>I’ve spent a week essentially away from the internet, and it has been pretty much awesome. Yeah, I’ve still been connected to email, but not much more than deleting spam and saving messages for response (which I’ve taken some time today to attend to). I’ve been connected for work purposes as well, but all the various random stuff I follow I was so behind on that I really didn’t even try to catch up on it. So if you’re someone who is waiting to hear from me — just drop me another message, because I’m somewhat back in the saddle again. With snow falling pretty steady all day here, it’s a good opportunity to catch up. With all that’s been going on, I’ll probably get about a week’s worth of blog posts out of it too. So here goes.
Saturday, January 23rd
I’d actually been getting a little surly and irritable, which may come as a surprise to those of you only familiar with my usual sunny fuckin’ disposition. So just as a chance to get out of the house for a day, I volunteered to drive Julia and our friend Geneva up to Bigfork for a bellydance gig they’d been invited to do by their other friend and dance partner, Sonja. Bigfork is roughly two hours north of Missoula, on the NE shoulder of Flathead Lake. I love Flathead Lake. In fact, this classic picture of yours truly, in which I look far cooler than I actually am, was taken a couple summers ago in Polson, on the south end of the lake, while I was cooling my heels waiting for Julia to complete a bellydance rehearsal with Sonja.
Anyway, the weather that Saturday was supposed to suck, and that was part of my reason for wanting to drive. I’d rather be behind the wheel in shitty weather than waiting at home for one of my loved-ones to get out of it, you know? So we cruised up there. Just outside Bigfork we stopped at a little market. My inner tour manager knew Julia hadn’t eaten anything, so I suggested she put a little lunch together. Only in Montana can I imagine the owners deciding the restroom would be a cool place to mount a set of antlers and a skull.
From there we drove into the main part of Bigfork and found the restaurant/venue where they would be dancing. I guess we got up there about 3 PM. This was the sign out front, which totally cracked me up.
Bellidancing [sic]? Phychic [sic] Readings? Nice proofreading there. What is particularly awesome is it would appear the poster is a holdover from the previous year (I guess this is an annual event), because the date has been changed by placing a piece of paper over the old one with the new date indicated. I normally hate spelling and grammar errors on signs, but somehow this made it perfect. And yes, that is “Mideastern” food, so as not to be mistaken for “Midwestern” food. Maybe the term “Mideast” is acceptable for referring to the Middle East, but it seems wrong to me. Therefore it is.
I helped them get in, helped them figure out how the stereo system in the venue worked for playing their music, etc., then took off. My plan was to find a place to hang out with my laptop and get some writing done, but Bigfork was closed up tight. Meanwhile, Geneva had asked if I would go down the street and fill up an empty growler for her, which I, being the old school Man of Chivalry that I am, happily agreed to do. Mainly because at that moment I decided I wanted one for myself. I rolled down to Flathead Lake Brewing Company, only to discover they were closed for remodeling. Luckily there was a guy there who, when queried, directed me to the town of Lakeside to get my booze. I decided to take his advice, even though, instead of fitting the Burly Man of Montana archetype (i.e. clad head-to-toe in Carhart, flannel and denim), he was wearing some kind of dorky gray track suit.
It wasn’t a long drive, maybe twenty miles or so, and I enjoyed it. That end of the Flathead is rustic, and feels wild. Kalispell is there, of course, but it is surrounded by wilderness. Whitefish and Glacier National Park are just north, the Bob Marshall Wilderness is just beyond the Swans, and the bite in the air made it feel more, I don’t know, arctic. I was in that frame of mind on account of just having started re-reading The Call of the Wild, so I pretended the Subaru was a team of dogs that I was mushing through the wilderness in search of medicine for the children.
In Somers I stopped and took a picture of the lake, looking south, and zoomed in on some ice fishermen.
Just getting out and doing some different stuff was already working toward improving my mood. I found Tamarack Brewing Company in Lakeside, and sealed the deal on a couple growlers. In fact, as I write this blog I have finally cracked into mine, and am enjoying a frosty beverage out of the cheesy tourist trap tumbler I got at a gas station in Deadwood, SD, when I was out there for work a couple winters ago. Mmm, delicious. I hope Geneva enjoyed hers as much as I’m enjoying mine!
From there I headed into Kalispell, had something to eat, and then went book shopping at the local Borders. Anymore my book shopping amounts to taking pictures of books I want to get, which I add to a list that I will probably never get everything checked off of, but nonetheless refer to when I need something ordered. I’ll probably follow up with this one; I go on travel writing binges sometimes, and this guy is a lot of fun to read.
By then it was closing in on 8:30 or so, so I headed back to where Julia & Co were dancing. I found a parking lot right outside the restaurant and read by streetlight for a while, even though it started getting a little chilly. I could hear the music from inside, and every now and then I could see them dancing up in the windows. This is a shitty cell phone pic, because what is a blog post without one of those, right?
By this point I was no longer a musher out on the tundra, but a Private Dick on stakeout, watching people pass by in the dark who had no clue I was watching them, hearing what they were talking about, seeing them dig their clothes out of their asscracks, etc. That was fun for a while, but then I figured it was about time to roll on inside.
The place was decked out pretty cool, with nice lights and low tables. A lot of people were dressed in costumes, which was cool . . . and weird. There was something mildly odd and disturbing about a bunch of middle-aged and older white people dressed up as Arabs. Especially considering how most Americans seem to feel about people from that part of the world these days. I don’t know. I got to see some dancing, though, which is always great. The lighting wasn’t conducive to the camera I had, and I didn’t want to interfere, so most of the pictures I took suck. But here are Geneva and Julia dancing.
Honestly, I could watch them for hours. It is really weird to me how when I go to these events I am usually the only husband/boyfriend/whatever in attendance. I find it so artistic and sexy, and I dig it. Maybe because I appreciate how hard they work to do what they do. In this case, they literally did dance for hours. They were there from 3 PM until about 10:30 PM, with the serious business getting started around 5:30 or so. That’s a lot of dancing, and they were worn out.
The drive home was pretty bad weather-wise. I was glad I chose to drive. It was beautiful too, with snow and ice crystals glistening in the headlights and on the highway. In clear spots the moon was bouncing reflections off the lake, which was beautiful. Both Julia and Geneva were nodding in and out of sleep, and would periodically ask if I was okay. I was — I was enjoying myself. When I am awake and full of energy, I actually like driving late into the night while others sleep in the car, especially when it’s people I care about.
We didn’t get home until about 1:30 AM, I guess. It was a long day, but one I was glad to have participated in.
That was just the beginning of what would turn into pretty much seven straight days of magnificence! Coming up next: Our hero travels to San Francisco! He sees a mighty falcon masquerading as a chicken! He meets in person the greatest music blogger and Metal fan ever, the legendary Umlaut! And, finally, Scott “Wino” Weinrich says, “What the fuck are you doing here?!”
* I was only kidding, of course.
** Ah, you got me, I was kidding again! About the salsa stain, that is. That totally is my finger, only I was pointing out Wino’s awesomeness