The weather this morning was overcast and chilly and rain was forecast so we decided to take things a little easier today, as our time in the States has been pretty full on up until now. So we drove to a little town called Whitefish, about 30 miles away, outside of the national park on the edge of Whitefish Lake. The rain started as soon as we set off and got worse the further we went. However, upon reaching the outskirts of Whitefish the rain stopped, the clouds parted and the sun beat down once more.
Whitefish is a mountain town with a beach feel. The architecture speaks of the Old West but the quaint boutiques and cafes wouldn’t be out of place at any coastal beach resort. It’s a pleasing combination and we strolled the streets for an hour or so soaking in the atmosphere.
In one shop, which sold a lot of leather; boots, belts, waistcoats, shirts, jewellery etc, Rachel was looking for a pair of cowboy boots – that is until she saw the price! Leather boots for $1000 is pricey by any standards! There were belts for over $250. A young man and woman, who were also shopping, came over to chat upon hearing Rachel’s very audible gasp of incredulity! We all left together!
At lunch we were chatting to the waitress, who told us that Whitefish and its neighbour, Kalispell are exempt from applying sales tax to a bill, but instead has a ‘resort’ tax – only approx 2%, which makes eating out relatively cheap here. Again, the food was of a really high standard here, like everywhere else we have been up until now.
I know I’ve probably mentioned this before, in this blog or in others, but we were struck again by how immaculately clean this town was, like all the places we have been on this trip. Everything is very well maintained, road signs look very new, the paint on the roads is always fresh and new. Most striking of all is that we have seen not a single piece of litter anywhere since our arrival and certainly no dog poo! Isn’t that remarkable? And yet again, as happened on our last holiday in the States, a door was held open for us by a small boy and when I thanked him he relied “you’re welcome”. I shouldn’t be surprised at this, but I am. But when you see signs in cafes, boats and bars saying ‘No smoking, ammunition or firearms please’, it brings home just how ambiguous American society is. Maybe that’s part of its ‘charm’ and why we love it so much.
And so to the beach. A short drive beyond town brought us to the edge of Whitefish Lake and the ‘beach’. It always surprises me to see ducks on a beach, just like when we were in Lake Tahoe a few years ago. As usual, parking was free and right near the beach. This was another pristine environment with top quality toilet facilities – again free of charge. We sat and soaked in the sun for a few hours and swam in the cool lake surrounded by the ever present mountains. Even the few gulls we encountered were well behaved!
Beach houses lined the shore, each with their own private jetty. People came and went with their trucks, towing their boats down to the water’s edge – no restrictions, no fuss; perfect!
Before leaving the beach we walked along its edge and sat taking in the view:
After a short trip back into downtown Whitefish for Huckleberry ice cream we headed home feeling relaxed after a day at the beach.
We’ll always remember this place.