Well, for the second year in a row we decided to spend our summer on Flathead lake in Montana. We have never wanted to come back to the same place twice, after all we have wheels. Although on the same lake, in the same state, the difference between the two summers was actually quite different.
Last year we were on the North end of Flathead Lake in a State Park Campground (Wayfarer’s). Mike was work Camping and the task mostly revolved around the swarms of people coming to the beach for day use. I was not working since I arrived while still full time with IBM, but was laid off early in our first Montana summer. (Read more about it in this post.)
This year we are on the south end of the lake in a beautiful private RV resort. We are both work camping as camp hosts this year (Last year Mike was not a host). The park is Eagle Nest RV Resort in Polson, Montana. It is a clean, well maintained, friendly, family park. The work was fine (maybe even fun?) and the schedule a dream.
EAGLE NEST RV RESORT, Polson, Montana
The owners are Joan and Walter Fouty and they built this park on his grandfathers land 30 some years ago. Walter planted every tree by hand. They have 65 sites, 28 which are “seasonal”, meaning dedicated to the same people that come back for the summer each year. They could easily have 65 seasonal sites, but they want to provide a place that is not so exclusive, so they keep the ratio the same.
Last year they had a lot of personnel problems with the camp hosts, so they decided to wipe the slate clean and start with all new host this year. There are 4 couples, all of us new to the park. We committed to be here from the first of May through the end of September.
The shifts are 4 days. During that 4 days you can’t leave the park, must carry the phone, and could be called on anytime in the 24 hour period to provide customer service. But most of the work is checking guests in and out, and guiding them to their site, making reservations, or cleaning the pool, bathrooms, and laundry. In general the girls do the office work and the guys do the outside work. We work as a couple during our 4 days on. Then the remarkable thing is that between your 4 day shifts, you get 12 days off. So you never feel tied down to the park.
So what else did we do in Montana?
Unfortunately, much of the summer was postmarked by uncharacteristically warm weather, or Smoke from the Findley Point fire, burning 10 miles away from us. But we still managed to have fun. An overnight trip to Lewiston, Idaho, a day trip to Butte to visit Mike’s son for his Birthday, etc.
You might be wondering how we took advantage of our 12 day breaks… And I must admit we did not utilize them very well! I fretted about that most of the summer, but Mike kept pointing out how much we were enjoying the park.. There really was not much reason to leave.
We developed some good friendships in the park and played Pickleball nearly everyday. In fact we were the unofficial Pickleball coordinators. I organized a Pickleball workshop with the local pickleball pro (yes, there is such a thing!). I also called and taught introductory square dance 3 nights.
The fishing was not as good as Mike would have liked. But that does seem to be a theme in the RV.. What he thought would be an opportunity to fish the whole country has proven to be very difficult to find the best fishing spots. He has determined that you need to fish the same rivers for awhile to find the best spots, and we often aren’t in the same place long enough. So this is an ongoing conundrum to solve.
Arrr Matey! Get on your Pirate!
The park hosted parties about every 2 weeks. Most of them were potluck, some hosted by the park. Bands came to play, with dancing in the outdoor pavilion. Food Trucks were brought in for events. One of the most notable parties of the year is the annual pirate party. Started years ago as the high school mascot here in Polson is the pirates, Walter celebrated them with a pirate party and the event has grown with elaborate costumes and pirate paraphernalia, all the way down to the Stockade!
Independence Day, Weddings, Potlucks, oh my!
The 4th of July is also a HUGE event here at Eagle Nest RV Resort. Walter put off a firework show that rivals any community in the country.. And we had front row seats. Chris and Strohm (the owners Daughter and Son-in-Law got married last year during Covid, so they had a “wedding” on their first anniversary when Montana family could attend. Walter and Joan took us out on their pontoon boat for a staff party. So many social events, I can’t even list them all. Fun times. The office manager call Eagle Nest RV Resort “Summer Camp for Adults”.
I scheduled two trips across country during our Montana stay.
Miami Beach, Florida
First one was to Miami Beach, Florida, where I attended yet another Trading Bootcamp hosted by our trading Mentors Adrian and Julie Manz of TraderInsight. These bootcamps are scheduled every 6 months but the last two were canceled due to Covid. I was delighted to get out and meet up with our trading buddies. Mike does not like to fly (especially with a mask) and Miami is almost as far as you can get from Montana (eliminating the driving option), so he opted not to go. We keep working on the trading, but I am beginning to admit that I do not think it will ever replace our income… more on that in a later post.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
In June, my 87-year-old mother decided to get a full knee replacement. While I am proud of her for being proactive with her health, we were all concerned that the recovery would be longer and more difficult than she anticipated. With that in mind, my siblings and I decided to take turns supporting her recovery.
My sister, Monica, was there during the surgery and for the first week post-op. I had commitments at the park through July 4th, so the day after Monica left, I flew down for a little over a week for my shift. And then my sister Nancy, who lives in town, could take over for a couple of weeks with less frequent support, grocery help etc. Much to Moms chagrin, Dad also took her recovery very seriously and perhaps we were all a bit militant about her PT. She made numerous comments about how we all just loved this position of torturing her!
