to church – and they waved real friendly like.
The only way across the river was to wait for the ferry.
We still had some time after visiting Rock City, so we headed over to the Lookout Mountain Incline which is actually a funicular.
A funicular (besides being a fun word to say) means that two cars are attached to the opposite ends of a cable so that they counter balance each other. While one is at the bottom, the other is at the top. The track is one rail – except for a split at the halfway point where they pass each other.
The Incline is a National Historic Site AND the steepest Incline in the world. At the top there is a 72.2% grade. Mostly, the Incline is used by tourists, but the locals have also use it when the roads are icy.
At the top you can see the Battlefield Memorial, but we didn’t do that because we needed to head for the church.
One part of the trail takes you into a curvy underground cavern with a waterfall and a strange population of gnomes (like a Travelocity explosion) and fairy tale characters that I’m guessing are the originals put there by Frieda herself. They appear in surprising places, illuminated by black light.
Overall, Rock City was a surprise – and as I read the reviews on TripAdvisor, I see that most people agreed with me. The place wasn’t what I was expecting. I liked the windy path through the rocky woods, though I could’ve done without the background elevator music coming out of of rocky speakers. Most of it was kitchy and cool – other parts were a little odd. Many said that their entire family enjoyed it – both the little kids and the teens. And now I can say that I really did SEE ROCK CITY.
The crowning glory of Rock City is Lookout Point – the view (as many of the barn roofs tell you) is supposedly of seven states. I guess you can’t really argue about that – it’s not like the states have a huge banner telling you what you’re seeing. On the other hand, how do you really know – though I’m sure someone figured it out sometime.