31 May 2009

From Montana with Love

Today was spent on Flathead.  The largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, Flathead Lake is big enough to produce its own weather patterns as well as rumors of a mythological lake monster.  Home to locals and movie stars, vineyards and cherry orchards, the lake comes alive as the weather warms.  Boats enter the water at countless docks and marinas dotting the lake's 160 mile shoreline, but over the vast expanses of water they rarely cross wakes; friendly waves are simply exchanged over great distances as is the boaters' code.
Bordering the east side of the lake are the Mission Mountains.  Named for the missionaries who who sought to bring the Christian faith to Montana's native populations, the Missions provide  a backdrop for historic mission churches and teepees put up to attract tourists alike.  Abruptly emerging from the lake, the jagged peaks still capped in snow provide a sharp contrast to the smooth, glassy surface of the lake.Today Flathead was notably calm.  Usually, the water moves swiftly in choppy waves making one feel as if they are sailing the ocean rather than cruising a mountain lake.  Our boat cut through the water effortlessly, allowing us to travel over thirty miles from one side of the lake to other while taking time to explore coves and bays housing hidden mansions amongst towering evergreens.  The calm of the water was accompanied by the frigid temperature of a lake feed by mountain snowmelt early in season.  Of course being Montanans through and through, we couldn't resist the allure of the water on a warm day and we swam and wakeboarded in short spurts, quickly returning to the safety of the boat and warm, fuzzy towels.

As the evening drew over Flathead we returned to dock tired and varied shades of red.  The ride home was quite as we watched mountains, fields, and road construction through tinted windows as we drove south.  Occasionally we laugh about something said, but mostly we think about next weekend and the new adventures Flathead will hold.  Perhaps we will journey to see the namesake of Wild Horse Island or an attempt to figure out which house belongs to Howie Long or Oprah.  Perhaps we'll simply sail along and enjoy the beauty that is a Montana summer, from Montana with love.

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