After fourteen blissful days at Hungry Horse, we were sad to pack up our camping gear once again to head out. We thought twice about leaving because once you find paradise, why leave? After all, this campground had everything we needed and there didn’t seem to be a forest ranger enforcing the fourteen day maximum rule. A couple days earlier we called the Whitefish Bike Retreat to see if they by chance had any open reservations. We were just in luck. They happened to have one site available for three nights. Ryan really wanted to check this place out and we knew it was hard to get in during the busy summer. We had to jump on our chance.
The Whitefish Bike Retreat is a campground designed specifically with mountain bikers in mind. They have showers, bike stands and bike washing stations. Best of all, it has trails surrounding the entire property including a major section of the Whitefish Legacy Trail System. This bike trail system has over 36 miles of trail that are in amazing condition that spread out throughout Whitefish. It’s a great way to explore the area, but it’s most convenient to bike right out of your campsite into this incredible trail network.
The first night, the kids had a blast riding their bikes on the pump track and in the skills area. We also took Dylan through this one small loop called “Lego Land”. It is a fun zippy little trail, perfect for kids. It’s named after the owner’s dog, Lego, who you can find lounging around the retreat at all hours. He is so cute and loves to receive belly rubs. Dylan probably rode Lego Land twenty times that first night, before we decided to call it for the evening. The next day a family from Canada pulled in to the site across from us. They had two adorable daughters who were around Dylan’s age. The boys loved playing with these two girls.
They spent a lot of time biking together but also playing and hanging out. And we really got along with their parents too. One night in particular, we stayed up together talking like old friends about everything over wine and beer into the wee hours. You gotta love moments like that.
The Bike Retreat is a special place where you can easily make connections with others, because it submerges you in the trails. It offers easy family riding but also direct access to some harder terrain. It allows you to share your passion for biking with your kids and be with other families or riders who share the same passion and lifestyle.
While we were staying here, our house sale was underway. There wasn’t as good cell coverage as I had hoped, so I needed to drive into town just a few miles every so often. We were really pushing to close on the house because our goal was to have the funds ready to go for the purchase of our new Bed and Breakfast by end of August, which was slowly turning into September. The house sale seemed to be moving along as planned. Unfortunately, the SBA bank approval process was not.
We knew that the approval process would take about thirty days, but what wasn’t clear was when that thirty day clock would actually begin to tick. It turned out that it had not yet begun. The SBA team had our business plan and I had given them all the hundreds of documents they requested. The seller’s were not providing the bank with all the necessary financial documents that were being requested from them, at least not in a timely manner. The SBA is tough and they want to guarantee the legitimacy of the transactions. What we did not realize was that it is as important for us to have a solid plan as it is for the seller. If they are asking for top dollar from us, then their business needs to be performing or the SBA may not go for it.
The current seller’s had successfully ran the B&B for 17 years and toward the end were doing okay, but not amazing. Overall, the facility was in incredible shape but the business was only running at 45% occupancy with virtually no marketing and an outdated website. The average occupancy rate in the Whitefish lodging industry is something like 65%. Because this B&B’s rate was not great, it meant that the SBA would need to approve our loan based on projections. They typically do not do this, so our loan was considered quite risky.
All we could do was keep pushing, provide them with as much assurance that we could offer. We knew that we were the right people for this deal. If anyone was going to achieve the goals to make this business succeed, it was us!
All we could do was patiently wait. Luckily we had saved enough money to float us for about two to three months while we did so. We didn’t have a place to live but the camping was working out so far.
A couple of months earlier, we stayed at the Whitefish KOA. Now that our time was up at the Whitefish Bike Retreat, we decided to head back to the KOA one last time. Our kids never stopped talking about the KOA and the farm animals there. It had been the highlight of their summer so far. We reluctantly said yes to going back, but only for one night or two, tops.
We really wanted to keep this next stay short because we were hoping to see if we could go back to Hungry Horse and snag that perfect campsite right on the water. So we promised two nights at the KOA and then we would be off again. When we pulled into our site, we realized that we were getting the left overs. Our site was awful. It was this tiny dirt platform that looked more like an after thought than most of the other sites. It didn’t even have room for our Eurovan to pull into and hardly enough room for our tent. The neighbors were only five feet away from us. With our rambunctious crew, I knew this would not work.
We went back to the front desk and asked if they had anything else available. They only had this fancy yurt style tent meant for “glamping.” I had never stayed in one before, so I was pretty intrigued. It was way over our budget per night, but we were stuck in a situation. It was either the yurt or squeeze into that awful site. Otherwise, they were fully booked! We had to go for the yurt, or else be miserable and quite possibly ruin our neighbors night as well.
