June 2012


Last Friday, I did my weekly summer therapy with Layla Jane. Logan Pass, at the top of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, had just opened, and we wanted to be among the first to explore in the high country. The alpine terrain around the Pass is so fragile and so well loved that most of the summer, no walking past the boardwalk is allowed. But this time of year, when feet of snow still blanket the area, every nook and cranny of the pass is fair game.

So, we strapped on our snowshoes and walked south from the pass, towards the Heavy Runner and Mount Reynolds.

We saw all sorts of interesting tracks:

And mystical cloud formations drifting in front of the Garden Wall:

We eventually hiked west, scrambling up a low ridge on Mt. Reynolds, gazing down onto almost-all-the-way-still-frozen Hidden Lake, snow covered Bearhat Mountain, and Avalanche Ridge, which drops down into Floral Park, one of my favorite spots in all of Glacier.

On the way home, I ran into this guy, having a little roadside party.

I wonder how long I’ll have to live here before I get over the thrill of seeing a bear.

Hopefully forever.

2012. Glacier County Honey Co. All Rights Reserved.

I love going to bed at 10:00pm in the half light, and waking up at 4:30am in the same.  These nearly endless hours of daylight don’t last long, but they always fall just when we need them most, and by that I mean that Honeydew and I have gotten an awful lot done in the last few weeks, and had an awful lot of fun, too.

When possible, I like to throw a little party for the solstice, my favorite night of the year.  We feasted on a roasted Hutterite chicken, farmer’s market vegetables, fresh blueberry cobbler, and Summer Honey beer, clinking our glasses in honor of summer’s scientific arrival.

After supper we built a fire and snuggled into our lawn chairs to bear witness to the last glimmers of daylight, which I think slipped behind the mountains at 10:40pm.

I snapped pictures all night, trying to capture the magnificent tilt of the Earth against the light, and trying to keep from my mind the cold, hard fact that every night, from now until the December solstice, will be a bit longer than the one before it.

Bring on July!

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

I attained thirty-tworriffic years of livin’ over the weekend.  Thirty-two.  A comfortable age, an easy feeling.

We’re not big on birthday celebrations in my family, unless they occur during a time period when we’re looking for a reason to prepare a beautiful meal, or go on an adventure.  Falling in late June, my birthday usually provides such an opportunity.  I feel grateful for every birthday, and I always wish that Howard, my brother who passed away about 8 years ago just shy of his 20th birthday, were celebrating with me.

Saturday night, my mama baked me a strawberry shortcake, with her Aunt Juanita’s homemade shortbread.  Oh, my.

Sunday, we woke up to cool, windy skies.  Honeydew made me my favorite egg-and-Swiss on an english muffin, and then entertained Maggie Rose for most of the day so that I could pour beeswax candles and craft ornaments.  Yes, I worked on my birthday.  And I enjoyed it.  For dinner, Honeydew took me out to Two Sisters, where I ordered my favorite lemon-dill butter trout with fresh veggies, a Twista, and a delectable brownie sundae.  As always, the food was fresh, beautifully prepared, and served with friendly ease.

Honeydew hadn’t yet been up to see Logan Pass, so after dinner we took a leisurely drive up the Going-to-the-Sun Road, an unspeakable luxury that we revel in this time of year.  A few raindrops fell as we turned onto the road, but by the time we hit Dead Horse Curve, a gorgeous double rainbow arched over St. Mary Lake, and I knew Howard was with me.  Thanks, baby bro.

Driving up the road, my favorite Dixie Chicks tune sounded through the speakers, and I thought back to blasting Wide Open Spaces as I navigated the interstates from Virginia to Montana.  That song — penned by a girl who left Texas behind for the University of Montana — was released the year I graduated from high school, and it always takes me back to the first true freedom I ever knew, living in a mildewing little cabin at the intersection of Hwy 89 and the Going-to-the-Sun Road.  That taste for freedom turned out to be a life changing addiction, as I turned 19, and then 20, and 21, 22, and now 32 in the shadow of Glacier National Park.

On our way home, the light fell on Divide Mountain — which I’ve always understood to represent the beginning of the world in the Blackfeet culture — in such an unusual way that I knew — as you sometimes just know — that the beginning of my 32nd year is going to be a good one, as long as I work hard and take the time to appreciate all that I am working for.

Precious baby, wonderful husband, stinky dogs, concrete floors, and sticky door knobs.  May I see 33.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Last fall, Honeydew wound up on the cover the American Bee Journal and I thought I’d never hear the end of it.

Early yesterday morning, my phone started ringing off the hook as friends from the Flathead called to tell me that we were both on the cover of the Flathead Beacon.

I may not be Beekeeper-in-Chief, but I don’t exactly sit around twiddling my thumbs, either, so I’m enjoying the equal fame with Honeydew.  And I have to say that of all the folks who have interviewed us about being young-ish entrepreneurs, I think the Beacon’s Molly Priddy understood us best.  Here’s her article: The Sweet Life.

We appreciate the press, and especially the mention of our 1st Annual Fill Your Own Bucket Day, on August 11.  We hope to see y’all here!

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  Photo credit to Lido Vizzutti/Flathead Beacon.  All Rights Reserved.

