As yet unwashed

Since we’ve been planted here at the south end of Flathead Lake, every trip to and from our campground has taken us by a restaurant perched on the western shore — a large, tidy, ranch-style building sided in weathered wood. We heard good things about the place from campground neighbors, so last night we decided to give it a try.

And if anyplace beckons to a couple of traveling Buckeyes, it’s a restaurant calling itself “The Shoe.”

The atmosphere is warm, open and rustic. The east-facing wall is floor-to-ceiling glass, offering a panoramic view of the lake. All of the outdoor seating was taken when we arrived, so we settled for a table inside.

Staffing has been an issue everywhere we’ve been — people don’t want to work these days, it seems. Last night The Shoe was operating three short on the floor and four short in the kitchen. We were there almost three hours.

I suppose that’d frustrate some people. Not us — we get it. We refuse to punish a business because seven people didn’t show up for work on a busy holiday weekend.

From host to manager to waitstaff, everyone working was on their game. None of them tried to pretend there wasn’t a problem, but they never complained about it in front of the guests. Hospitality and service were excellent.

The food, once we got it, was outstanding — quality, preparation and presentation. Deb had the beef filet. I ordered a 50/50 beef/bison burger and a wedge salad. A truly great meal.

For “dessert” we had a flight of margaritas. And yes, one was huckleberry.

It was a great experience overall, and there are lots of lessons to take from it. On the service side, the people who are working should work, taking good care of the patrons in front of them. As customers, we’ve found that we get what we give — and by being kind to a bunch of people working their asses off under difficult conditions, we were treated well in return.

The Mission Mountains reappeared today, though not quite as clearly. Hazy outlines of high ridges feel even more imposing, in a way, than before. A layer of lifting clouds this morning added to the drama as a rising sun cleared the peaks.

It’s been five months now since Ernie’s had a bath. He’s absolutely filthy. We’d scheduled a local husband-and-wife team to come out today and scrub the grime off, but they had to postpone because of high winds.

We totally understand. Neither one of us would want to be up on a ladder in conditions like we’re seeing today. If it’s calmer tomorrow they’ll do the job then.

We’d planned to hang around the campsite most of the day anyway and chill in the mountain air. So even if the bus remains unwashed, it works out.

We didn’t squander our bonus time, however. It’s getting close to the point in a stay when we need provisions — or when it’s wise to replenish our stock, at least — so we chose to do that today instead of tomorrow.

A quick word about the Polson Walmart. It’s pretty much a cookie-cutter Wally World, as far as the store itself goes. But when it comes to the setting, I’ll wager that few units can compete with Polson’s view of the mountains.

For RVers who prefer blacktop boondocking to campgrounds, or who get caught short without a place to stay, it might not get better than tucking into the back row of the parking lot at the Polson Walmart.

On our way back to the bus, we couldn’t resist stopping one more time at Richwine’s Burgerville for “The Best Burger Goin’.”

In our American Life — and especially in a place like this — there’s no such thing as a lost day.

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

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

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