|Maria's Pass: Spectaculr Vista, No Matter Where You Look|
Eric likes to 'pick' but that word has different connotations to different people. To me, a 'picker' is a full time scavenger of other peoples' cast-offs. In my mind, he's more of a collector of the odd and unusual of anything that catches his fancy. He was born with the 'dicker' gene. His mother had a good eye for collectibles and the ability to strike a handsome bargain and Eric is cut from that same cloth. This past summer, he has made a handsome profit by picking up interesting items at bargain basement prices and recycling them through a couple of annual garage sales he hosts with his buddy. Little Red, however, is not necessarily a compatible mate for this new found hobby but Eric is undaunted.
When we began our road trip, I realized very early on that Eric would not be swayed from his proposed overnight destination of Hungry Horse, Montana and since our little road trip was in celebration of his big Six OHHHH birthday, I had to acquiesce. I love road trips and it's not like I am overly familiar with Montana. However, I am one of those people that never likes to take the same road twice if I can help it, and, with a little searching, I found Maria's Pass, a more southern route through Glacier National Park that didn't take oodles of more time and held the promise of tight turns and bedazzling scenery. It was a total winner. Not only did it provide the driving challenges that excites Eric, there was very little traffic, allowing for those 25 mph curves to be taken at speeds that occasionally left the right-side upholstery with the marks of a white knuckle passenger. And I had forgotten my Atavan. . . what was I thinking?
It was upon our arrival at Hungry Horse that I discovered Eric's true mission. When we passed through last year, we came across an old house filled to the rafters with antiques and collectibles. Owned and operated by an elderly couple who informed us that their children had been after them to downsize, this year, the message had a little more impetus behind it, as they shared that their daughter recently spent an entire month with them with the focus of helping them accomplish this daunting task. There were a couple of items that Eric had spied last year that would make worthy additions to his personal collection in the man-cave. While he may not have gotten any screaming deal, at the end of our 2-hour visit, he came away with his purchases and perhaps this lovely couple's children will be somewhat pacified to know that their dad doesn't always hold out for the best price.
It was at this point that I knew I needed to throw down a few ground rules or I was going to find myself travelling the rest of our 7-day journey holding all my luggage on my lap! Rule #1: If it can't fit in your pocket, you can't take it home.
Our mornings began early and, while we didn't rush from our room at 7am, we were generally on the road before 9, which means there was little opportunity to explore the commercial side of any of our overnight communities. By mid afternoon we would be thinking our next bed for the night. Once we were settled in, we like to sit for a while, have a drink, clean up a bit, reflect on our day and the day ahead. By the time we would go out for dinner, it was usually early evening. In Montana, as so many stores in smaller communities are owner operated, stores hours are generally 10am - 6pm, Monday to Saturday. Don't even think about shopping on a Sunday.
|Not For Sale|
|Montana Local Brews|
|Signs, Signs, Everywhere! Signs|
It was a mix of sadness, satisfaction and relief that we left Livingstone. Sadness that Little Red was not even remotely capable of carrying all that treasure; satisfaction that, with precision packing, additional purchases were possible even though the items transcended Rules #1 and #2; and relief on my part that there was not even a hint that perhaps I should be taking a bus home.
I wonder how Little Red would fair pulling a small trailer. . . . hmmm.