I was over on the west side of the Continental Divide yesterday, doing my usual every-other-week-300-mile-round trip to Costco, the farmer’s market, Ace Hardware, and medical-appointment-of-the-quarter.  Yesterday, the dreaded Dentist.  Uggh.  If there is a Hell, its background noise is the whine of the dentist’s drill.

Flathead County has had so much rain it is practically mildewing, and every local I talked to expressed their frustration with the wet weather, a sentiment I echoed as I got soaked in the Target parking lot, and then the Famous Dave’s parking lot, and then the Apple Barrel parking lot.  Finally done with my tasks of honey deliveries and grocery lists, I pointed my fully loaded rig east, expecting to drive Hwy 2 through West Glacier to Browning and then picking up Hwy 464/Duck Lake Road, as I do most of the year.

But as I waited for my enormous gas tank to fill, I idly surfed Facebook on my phone, and there it was – the announcement the East Side has collectively anticipated for days now.  Going-to-the-Sun Road is OPEN, an insider friend declared as her status.  Hooray!  And so I dialed the Park to confirm this information and happily took a left hand turn off of Hwy 2 and onto the famed Going-to-the-Sun Road.  If it’s open and I’m not pulling a trailer, I always drive this twisting ribbon of a road.  Although its puny guard rails and soaring heights scare some friends of mine right out of their seatbelts, I relish the chance for a peek at the Park’s interior, even when I am not able to exit my vehicle to properly enjoy it.  Plus, it takes less than half the amount of gas to go from Glacier County Honey World Headquarters to the Flathead via the Going-to-the-Sun Road.  And I’ve rarely driven the road without seeing a frolicking goat or two.  So, why wouldn’t I drive it?

As I approached the entrance gates to the Park, I expected to wait in line to get in — as per the norm on Opening Day — but perhaps because the Park hardly publicized the famed opening, or perhaps because it was still downpouring, I sailed through the check station and up, up, up I went.

Into the clouds.

What did I see in Glacier National Park yesterday?  Hardly a darn thing.  I nearly got vertigo, driving through the pea soup clouds at 8MPH, and there were plenty of visitors stopped dead in the middle of the Sun road, flashers blinking, glazed panic painted on their faces.  I felt incredibly sorry for all of them, and I hope they’ll come back and visit us sometime when the weather is a bit more temperate.

Crossing Logan Pass, even the sign for the parking lot was completely obscured, though as soon as I descended through the Big Drift into the East/Best Side, the clouds lifted and sunshine sparkled on Little Chief and St. Mary Lake.

The Big Drift.

Descending the eastern side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Going-to-the-Sun Mountain in the left foreground.

St. Mary Lake, Divide Mountain to the far left, Red Eagle to the far right.  That’s my 2001 Glacier National Park pass in the window.  I’m going to laminate and use it as a Christmas ornament.  Lots of good memories tied up in that sheet of paper!

Though my journey was not a photographer’s dream, I still relished my time up in the far high country, and I send my deepest gratitude to the brave men and women who clear the road for us each spring.  It’s not everywhere you can drive to a truly Alpine setting, and I think that is Glacier’s most special gift to its visitors.  Everyone, come see your most beautiful National Park this summer!

And don’t forget to stop by World Headquarters while you’re here.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

We tap our toes for the opening of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, as the East side businesses just don’t boom without The Road being open.  Our biz is a year round entity, and so we don’t have to depend on the Road opening to make our mortgage payments, but a lot of our friends do, and so the opening of the Road that also offers us access into the heart of Glacier National Park’s beauty is indeed reason to celebrate.

The opening of the Many Glacier road, and Hotel, is a different sort of celebration for our family.  Many Glacier is our backyard.  We know its valleys — open, hanging, hidden — like we know each others’ faces.  We see its bears so often we give them individual nicknames, like Hollywood, the half blonde-half brunette sow who prefers Lake Josephine over Iceberg Lake.  We recognize ghosts of our former selves on every trail, and we both grew taller each year as we learned to hike with our parents in Many Glacier.  Now, of course, we cruise down its red trails with our own daughter, who first took in the Swiftcurrent valley from a sling at three weeks of age.  We are perhaps a bit possessive of Many Glacier, and especially of our time on its porch, that we’ve affectionately dubbed The Best Porch in the World, which is affixed to the Many Glacier Hotel.

On Friday, the Hotel opened for its short season, and we met our neighborhood pals for a sunset drink.

We talked kids and cows and bees and weather — of course — and toasted the coming summer, for the rodeos and the hiking and the frivolity that it brings to an otherwise frozen and wind scorched land.  I pointed out the peaks to the visitors with us, and their beautiful names — Heavy Shield, Angel’s Wing, Swiftcurrent, Altyn — rolled off my tongue without a second thought, as memories of climbing almost all of them flooded my mind.

Ah, summer.  Now that Many Glacier has opened her doors, surely you’re here to stay.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Last year, Honeydew introduced Maggie Rose to the wonderful forklift that makes the lives of commercial beekeepers everywhere so much better.  On this Father’s Day, she’s a little bit closer to helping Daddy drive.

Delighting in Daddy, and his forklift.

He delights in her, too.

Happy Father’s Day to the best daddy a little girl could ask for.  May your forklift adventures together be many.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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