Part 1: The Preliminaries
Roughly 365 days ago
So The Wife comes to me and she says, “Next year the National Council of Appellate Court Clerks will be meeting at Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish, Montana. Won’t that be fun?”
“Well, there are mountains and gorgeous scenery and nature and a golf course and an indoor pool and two hot tubs. It’s very rustic.”
“You haven’t sold me yet.”
“It’s Big Sky Country!”
“Yeah, how does that work? Is the sky in Montana really bigger than anywhere else in the world? Sky is sky — it’s not different sizes in different geographic locales, is it?”
“There will be nature trails that you and Andrew can walk on. Maybe you’ll see a moose or something.”
“Montana has lots of dinosaurs.”
Roughly 365 days later
It turns out Montana was indeed once a hotbed of dino activity. In fact, it is home to the Montana Dinosaur Trail — a circuitous route across the state with 15 stops at dino museums and other dino attractions.
None of which are near Whitefish, Montana.
Whitefish, you see, is in the upper left-hand corner of the state, where dinosaurs apparently feared to tread. All Whitefish had going for it was lakes and mountains and scenic beauty and golf courses and ski lodges. I neither golf nor ski.
Typically LawyerCon runs from Sunday-Thursday and we’re back in St. Louis on Friday. Since we were so close to dinosaur mecca and would likely never return, The Wife planned things so we would stay an extra couple of days and drive down to Bozeman, home of the Museum of the Rockies — one of the highlights of the Dinosaur Trail. My Wife — crazy isn’t she? That’s why I love her. More importantly, that’s why she loves me.
So as the trip got closer I was somewhat excited about going. Then the news started coming in. Bears.
The bears of Montana were hungry, and not for berries. In the weeks before we left, a bear had eaten a camper and another one had attacked Jack Hanna. Jack Hanna! If bears are attacking a renowned wildlife expert, what chance do I have? If some bear shows up on some nature trail he’s going to eat me over The Son. And it’s not because I’m going to thrust myself out in front of the boy to keep him safe — it’s because he can run much faster than I can.
So now I’m not at all excited about going to Montana. On top of my usual airplane anxiety, I now have bear anxiety. I saw “Grizzly Man.” Now I know why there are no dinosaurs in Whitefish. They were afraid of the bears.
I don’t want to be eaten. I don’t want to die in a fiery plane crash. I could probably avoid one of those fates — but both? That’s pushing it.
Next: Travel days, one and two.