Saturday, 9 July
From Grandview RV Park we traveled up I-90 north to just below Missoula, MT, and set up our RV in Ekstroms Stage Station in Clinton, MT. It turned out to be a beauty. The setting was in an open pine forest and the principal buildings were reconstructed log buildings. The forest and the buildings gave the place a warm feel even in the high mountain air.
Another positive aspect was that it had an excellent restaurant with a real cook. The meals were not prepackaged meals which needed only to be warmed up. The meals were prepared and cooked right there. Scrumptious! This was a fortuitous coincidence as it was Valerie's birthday. We skidded the tires and ate in the restaurant—a nice treat for both of us: I didn't have to cook and she didn't have to eat my cooking.
Sunday, 10 July
This was to have been a very special day and one of the highlights of the trip—especially for me. My brother and I had arranged to have a marker placed on the grave of our father's mother in Kalispell, MT. She died 11 days after our father's birth and was buried without a marker of any kind. I visited the cemetery several years ago and had found the place of her burial. It's a strange feeling standing in the place one knows is where a family member lies buried, especially under such tragic circumstances. The incompleteness of her life gives one pause, and the blankness of the unmarked grave seemed to me something that had to be rectified. One needs something to see, to touch, or to feel to mark the passing and give it meaning.
So you can imagine my profound disappointment when I arrived at her grave and found it still unmarked. Apparently, the marker is still in the process of being manufactured. But I had traveled thousands of miles, and although nothing real had changed, it hurt not to be able to trace my fingers on the letters of her name, much as people do on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Ah, well, that is something that will have to wait for another day.
And, once again, there is so much grandness and beauty in the Flathead Lake area, one can not long dwell on ones hurts.