Through Kalispell and up to Whitefish, just west of Glacier National Park. I arrive during the weekly farmer’s market, and there are people everywhere. I park in the library lot and briefly chat with a woman while I’m pulling out my guitar. “How long have you been here?” She asks. “About…two or three minutes.” She laughs and tells me about Whitefish. “There are lots of transients here…mostly because of the train yard. You’ll have no problem making money. You can sit downtown and play, and then find a spot to camp, and—well, you’ve probably got your routine down.”
I’ve got a cardboard sign tucked into my guitar case that says almost the same thing as what I flew in Jackson Hole:
TRAVELER— NEED $25 FOR GLACIER N.P. ENTRANCE FEE THANK YOU FOR ANY HELP! 🙂
As I walk into town, I overhear a couple behind me reading my sign. “Need $25 for Glacier—it’s crazy that it costs that much!” I turn around. “I know! I feel like we shouldn’t have to pay to experience the natural wonders of our own country…” We chat as we walk together, and at a corner when we part ways, they hand me a 5.
On the main drag, I sit down on ledge outside a restaurant and immediately meet Jacqui and Liam. We chat as I take out my guitar, and I lay it down across my case next to the sign. I haven’t even started playing yet, and a woman walks up and hands me a card—it’s a free pass into Glacier. I jump up and ask if I can hug her. A few minutes later, as I’m still talking to Jacqui and Liam, a guy walks up, stops, takes out his wallet, and hands me a 20 dollar bill. A girl drops a 5 into my case as she passes by. A girl in her early 20s and her mother come by. “I used to do this in the 70’s,” she says, and the five of us discuss the role of the traveler in our modern world, how to most effectively spread positive energy, and some ideas of Daniel Quinn on society.
We all part ways, I drop off my bag and guitar and grab a jacket, and I meet back up with Jacqui and Liam. We sit on a park bench in the chilly evening and hang out until 11, then walk over to the pizza place where Liam and one of their friends works. We chill in one of the booths until the places closes, and then we eat all of the leftover pizza we can stuff down. I carry out a box with a full pizza inside. This will last me a few days.
I hop in my car and follow them up to the spot where they sleep. It’s about a 15 minute drive up the mountain, and they finally pull off on an unmarked gravel track that leads to a beautiful hidden spot tucked in the mountainside and overlooking the entire city below. We lay out our sleeping bags, build a fire, pass around a guitar and a banjo, and talk about travel, faith, drugs, relationships, money, life, simplicity. The lights of the city glitter below; the constellations above, and the moon weeps into the lake.