Monthly Archives: June 2018

Distinctly Montana posted this pic on Facebook today:


The problem that I’ve recently come to face is that that last bit is not true – that’s not where I really live.

Don’t misunderstand me – I live surrounded by mountains. They are large and beautiful and still have snow on some of the summits that I can see from my home, even on the 29th of June. “Montana” does mean mountain, and we’ve seriously got ’em – western Montana is all Rockies.

The home that we are planning on building (we were supposed to close on the land today, but there’s a title problem, so it will be Tuesday instead) is situated on a small bluff, and will have magnificent views of the Swans, peaks in Glacier Park, and even the trails of Whitefish Mountain. Montana is beautiful.

But my recent realization is that I don’t live UP THERE. And I don’t get to see UP THERE much.

Lemme ‘splain – when we lived in Park City, we lived in the mountains; there were trails from my neighborhood up to the top of the peak at Summit Park, and there were trails that came through there that hooked into the Great Western Trail, and I could run that trail from my house.

I could get above tree line in the Wasatch Mountains with just a short drive, and many different entry points; we could get above treeline in the High Uintahs in one hour, and be at Ruth Lake in an hour and fifteen.

When we lived in Colorado, there was no “going” to get up high; we lived just shy of 9000 feet. I would run up to Coal Bank Divide at 10,600 feet from my condo. The windows on both sides of my fireplace looked out at the Needles Mountains,  and from my deck we could see Spud and Engineer.

In Bozeman we were in the valley, but it was a short drive to Big Sky to the south and up high in the Bridgers in the north. I rode my bike to Hyalite Lake from my home.

I’ve always had a thing about “up”. My two favorite directions have always been “out” and “up” 🙂

Well, we are definitely “out” here in Whitefish 🙂 We are pretty darn remote here in the Flathead, and it’s beautiful and we love it.

But we aren’t “up”.

And a peculiarity of this area is that we can’t GET “up”. I can drive to the base of Whitefish Mountain Resort in nine miles – and I do, often 🙂 – but that’s only at 4200 feet. There aren’t any roads that go “up” in the Whitefish Range.

And the Swans have plenty of “up”, but the peaks that go above treeline are well to the south of me – and there are NO ROADS that cross those moutains, not for a hundred miles to the south.

There is only one way that I can get up near treeline, and that is Going-to-the-Sun-Road in Glacier Nat’l Park. And that road doesn’t open until late in June and closes early; and when it is open, it is crowded.

So I’m surrounded by mountains, but I can’t get IN the mountains or ON the mountains. And that’s something that I do miss; I’ve been avoiding thinking about it, but this last week, my wife sent me some wallpaper –


– and I set it as my background immediately; but then realized that, while I believe that this is in Glacier, I can’t be sure of that, because I never get up there. I have driven GtsSR several times, but never hiked when I was up there, because I am always training (thanks, Ian).

And, if that peak is the one that I believe it to be, it troubles me just a little to know that my old condo is actually higher than that summit. That’s how high I used to be, and that’s how high I can’t even get to now.

You can’t actually accept something until you admit it, and I reckon it was time that I admit that I’m not UP THERE any more. I reckon OUT THERE is going to have to be good enough.

So now we’ve got the money to pay for the building lot in our bank account.

It’s quite a bit of money.

So, me, I’m thinking – we’ve got a lot of money in the bank. Shouldn’t we jump on a plane and go tour the Caribbean? I figure we should start out at San Pedro Town, on Ambergris Caye, just because “Ambergris Caye” has got to be one of the coolest names ever.


But she doesn’t want to jump on a plane to Belize.

Nor does she want to jump on a plane to Barbados, Roatan, or the Lesser Antilles. I know – I’ve checked.

Now, let’s tell the truth and shame the devil – this can ONLY be a disorder. I figure it’s a pretty severe case of OCD – Obsessive Contrary Disorder. How can you NOT want to go to San Pedro Town when you have lots of money in the bank?

The answer? “A Bad Case of Good Habits”.

