‘Little Motorhome on the Prairie’

Checking the calendar, I see that it’s the 28th of August. When the dogs and I were out first thing this morning, the Montana sky was a soft gray blanket, darker to the west, promising rain sooner rather than later.

It began to fall, steadily but gently, less than an hour after that.

I have no complaints. They need it ’round here. And it’s not a travel day for us, so we’re cool with watching it rain a while.

I was curious about how long our liquid sunshine might last, though, so once the dogs were fed I sat down at my computer and pulled up radar. The green band of rain looked like it’d be through here by noon. Scanning farther west and south, a patch of light blue caught my attention.


A hundred miles from where I sit, in the higher elevations of the Absaroka range north of Yellowstone, the season’s first snow is falling — on the 28th of August. It’ll be a month or more, probably not ’til October, before the valleys see snow, but it reminded me that we’re definitely in different territory these days.

By the way, this morning it was 41°F in West Yellowstone, Montana. Tonight’s low is predicted to be 29°F. That’s at 6,667 feet, a good 6,000 feet below where snow was falling today.

Here, 3,500 feet lower than West Yellowstone, we saw 50°F overnight.

Glacier will put us in close proximity to high country, of course, but we expect to be out of there long before any of the white stuff lands on Ernie. Most of our time will be spent at (relatively) lower elevations anyway. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see patches of snow on the high peaks.

I sure hope so.

We had a relaxing Friday on our prairie campsite. This stretch has turned into a time of decompression from recent travels — I find it hard to comprehend that we left Arkansas just four weeks ago tomorrow — and gathering strength for the push toward Glacier.

Deb, the resident Mountain Gal, admits to being shocked by how much she’s enjoying the prairie. There’s a peace to the place that’s difficult to describe, an air of ease and relief that suits us both.

We ran a couple of errands yesterday and gassed-up Mercy at the Conoco in Crow Agency. I hiked up the hill again to the flagpole, taking photographs and generally absorbing the beauty of the land. We visited the small farm next to the campground.

The night sky was magnificent. Maybe the best stargazing yet.

I remember two seasonal delights from my long-ago summer in West Glacier — Flathead cherries and huckleberries. The former are dark, sweet, juicy and addictive, hands-down the best cherries I’ve ever had. They’re grown on farms throughout the Flathead valley.

Huckleberries, on the other hand, grow only in the wild — all attempts to cultivate the plants have failed. Humans compete with local wildlife (including bears preparing for the long winter) to harvest the delicious fruits. While some folks compare them to blueberries, I’m here to tell you that fresh huckleberries are sweeter and spicier than any blueberry could hope to be.

This year we’ll arrive in the region too late to pick our own Flathead cherries, but we’ll land smack-dab in the middle of peak huckleberry season. I can’t wait.

Deb and I dropped by the campground store for a treat around sunset last night. Pulling back the glass door of the ice-cream freezer, I couldn’t believe my eyes — Montana-made Wilcoxson’s Huckleberry Ice Cream Sandwiches!

I snatched one out of the case, unwrapped it and immediately was transported to heaven on Earth. The creamy, pale-purple confection may have fallen short of fresh-picked huckleberries, but the flavor was full of memories.

I didn’t waste precious time taking a picture. The one you see here I stole from the Web.

Now stop and think about what a simple moment that was, how brief the experience, how essential. Memory. Surprise. Taste. Joy.

It seems to me that a person doesn’t have to drive a motorhome to Montana to have such a moment. Our senses and our memories travel with us wherever we go. Surprise is a product of shedding expectations and being open to possibilities. We can create joy whenever we choose to, for ourselves and for others.

I didn’t learn that on the road. I suspect I’ve always known it.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath