Tag Archives: East Glacier Park

Living on Manna

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Life in East Glacier has sure taken hold of my heart. It is just so simple here. So beautiful. So restful.

We went down to one car just days after getting here and hardly drive more than once a day between the two of us. The real problem, we’ve realized, is not having four-wheel-drive. This is a town of big rigs and Subarus. Our homely little Maxima certainly stands out (not to mention, our PT Cruiser, now in “storage mode”)… but during this week’s snow storm, we discovered just how insufficient Gem really was – not just in the snow, but for clearance. Our two solutions: buying yet another car or simply sticking close to home.

We both prefer the second option. A lot of the town folk here work in nearby Browning, in the schools or hospital. The drive is just 13 miles. But it is a horrific 13 miles in the wind and snow. Sometimes the road is closed or so overblown with snow that you can’t tell where you are, save the vibration of the road strips when you cross the line. Worst of all: Very unpredictable. I don’t know how people keep jobs around these parts.

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That leaves us to the local job scene, which is fairly nonexistent. And yet, we’ve become pros at gathering random work. Or rather, God has made it clear that He has us in His hands. Never in my life have I been more aware of God providing for my daily bread. Like manna, jobs come in by the day and rarely in advance.

For Pete, it means a lot of back-breaking work like chopping wood, painting, falling trees, and the occasional break to drive Miss Daisy to the West Side. For me, it means babysitting, cleaning houses, and working with a nonprofit here on a limited basis. We’re still rooting for substitute teaching jobs at the East Glacier Park schoolhouse. And I just might try my hand at freelancing again. Pete thinks I should use this time to write a book. Funny!

Besides working, I’ve found a few friends here that love to “walk,” which is really “hike” in my book. My first “walk” with Kelly was a six-miler through the woods. Now I’m addicted and walk almost daily, even with two feet of snow! It’s just what the doctor ordered, I tell you. So serene.

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Also exciting, Pete and I finally got out backpacking, which was a real treat. Sandwiched between weeks of awful weather, we scored a nice little 2-day period of sunny bliss, nearly alone on the trail and with our destination lake empty. We even saw a moose! It was magical.

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We are enjoying this little slice of heaven, but it isn’t without difficulty. Pete and I are learning how to share a tiny space, day in, day out – something we never really did when we both had demanding jobs, regular schedules, and early shifts that kept our “together time” pedestal-precious. We’re discovering new things about ourselves and learning to grow for the sake of the other. The added stress of job-finding doesn’t help. But we’re navigating these waters with hope and love.

We found a little Christian community here, with Bible Study on Saturday nights. It is great, and even includes a potluck dinner. We’re so grateful for all of the ways God has shown us that He loves us. We couldn’t ask for more!

Thank you so much for your prayers, friends! I’ll just end now with a parting shot of resident Sinopah Mountain, center, which I summitted one day, long ago. I’ll have to do that again next summer, when I’ve earned back my hiking legs. Come visit friends, and climb it with me! xo

Sinopah Mountain, center

The Four-Digit Phone Number

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Oh, small towns. They are so cute, so behind the times that it’s charming.

I recall the last time I lived here in East Glacier, it was difficult to find regular internet anywhere in town. My dreams of being a work-from-home freelance writer were stifled at the thought that my reputation for meeting deadlines would suffer a huge blow. And if you can’t meet your deadlines, you’re plum out of a job.

Thankfully, that has changed. Now internet is strong and vital, and I can stay connected to the outside world with ease. I Skype, blog, and keep up with world news. My iPhone even works here. But the things that get my giggling are still aplenty, especially in relation to the local land-line scene:

  • StottRotaryPhoneOffTheHookIIOne area code: In Portland, there are too many area codes to count; in Montana: one. Yes, one. For the whole, entire state. And it’s a large state, mind you.
  • Home phones: Even more impressive is the fact that most people in East Glacier have home phones, due to a history of questionable cell service. The kinks are likely out of that system (to my knowledge), but it’s just so precious that it makes me want to get a home phone, too! Maybe I could get an old, rotary style one.
  • The 4-Digit Phone Number: With a local land-line here comes the same 3-digit prefix (226) supplied to each and every home phone number. (There’s so few home residences they won’t have to change this system for years.) The result: the 4-digit phone number. With the same six numbers (406-226) clearly known by all, it is customary to hear someone give out their number in four, little digits. It kills me. Hilarious, I tell you.

Oh I love it here…

Bringing back the social calendar

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That’s it; I’m settled. Our place has always been cozy and welcoming and the mountains, ever-gorgeous. But now, the people have captured my heart, too.

It started last weekend, when I babysat for a coworker I met at the restaurant, now closed for the season. She and her man had some ranching to do: a good, old fashioned round-up, to be exact. While they herded and gathered cows on horseback, I sat with a precious angel named Emma who took to me immediately. We colored and danced, and she fell asleep holding my hand. Then we ate a hearty ranch supper with the work crew, enjoying new friends and countless bear stories. The next day, we did it all over again, supper and all.

Precious Emma, already a cowgirl

Precious Emma, already a cowgirl

On Monday, we were blessed by a spontaneous invite to join some new friends for dinner. It was such a treat! Pete met them at a Bible Study (yay! we found one!) last Friday when I was at work. It was an instant hit. They’re about our age, with two young kids who ended up on my lap, books in hand. If Pete keeps leaving vests, gloves, and mail at their house, I’m guessing we’ll continue to see a lot of them!

Then I went to the “East Glacier Women’s Club” meeting on Tuesday (which I’d been looking forward to since I happily scrolled it on my slim social calendar weeks ago). As hoped, I met many wonderful women: the women of the community. The meeting was all-business, showing that these ladies took pride in their town and their people. More than that, I felt accepted, loved. They took me in and invited me to ski weekend getaways and Wednesday Mahjong. I was delighted, and took them up on the offers. I am now addicted to Mahjong!

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But the best offer of the evening came from DeeAnna, who offered me a job on the spot when I mentioned I had a degree in Journalism. It’s just a temp job, but it’s so great! In my two short days, I interviewed the Executive Director, wrote and distributed a press release to local media and crafted a quick ad for the local TV station. I also produced a newsletter, updated contact lists, and started on some print materials for an upcoming clinic. I am in heaven working in this field again. Funny enough, I’m also working with teens in a way, too.

The organization, International Traditional Games Society, is dedicated to restoring and teaching traditional Native games that have been lost over the decades. The games are so interesting! Hand-carved, hand-painted and wrapped in leather, they are beautiful works of art, as well. Next week, they are putting me through a $250 training for free, so I can help facilitate these games in schools and at future clinics. I’m so thrilled!

On top of all of this, Pete and I heard our applications were approved at the local schoolhouse for substitute teaching, grades K-8. I’m nervous to teach but figure I could do it once in a while. Funny enough, you just need a high school diploma to sub at the school. I tell myself that a loving heart is what’s needed most, but I still fear they’ll tear me to pieces. I remember having subs in school… and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone! I just might stick with babysitting; word has already begun to circulate…

The charming schoolhouse where we may find work

The charming schoolhouse where we may find work

Either way, it’s a pretty place. And we’ve gone down to one car. Hurray! It’s a bit of a change for us, but it’s a tiny town, perfect for walking. It feels like home already. But we miss our friends and family! Big hugs!!

Just off my street...

Just off our street…