|Home-made huckleberry pie|
CHAPTER ONE: The morning sun slanted through the back windows of the 4Runner as we headed west on Highway 2. Within 10 miles of our house, Spousal Unit braked suddenly. Deer, I thought. But in this case, "visitor's luck" was on our side - yes, Day 3 and my in-laws witness not only a cow moose, but also her baby, grazing peacefully in the marsh just to the left of the road (see video below). A jealous resident would cry out "Not fair!", but as a perfectionist tour guide, you smile knowingly and take credit for putting your visitors together with the wildlife in real time.
e journeyed on uneventfully to our first destination of the day - Kootenai Falls. The falls is one of the few large waterfalls along a major northwest river that has not been harnessed for electrical power. Nestled in the Cabinet Mountains, the falls drop around 200 feet in an almost unspoiled setting. The site is also famous since it was used to film sections of "The River Wild", starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon. How ironic that we should arrive at the rocky outcropping near the falls, and find a film crew equipped with a large drone! Chatting with the crew, we learned that they were filming background reels for an upcoming live action Disney movie. They had also been on location in Hawaii, and were headed to South America next. They would not reveal the name of the movie, but we saw "Jungle Cruise" printed on the placard near the drone. How exciting!
An adventurous hiker can go down the left fork of the trail to the Kootenai River Gorge and walk across a swinging bridge. As we approached the bridge, bighorn sheep were resting in the shade of sparse trees, high on the opposite bank. Only their occasional shifting of position revealed their location, so well do they blend into their surroundings.
Following a picnic at the trailhead, we drove south to the Ross Creek Cedars. This grove of western red cedars features some trees that are more than 8 feet in diameter and more than 400 years old. Looming 175 feet above Ross Creek, many of the trees still growing in the grove today were here before Columbus set sail for the new world. The nature trail follows the banks of Ross Creek, which often runs hidden beneath the rocky stream bottom.
So Yaak was on the must-visit list.
As we went north from Ross Creek to Yaak, the roads narrowed and the trees leaned in. The region, referred to as "The Yaak", is isolated and rugged, with no cell service for miles. The Yaak River (an Indian name meaning 'arrow') is known for its excellent fishing.
Eventually, we pulled into the village of Yaak, denoted by the Yaak River Tavern on one side of the road, and the Dirty Shame Saloon on the other.
"Do you know Tom Oar, the Mountain Man?" queried my father-in-law, to the waitress in the Tavern. Not the least bit surprised by the question, she responded, "Oh, sure, he comes in regular. He only lives a few miles off the main road."
We didn't find the Mountain Man, but my father -in-law toasted
him all the same
Only in Montana would "main road" signify that Tom and Nancy Oar live nestled on 6 acres surrounded by the Yaak National Forest in a cabin they built themselves! Tom sums up his life in this simple statement: "I feel good about where I'm at and what I do."
Wouldn't it be paradise if we could all say the same?
Wednesday Around the World
Sharon's Photo Souvenirs