“A student of behaviour psychology
Conditioned himself to stick to his studies
He grew tired of these routines and tried to drop them
But he was caught in his own trap and couldn’t stop them”

Crash Test Dummies, _Overachiever_

Ethel seems to have developed such a work ethic that she is completely incapable of just quitting and running off. I find this deplorable – because, obviously, I am quite capable of quitting and running off!…but, worse than that, she can’t even just take vacation – vacation of which she has built up quite a backlog – because she’s “needed”.

Responsibility and work ethic – taken independently, they are trouble. Combined, they can cause havoc* and misery!

She won’t even let me bring home the money in twenty-dollar bills and stack it in the corner – she seems to find the idea somehow disturbing and won’t even talk about it.

(I really want to go to the closing and pay for the lot in cash – get a nice hard shell brief case and take a bunch of Benjamins like a drug dealer or international financier. But I suspect that the realtors would freak right out – even though it says, right there on the bills, “legal tender for all debts, public and private”).

So Ethel is being all grown-up and stuff; me, I figure I’m in my dotage (since I only have eight years to live**, I want to get some dotage in before I’m gone) so I ought to be allowed to be irresponsible and spend money and fly to the Caribbean and walk around in my boxers*** if that’s what I feel like doing.

But the idea that I find most attractive is just heading to the Caribbean – I really, really want to be able to say that we’ll be “on a beach, earning twenty percent” – even though these days 6 percent is a fairly good return. But who doesn’t want to quote Hans Gruber?

But I’m not going to do that. Because that’s the other thing about being responsible and work-ethicky – it tends to shame the folks around you into acting the same way 🙂



*yes, I said “cause havoc”. I know that you’re supposed to say “wreak havoc” but sometimes I just get tired of “wreak”. The only time anybody ever “wreaks” is when they are doing “havoc”. Why doesn’t anybody ever “wreak warm weather” or “wreak tuna fish”?

**I’m 59 years old. Dad died at 67. I’ve always heard that the strongest predictor of lifespan is the age at death of the same-sex parent. No, I don’t want to hear about the other theories. Thanks for sharing.

***Some years back, I found myself walking down our private road in New River, AZ, in my boxers. But that wasn’t dotage – that was “owning a large tract of land and having a private road, so who cares”. Of course, there were other folks who shared the private road, so when I got back to the house, I got an earful.

When I took this picture, I was standing outside the back door of our Whitefish condo. The Ram truck that you see is my truck, parked in the lot because I can’t get it into my garage.

Then you see the piece of ground at which the arrow is pointing. That is Lot 35 of Great Northern Heights.


As of the 29th of this month, that piece of ground will belong to Ethel and I.

We’ve gone ’round and ’round about this – should we stay here? Should we build? Should we buy? Should we stay here in Whitefish and buy a second place in Mexico? Should we just sell out and go to Mexico full time? Should we buy here? Should we build?

This all started because we went to Cozumel with Bob and Caroyl. We had talked about getting a place with them near the beach, and we did a good bit of house hunting with them while we were there.

One of the things that I noticed was how we were pretty adamant, with every home that we looked at, that it would have some running room for the dogs. Bob and Caroyl are dog people, and I’m married to a dog person, so it doesn’t seem too strange – until one remembers that we currently live in a condo, and have NO running room for dogs.

(In our defense, when we moved here, we had Lucy and Abby, and Lucy barely moved, so Abby was fairly sedentary as well. After Lucy died, we wound up getting my little blessing, who is not sedentary at all, which means now Abby runs all over the condo with her).

We didn’t buy anything on Cozumel, but when we got home, I was struck by the fact that we were so adamant about doggy running room, but we didn’t have any at home. Also, the snow had melted; what this meant was that I could finally try to get my truck into the garage (the excess of snow had prevented me from attempting the turn during the winter).

…and I found out that I could not get my truck into the garage.

So now it seems that the dog (that Ethel had decided that I needed) and the truck (that Ethel had decided that I needed) no longer allowed me to live in the condo – at least, not without some adjustments. So we started looking around.

Our first choice was the first house that we looked at – which went under contract while we were looking at it. Then we noticed that the Whitefish housing market was pretty darn hot, so after a few more false starts, we started looking at view lots; we looked at several, and then began investigating building on a lot out in The Lakes, just southeast of where we live now.

But the lot that we wanted was narrow, and it would have been very expensive to build there; we spent a good bit of time with Matt from Stumptown Build & Design, and decided not to move ahead; instead, we went under contract on a home over in Columbia Falls.

