The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Vacation Retreats for your Montana Summer

 

July 12, 2017



When Glacier Park Incorporated lost their major concession for hotels and restaurants in Glacier National Park, little did I know that it would be a return back to my childhood for me.

Because Glacier Park Incorporated lost that major concession, they aggressively bought most all of West Glacier from the Lundgren family who had owned that large concession since just after World War II.

I became acquainted once again with cabins 6 and 8 at the Village Lodge, a major concession in Apgar. Both cabins 6 and 8 had been very favorites of our family when I was a boy. Since Glacier Park Incorporated has owned them, I have had many occasions to stay in both cabins once again, after so long a time. I stay in them in the off season when they are difficult to rent and let me tell you that my time there in the last two years has been simply glorious. That is all that I can say.

I can remember like it was yesterday, how my family got going first to Whitefish then to Lake McDonald for a vacation each year for years and years.

It was a hot spring and my mother, dad and baby Lou Ann were sitting in the back yard of our family home on Tenth Street in Havre. Mother had been doing some work for Clack’s office. She came home with the news that a co worker was from Whitefish and had told her that the lake was just dotted with tiny vacation rentals in clusters. Names like Bay Point, Glenwood Park, Camp Alamack and Camp Carefree come to mind.

Anyway, we decided to try one of those cabins for a week in July so before long found ourselves heading to Whitefish early one July morning. We were bound for Bay Point and got a nice cabin right on the lake with big screened porches with canvas coverings if it rained. We all loved Bay Point, that is until I almost drowned there. Out in the bay was a diving board built on a structure that was anchored to the bottom of the lake. I could not swim but knew that there was a reef that I could walk carefully on that would take me all the way to the structure. The water was chest high. Nothing I could not handle. I got to the structure, played on it with some other kids and decided to head for shore. A smaller girl decided to walk in with me. She could not swim either. For the smaller girl the reef was neck high in water. We started carefully back and the girl stepped off the reef, grabbed a hold of me and pulled me right in the abyss with her. Fortunately a man on shore saw us floundering and swam out and rescued us or there would have been a double drowning that summer at Bay Point. That was our rather dangerous opening act at staying in Whitefish lake Cabins.

We drove around the lake and finally decided that from then on we would rather stay at Glenwood Park then anywhere. It was heavily wooded going down to the lake and the cabins seemed larger and the entire area was like camping in a forest. All very wonderful.

We stayed at Glenwood Park for several years. My father was a very good fix it man. And, he loved working on things like the cabins at Glenwood in his spare time.

Matter of fact, it got so that Brad Seeley, the owner of Glenwood, had a list of things for Dad to fix once we were installed in our cabin. For mother it was important that it be the same cabin year after year. She wanted to know where everything was when she walked in the front door. And, the cabin had to have a kitchen.

While on vacation, it was Mother’s idea that she would always cook us breakfast, then pack us a picnic lunch and go exploring for part of the day and then eat a nice meal out for dinner. That was our mode for many years.

Dad had his modes as well. All of his life, my Dad got up very early. He wanted his business life over by noon so he could drink beer in the afternoon and go to bed early in the evening. TV changed that a little as he loved Jack Benny and Jackie Gleason and would stay up longer to watch them.

But when the clock said 4am, Dad was up and ready to go. So, we were packed and off on vacation long before daylight as a rule.

Both Mother and Dad loved to go over Logan Pass on the way to wherever we were staying. So, about 10am we would pull into the picnic grounds at St. Mary and have our lunch. Then it was over Logan Pass and down the other side to wherever we were staying.

I can remember when we switched from Whitefish to Lake McDonald. Staying at Lake McDonald with some of the best views of mountains in the world, it was there or nowhere for us each summer.

For a time we stayed at Lake McDonald Lodge. That was when they would take dogs as we always had a dog or two along. I think that Dad loved Lake McDonald Lodge better than any of the other places we stayed because we would get to it quickly, being just on the west side of Going-To-The-Sun Road. The Lodge, but in those days it was called Lake McDonald Hotel, had a bar so Dad could start on his beer drinking very quickly.

However, soon Lake McDonald Lodge drew the line on people with dogs so we moved a tad up the lake to a place called Greeve’s Modern Cabins which was like Glenwood Park but on Lake McDonald.

There was something at Greeve’s cabins that just did not suit us but we all knew we wanted to be in Glacier and on Lake McDonald because of the great scenery that was not available anywhere else.

We looked at the cabins and motels at Apgar and marveled at how quiet it was there each night with so many people staying so close together.

I found a puzzle years later. It seemed that Grandma and Grandpa Lucke had stayed for a month each summer at Matt Brill’s Kintla Guest Ranch. They stayed in the same cabin so much, it had the name, the Lucke Cabin on a sign in front of it.

I had known that Grandpa Lou Lucke had a cabin on Clear Creek and had never heard about his staying for a month each summer at the Kintla Guest Ranch up the North Fork of the Flathead.

My Dad must have known all about his parents staying there. Why didn’t he suggest we ever stay there? That will forever be a mystery to me. I called the present owner of what used to be the Kintla Guest Ranch and he said that the Lucke cabin was swept away in the 1964 flood.

We stayed for a couple of years at the Village Inn, a large motel complex with the most beautiful views looking up Lake McDonald that there could ever have been. Each unit had a picture window that looked up the lake and at the huge cathedral like mountains that ringed the top part of Lake McDonald.

We could see that unbelievable experience called Alpenglow often and just to see dawn breaking over those far mountains and the sun streaking down the lake was breathtaking to say the least.

There were small kichenenets, as they were called, in some units but they seemed too small for mother’s need to make large breakfasts. There were not enough rooms in them for mother either.

One day we were walking around Apgar and saw two cabins on McDonald Creek. One had the same glorious views as the Village Inn, where we were staying, and the other was obviously larger and a little further down McDonald Creek.

Mother peered in the windows of the two and announced that these would be perfect for us to stay in year after year.

So, we got the information about cabins 6 and 8 at what is still called the Village Lodge in Apgar and started staying there until Dad died a few years later.

Cabin 8 was the larger of the two. It had a large living room, a kitchen, bathroom and two very large bedrooms. I will never forget staying there for a week in July and being woke up early in the morning by a large black bear with his paws on the front picture window, looking in at my Beagle Lyndon who was barking back at the bear. I will never forget that scene as finally the bear got tired of looking at Lyndon and ambled away down McDonald Creek.

If we were bringing guests with us, we would usually stay in cabin 8. If we were alone it was cabin 6 that had that same wonderful view up Lake McDonald. That cabin had a large livingroom and kitchen, a bathroom and a very large bedroom. Both of the cabins were very rustic.

Well, we stayed there for several years and decided that was the best of all places to stay.

After my Father died in a Clear Creek car accident, we stopped going anywhere for a while and I started living my own life.

But now I am back staying a couple of times each summer at the Village Lodge in cabins 6 or 8 and loving every minute.

It was as if time stood still in Apgar and in those cabins. I hope that this fall my sister from California can come up as I have cabin 6 reserved and she will love it.

Such has been our love affair with cabins at Whitefish and at Lake McDonald……

 
 

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