Our stay in Kalispell took us to the Kalispell Elks Lodge. They have several W/E gravel sites (30A) and the lodge has a gym like I have never seen at any Elks Lodge so far. There are 3, count ‘em, 3 racquetball courts, a room with stationary bikes/treadmills, etc., and a pumping iron room with free weights. A real locker room offering lockers, showers, a dry sauna, even a trainer’s table. Rustic, at best, but my kinda gym, not for yuppies to be strutting around, flexing for the mirrors and looking suave and “dee-boner”.
The weather was not all that great during our 8-day stay in Kalispell. Most days had rain, overcast, and/or thunder & lightning, but at least it was not cold. Between rainstorms we did manage to get out and “see stuff”. We spent a couple of days checking out Whitefish, MT, home to Whitefish Lake & Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort. We walked around downtown old town and fought the crowds at the Whitefish Arts Festival. We also paid a visit to the Bonsai Brewing Project, a local micro-brewery, and sampled their wares, adult beverage-wise. Sorry, BBP, nothing to write home about.
One day we took a walkabout around downtown old town Kalispell. They like their “climbing” art in Kalispell, there were a few “climbers” on the sides of some of the old buildings. We stopped in at Kalispell Brewing Co. for a taster (sorry Kalispell Brewing, nothing to write home about here, either). We tried Bias Brewing Co., also in the downtown old town area, also an underwhelming experience. Jeanne found the Wheat Montana Bakery and Deli where we just HAD to try one of their huckleberry cinnamon rolls. What a big ol’ gob of gooey goodness that thing was, it was HUGE!
Another road trip took us out to the Libby Dam and Kootenai Falls, a roughly 90 minute drive out of Kalispell. There was about a 6 mile stretch of Hwy. 2 where they were tearing it up for reconstruction, so the going was slow through all that gravel & dirt. I’d hate to drive the bus through there, although it is passable as evidenced by all the big-rig truckers going through. The Libby Dam creates Lake Koocanusa on the Kootenay River. Kootenai Falls is a little farther west on Hwy. 2, between Libby and Troy, MT. Near the falls there is a swinging bridge which I enjoyed watching Jeanne nervously navigate. The falls were very scenic with a deep green color to the Kootenay River.
Kalispell put on a 4th of July parade through Main St., so we leashed up Woody, grabbed our chairs, and hoofed it down to Main St. to set up for the parade. The parade drew quite a crowd and lasted for about 90 minutes. The parade participants threw candy to all the kids, creating quite the scramble amongst the little ones.
One of the few fairly clear days we grabbed Woodrow Wilson and headed out to hike to the Foy’s Overlook, one of many trails found at Herron Park near Foy Lake. It was a moderate uphill hike that got Jeanne a-huffin’ and a-puffin’, but some of the views were very nice and the downhill return was a plus. My experience with Murphy’s Laws is, if I got to hike uphill to get there, then I have to hike uphill to return as well!
Kalispell, like many towns here, does a Farmer’s Market every week. We ventured down, daring the rain, and did a little produce shopping. This was a real farmer’s market, albeit a smaller version, with many “grown product” booths to choose from.
The town of Kalispell lays claim to the Conrad Mansion, in which they sell guided tours but we passed on the tour. From the looks of the outside, a tour of the interior would pale in comparison to some of the antebellum mansions we saw in Natchez, MS. But we did walk the exterior and learned from signage that it was built in 1895 for the Charles Conrad family, he being the founder of the town of Kalispell. The mansion, now museum, is situated in a neighborhood of historical older homes that reminded us a lot like the old McDonald mansion district in Santa Rosa, CA (for those of you back there that actually read this blog!)
We took a drive, again daring the rain, out to the Hungry Horse area to scope out the Hungry Horse Dam, areas of the Flathead River, and the Hungry Horse Reservoir. The 4 mile drive out to the dam from Hwy. 2 was very scenic, with some spectacular views of the Flathead River. The dam was supposedly the 2nd highest concrete arch dam in the world when it was completed. It was certainly huge. A quick stop at the visitor’s center and it was off to do a little Jeepin’ on some of the USFS roads. We got some pretty nice “bird’s-eye views” of the reservoir and surrounding mountains, even with the limited sun.
On our last day in Kalispell we needed to do some forward recon for doggie day care for the time we will be in Glacier N.P. There are numerous trails for hiking (no dogs) throughout that park, a few of which will be in the 8 hour (or better) range. That puts a strain on our “leaving Woody in the bus” time frame, he is generally good for 5-6 hours before we have to get back and let him out to do business. So we found Columbia Mountain Kennels in the Columbia Falls area, which we were able to set up a couple of days for Woody for the exhorbinant price of $15 per day, 0700-1900 hrs. Since we were in the area…Columbia Mountain Trail was calling our names. We let Woodrow Wilson lead our excursion up the mountain to the tune of a 6+ mile hike. We’re already up here in the clouds, but this hike took us up another 1600’ in elevation. We were rewarded when we came upon one of the waterfalls on the mountain (I don’t think the waterfalls are named). And after the hike we stopped off at the Sacred Waters Brewery for a taster and some “linner”.
Our time in Kalispell done for now, tomorrow it is onward to the West Glacier KOA for our tour of duty at Glacier N.P. Until next post…