The yurt was very comfortable. It had double canvas walls, a queen bed, bunk beds, table, chairs, deck with outdoor furniture and even showers down the road. We were living large!! We had been camping at this point for almost two months, so glamping like this was a huge break for us. Also, it began to rain pretty hard that first night. It felt good to be able to put the kids to bed like normal living again.
A couple of Ryan’s buddies asked him to go on a long mountain bike ride. This happened to fall on our last day at the KOA. He wasn’t sure how long he would be gone for, which meant it would take them anywhere from 3 to 7 hours. To say that I was nervous that Ryan would leave me for possibly an entire day with our crazy crew would’ve been an understatement. Caleb is in his terrible two’s phase and he is a total handful. The whole summer had been quite the challenge but especially hard when I was left by myself. But I knew this was important to him and for his sanity. He left early that morning.
I have mentioned many of the difficulties faced along our journey camping, waiting to purchase our B&B. Not surprisingly, our two dogs have played a part in those hardships. Charley and Frankie are very mischievous. They are Siberian Husky. This breed is known to be incredibly smart and can really get into a lot of trouble if you are not careful. Also, Frankie, our younger male, is very scared of everything, like loud sounds, smoke, heat off a grill or oven. Also he does not like other dogs. He gets jealous easily and is protective when other dogs come near. He is nine years old and has been this way his whole life. We have never had an incident with Frankie before. We were always so careful to make sure he stayed on leash and we warned other dog owners, if they came close that he wasn’t friendly. So for nine years, we did an incredible job with no issues. Until now…..
Our two boys were begging to go swimming. I had done all that I could with them bringing the dogs along with us. We played at the park, saw the farm animals, played lawn games and even gave Caleb a nap. But after he woke up, the kids really couldn’t stand it anymore. They had to go swimming or else! So I made the horrible mistake of thinking I could leave our two dogs in our yurt by themselves. I don’t know why I did this. It was so incredibly dumb of me. The yurt had double canvas walls and the only seam or opening to it was at the front zipper. It was a three way zipper with buckles to secure it closed. I thought it would be sturdy enough to keep them in. But I was wrong.
After about a half hour at the pool swimming with the kids, I see our dogs running down toward us. I was in shock and terrified! How would I juggle getting my two kids out of the water, wrangle my two dogs and try to pull them (without leashes) and the kids back up to our campsite? Somehow I managed to do it all, but Caleb fought me pretty hard along the way. He did not want to leave the pool and he definitely did not want to walk way up the hill back to the campsite. It probably took about forty minutes total to get there.
Once we got back, I sighed in relief because I thought that it really could’ve been a disaster if something had gone wrong with our dogs getting out. I was so grateful that they came directly to us to be captured and all went as good as can be expected getting them back here. But my relief quickly evaporated when I saw this car driving towards our campsite. A man rolled down his window and just started screaming. He was so angry. He said that our dogs came up to his campsite and got into a brawl with his dog. His four year old daughter got caught up in it and her face was bit in the process!
I about died!!! This is seriously the very worst of situations that I could find myself in. All I could do was apologize profusely. He threatened to shoot our dogs three times during the five minute conversation. I told him that I didn’t blame him and just how sorry I was.
It looked to me like his daughter’s face had been scratched not bitten, but honestly what does it matter. It was awful and it was totally my fault. Our dogs of course, figured out the zipper. So I put the dogs in our van (why I didn’t do that earlier that day instead of the yurt, is beyond me). While I tried calling Ryan like thirty times, I also sent him urgent text messages. I desperately wanted him home to help me through this very stressful situation.
After about two hours, he finally came back. It was one of the worst days of my life. I just felt so guilty and responsible. We spoke with the KOA hosts who said that the little girl was fine. She ended up with a small scratch but mostly it was just a scary situation for the family. I could not imagine!!! I was still not fine after a few hours and I really couldn’t wait to get out of there.
The next morning, we packed up as fast as we could and decided to head back to our little paradise in Hungry Horse. We needed to put this horrible incident behind us and find some peace again. What we really needed was some sort of idea on when our loan was going to be approved, so we could start our life in the Bed and Breakfast. Anxiety was starting to build in more ways than one.
(to be continued……)
OMG! Life with two kids, camping with two Huskies, moving every few days – more than I can imagine. I had already forgotten about the dog encounter…so glad it all turned out okay. Life was certainly stressful that day! Sara, your writing skills are amazing; maybe you should consider writing “thrillers.”
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Oh Sara!!! What a story ! Thank heavens the little girl only sustained a scratch 🥴 You are a “ can do “ Gal and Ryan has definitely with the right partner!!
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