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Safe Harbor

July 26, 2013

Montana – Tuesday, July 16

I got all packed up, and started heading north. I’m on the west side of Glacier National Park, so I began to head in that direction. But before getting in the car, Tula and I walked another couple miles along the river trail in Missoula – I’ve enjoyed that one, and it’s clearly a popular river for floating and rafting, and some people on surfboards or kayaks hone their skills on the little bit of whitewater that’s near a viewing platform.

Then we headed north, and it was apparently cherry season in the area, and there were a number of little cherry stands around, so I stopped at one, and got some yummy cold, washed cherries – what a treat! I missed the cherry season back home. Then the land turned dry and hilly, and I drove through the Flathead Indian Reservation, which covers a good bit of land in that area. It was not a particularly good area to get out and walk because I saw several warning signs about rattlesnakes in the area, but there were hazy mountains in the distance so I knew the terrain would be changing soon.

I came to the little town of Ronan, and decided to stop to get out and do a little walking – this little town actually had sidewalks! But it was only a couple blocks long, so we didn’t get much walking in after all. But, as I was heading back to the car I saw a sign for Safe Harbor on a little building. I looked it up online when I got back to the van, and saw that it was a shelter for women and children, including the ones who lived on the big reservation. And I wanted to do something that would help them too. I called the number on the website, and the lady told me the little building I saw was the office – I don’t know where the actual safe house is. She said no one was in the office at the moment – they were kind of in and out, but they would really appreciate a donation and she gave me the address so I could mail it in. As with many of these shelters, federal funds cover a lot of the expenses, but they rely on individuals and businesses to cover the rest. They have a house that sounds like it’s set up for single women, and women with children. I was happy to find a place to support on a reservation.

I continued on my way. After a while, I came around a bend in the road, and saw the Flathead Lake in the distance, and it was quite a sight to come across so suddenly. It’s the largest natural, freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. When I got down by the water I found a mile long trail along the beach – there were a lot of people out enjoying the sunny late afternoon by the water. Then I came to the town of Polson, and did another mile or so of walking. And farther around I pulled into the Big Arm State Park, where the ranger said I could stay for a half hour as their guest and not pay the entry fee. It was a peaceful half hour walk, but a sad one – Tara had just called to say one of their dogs had a tumor in his head and had to unexpectedly be put down – he hadn’t been eating for a few days and seemed to be very sore around his mouth, and it was all kind of a sudden surprise. He was the younger of their 2 dogs, and they were shocked and very saddened to unexpectedly lose him. So my quiet walk by the lake was in remembrance of Rusty, and a hurting heart for my daughter and family to be losing a beloved pet.

From the state park I continued north along the lake and turned into the town of Somer where I found the beginning of a rail trail and Tula and I did 2 more miles of walking. And then we went on to Kalispell, which was going to be my jumping-off point for Glacier National Park tomorrow. It was a pretty evening and I walked nearly 2 more miles in town – there were lots of people out enjoying the evening. I walked an extra mile and a half for today, so I only have 6 1/2 to do tomorrow. I saw a Chinese take-out place, and picked up a late dinner to take to my Kalispell motel.

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