Things get a little "DRY" here at our Western Montana Lodge

Life got a little more 'interesting' than normal here this week as we faced a technical challenge which threatened to wreck havoc. However, living in the middle of nowhere is teaching is to roll with the punches. As a result, tragedy (or at least a lot of hair pulling) was averted.

It all really started over a year ago when we experienced a decent-sized earthquake (epi-center Dillon, MT). Although it did no 'noticeable' damage, it did shake things up enough to bother our well pump. Craig, who was in the shower at the time of the quake, (all lathered up!) lost all water instantly. His first assumption was a broken line so he shut off the power to the pump, closed the water mains to the cabins, and restarted the pump.

It started normally, he checked for leaks and found none, then he finished his shower and planned for an early start to check out the rest of the water lines. The next morning he could find nothing out of the norm. Everything seemed to be working fine. However, we didn't know the 'whole' picture.

About a month later the pump quit again - this time for no obvious reason. When all his attempts to repair the problem failed, Craig and Ed (our friend and helper for the summer) pulled the pump from the well. After working it over (there appeared to be some grit or other small obstruction causing some problems), they were able to reinstall it, and it worked. Problem solved? No!

Another earthquake last January (with a much closer epi-center and thus a stronger effect although again no 'obvious' damage) shook things up a bit more. However, the pump continued to work fine. Or so we thought. But, it was really just waiting its time. A week or so ago, it quit again. Craig was able to get it working without pulling it, but we were about convinced a new pump was in our near future.

It was. A couple days ago the pump quit again. Craig was in Yellowstone with his family. I was here preparing for incoming dinners! Talk about stress! I about cried. However, I was able to get ahold of him and found he was only about 1 1/2 hours away. So, I filled water jugs from the RV (fortunately it had water) and prepared for 'dinner as usual' (at least on the dining room side of the kitchen's swinging doors).

Side note: Although we all held it together admirably, I think we were all a bit more stressed than we realized. Take this little incident: I had three tables of two diners each, all in various stages of eating or waiting for their dinners. Tony, a gentleman at one of the tables, asked for a clean rag to wipe his glasses. Since I was waiting tables and cooking (so Craig could work on the pump), I asked Hannah to take out a clean rag. Well, one of the other tables of two - Jeff and a lady friend who were waiting for their dinners to be served - decided to step out onto the porch for a smoke. Hannah, misunderstanding my directions, takes a clean rag and busses Jeff's table. So, I walk back out with something for my third table of guests - Paul and MaryJane - and find Jeff and his friend standing beside their empty table.

"Someone took all of our stuff!" Jeff commented with a puzzled look.

In total confusion I return to the kitchen to find them dumping the precious water from Jeff and his friend's glasses into our 'wash tub' (the dirty water we were saving to rinse the dishes which we obviously could not wash). Completely puzzled but too busy to give it any more thought I reset their table and went on with preparing their dinners.

About ten minutes later I take out the dinners for the third table (Tony's table) and they thank me. Then Tony says, "Could I get that rag for my glasses?"

It wasn't until that moment I realized what had actually happened to the 'rag'. We all had a good laugh - after we got Tony his rag. I guess a little humor is the best thing in the middle of a stressful situation - but I wasn't really sure whether I was going to laugh or cry at the moment.

Anyway, back to the pump. This time the pump had to be pulled. With a bit of effort Craig and Brian (his brother has been visiting so we've put him to work) were able to get it going again. However, we knew we were at that point - we had to get a new pump. The next morning Craig wakes me to, "There's no water!"

It wouldn't be fixed. This time it was gone for good. Now, water is one of those things we often take for granted. After all, I have a creek running on each side of the lodge and a lake full of water in the front yard. I'm 'surrounded' by water. But, there was no water in the lodge (or the cabins which were nearly all rented!) However, our guests were VERY kind and understanding.

To make a long story short, many hours later I returned from a rushed trip to Bozeman with a new pump and new - well - new everything from the pump up. A couple hours later the guys got it installed and 'viola' WATER! What a blessing! And, so things are 'running' again normally here at Elk Lake Resort. I think it will be at least a few more days before I take this 'liquid gold' for granted again.

Lady of the Lake

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