But, as much as I liked that CFalls home, it…it just didn’t feel right, so we backed out.

Right after we did the formal backing-out, Ethel booked us a flight to Cabo (while I was at a noon meeting) to go house hunting. And we went to Cabo for a week, and found places that we liked in San Jose, San Lucas and Todos Santos

But, as much as we liked them, apparently, they still didn’t feel right, so we didn’t do that. We’ll wait until Bob and Caroyl are ready to split a place, instead; in the meantime, we realized that we really, really wanted to be in Whitefish; not CFalls, and not Kalispell.

So we went back up to one of the first lots that we had looked at, on Vista Drive, and it felt right. It felt quietly right. We met with Matt on the lot, and he was much happier with this lot; said it would work great. We thought about it a bit, and made an offer, and they countered, and we took it.

So now we’re going to be building on a lot that’s apparently (according to gmaps) 366 meters from my back door. It should be finished in January or February.

We’ve bought and sold 11 homes and condos; several of them were new, but they were spec homes, where we might have selected some of the finishings, but that’s it. Now, we’re going to be in the process from the selection of the lot all the way through; whatever the house is or isn’t, there’s only ourselves to blame.

Sounds like an adventure.

Here’s the view from the lot, taken from the realtor’s picture set last winter. This house is on a bluff, so this view can’t ever go away.

I’ll be looking at it for a long time.

207 Vista



This is me at the start of the run in Ironman Arizona 2017.

Last night we were talking about the dogs – how it had been three and a half years after Maia died before I was willing to let Kim get me another dog (which she then appropriated, but that’s not important right now).

Ethel thought that that was a good example of how we are “unable to bring into consciousness, with sufficient force, the memory of the suffering…of even a month or a week ago.” Even though losing Maia left me in a terrible state, I was able to get another dog only 42 months later.

Meanwhile, last year’s IMAZ hurt worse than anything. I’ve had motorcycle wrecks that felt better than that triathlon. And I still signed up for this year’s edition just three days later.

I’d say that that’s a whole different level of dumb.

So I came back to Montana and started training in November. In February, my right knee went out. I kept training – but using the elliptical instead of the treadmill – while doing physical therapy, and after slowly working running back into my regime, was released from PT in the second week of April.

The next day, my run hurt. That weekend, running on Cozumel, both knees hurt, and I thought I had shin splints.

The next weekend, seven miles into an easy jog on dirt roads, my LEFT knee went “whangey” and had a catastrophic failure, so much so that I spent the next two weeks on the island on crutches and when I flew home, had to go through the airports in a wheelchair.

(As an aside – I was able to ride a bicycle with that left knee, even did a couple of centuries on Cozumel, but I had to walk to the bike on crutches. This injury was pretty specific).

I came home from the island, saw a doc, got an MRI on both knees, and pretty much gave up on training. I finally saw the doc a couple of weeks ago, and it turns out that I have a torn meniscus and have to have surgery to fix it.

That surgery is scheduled for July 2, after which it will be two to four weeks before I will be able to start running again.

Now, here’s the thing – last year at this time, I was getting ready for the 70.3 IM in Coeur d’Alene, and my fitness numbers were great. I PRed the race. This year, I’m sitting in the hot tub with the fat old men, and still facing surgery and rehab afterwards.

When I signed up for IMAX ’18, I bought the insurance. An injury – with all this documentation – means that I can get my money back. In addition, I’ll save all of the money of the trip, and all of the time and effort required to get ready for the race.

And let’s tell the truth and shame the devil – if I were to be able to do the race this year, it wouldn’t be pretty. It would probably be a personal worst.

But for some reason, I haven’t cancelled yet. “Hope springs eternal in the human breast” and I seem to harbor some silly notion that I still might do the race. I’ve started training again, I’m dong a century ride with Ethel in early August, and I keep lying to myself, telling myself that maybe it will be okay.

I reckon I’m keeping the insurnace in my back pocket, knowing that at any time I can bail on the race and still get my money back. But “you’d think” that I would bail EARLY so as not to waste a summer and fall training for a race that I might not be able to do.

Well, nobody ever said that triathlon made you smart.