Whitefish and Kalispell, Montana. 9/8/19

Our plans are pretty straightforward today—visit the Conrad Mansion in Kalispell, have lunch in Whitefish, and devote the rest of the day to watching the men’s final of the U.S. Open.

Kalispell is about 15 minutes away and since the tour is first come, first served with a maximum of twenty people every hour, I am a little jittery when we pull up at 9:50.  I need not have worried since the only one waiting is the welcome cat who is very pleased to see us.

Friendly mansion cat with John
The cat likes me too!

Soon enough we are ushered into the house for our tour with two other couples and two kids. The twenty-three room shingled Victorian style house was begun in 1892 and completed in 1895. It was the home of Charles E. Conrad, a late 19th century shipping businessman and early pioneer of Kalispell. In addition to shipping, Conrad was involved in a number of different businesses including real estate, banking, cattle ranching, and mining. The house was bequeathed to the city by his daughter who was a bit of a pack rat which led to 90% of the furniture, pictures, and knick knacks being original to the house. Alas, no photos are permitted in the house and there are very few on the internet.

Exterior of Conrad Mansion
Reception area (internet)

The house has all the modern conveniences of the day flush toilets, electric lights, a communication system within the house, water fountains, and even a dishwasher! There was a large staff of 24 half of whom worked outside on the grounds and stables and the other half inside.

After our interesting tour we ride around Kalispell admiring the many Victorian houses, large and small. On Main Street downtown there are two prominent buildings. The Grand Hotel built in 1890 and amazingly still operating as a hotel…

The Grand Hotel in in Kalispell

and the Flathead County Courthouse completed in 1905. Charles Conrad spearheaded the effort to get Flathead County established and the courthouse built.

Flathead County Courthouse (internet)

Lunchtime! We drive back to Whitefish to a brewery we espied last night when we had dinner. We have sandwiches and a beer.

Where they brew the beer
John in his beer pose

Now we settle down to almost five hours of tennis followed by frozen dinners microwaved in the room. Since our favorite player, Roger Federer, is not in the final, we merely root against Rafa Nadal. The other player is a young Russian who almost wins. It would be nice to see someone else win for a change.

Tomorrow we leave Whitefish for Montana’s state capital, Helena. We are hoping to stop at the Train Depot Museum here in Whitefish before we go.


Irradiated! 9/7/19

Today is one of those vacation days when there is not too much going on. We have to make the drive from Lake Louise to Whitefish, MT and there almost no towns in between. In fact there is a sign that warns you, “No cell reception next 60 miles!” So John and I have to make our own fun.

Our first leg is to drive almost two hours to Radium Hot Springs for breakfast. On the way we listen to the ongoing saga of the History of English. We are up to the 76th edition of the podcast and the development of English has gotten to 1132. Usually I cannot keep my eyes open during Professor Kevin’s relentless explanations but today he is talking about how gender got dropped from the English language and it is interesting. But we are distracted by…smoke?

The sky is billowing with smoke?
As we head into Radium Hot Springs it gets thicker

Turns out it is steam from the hot springs. I read about the radium part and the springs are throwing up radon along with the steam. But no worries, according to Wikipedia there is not enough to kill you if you breathe or drink it. So we go ahead and stop at the Big Horn Cafe for coffee and a bagel.

Breakfast at the Big Horn Cafe, Radium Hot Springs, BC

On the way out we cross a bridge over the springs.

Steam and radon gas

After another couple of hours we reach the US border. We have had adventures at the border when we were younger—our car was searched, we were split up and searched in an immigration building crossing into Detroit. Back in the 70s border guards were confused as to whether John was a hippie draft dodger or a nerdy computer programmer. So I feel some trepidation as we approach the border. It is a non-issue. The guard looks at our passports, asks if the car is ours or a rental, and welcomes us home. Whew!

Not too far from the border is the town of Eureka, Montana and we stop for a late lunch at Front Porch Grill. They have a full order and a half order of fish and chips. We order one of each and it is pretty good.

John at the Front Porch Grill
John’s order of fish and chips

Then we take a walk down Eureka’s Main Street to check out a former bank building that is on the historic registry. John refers to our doing this as urban archeology.

Historic bank building built in 1907. Great brick work.

Finally we make it to our hotel in Whitefish, MT with an iconic white fish out front.

Hotel white fish

For dinner I have made reservations at Abruzzo Italian Kitchen in downtown Whitefish. I have been craving some Italian food. After sharing a meatball appetizer I have papardelle Bolognese and John has cacio e pepe. Both are good with maybe a bit too much grated cheese.

Papardelle Bolognese
Cacio e pepe