Monday, November 27, 2006


Two Sisters

Angie and Rosalyn leave me to my own devices, and I collect a mess of maps at the Glacier visitor center before eating something lame for dinner and retiring early, this being the mountains and all. In the morning it's way too cold to do much of anything, and so I pack up early while the families around me are messing with fires and looking disagreeable. Everything is, so far as I can tell, unmolested by bears.

I drive a little way up the road to a place I passed last night called the Two Sisters Cafe. It's quirky looking. Or maybe tourist-looking. I can't quite decide. But it also has the first rainbow flag I've seen in something well over a thousand miles, so it's worth investigating.

I'm the first customer of the morning; in fact, I'm not quite sure they're open. But the owner, a burly guy who introduces himself as Big John, and who seems to have made off with John Goodman's voice, welcomes me in. I sit at the counter while he fries up sausages and otherwise makes ready for the morning rush. He carries in a bag of sarvis berries and explains to the two kids working this morning that they're available with pancakes for a couple of bucks more. I myself am interested primarily in pie, and ask Big John why the huckleberry pie is two dollars more than any of the others. It's mostly that they have a very short season, he explains.

We visit while he keeps doing prep work and I eat huckleberry pie, which may or may not be worth the extra two dollars as a matter of taste, but certainly is as a matter of science, and for enabling me to use the word "huckleberry" over and over again. And, I mean, what, you're going to travel 3,500 miles, or whatever it's been at this point, at $3.20 to the gallon, and then decide to save two dollars on pie? Big John warms up with the morning. He asks me how I like my Element, and tells me how much his wife likes hers on the run between Glacier and Missoula, where they have another place. We strategize over my own upcoming route down to Missoula, and with his employees, on where I ought to go hiking today. (The kids are here for the summer waiting tables and being in the big outdoors.)

I ask John, a bit clumsily, about the rainbow flag, there being no evidence of anything gay here, other than me and maybe a sunset orange pearl Element. He's patient with my clumsiness, and says when they were deciding to put up the array of flags they have outside, he insisted there were two they needed to generate business: a Harley-Davidson flag, and a rainbow flag. We talk about it a bit more, and I conclude, and tell him, that if all it means is this is a place where I can come in and be myself comfortably, and talk about rainbow flags, then it's all right by me.

The place is nearly full by the time I leave, which at least makes me feel like I'm not the most sluggish of all outdoorsmen for having frittered away the morning over coffee and pie rather than starting up a mountain at the first hint of light. I head up the road, past the makeshift campground assembled for firefighters, and back into the national park to find myself a trail to hike.

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