Throughout America: 20 Years of Personal Discovery – Chapt. 9

     Chapt. 9

              Needle in the Sky and the Northern Rockies

After a few years in Spokane, I was getting ants in my pants. But during my time there I did manage to see Seattle, Washington and many other cities, towns and attractions. Seattle is the largest city in the state, and I was impressed with the cleanliness of a city that large. And, there is so much to see that a day wouldn’t be long enough to view it all. So, Lee and I chose the major attractions when we paid a visit.

The first stop in Seattle, of course, was the Space Needle in downtown. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, it towers upward at 605 feet, has an observation deck at 520 feet and a rotating restaurant 20 feet below that, called the SkyCity Restaurant. Lee and I didn’t dine, but we did get to the observation deck for a view of Seattle below us, where I sipped on the first cup of Starbucks coffee in my life. It was, at the time, the best cup of coffee I’d ever had.

Space Needle in Seattle, WA

Space Needle in Seattle, WA

SkyCity Restaurant

SkyCity Restaurant

When most people think of Seattle or the symbol of the northwest, the Space Needle comes to mind. But there are some new attractions awaiting visitors that may change that slightly. After our visit to the high-rising tower, we took a detour to the Experience Music Project Museum, or EMP Museum. A non-profit museum founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the museum, dedicated to contemporary popular culture, is strange to the eyes at first glance, with peculiar architecture on the outside. It even sports a monorail internally that visitors can access from the outside of the bizarre structure.

EMP Museum

EMP Museum

It was time to move on from Spokane, as I had always wanted to experience life in a mountainous region with lower populations. I had made friends with several people over in the Missoula, Montana area who frequently went to Spokane for shopping or dining. I had visited Missoula on a couple of occasions, so I rolled the dice. Missoula, about 200 miles east of Spokane, was first founded as a trading post in the 1860’s. The population is roughly 110,000 in the metro area, so I decided living a little further north in nearby Arlee would be a much better fit. The commute was about 30 minutes to and from work in Missoula.

Missoula, Montana

Missoula, Montana

Arlee, as it turned out, was far more interesting despite its low population. Located on the Flat Head Indian Reservation, there are less than a thousand residents. The small town was named after a Flat Head Indian chief, Arlee. Half of the population there are Native Americans, and they still speak their native language, Salish. Life is a little slower in this neck of the woods, even slower than most other small towns I had experienced. I resided atop Evaro Hill, that was anything but a hill. It was a climb up in to the northern Rockies, on a road with no guard rails thousands of feet up. It made for an interesting drive home at night, when there was heavy snow accumulations. It was difficult to tell where the edge of the mountain was, and I did my best trying to find a trail behind other drivers, if any could be found at all. Danger was part of living in this part of the country.

Scenic roadside view in Arlee, Montana

Scenic roadside view in Arlee, Montana

Along the drive to my home on Evaro Hill was a country store and trading post. Some trading among locals is still a practice, as many Native Americans there continue to live off the land similar to their ancestors. But while hunting, they sometimes become the hunted – by the prey they are hunting. It wasn’t unusual to see a mountain lion or brown bear in these parts, especially away from the expanding suburbs of Missoula. It was my normal habit of visiting the bulletin board at the trading post for sightings of these creatures, as to let your guard down against them could cost you your life. I was very fortunate, even as I knew a bear had laid eyes on me before, and mountain lion tracks were found right outside of my back door. Many residents don’t leave their home without some sort of protection, such as a gun. My weapon of choice was bear spray, a large can with extra strength pepper that works great as a deterrent without causing the animal permanent injury. Never had to use it.

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Posted on February 20, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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