The best news is that today, 3 months after her surgery, she is doing FANTASTIC. Her flexibility is almost back, her pain is gone, and her strength is better than ever. The Therapist told her she doesn’t even need to use a cane anymore…. Amazing, from what I hear about knees.
It was also great to get in a visit with my friends and ,my kids in Albuquerque, of course!
RV Reservations Software
When we first arrived at the park in May, they expressed concerns that the reservations database that they were using might crash and burn during the summer. Their fears stemmed from the announcement that Windows 11 would be coming out sometime in the summer, and the software they have been using to track reservations was a free software developed and supported by one individual, who had dropped of the face off the earth, and not provided an update since 2013. So they were looking for a replacement software. Humm, I became inspired.
I thought it would be fun to see what I could develop, using my favorite Database tool of choice, Filemaker. They didn’t ask me to do this, I did this independently, just for my own entertainment.. No commitment to the park. However, I liked their process, and emulated that, eliminating all the irritants that annoyed me about their current software.
I installed the prototype on the office system in the middle of August and have been testing, tweaking, and training since. The results are exciting. Everyone is happy with them. We ran the two systems in parallel for September and October 1 they officially retired the old system for use next year and beyond.
This project did take up a HUGE amount of my free time this summer but was extremely satisfying. I hope I have a product now that I can market to others. (Still looking for a name by the way… Pitch in your thoughts in the comments).
Electric Bikes – Riding around Montana
Before leaving Arizona, a bike store proprietor put a bug in my ear that I might like an Electric Bike. Mike shocked me by agreeing. In hindsight, he might just have been being amenable, but the effect was the same, the seed was planted. Looking around at the RV parks, I realized just how many people have electric bike. A few people let me take a test ride. We started researching and visiting bike shops and test riding others. I was sold. We settled on an Aventon Pace 500. The bike was delivered shortly after arriving in Montana.
While many people think an electric bike will reduce your exercise, for most it is the opposite, it increases your exercise, because you get out on your bike WAY more often. I outfitted my bike with Panniers and a good rack so that I could carry things.. Groceries, computers, by drone…. they have been very handy. If I need something quick at the grocery store, I am riding the bike. The store is not far from us but there is a huge hill between us and them… I would not be so inclined on my regular bike.
An Electric bike also assures you will not be too sweaty when you arrive to enjoy the event you are attending, and assures you are not going to get half way there and decide it’s too difficult to make the rest of the trip. It is really wonderful. Aventon advertised that it is a car replacement… I am taking that to heart and trying to use it for any short distance errands.
Bikes for Paula and Tim
The day our bikes arrived, Tim and Paula (another camphost couple we have become very close with) stopped by to take a test ride. They decided that moment to buy bikes for themselves. They went home and bought the same bikes we did. I must admit, Paula has been extremely dedicated and an inspiration to me. We have ridden quite a bit together, to the farmers market, just out for entertainment, and Paula and I even ventured to the neighboring town 13 miles away on our bikes for lunch. What a blessing having them here has been, and what fun we are having on our bikes!
A bike for Mike?
Sadly… Mike was not having fun on a new electric bike. Some folks early on had mentioned this philosophy and I decided to adopt it, that in most couples who are trying to ride bikes, the woman gets an electric bike first because she cannot keep up with her husband (not sexist, just a physical reality – and of course not 100% valid). Then within a year, the husband gets an electric bike because he cannot keep up with his wife. Well for Mike and me this happened much faster… almost instantly. He no longer liked to ride with me, I was too fast and didn’t tire as quickly. So just before we left sales-tax-free Montana, we bought him an electric bike… We are excited to incorporate regular riding in our daily routine.
A Float Boat
Since I met Mike, he has fantasized about owning a float boat to fish with. Last year he discovered Montana had such big water that it was difficult to fish by foot. I suggested that if we come back he should get a float boat. So we did, so he did. He really didn’t put it to the test this summer. I think he is nervous. He wants to be sure he doesn’t get himself into technical trouble, and frankly, while fishing is not a challenge for him at all, managing the boat while fishing is a whole new skill set.
A Visit from the Family
Family is important to us, and at some level we moved into the RV because we said since they never come visit us, we will go visit them, and bring our own guest room! Well, we actually have been negligent in that activity lately so two of Mike’s sister’s and their husbands came to visit us in Polson in September. It was a fun-packed 3 days! We did many things on the list, but hadn’t gotten around to in the area.
And Next Summer…. Maybe Montana
For the second year in a row we decided to spend our summer on Flathead lake in Montana. We have never wanted to come back to the same place twice, after all we have wheels. But we have committed to returning to Eagle Nest RV Resort next year and Camp hosting again. In fact 3 of the 4 couples here this summer are returning. We have really enjoyed this summer, and want a repeat. I don’t think we want to “settle down” here, by making it a regular routine, but there is room for more fun next year in Montana.. SO DON’T WORRY, we will get that boat out and use it! Mike’s sisters are planning a return visit. If you are looking to come out this way, we would love to see you, and can’t recommend any park more highly!