As I mentioned last week, my parents were kind enough to open their Home for Wed Mothers, and so I left my Honeydew, my doggies, and my Warehome, and moved across the Continental Divide to wait on It’ll’s arrival.  I miss my life near Babb terribly, though life in my parents’ gorgeous and comfortable house is not exactly a hardship.

Neither is living in Civilization – on Monday, I was struck by the desire to make grilled halibut tacos with mango-blackberry salsa, rice and beans, and virgin margaritas, and instead of surveying what I had on hand in the Warehome (not halibut, not blackberries, not mangos, not limes, not club soda) and making the necessary substitutions, I made a grocery list, drove to the lovely grocery store that had ALL of those items in stock, and made dinner!  While shopping, I bought only what I needed for dinner (and, okay, some blood orange sorbet that I’d never seen before – and tamari pumpkin seeds for the same reason).  But I did not buy two of everything, as I normally do.  And I did not have to load gallons of milk and frozen chicken breasts into coolers in the back of my truck when I was done shopping.

If you do not live 150 miles away from the grocery store, then I doubt you can appreciate how much I loved this trip to the grocery store.  It was practically the highlight of my week!

After inhaling the fruity tacos, I was surprised by a phone call from Honeydew, who remains in the Warehome with the stinky doggies (this past week, Buck had his turn being sprayed by the skunk, having learned nothing from Roy’s experience), keeping our bees alive, shipping honey, and generally holding down the fort.  He was calling to say that he missed me and planned to drive over the pass that night, so we could hang out together on Tuesday before his long scheduled dentist appointment.  I was, of course, thrilled.  Honeydew hadn’t been home from California a full 48 hours before it was time for me to move to Whitefish, so I’m not exactly sick of him.

Tuesday morning,  Honeydew expressed a desire for critter watching, and I confessed a need for huckleberry macaroons, so clearly the best path of action was to leave Civilization and drive the hour or so to Polebridge, Montana, to satiate both desires.  And so off we went, bouncing along the 40 miles of the potholed, washboarded North Fork dirt road, where there are plenty of critters to be seen, if your eyes are as sharp as Honeydew’s are.

Elk grazing along the North Fork of the Flathead River, Glacier National Park, Montana

If you’ve never been, Polebridge is a famed and beloved spot in Northwestern Montana.  As the crow flies, it sits just a bit south of Babb, but on the western border of Glacier National Park.  It is situated on the banks of the North Fork of the Flathead River and is off the grid – no electricity, no indoor plumbing, no cell service.  There is a rustic hostel, with a delightful wood fired hot tub; a tiny bar that serves up the best pizza you’ve never tasted on Friday nights;

and a historic general store that features dry goods, tshirts, cold beer (off premises), delectable hot sandwiches and melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies and huckleberry macaroons, among other goodies.

We arrived shortly before lunchtime and picked up a turkey-cranberry-cream-cheese-hot-sandwich to go with the aforementioned chocolate chip cookies and huckleberry macaroons.  I loaded the food into the car while Honeydew visited the outhouse, and then shut the car door to use as a support while I attempted to squat down to take a picture of the Merc, as the Polebridge general store is affectionately known.

While lumbering to the Earth to get my shot, I heard the distinctive sound of the car doors locking, which I thought was a bit odd, as neither Honeydew nor I are frequent door lockers, particularly when in locales like Babb and Polebridge.  But, we recently purchased a new car, after realizing that as much as I continue to love my old Tahoe, ten years and 200,000 miles, plenty of which included hauling trailers back and forth across the country, have taken their toll.  And so I figured that Honeydew was just playing with all the bells and whistles of the new car.

I figured wrong.  The doors were locked, with the key sitting jauntily in the brand spankin’ new ignition, glinting in the fading sun.

Honeydew and I laughed.  We purchased the new car, in part, because of its OnStar feature – since we’re expecting a baby whose doctor is also 150-mostly-cell-phone-service-less-miles away from our humble Warehome, we thought OnStar was a responsible New Parent Choice.  We’d just give OnStar a jingle on the Polebridge payphone and have them unlock the vehicle.

The OnStar operator was friendly and professional, and promised us that she would locate the car via satellite and send the signal to unlock it within 10 minutes.  Great, we said, as our cell phones, jackets, and cookies were all locked in the car, and I was getting chilly.  Not to mention hungry.  Honeydew was treating me with kid gloves.

Me, pointing to my jailed cookies.  Not happy.

Ten minutes later, the payphone rang.  Slight problem – OnStar couldn’t locate the car via satellite.  In fact, the operator revealed, they couldn’t locate Polebridge, either.  I think perhaps if they had just been unable to locate the car I might have been more sympathetic.  But being unable to locate Polebridge?

Do you not have a map?  It’s quite clearly marked, I assured the woman.  Look at the northwest Montana-British Columbia border.  Find Glacier National Park.  It’s right there.

But what crossroads are you at? the operator queried.

Behind the at, I wanted to answer, but instead replied, there’s not really a crossroads in Polebridge.  There’s the Merc, which we’re sitting in front of.  It’s the center of town.  Look again.  There’s only one town up here.

This went on for quite some time.  Several hours passed, during which time Honeydew and I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of the Merc’s delightful young caretakers, Stuart and Flannery.  We commiserated over the joys and pains of running a small business in a town that’s really only “open for business” about three months per year.  They are darling folks, and meeting them was certainly a silver lining in the day.

Eventually, OnStar sent a locksmith from Columbia Falls, the closest town to Polebridge, about 4o miles down the dirt road, to unlock the car.  He, of course, knew just where Polebridge was.  And the moment he had the vehicle unlocked, I dove inside to devour my sammich and macaroons.

And I reckon that’ll teach me to control my Polebridge cookie cravings … just wish all that stress had sent me into labor …

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