The bad thing about waiting to post about our big move until NOW, is that I have forgotten the day to day feelings, excitements, fears, etc. that went along with each of those days. I was foolish and did not write them down as I should have thinking that I'd remember it all because of how vivid it all was then..... I was forgotting that all that breast milk was really brain matter and it's never coming back.
I do remember that the night before we left Bozeman I was scared to death. We knew that we were heading north toward the Flathead Valley (that is really the area that we wanted to live in), but had no idea where we were going to stay on the way or what we'd do when we got there. We planned to look for campsites along the way and then find one up there and start looking for a place to rent while we continued to look. Our first night, we stayed up past Missoula in a campground area called Bear Claw. At this point, I was still really afraid of bears - especially grizzlies - so that name didn't bring any peace to my mind. It was a great little area with a bathroom AND a shower. Most of you from CA reading this are thinking "well, yeah...duh!", but that's because you have never camped in MT. Flush toilets, as I now know they are called, as opposed to pit toilets (just like they sound) are few and far between and showers are a luxury (in fact, almost none of the state parks have showers)- but I wasn't well versed yet on MT campgrounds and thought that was normal too. There was only one other campsite being used (and this is summer, mind you - there just aren't many people in MT even with all the tourists). Our neighbors were gone when we set up camp, but arrived shortly therafter. They were an old, hippy couple on Harleys. They came over after a while wondering if these could ALL be our kids (remember, there are only 5 of them - we are not even close to the Duggers!). Our friends were missing many of their teeth and were about three sheets to the wind. They also used very colorful language in telling us how great it was to see families out having fun together and then told me that I must need to take valium to deal with all these kids. I assured the man that I did not and told them that all these kids were a great blessing from the Lord. He agreed and then toned down his language. We had a nice conversation with them. They left early the next morning, beeping their horns and waving. We moved along as well. We arrived in the Flathead and looked around to the East where we had seen a property that we wanted to see. We found a campsite - well, really it was a little restaurant that had RV spots on the lake and they had one area that they let tent campers use. Again, there was a bathroom and a shower - kind of scary, though. It was on Lake McGreggor and a beautiful spot. As soon as the sun started to set, the mosquitos came out - in swarms. No, REALLY! The boys found some pine cones and sticks to use for baseball. We had a great time making s'mores and swatting the mosquitos. There was this plant covering the entire area as if it were grass...I had an idea that it was the herb (and weed) plantain (I found out later that it was) which is what you can use naturally to treat bug bites and stings. I think it is funny that God filled "Mosquito Ville" with plantain.
The next day, we headed into Kalispell. Oh, I forgot to mention that Montana is not the best place for cell or internet coverage. Brad was trying to manage the Pacific Coast business as we went along and it became extremely difficult at this point being on the road in areas with no internet access or cell phone coverage. He figured out that at least he could get access through his cell phone company on his phone. Granted he had to have cell service (refer back to previous thought!), but it was better than nothing. We went to a park in Kalispell so that he could use his phone/internet and we decided to call my good friend from college, Doug Nelson who is from Kalispell (and the person who introduced me to Montana 18 years ago). Doug and his wife, Karen, live in Hamilton now during the winters and they live outside of Browning on their bison ranch most of the summer. We knew that he would be able to tell us of a camp site in the area. When I called, he happened to be in Kalispell. He said that he knew of a site, but asked if we would like to stay on Flathead Lake instead. Well me, being no dummy, said "Yeah!!!". He came to get us and we followed him to Grandma Winnie's cabin right on Flathead Lake. Doug's family has a couple of properties on Flathead. This one has been in the family for years. No one was staying there for a couple of weeks and he set us up. Isn't God amazing? We were shocked. Grandma Winnie's cabin is this cute, little 60s throw-back with running water in the kitchen but no bathroom or shower; there is an outhouse. We LOVED it. Doug's parents have a big house down the road, and we were able to use the shower and washer/dryer there if we wanted. Brad set up an outside shower at our cabin with a gallon milk jug and the hose (lake water - COLD lake water). We made a jumping board sticking out into the lake, built camp fires in the fire pit, and had a ball. And Doug was such an encouragement as well. Doug is a risk taker and unlike anyone else that I know; it is an honor to know he and his family. He and Brad were talking and Doug mentioned that he admired Brad's courage just picking up and moving up here. Brad told him that he wasn't sure if it wasn't foolishness. To that, Doug said one of the most encouraging and profound things of the summer: "Courage always looks like foolishness until it comes to fruition". He is a great friend to have around at a time like this when everything seems so unsure and scary. So, here we were, discouraged and wondering what in the world we were going to do next and God puts us on 150 feet of beautiful lakefront footage for a 2 week vacation. Amazing. And, we got cell coverage too! You can see more photos here and here too.