The lure of a cabin in the woods or a remote seaside cottage has always captivated me. My craving for proximity to wild nature and simple living often takes me to parts unknown, whether in my mind’s eye, google day tripping or vicariously through Anthony Bourdain. My favorite Anthony Bourdain “Parts Unknown” episode is an ice fishing and Canadian trapping story with two Montreal restaurateurs who prepare a sumptuous “picnic” topped with shaved truffles served in a wooden shack over 3 feet of ice covering the St Lawrence River. In this moment of an ecstatic contradiction of food and setting, Bourdain asks his Canadian hosts “Is there a billionaire or a despot anywhere on Earth who at this precise moment is eating better than us?” No better evidence that simple living need not be devoid of good taste. The hopeless romantic in me searches for these types of off-the-grid experiences in an everyday dinner at home or a summer getaway.
This is how our family came to “Wit’s End,” a restored and modernized 100-year old homestead cabin in Coram, Montana for our summer holiday. Coram is located in a small valley a few miles wide on the middle fork of the Flathead River on the western edge of Glacier National Park. A train runs through it. My Silicon Valley state of mind had reached its own wit’s end well before our arrival in Coram. I felt like a modern industrialist in search of Thoreau’s simple living. This Montana homestead cabin was just the antidote.
The homesteader’s life of the 1900s was an isolated and arduous existence. During the decade before America entered WWI, Montana experienced a homestead boom unequaled in any other state. The Jeffersonian Dream of a rural agrarian society motivated the growing homestead movement. For better or for worse, the US Government opened up Native American Indian lands to settlement for expansion purposes. These early 20th century homesteaders of the Great Plains region survived deathly long winters, backbreaking work and endless months of deep isolation. The human heritage of a region is no less a shaping force than nature itself. Their resilience and stamina in the face of nature’s adversity united them in a shared pride which still runs deep in the subsequent generations living here today.
Wit’s End cabin looks out on a one-acre meadow, once the former farm plot for growing strawberries, clover and timothy grass. All were transported to the nearest city by the freight train just up the road. Glacier National Park was established in 1910 and this homestead property sits right on the edge of its western border. Easy access to its numerous lakes and vast spaces is a prime attraction and after driving off to see new wonders, the wild meadow awaited us back on the homestead. Nothing beats listening to the woodpecker hammer gently on the cabin’s rough-hewn beams, watching birds eating red huckleberries and imagining the lives of those who came before. Plenty to satisfy one’s modern day angst.
Have your most inspiring vacation yet with Montana’s Best Vacation Rentals.