Warren Miller: Summer fun
August 7, 2011
It has been a long time since I got to travel during the summer, and my trip to Montana was a blast. There were a couple of hiccups in the trip, one going each way. On the way out to Montana, Laurie got a speeding ticket in Idaho for doing 83 MPH in a 75 MPH zone.
Aside from that, the trip was great since we have two houses that are identical, one here in the San Juan Islands and the other at the Yellowstone Club in Montana. When it came time to build our winter home, we could not figure out how to improve on our island home so we built the same one from our great architect, Barry Rand. That way Laurie knows where everything in the house is and I won’t mistake the closet for a bathroom in the middle of the night – and I can always find my underwear.
But back to the trip, I was very proud to see the America flag business booming with great big flags flying from a very tall pole in every town we drove through. I have to say that even though I never saw action, it made me proud to have spent four years in the Navy in World War II. So many others gave so much more.
Again, back to the trip. This was one of the rare times I’ve played a five star, member only golf course. I don’t know how else to describe it. There were caddies in white uniforms and 35 employees who did everything except hit the ball for you. In spite of the luxury I still managed to break 100 on the front nine, but the wrong side of 100.
There was incredible mountain scenery from every tee complete with a cookie and drinks shack at the start of the fifth hole. While we were having a free strawberry smoothie, the man who delivers all of the candy bars and stuff for Daryl went back out to his pickup truck to get another load of candy bars and cookies and there was a bear sitting in the back munching on the candy bars. On the 10th hole there was a very large moose with a very young baby sauntering across the fairway that held us up long enough for me to get my breath back
Breath is a problem – that is, getting enough of it when you are playing golf above 8,000 feet. When I was going to spend any time above 5,000 feet I used to take two Aspirin a day for three days before I went to altitude and three days after I got there. Last year I switched to Diamox because one pill does the work of four Aspirin. The third day I was there I had a three Excedrin headache and made the mistake of swallowing three Diamox instead. I was immediately cleared to play golf at 42,500 feet. It was really amazing how far I could drive a golf ball at that altitude.
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The sight of the surrounding mountains still covered with snow cannot be described without pictures. It was really beautiful! But as usual the golf course once again won when I ran out of balls by the 14th hole.
Driving back and forth on Interstate 90, it is easy to notice that every big town along the way often looks the same. Franchised everything stretching from the freeway to downtown that was built before the invention or necessity of parking places. The downtowns are great to wander around and listen to the older merchants’ stories of heartache, urban sprawl. According to them the big box stores are just a fad that will go away soon.
At dinner in one place, I sat alongside a couple of bike riders and racers. They think nothing of a twenty-mile ride with at least three, two or three thousand vertical climbs to make the ride interesting. But then they also have mountain bikes that they ride and typically double that amount of vertical climb in one day.
One evening everyone at dinner was talking about where they got caught by the sudden summer rain and hail storm. Will Littman was telling me that he and two guests got caught halfway to the summit for one of the nearby peaks and were way above timberline when the deluge hit. His guests had assured him that they had rain gear. They did not so they experienced the same as an ice cold shower of small ice cubes. And a marble sized hail that has already dropped two thousand feet hurts when it hits you on the top of anything with the velocity of a fire hose spray. The rain, hail and wind were so violent and loud that it even interrupted my afternoon nap.
With only three days left in our Montana holiday Laurie and I were trying to figure out how to extend our stay for another week, but crab season was opening at home and we were both looking forward to some fresh crab on the dinner table that had only been on the bottom of the bay a half an hour earlier. It is always nice to have a vacation from the island but it is also great to be back and the fresh crab we had for dinner tonight almost makes the long drive worthwhile. It is 850 miles each way.
On the way home Laurie caught her second disaster of the trip. She was clocked at 67 MPH in a 35 MPH construction zone. Fortunately the flat brimmed hat officer did not write that it was in a construction zone or it would have cost her twice the $349 the ticket cost.
Boy, was she mad at herself. She doesn’t get mad often but when she does, go to the garage or the boat and pretend you are working on a project.