I came to Glacier with a secret –
one with which I had teased Hillary and Anna “I don’t like surprises” Becker for weeks. I had relented a little for planning purposes, and disclosed it would happen the Tuesday evening after we arrived in Montana. That was all they knew. I was worse than a little kid, quite annoying, and proud of it.
These awesome ladies surprised me for my 60th birthday – a mother/daughter trip to Glacier(!!) where I had spent glorious summers in the 80’s working and playing. I had never been so dumbfounded and overjoyed in all my life when I opened my present – a little backpack with a water bottle, a rain poncho and… a plane ticket to Kalispell, MT and an Airbnb itinerary for August 16-24, 2020.
Well, one good surprise deserves another, I had reasoned….:)
And so it started as soon as we met up at Glacier International Airport in Kalispell that Sunday.
“So what’s the secret? You’re not taking us camping in the backcountry with all the grizzlies are you?” Nope.
“I don’t like surprises. I like being prepared. What’s this all about? Are you dragging us up one of those treacherous mountains you’re always talking about?” No, of course not.
They peppered me with conjecture; I just gloated. Time to move on! We headed for Whitefish for shopping and a little fun at The Great Northern – a favorite haunt from my summers here in the 80’s.
What happens in Montana stays in Montana! 🤠 (nah not really – the extent of our reveling at the Great Northern was full-fat dressing on our dinner salads…not so much the case in the 80’s though 🤐 )
After spending the night in Whitefish, Monday morning we headed for our Bed and Breakfast near West Glacier, stopping along the way to get groceries and supplies for hikes (and unbeknownst to my girls, the Tuesday surprise, which included a gourmet backcountry meal). One of the girls mentioned she might need monthly personal items later in the week, but would wait to get them. This is where my strange behavior began.
Me: “No, get them now.”
Daughter: “But I don’t need them now.”
Me: “Get them anyway.”
Once in the supermarket we separated. Hillary and Anna went looking for their stuff; I needed to shop on my own, due to ‘covert operational plans.’ (I may or may not have listened to a few “Hank the Cow Dog” episodes back in the day).
First, to the produce section – arugula salad mix, apples, sweet potatoes. Then to the beef cooler – 4 lbs. of grass-fed beef. Who doesn’t take arugula, sweet potatoes and grass-fed beef on hikes, right? Then off to find other supplies.
Once I met up with Anna and Hillary, I noticed Anna already had a huge box of salad greens in her cart. No use for both of us to buy greens; I put mine back. I would pilfer some of Anna’s, which I needed for the Tuesday surprise. Hillary and Anna saw what was in my cart, and wondered at my odd sack-lunch choices. “Oh well, that’s my mama….”
Off to our lovely bed and breakfast – Moose Creek Lodge.
I disappeared for a quick, covert meeting with our host, Katie, who had agreed to prepare the meal I needed for the Tuesday surprise.
The girls and I got settled in, put away groceries, and headed to Apgar Village on Lake McDonald for an afternoon of kayaking and paddle boarding.
It was a full day. We planned to meet Kate, a local photographer (not to be confused with Katie the B&B host) at Apgar for a mother/daughter photo shoot that evening. We rented a kayak and paddle boards for two hours– that left us just enough time to run back to the B&B, eat, ready for the photoshoot, and be back by 6:30.
It was glorious out on the lake: a warm sunny day, jaw-dropping scenery, bracing high-country water to keep us cool and refreshed. I suggested we head for Fish Creek Campground, where the creek emptied into the lake. I had done it as an easy sunrise paddle before.
So we set off – it was a surprisingly quick paddle to Fish Creek (there’s your clue, stupid…). We hung out awhile, took pictures, and started back. Woah. Where did that wind come from? Why is the water so choppy? 5 feet forward – 2 back. 4 feet forward – 1 back. Don’t stop paddling. Can’t stop paddling.
We battled wind and waves for what seemed an eternity. Apgar taunted us – so close, yet so far. Exhausted, hungry, thirsty and beat up from sun and wind, we finally made it.
Not much time to get ready now – we were out on the lake way too long. We returned our equipment and raced back to the B&B. I texted Kate the photographer and pushed our meeting time back half an hour – that allowed enough time to get ready, not enough time to eat. I can live off stored fat for days, not so much Hillary and Anna (Anna in particular – her metabolism is unforgiving, and the term “hangry” may come to mind…)
Anna and I were ready first.
“I am starved,” Anna groused. “Hillary’s still getting ready. I’m gonna make a salad.”
Uh oh. Little did she know her salad had done a disappearing act. Katie, thinking we had already left for the photo shoot, had swiped the groceries to make the meal for our surprise destination tomorrow.
“No, no Anna. There’s not time to make a salad. We gotta leave as soon as Hillary’s ready – any minute now.” (ummm we’re talking Hillary … y’all know Hillary?)
Anna: “It’ll only take three minutes. There is time and I need to eat!”
Me: “No, there’s not. We can pick something up on the way.”
Anna: “Well that makes no sense… I’ll just make a quick salad and …”
“NO, ANNA!” The Matriarch prevailed and that was that.
Hillary was blissfully unaware of this little dysfunctional family episode as she finished her hair and make up, and fifteen ⌛minutes🐢 later 💀 we finally walked out the door. Oh yey – Anna is hangry, none too happy with my inexplicable behavior, and we’re on our way to a photo shoot. Smile!… click. Herrrre we go…
We arrived at Apgar and found Kate. She was an energetic, fun soul and we hit it off immediately. Her sunny personality dispelled a little of the tension, at least.
Since we would be at Apgar taking photos for awhile, I decided to order Anna a to-go salad from Eddie’s Cafe. Genius plan. No more hangry Anna, and the greens back at the B&B would be safe.
“Hey Anna, I’m going to run over to Eddie’s and get you a to-go salad. It’ll be ready when we head up the road for more photos– you can eat on the way.”
“Ummm, mom… NO! I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself. If I need a salad I will get a salad…. why would you spend $20 on a salad when I could have eaten at our place??”
If the Becker fam had a pet peeve list, these traits would probably be in the top three:
irrational thought and behavior. ✅
I was checking all the boxes that particular day. We argued; I won (easy, just ignore her protests). And off I sprinted to Eddie’s. Kate was witnessing all of this with a rather amused expression. She, also, was aware of my elaborate scheme for Tuesday.
So I forced this delicious, huge salad topped with grilled salmon Anna. Bad mama. Hillary was jealous. “I wanted huckleberry pie, mom….”
Sheesh. How do I begin to explain my demanding, weird, erratic behavior? I could only hope the girls would appreciate it all in hindsight. Maybe even get a good laugh.
So we took photos at Apgar and Anna begrudgingly ate salad. Hillary talked about huckleberry pie.
We drove to Lake McDonald Lodge for the next photo stop, where I had spent summers working and living. It was so fun to show off this place that held a thousand memories and a very special place in my heart.
Eventually our smiles became genuine and my quick-to-forgive, gracious daughters put the salad/no-huckleberry-pie incident behind them. At least…that’s my story and I’m stickin’ with it.
Stay tuned for:
“The Great Grizzly Sprint of 2020” and “High Country Surprise“
Next stop: The Loop and beyond for some high country shots. Kate was taking us up Going to the Sun Road, a winding thrill ride with steep drop-offs and spectacular views. And a thrill ride it was, a little more than we bargained for 😳…