I’ve followed Jana Roach’s Vintage Whites Market for several years and have written about her before, but I’d never been to one of her sales. There was always something on my calendar. So, when a planned trip to Whitefish and Kalispell, Montana coincided with the dates for her Christmas Market, I boarded the Eastbound Empire Builder at 12:45 am and dozed until we arrived in Whitefish just as the sun was coming up. I’d booked a room at the Red Lion Hotel in Kalispell (Red Lion Hotels is headquartered in Spokane so I think of it as a way to travel and still support a Spokane business) and the hotel shuttle was waiting for me at the Whitefish station.
After checking in, I made a beeline for the Kalispell Fairgrounds and the Vintage Whites Christmas Market.
I got there about an hour after the doors opened to early-sale ticket holders and the floor was crowded with shoppers. The Christmas market is Roach's largest show and the 50-or-so dealers had filled their spaces with a variety of vintage items and I took my time at each display. I picked up a tall wood candlestick, a flat candle holder, a glass cloche, some old deer antlers, a few pieces of linen and a faded old wood sign with the word “Pie” painted on it.
I finally got to meet Jana and we chatted a few minutes before I left. I dropped my treasures off at my hotel room and explored Kalispell on foot, doing some research and a little more shopping at some of the downtown stores. The next morning, after a big breakfast at the hotel, I had time for more Christmas shopping at the Kalispell Mall, which is adjacent to the Red Lion.
When I was ready to go, the shuttle drove me back to the Whitefish Station. I was able to check my luggage early and spend the afternoon on Whitefish's wonderful Main Street before meeting a friend for dinner. The train had a weather delay so we were able to linger over our meal and catch up on one another’s lives before she dropped me back at the station.
The next day, after unpacking, I pulled out the things I’d picked up at the Christmas Market. I put the candlestick on the mantel with the one I already had. I’d intended to put the glass cloche over a favorite bird's nest, something else I've written about before, to protect it and, although it hadn’t occurred to me when I bought it, I realized the flat candle holder was the perfect base, just the right size to hold the glass bell over the fragile nest.
All in all, it was a great weekend. I got a train ride, a trip to Montana, a chance to do some treasure hunting and a chance to catch up with a friend. And just as important, I now have a safe place for the little bird’s nest that reminds me so much of my own little home.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at email@example.com