Change of Plans

by | Jun 28, 2014 | Stories

We need to get Kayla back home sooner than we had anticipated.  What can we squeeze in to see Havre and Glacier National Park with Kayla before we head back?  We’ll condense our plans and off we go.

Havre Montana is our next overnight stop.  We stopped in Chinook, MT about 20 miles east of Havre to show Kayla the home my grandparents (my mom’s parents) owned in town in addition to the ranch in the mountains.  The garage is missing because they used its space to expand living space.

Next priority was to get some flowers for my parents’ gravesite in Havre.  Talked to my childhood friend, Peggy, who ranches and farms with her husband and sons south of Havre in the Little Bear Paw Mountains.  She recommended the Ben Franklin store and I fell in love with it.  My crafty, artistic heart went into immediate tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) with excitement. I thought I’d died and gone to Artsy Heaven.  It was SO hard to discipline myself to only look for flowers.  I quickly also bought a few yards of material that I might use to make some placemats and ran out of the store.

We went to the cemetery where my parents, both sets of grandparents and a couple Uncles on both sides are buried.  I placed the flowers and wept.  My mom died in 1985 and dad died in 1998.  I wanted Kayla to get a sense for this part of her very Irish family.  I tried to give her a little background; but it’s hard when she hasn’t had any connection with these family members. My daughters, Bridgette, and Heather knew my parents (their grandparents) but not my grandparents (their great-grandparents), of course.  I miss my parents and regret that I am not able to visit them more often.  We had a good talk though.

My dad’s mom, Mary Collins Kenny (McShane) lived in Havre; but it’s been awhile since I’ve been by her house.  I forgot to bring the address and like any community, things continue to change.  It’s been even longer since I’ve been to our family ranch.  The roads and ranch owners have changed a lot.  I don’t dare attempt to fuddle our way out there in the mountains in the short time we have.  I know it’s about 40 miles out in the mountains and tricky to find.

As a child we always made sure we had a full tank of gas, some food & water, blanket, tires aired up, water/coolant/windshield washer fluids topped off, and appropriate clothing before leaving either Chinook or Havre for the ranch.  One never knew what danger you might run into.  For brevity and other reasons, I will not detail some of our fears.  Maybe you can read between the lines.  Most of the ranchers carried rifles in their cars/trucks and still do. While it’s God’s country, you don’t want your car to break down and be stranded.  It’s a long way between ranches and usually a long way off the main road into the ranches houses.

Later, we meet my friend Peggy and her husband Tony for dinner at the “Duck Inn.”  They look great and it’s so nice to visit with them.  They live in the area but don’t know how to find the Joseph & Ruth Phelan ranch which is further out than theirs.  They will check on it and get me directions for a future trip…..heaven knows when that will be.

Tomorrow we will take a day trip Glacier National Park.  And that’s where things get dicey and adventurous again.  More to come if you care to travel along.

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