Polson, Jul 2010 - 07
Note: A large percentage of my "landscape" photos (including the ones in this set) are now copyright-protected, and are not available for downloads and free use. You can view them here in Flickr, but if you would like prints, enlargements, framed copies, and other variations, please visit my SmugMug "Polson" gallery by clicking here.
After a 1993 summer vacation in Crested Butte and Ouray, (pictures of which are in this Flickr set, I decided that while the scenery was spectacular, Colorado was too crowded and over-run by tourists, visitors, and owners of summer/retirement/ski homes. So I looked elsewhere in the summer of 1994, and was intrigued by a large patch of blue when I looked at a map of Montana. It turned out to be Flathead Lake -- the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River -- and it provided the inspiration for spending a week in the tiny little town of Polson, on the southern shore of the lake.
In 1996 and 1997, I spent two full summers in Polson, and grew quite attached to the town and its surrounding mountains, rivers, and lake -- photos of which you can see here and here. You might also be interested in some of my observations about life in Polson and Montana, which I wrote about in blogs titled The Polson Parade, and Leaving Montana. But then life changed, other things intervened, and I drifted away from Montana altogether.
In the summer of 2010, I had a chance to re-visit Polson, and spend three short days driving around to re-acquaint myself with the area. It's been over a dozen years, so I was expecting some changes ... but in general, the town of about 5,000 people was pretty much the same. My favorite restaurant had closed down, a Mailboxes Etc outlet had been replaced by a video-rental outlet, and the local McDonald's outlet was no longer posting posting all of the bounced checks from desperate customers on its wall (hey, you've got to be desperate if you order a Big Mac with fries, and pay with a check that bounces!). It looked like some of the local ranchers and farmers had sold off some of their acreage, for there were a few new "vacation communities" filling up what had been open meadows and pasture just outside of town.
But the lake had not changed at all, and the Mission Mountains along the eastern shore of the lake were as pretty as ever. Just for the heck of it, I got up at 5 AM one morning, and photographed the pre-dawn stillness on the lake, and then the changing colors of clouds above the lake as the sun slowly rose up to peek over the top of the mountains. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to drive down to the Kerr Dam, and I didn't drive all the way around the north end of the lake: I only made it up to Big Fork on the eastern side, and LakeSide on the western side of the lake. I was going to take the half-day white-water rafting trip down the Flathead River, south of the dam, but there wasn't time for that, either ... Nor was there any time for fishing, or even to rent a jet-ski and zoom around on the broad expanse of water in Polson Bay, at the south end of the lake.
So maybe there will be ample cause to go back to Polson once again, either next year or the year after. But for now, I've got a visual record of the sights and scenes that I saw on this trip. Roughly half of the photos are 5-image handheld HDR composites, and the other half are more traditional digital images, taken during a sunset boat cruise out on the lake. Enjoy ...