Room With A View
My Strangest Encounter with a Person, Place, or Thing in the West Return to contest page »
A picturesque view can distort one's perception
by Sharon Olbert, July, 2010
After climbing three flights of stairs and walking to the end of a long hall, we finally opened the door to our room at Many Glacier Hotel. As I looked through the window that appeared directly in front of us, my jaw dropped. With a sense of both awe and fear, I said to my husband, “This hotel is floating on water!” As I moved closer to the window, however, I felt comforted when I noticed a fair amount of shoreline between the hotel and the lake. I continued to stare at the view of Swiftcurrent Lake, its surface smooth as ice betrayed its name as it reflected, like a mirror, the white, cumulus clouds above it and the glaciated peaks beside it. Mesmerized, I also saw a horse grazing in knee-deep water. “There’s a horse over there,” I said to my husband, who was busy unpacking and paying little attention to my emotional exclamations and thinking that the sight of a horse was not worth getting excited about.
Moments later, when I walked away from the window, the rational side of my brain kicked in and I realized that horses don’t graze in knee-deep water. Furthermore, that was an awfully big horse standing there on the other side of the lake. I realized, in fact, that what I was seeing was not a horse, but a cow moose. When I mentioned this to my calm and logical husband, I got his attention and he looked out the window and confirmed my observation.
The next day, we took a walk around the lake and further solidified that perception when what I presume to be the same cow moose stood grazing in a shallow stream that ran into the lake, less than 50 yards in front of us. It was the biggest and funniest looking horse I’d ever seen and I’ll never forget it.