Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Kindness of Locals.....

Those of us that travel find our most memorable trips are because of the kindness of locals.  Yes, the scenery may be spectacular and the history life changing, but it is the kindness of the local people that makes the memories of those special trips.

We were packing up for a week's vacation on the Idaho/Montana divide.  Our journey would take us up Highway 12 along the Lochsa River up to Lolo Pass.  From there, the plan was to go a few miles south to Packer Meadows.  Now, Packer Meadows is not well known today; but in the early 1800's it was one of Lewis and Clark's favorite campsites.  They were rather favorably impressed with Packer Meadows and camped there both coming and going.  It was one of their favorite campsites along their long journey.

Well, if Lewis and Clark thought it special, we figured it would be great to to spend a week there.  It was close to Lolo Hot Springs.  A river does not flow through Lolo Hot Springs, but the creek does and it played an important part in the famous book about Montana.  From Packer Meadows we could easily get to Indian Post Office Lake and the route Lewis and Clark took down to the Snake River.  It was also where I spent the summer of 1972  working on timber sales along Gravey Creek for the Forest Service.  The Lochsa Lodge provided the special dinner out,which my wife insists is a necessary part of a camping trip.  Elk Summit and Big Sand Lake were also on the agenda for a hike that had been almost 30 years in the waiting.

But the morning of our departure, as I was waiting for my wife and daughter to finish packing, I gave our new puppy a belly rub. She promptly flopped on her back to get the full effect of my scratches.  It felt like her belly was full of rocks!!  My wife confirmed that, "Yes, it feels like her belly is full of rocks."  About an hour later are vet said,  “ Her belly is full of little red rocks”.  Those little red rocks that we used for our landscaping!

The vet was rather specific in his instructions.  Here is a pill.  Do NOT give it to the pup, until you are camped at Packer Meadows. 

The drive to Packer Meadows was rather uneventful.  But it had been raining all week at Packer Meadows.  The “road” to our campsite along the meadow was downhill.   What are the chances of it continuing to rain for another week?

So I took the tent trailer down to the campsite.  It would be no trouble getting out once our little road dried out.

That night we could see the elk across the meadow from our campsite.  My daughter caught her first fish on a fly.  And our new puppy got her worming pill to cleanse her body of worms and red landscaping rocks.   The wisdom of our vet's instructions became very evident as we saw the results of that little pill.

The next week we visited the hot springs, watched the moose on Elk Summit, and generally had a great time while it rained every day.  And each day I watched for clearing skies, but if they appeared it was only a brief tease.  It continued to rain.

Finally it was time to leave.  It did not look good.  I figured I had one good shot at getting out.  If I started slipping and sliding it was going to get ugly.  So I found all the wood I could and laid a path back up to the gravel road.  I dropped the tent trailer and hooked it up to the truck. 

It is in moments like this, that you always wonder... “What made me think I did not need 4-wd on this truck?”.
I stalled, waiting for some help to drive down the gravel road.  We had seen at least one truck a day on the road, so the possibility did exist.

I heard the truck coming up the road and scrambled to flag it down.  The truck had Montana plates and was driven by a woman in her 40's.  Riding shotgun was her mother.  Well, I flagged them down and asked for their help.  My wife and the woman took the rear end of the tent trailer.  I took the back of the truck.  That nice lady's mother from Montana took the wheel of my 2-wd 5 speed truck.

I told the nice older lady to keep going and don't stop until she hit gravel!!  With everybody pushing the wheels started spinning and mud started flying.  The wheels were going round and round and the truck was barely moving.  More mud started flying around and the truck started picking up speed.  Pretty soon I dived out of the way as the tent trailer shot past me. 

I ran after the truck and trailer and caught up with them on the gravel road.  As I approached the driver's side I could hear laughing.  So I asked “Well, what's so funny?”.  She looked at me and said “Honey, I haven't driven a car in almost twenty years.  That was a lot of fun”. God bless Montanan's!

My daughter is a woman now.  That puppy hunted with me for thirteen years, and, yes, there were tears when she died.  And the memory of that laughter from a stranger still brings a smile to my face. 

It is hard to forget the kindness of locals. 


Anonymous said...

Your account of the kindness of Montana strangers touched my heart -- and my funnybone!

Also loved the photo of your daughter's first fist. What a thrill that must have been for both of you!

Sharon G.

Vladimir Steblina said...

Thanks for the comment.

My daughter became a pretty good at tying flies at the age of 5. She did not like tying green, black or grey flies since they were "boring". So I have a collection of pink, purple, yellow, and orange flies from that era.

She is in her twenties and if she ever decides to take up the sport again, she has a good start!

Anonymous said...

Just noticed your answer. I got so tickled at the mental picture of the little girl pink, purple, yellow and orange flies!

Remind her that they are there waiting for her. Maybe it will spark her interest in trying it again! :)

I'm a non-expert... cane poles are closer to my style (embarrassed to admit). But any way you get outdoors and fish is fun!