Sunday, April 17, 2011

K is for Kalispell

Kalispell MT montage-a-google

I have a montage of memories connected to Kalispell.  Memories, I have been visiting a lot lately. Among them a trip to Glacier National Park with my mom many years ago.  Magical moments in time that shine brightly years later.  These memories make up pages in my mental scrapbook.

When I think of Kalispell, I think of my most unusual find at a garage sale.  The Gatiss Gardens - flowers tended with love and dedicated to a mother.  And a place Known as the Montana Vortex and House of Mystery.  Among this collage of remembrances are seagulls and morning light.

We had stopped earlier at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT,  on display was a collection of fossilized dinosaur skin.  It was pebbly - reminiscent of goose bumps turned to stone.  I was fascinated that skin could have been preserved in such a way.  This exhibit toured my brain and kept prompting questions.

We continued to travel from Bozeman to Kalispell (322 miles) and I saw a sign advertising a garage sale.  On a whim I turned down the dirt road.  The sale was being held in a large shop.  Everything neatly laid out and most were clearly marked with the sale price.  Along one wall I found some shoe boxes with different rocks and similar artifacts.  Then I found IT.  It was a shoe box full of "stones".  These stones looked very similar to the display of dinosaur skin at the Museum of the Rockies.  Could the box possibly be chunks of fossilized dinosaur skin?

The box did not have a price marked on it.  I took it over to home owner and asked him, "What are these?"

He nonchalantly looked at them and commented, "Dinosaur skin."

My heart dropped.  He knew what he had.  I was sure the price would be out of sight.

"How much are you asking?"

"Oh, a dime a piece I guess."

I quickly purchased several dollars worth.  I would later give it all away to other teachers.  I know that was my most amazing find that I ever made at any garage sale.

The Gatiss Gardens (pictures) are a private garden that is open to the public.  The trail that winds through the garden is approximately a mile long.  We had the great good fortune to meet Bob Gatiss who gave us a guided tour.  Often stopping at different plants to share stories and legends.  He was a great storyteller.  I remember asking about the ducks that were wandering near the creek.  I remember his comment.

"They are part of my gardening crew.  They help weed the gardens."

I remember asking how the ducks knew the difference between weeds and plants.  He smiled, "We lose a few plants."

It was our good fortune to visit the gardens on several trips.  I remember an early morning seeing a bumblebee on a flower.  It wasn't moving very much.  Mr Gatiss said they don't move fast when it starts to get cool.  His eyes twinkled as he encouraged me to pet the bee.

I remember reaching out, and stroking the small body.  I could feel the fine "hair" almost like fur.  A snapshot in time, a memorable moment.

The Montana Vortex and House of Mystery was a delight.  It comes complete with a tilted house and some great optical illusions.  At the time we were there a family with 7 year old twins were also visiting. Each twin stepped up on the cement block.  One was now visibly taller.  They then switched sides now the other twin was taller.  It was left to the visitor's imagination whether to believe it was a vortex of energy that made this anomaly or if it was in fact an optical illusion.  Either way it was a fun stop.

We were up early one morning and watched seagulls dining on french fries from a nearby fast food establishment.  The gulls would dance and dart all the while squabbling over whose fry it was.  They provided quite a show as the morning sun continued to rise.

It has been fun revisiting these snapshots in time - this scrapbook of memories that only my mind can see.


  1. Again, it was so intriguing to hear what you remember. I love the idea of a "mental scrapbook", & the way you wrapped up the 2nd paragraph. That sentence was just nice-hard to put it into words for you, but I liked it very much.

  2. Teacherdance your feedback is very valuable. It helps me know what works as I experiment with my writing.
    Thank you.

  3. You have had some amazing experiences! Your descriptions make it come alive. I am enjoying learning more about Montana. Thanks!

  4. I watch for your posts every few days hoping to catch a glimpse of Montana again. I love to visit there...your posts make me homesick for someplace I've never lived.


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