A #WhitefishMoment with the Agnews
Moving to Whitefish, Sean and I quickly learned that there were “locals” and there were “tourists.” But unlike many places we’ve visited where tourists are considered outsiders, we love how the Whitefish community embraces the folks who visit and yet still maintain an authentic, western ambiance. Sean and I know all too well that Whitefish has an uncanny ability to permanently capture some visitors with its abundant outdoor activities, friendly locals, and unique character… it captures them — like it captured us — and we end up becoming part of the community.
Larry and Connie Agnew fall into that category, too. The pair has been coming to Whitefish since 1992, and calls Calgary, Canada home. A short 5-6 hour drive south, Whitefish started as a weekend destination for the pair, and soon, they realized it was harder and harder to stay away from all the town has to offer. Today, the Agnews have three kids, Riley (22) Jack (10) and Gabrielle (7), and each embraces Whitefish in their own way. We’re thrilled that Connie took some time to chronicle the Agnews’ journey to Whitefish, and how they’ve made this magical place more than a destination… it has become their home away from home.
Larry introduced me to Whitefish the winter of 1992, when we first started dating. He had been there with friends on a ski trip and had friends from Calgary who owned a home close to downtown. It became a place where we could leave the city behind. We began “borrowing” our friends’ home, mainly in the winter, so we could spend our afternoons at Big Mountain soaking up the rays on the deck at the Bierstube. Eventually, our friends decided to sell their home and we were not willing to let that opportunity pass us by.
Occasional Whitefish weekends quickly evolved into any-time-we-could-get-to-Whitefish weekends. We were there for the spring skiing, the furniture races at Big Mountain on closing weekend, an entry into the Corn Cup, and jet skiing in May with ice still floating in the lake. Summer welcomed the happiness of an afternoon spent at City Beach, hours of fun at the playground (which is still the nicest playground we have ever seen!), the fireworks on the 4th of July (which are just as impressive as the first time we saw them), and plenty of picnics on the mountain. Whitefish quickly became our “happy place” and we couldn’t wait for the next long weekend to visit again.
It was the summer of 2000 and Larry and I were at our favorite lookout on the old Big Mountain road for a picnic. It was always quiet and breathtaking, and there were a few picnic tables that overlooked the lake and the town. It had become tradition to stop there to share a glass of wine and catch our breath before heading back to Calgary. It also became the perfect spot for him to pop the big question, and apparently, the perfect place for me to say, “Yes!”
Marriage brought children, and when Jack and Gabrielle were babies, our trips to Whitefish became less frequent. We rented out our home in Whitefish, but occasionally visited to camp at State Park. It was on a camping weekend that we were in visiting a neighbor’s home, looking at our house (and the renters inside) and we realized it was time to take our house back!
The kids enrolled in ski lessons at Whitefish Mountain Resort and what started as a few runs and an afternoon at the ‘Stube so many years ago, became a race to the summit and afternoons of fun on Grey Wolf and Moose, which are still our favorite runs. We have now discovered the T-bar and love the new runs back there and we are super excited to see the new terrain that will be opened up next season. On a clear day, the views of Glacier National Park can’t be beat, and a run down Moe Mentum still takes my breath away.Whitefish has become a major part of our lives. Gabrielle is certain that this will be the year that she is tall enough to ride the Alpine Slide by herself, and yet still the perfect size for hours of fun on Spider Monkey Mountain. Jack looks forward to advancing to the next level of challenges at the Aerial Park, and when Riley celebrated his 21st birthday, it wasn’t about having a burger and a beer at the Bulldog downtown… it was that he could finally visit the bathroom at the Bulldog! (Editor’s Note: For any adults who haven’t experienced the restrooms at The Bulldog, just take our word for it… it’s an experience, to say the least!)
Whitefish is where we spend Christmas morning, Easter Sunday and our entire summer vacation, with Larry commuting on weekends. We have our mornings at Montana Coffee Traders and breakfast at The Buffalo Cafe, and the occasional evening at The Great Northern Bar. Sometimes it’s lazy summer days on the front porch swing, and endless hours of UNO! We are now season pass holders, kayakers, hikers, geocachers, bikers and boaters and have several neighbors that we call friends.
Our friends here in Calgary don’t always understand how we justify the time away, and wonder why we don’t miss the city… until they come to visit. Until they spend a Tuesday night at the Farmer’s Market, participate in one of the many festivals, spend an afternoon at the beach, a weekend witnessing the splendor of skijoring, or — of course — an inverted bluebird powder day on “The Big”. Only then do they truly understand. Only then, they realize why Whitefish is our happy place.
To Connie and the family: We couldn’t agree more!
Two Sticks and a Board is proud to partner with Whitefish Mountain Resort on this series of posts focused on the community of Whitefish, and how the mountain and the town bring together so many fantastic people from places near and far.