Our Trip to Kalispell, Montana. Part 1.

Day One, February 10, 2012.

I am sitting here eating some of the sausage and garlic pizza leftover from our trip. It was just one of the highlights from our trip, bought at Moose’s Saloon. But more about that later.

My wonderful MIL (Mother in Law) and her BFF Tracy gave us a wonderful gift. They took our kids, ages 3 and 1, on a 7 hr car trip to Salmo, BC. The kids are there for a week, so Josh and I decided to do something special. Since the kids don’t have passports, we decided to do something we couldn’t do when they’re with us. A trip across the border was in order! (Yee-haw!)

We got dressed and ready to go:

(I look tired cuz I was. I was up all night getting ready and sewing a purse. I lose track of time when doing crafts.)

We booked a hotel, packed up the car and headed off to Kalispell, Montana, just across the border from Calgary, AB. It was about a 6 hr drive. I’d loaded the IPod Nano with some of our fave cds and cranked up the music (also something we can’t really do when the kids are in the car…you know, unless we wanna split their tiny eardrums).

Calgary was getting the most beautiful, fluffy snow as we left.

Off we went. The drive was uneventful but fun. I talked lots and we had great music to listen to! We had to stop lots so I could go to the bathroom, because I drank too much coffee and water. We brought yummy snacks for the car. Trail mix, red licorice, wraps and sandwiches. I ate too much licorice and pigged out on the trail mix. Calories don’t count during vacation!!

We crossed the border easily, with only one car in front of us. We’re in Montana! It was the first time for either one of us to cross the border in a car as adults, instead of a plane. Driving South should have meant the weather would get warmer and that there would be less snow. Quite the opposite! The further south, the more snow! Is this climate change at work? Anyway…

We kept driving and made a slight deviation from where Google Maps directed us. We took the St Mary’s turn off instead, but only cuz we missed the tiny road that was to the Duck Lake (i think that’s right) route. Now, Josh grew up in BC and is used to winding mountain roads, even in winter conditions…but this road was a little scary. VERY winding, no visibility or shoulder on the roads to speak of and tons of snow. They have a project to show how dangerous the roads are by marking places where people had fatal accidents with crosses or flowers. I saw 7 crosses in a very short amount of time. We also saw tons of beer cans littering the road. Booze cruising I guess….on such a scary road! We were expecting to see an overturned charred car on the side of the road as well. Thankfully we didn’t. We were very glad to be off that road when it ended.

To show you how much snow:

We were glad to get off that road and on to a straighter one. Soon we were at our hotel. Cheap and worth it. The Travelodge we stayed at was older, but really clean and is well kept. The front desk staff is friendly and helpful. We enjoyed our stay there, even tho our room was really basic.

We had an upgraded room, which meant a little area with a sink and counter, just before the full bathroom. It was very nice to have two sinks.

We freshened up and went off to join the “Chocolat Affaire” event downtown! We arrived just in time. We wandered downtown to find out where it was happening and how to start. We finally just followed some people that looked like they were participating and voila! it worked. It went like this; you got a paper from the local restaurant, Split Rock Cafe(which I learned later only opened up a year ago!). The paper had the name of the participating stores and a map on the back. You visited the stores between 5pm and 7pm, tasted the chocolate goods that they had created, then got your stamp for that location. After a minimum of 12 stamps you turned it in at Split Rock Cafe to be entered in a draw and enjoy some music.

Now, before we started we thought it would be tiny pieces of chocolate with a toothpick in the middle to pick it up and taste it. We were very wrong. By the end of the walk I was complaining that I was “chocolated out” and too full. I never thought there would be such a thing as too much chocolate! Every store had a plethora of choices, and some even had wine or hot chocolate and coffee. And no little tastings! Full size cupcakes, large brownies, pieces of sheet cake, chocolate fudge. All healthy sizes.

It was a beautiful night to be walking between the downtown stores. A little bit cold, but not too bad, with beautiful light snow falling. It was fun to walk around and pop inside the stores to eat. We also got to see the inside of stores we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

We had seen the size of the restaurant where everyone would gather and wanted to be finished before a large amount of the crowd was so we could get a table. As it was we were still told it would be a 45 minute wait for a table. We had nowhere else to go so we waited! We met and talked to some very nice people while we stood and waited for the hostess to say we had a table (“It’s just a little bit longer, y’all!” she drawled). When I had just about given up and had settled in to people watching. Everyone seemed to be laid back in their style, and a little bit artsy in their demeanor. A lot of jeans, boots, knit caps and nicely cut jackets. Maybe it was just because it was a special event night, but everyone was super friendly and personable. We got a table soon after I’d resigned myself to standing the rest of the night. It was nice to sit and we were right beside the band. Split Rock Cafe didn’t expect such a turnout, as it was their first year in business and hosting, so they were horribly understaffed and the layout could have been tweaked. Yet that didn’t affect our good time! The music was good and people danced and laughed and smiled. The local Swing Dance club of teens or twenty somethings was out in full force and danced all night. They were a blast to watch. My camera’s batteries crapped out on me, but I got a couple photos in.

The atmosphere was excellent, the food good and the beer cold. We stayed for quite a long time before heading to the hotel to relax and bath before falling asleep. A great first day!

To be continued…..

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