At the Lodgepole Gallery and Tipi Village, flanked by two brightly painted Blackfeet tepees and Spanish mustang horses, we lie in our tepee, smelling prairie sage on the ever-present breeze. Later, after a traditional dinner of smoked trout and buffalo roast, we sit cross-legged in Darrell Norman's ceremonial tepee as he tells my wide-eyed children stories of Napi, the Blackfeet trickster. We tuck in, content. That night, however, a wild prairie storm rolls in. It is a wet, miserable night ― the stuff of family legend ― but I see in my children the seeds of their adult selves: No one whines, we just cuddle together and wait out the storm. Next tepee stay, I note, check the weather.
We celebrate the farthest point of our journey at the Glacier Park Lodge. In the restaurant near Two Medicine Creek, we choose from Kootenai, Piegan, or Blackfeet Indian tacos. Afterward, I line up my children and snap pictures of them next to one of the lobby's 60 Douglas firs. Then we drive back over the mountains, dreaming of maiasaura dinosaurs, Indian ponies, and, of course, Taylor and Bob.
Drive Montana's backroads
The road from Missoula to East Glacier Park follows State 200 east, then heads north on U.S. 287 and U.S. 89. For information contact the Russell Country tourism office ( www.russell.visitmt.com or 800/527-5348) or the Choteau Chamber of Commerce (800/823-3866).
JJJ Wilderness Ranch. Dude-ranch vacations and horse-pack trips. 6 cabins; $1,345 for six nights, including meals and activities. On Gibson Reservoir Rd., 25 miles west of Augusta; www.triplejranch.com or 406/562-3653.