Day 8 - July 25, 2018
Glacier National Park has always been one of Paul's favorite national parks. At first, I could not see why. It was pretty, but not spectacular, as we wound our way up and up and up into the morning clouds.
Then we emerged from cloud and twisted round a bend in the road and I caught my breath.
Mountains. Like I had never seen them before.
Steep cliffs of bare gray rocks dropped from the sky into green valleys embroidered with white rivers and waterfalls. Distance turned deceptive with the sheer vastness of the landscape. We drove on a narrow road that clung to the cliffside, pressing always upward toward the sun that rose between peaks, casting half the valley in shadow and the other half into a glow of gold.
We passed the Weeping Wall, where a curtain of water flowed unceasingly down the rock face, and drove over the place where a waterfall funneled beneath the road.
Clouds wrapped the rugged peaks and a chill, clear wind swept through our open windows.
As a bonus, we caught a glimpse of this big guy, who was foraging for berries.
After we descended from the steep mountain road, we made our way to Sandpoint, Idaho, our next stop in our great adventure.
Day 9 - July 26, 2018
Spending time with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins was a rare pleasure. After a week on the road, I relished the opportunity to sit on a couch, listen to stories, and eat elk steak and a giant smoked turkey. The thoughtful pace of life rejuvenated my mind, as did the quiet and the trees.
I also discovered one of the west's greatest treasures: huckleberries.
My previous experience with huckleberries had involved the seedy, blandly sweet, black huckleberries of the east. Paul had talked glowingly of western huckleberries, and the signs along the way for huckleberry syrup, huckleberry pancakes, huckleberry pie and ALL THINGS HUCKLEBERRY had piqued my curiosity.
One billboard had particularly caught Paul's attention.
"HUCKLEBERRY BURGERS? Oh, squirrel of great magnitude!"
"Does that even sound good?"
"I don't know, but it has huckleberry in it!"
In Idaho, I finally discovered what all the fuss was about--and fell in love with huckleberries myself. They remind me of Maine blueberries: small, sweetly tart, and juicy. This easterner has definitely become a fan.
Day 10 - July 27, 2018
"If you don't crash into anything," our aunt said, "then you'll be the first one in the family not to."
I looked down at the controls of the small red dirtbike and decided that that was a distinction I would aim for. I had to admit, my pulse was pounding and I was more than a little terrified of the throttle.
But, by golly, I was going to learn how to ride that dirtbike.
Patiently and methodically, Paul walked me through the controls and the riding strategy. I let up on the clutch and jerked forward, clamping down on my panic and lifting my foot from the ground. My slow, cautious circles in the backyard soon became zipping adventures in the back fields, though we kept to the shorter grass for fear of sparking fire in the parched long grass.
And, at the end of the day, I presented a clean record to the relatives. I had learned how to ride a dirtbike without crashing.
(I wish I had pictures of this, but we were so busy riding we didn't have time for cameras. So here is a picture of the young bull moose we saw instead.)
Day 11 - July 28, 2018
I anchored myself behind Paul on the ATV while Grampa led us up the hillside to the viewpoint. This was a sacred place to the family, where one could look out over the valley and over the very house we had just come from. It was also the place where Paul's brother had proposed to his girlfriend; I was a bridesmaid in their wedding earlier this year.
The smoke of area fires obscured the full view of the landscape beyond Lake Cocolalla, but the view was still well worth the ride.
We accidentally discovered a nest of yellow jackets, and, though they didn't attack, we made our way back down the hill to avoid them.
For the record, I HATE YELLOW JACKETS. Bees need a reason to sting you. Yellow jackets are just plain mad.
In the evening, Paul and I went on a "date night." After walking through the City Beach in Sandpoint, we visited Panhandler Pies, which provided a fantastic meal and an equally delicious dessert. Then we walked along the Long Bridge from one side of Lake Pend Oreille to the other. The sun set on one side of us while the trains chugged over the lake on the other side of us. We breathed the quiet of the evening as the sky ripened to the color of huckleberry and spangled itself with stars.
Day 12 - July 29, 2018
We enjoyed visiting Grandma and Grandpa's church. Paul, as a seminary student, was especially tickled when the pastor explained the King James word "ye" as meaning "all y'all." We stayed for a potluck afterward.
I needed a nap after church, so the afternoon was spent quietly.
Day 13 - July 30, 2018
"Grandma, get pretty today!" Paul said. "Yaasha is taking you out for a ladies' date."
So Grandma dressed in a light blue blouse, adorned herself with turquoise jewelry, and put up her white hair. Then she and I spent a lovely brunch at Panhandler Pies (which I was more than happy to visit again). Grandma and I especially enjoyed the refills of our huckleberry lemonade.
In the afternoon, Paul and I visited Schweitzer Resort which, we discovered, was home to a disc golf course, one half of which followed the scenic top ridgeline, where we viewed Lake Pend Oreille through a light smoky haze.
Day 14 - July 31, 2018
Paul had promised that Talache Bay was going to be bone-chillingly cold, but when we arrived with Grandma and various cousins, we discovered that the sun had warmed the bay to a fairly balmy temperature.
Paul and I dove with one of the cousins for weighted rings in water so clear that twelve feet of depth seemed like a mere few feet down.
When I eyed the giant rainbow unicorn floaty that one of the cousins possessed, Paul nudged me teasingly. "You want one, don't you?"
"Unicorns? You betcha!" As an author of fantasy, I have a reputation to maintain.
Paul then took me out for my very first kayaking experience. The water glided beneath my craft like silver glass, and I felt the familiar sense of calm that I always experience when on the water. It was easy to see why Idaho is one of Paul's favorite places on earth.
Find out what happens next in The Incredible Journey: Week Three!
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.