By Alkali Springs correspondent
This is the time of year that Bee Lucke and his father-in-law, C.L. Stuart, used to get very nervous about getting to the mountains and the next season's fishing.
After all, they probably had not been to the mountains since before Thanksgiving and there could be a long wait yet until roads opened up in the spring.
It wasn't that they missed the fishing so much. They loved to fish but more than that they missed going out, drinking Budweiser, getting the cabin warmed up and cooking a huge mulligan stew. Perhaps there was a lot of cowboy in both of them. Stuart had come west from Virginia to be a cowboy, and although there was not much chance that Bee Lucke had ever wanted to be a cowboy, living like the pioneers did was attractive. That and getting far away from civilization and responsibilities was what it was all about.
However, getting to the mountains was not an easy matter in the 1950s. There were no four-wheel drives and they had to wind their way forward through huge snowdrifts or mud, depending on the season, until finally they made it the 30 miles from Havre they needed to go.
This time of year, when they hadn't gone to the mountains for several months, they were really chomping at the bit to get on out there. Bee always said that the time between Christmas and Easter was the longest and worst of his year.
As a result they started around the middle of January looking at the sky, reading the sun dogs and northern lights, and listening to the weather reports coming out of Canada. (Both thought that Canada weather was a lot more accurate for northern Montana than Montana weather reports.)
Finally there would come a weekend when there had been one of those marvelous January chinooks and it looked like the Clear Creek Road would be dry enough to travel.
If they were going for the weekend, they would start planning and buying their groceries and beer on Thursday, hoping that the chinook would hold until they got out there. Getting back to town was never as much of an issue to them as getting out there in the first place.
And when they finally did get on the road, their smiles were big as half moons as they chugged out 14th Avenue.
Their determination was unbelievable. Why, if they had paid half as much attention to business as to getting out to Clear Creek in the wintertime, they would have been millionaires before they'd hit middle age.
Often the chinooks did not last all the way to the mountains. One time they came to a huge snowdrift in the road that must have been at least a
quarter of a mile long. They were perhaps three-quarters of the way to the cabin and they thought nothing nothing, mind you of digging with a shovel through that quarter of a mile and then continuing on.
Hard work? You bet! But they didn't mind one bit. With visions of corned beef and cabbage dancing through their heads, they just drained a couple more Budweisers and kept digging.