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Whitefish, MT: Just a few drinks short of home

The Seahawks may be playing in Atlanta this weekend, but there's nowhere in the country you can't find a friendly group of 'Hawks fans.
Interior - The Great Northern Bar & Grill

Interior - The Great Northern Bar & Grill Photo: Sue Frause

Whitefish, MT.

Whitefish, MT. Photo: Sue Frause

I’m not a rabid Seahawks fan. I don’t paint my face blue, have never worn Seahawks apparel and am not the owner of that colorfully customized Seahawks house making the rounds on the Internet. In fact, I’m not even a moderate Seahawks fan. I generally don’t watch the games on TV, have only been to one game in Seattle and can only name one player who is currently on the team: Russell Wilson.

It’s not that I have anything against NFL games or the athletes who deposit big bucks into their bank accounts for battling it out on the turf. Nor do I hold any disdain for the fans who are loyal to their teams of choice. Professional football is just not my cuppa joy.

But when I realized I’d be in Whitefish, Mont. during Sunday’s NFL playoff game between Seattle and that other Washington with the initials D.C., I knew I had to throw in my support for the hometown team. Surely there would be Seahawks fans lurking around the mountain resort town of Whitefish – after all it’s only 530 miles from Seattle as the seagull flies. So I decided to search them out, with a game plan that included visiting four bars during the course of the Seahawks-Redskins game. One bar per quarter would surely be an entertaining way to watch the game, and hopefully I’d land amidst some friendly fans.

My watering hole tour started at the Bulldog Saloon, a sports bar housed in a 110-year-old building on Central Avenue. Named after the Whitefish High School mascot, the Bulldog is a family-friendly beer ‘n burger joint. With my game time about 45 minutes away, a small group of fans was watching the last quarter of the Baltimore-Indianapolis game. I pulled up a stool at the bar, ordered a $6 Bloody Mary that arrived with a green olive, and started searching for potential Seahawks fans. Although there was a bevy of blue in the saloon, I quickly realized it was Colts blue, not Seahawks blue.

With three minutes to go in the Ravens-Colts game, I sucked up the last of my Bloody Mary. The Bulldog wasn’t a perfect fit, so it was time for Bar #2, the Craggy Range Bar & Grill. The first table I spotted was in a separate room complete with a giant screen TV, surrounded by Seahawks fans. But not wanting to butt in on the six-pack of friendly fellas, I returned to the main bar. Ordering a Kokanee and fish ‘n chips, I settled in to watch the game at a table next to a group that sounded oh, so Canadian.

But something was amiss. The table of five was rooting for the Redskins, not Seattle, and they weren’t being nice about it. They went crazy after the first touchdown, and when the score quickly elevated to 14-0, I couldn’t take their gloating anymore. I polished off my second Kokanee and made a beeline for the door.

My commute to Bar #3 was another easy one. Located just across the street, The Great Northern Bar & Grill opened in 1919 after the Great Northern Railway arrived in Whitefish in 1904. It relocated to its current address on Central Avenue in the 1950s. When I walked through the door, I knew I’d found my spot.

The joint was jumpin’, packed with people standing and sitting, clinging to their beverages and gazing at the overhead TV screens. I decided to expand my beverage repertoire and ordered a Maker’s Mark and Ginger Ale on the rocks. Sandwiched between two male Seahawks fans in their 30s, at last I’d found a Seattle-friendly space from where I could watch the game.

Not only was the crowd cheering for the ‘Hawks, the bartenders were also on my side. When a customer ordered a dozen Fireballs for her group of friends, I asked, “What are those?” The bartender quickly replied by slamming down a shot glass in front of me, filled with the colorful booze. It turned out to be Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey (“Tastes like heaven, burns like hell”), which tasted more like liquid Red Hots or Hot Tamales.


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Comments:

Posted Fri, Jan 11, 10:05 a.m. Inappropriate

Sue, Wow; that is quite a mixture of adult beverage selections...did you have a sleeper car for the journey back to Seattle and did you leave the train at the Everett stop and avoid the mudslide closures between there and Seattle?

animalal

Posted Fri, Jan 11, 10:24 a.m. Inappropriate

Of course I was also eating during my NFL playoffs research, and did have dinner before boarding the train! Yes, I booked a sleeper car, but went all the way to Seattle so I could ride home with my hubby that afternoon. I think the Empire Builder goes on different tracks between Everett-Seattle as there was no issue with mudslides Monday morning ... not sure (I wasn't paying attention!).

Posted Sat, Jan 12, 3:04 p.m. Inappropriate

It's just Good Karma because you were on the train.

If there was a mudslide blocking the way, you would have gotten off in Everett and Amtrak would have gotten you down to Seattle by motor coach.

There are no other tracks to Seattle (that would allow the Empire Builder to follow its route).

JimCusick

Posted Sun, Jan 13, 9:09 a.m. Inappropriate

Thanks, Jim ... didn't think there were other tracks, and we definitely didn't get off in Everett! Guess we lucked out and were between slides. It's definitely affected my hubby taking the train from Mukilteo (we live on Whidbey). I'm all for these freezing, sunny days!

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