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Linda-Marie Singer is...THE LIVEWIRE

Linda-Marie Singer - Click to Enlarge

Montana:

Big Sky, Big Heart

Click to Enlarge By Linda-Marie Singer

KALISPELL, MONTANA -- YOU’LL BE TEMPTED to sing a chorus of “Home On The Range” when you visit Montana, the fourth largest U.S. state, "where the deer and the antelope play," as the song goes. Big Sky country also has grizzly bear, elk, Bighorn sheep, Indians, ghost towns, forests and deserts. Luckily, it’s not squeezed for space, being one of the least populated states, with fewer than a million residents.

Take Horizon Air from Spokane, Washington into Kalispell International Airport, where in the wintertime you’ll see snow hugging the Whitefish Mountains in the northwest. In summertime, The Big Mountain has fun-filled activities for the family from horseback riding and biking to picking huckleberries. Whatever you do, don’t miss Montana’s most spectacular attraction: Glacier National Park, “the Crown Jewel of the Continent.” Want more? Glacier Wilderness Guides arrange backpacking adventures. A Blur of WhiteOf course, you can always change the pace by hopping on board Amtrak, the U.S. passenger rail system, for Montana vistas seen only on those glossy picture postcards. (Picture: A winter vista as seen from Amtrak)

A Peek at a Friendlier Past

If it’s friendliness you’re after and a city filled with affection, it’s Whitefish (near Kalispell). With only 5,000 residents, you’ll soon see where Montana is really Big Heart country, a throwback to charmed earlier American times when holiday time meant family fun and not family fortune.

Grab a Bisonburger at the Buffalo Dog for a low $2.85, or a $1 espresso at the Trailhead Deli. The Tupelo Grille invites visitors to try their sandwiches: “No one likes a coward,” proclaim the owners. Pottery lovers will find beautiful buys over at Whitefish Gallery & Jenson Studios. And Java lovers, the most flavorful cuppa Joe can be yours at the Montana Coffee Traders.

Whitefish, Montana, AmbassadorsFor an upclose personal view of the city, ring up the Whitefish Chamber Of Commerce and ask for the Ambassadors’ personal tour. This is one sure way of making new friends and having a tip top guided venture through town. Picture: And now for a guided tour of Whitefish..Meet the Whitefish Ambassadors!)

When it comes to lodging, try the $100 or under price range with plenty of amenities of other fancier locales. Cozy up at the Garden Wall B&B, or the Good Medicine Lodge, and you’re looking at homey accommodations with a personal touch the Whitefish Lake Lodge Resort has condos that overlook the water, while the Quality Inn Pine Lodge features suites with Jacuzzis, just the thing for any traveler who wants to be pampered.

Rustic Grouse Mountain LodgeBut I must admit that my favorite is the rustic Grouse Mountain Lodge, a celebrated venue that hosted Bruce Springsteen one summer. It is a first class establishment with spacious suites and a helpful staff.
(Picture: Relaxing at the Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish, Montana.)

Of all the adventures I had in Big Sky, Big Heart country, the most memorable was an afternoon spent dog sledding. At first, I was a little anxious about the health of the animals, and always wondered how they were treated. But the moment I landed at the Dog Sled Adventures (406-881-BARK) in Olney, minutes away from Whitefish, whatever concerns I had were promptly assuaged by 60 high spirited dogs who almost looked like they were smiling to see you. Eager to Go!All seemed eager to be part of the team that took you out on your ride, and although the weather was chilly, we didn’t feel the slightest breeze as soon as the slusher wrapped us in comfortable elk furs. (Picture: Dog Sled Adventures ... For a Dog-Gone good time!)

Once we got going, it was apparent that the dogs wanted to perform for the riders, slusher, and for each other. Taking frequent breaks, the large Husky- Wolf- Greyhound- Shepherd mixes would lie down in the snow to cool off, and once given the command to begin again were off and running the 12-mile loop through the Stillwater State Forest...at the speed of dog!

For nighttime entertainment, The Great Northern Brewing Company features Big Fog or Moose’s Drool pale ale. You might laugh at the names, but this is only half the fun of being in a small town where everyone can laugh along with you. Where else but in Whitefish could you scan the Saddest Pleasure Used Book Store, meet The Liar’s Club in the Buffalo Cafe, read the weekly Hungry Horse News, and even see a Broadway show in the heart of downtown. When I was there, Neil Simon’s “Lost In Yonkers” was packing them in. Yonkers and Whitefish go well together, and you’ll have to take my word on it.


Montana Information:

Driving to Montana?
Take US Highway 2 or I-90 to Highway 93 and then head for Whitefish.

Whitefish Chamber Of Commerce BN
Train Depot Box 1120
Whitefish, MT 59937

Travel Montana Depart of Commerce
1424 9th Avenue
Box 200533
Helena, MT 59620 406/444-2654

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Linda-Marie Singer "The LIVEWIRE" for Travel Watch. Former President of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association, and created the national writers conference, "The Days of Wine & Proses." She is a travel and entertainment reporter living in the San Francisco Bay Area. (More about this writer.)

Email: lindamari@aol.com - Web: http://www.i.am/lindamarie  

 

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