The sun rose over the Bridger Mountains casting a rosy glow over the native grass and rock outcropings while little cloud puffs did that dance that morning clouds do. It was Monday, our first day of filming, and it was going to be another picture perfect day in Big Sky Country.
Then my alarm went off! I pulled back the blinds. And...I couldn't believe it.
It was raining! Not an early morning drizzle. It was socked in gray, raining and about 60 degrees.
What the #*ll??? This is summer in Montana.
None of us mentioned it. We all knew...we were doing this! So, we just loaded up the Subaru and hit the road toward our first location: Wheat, Montana. This huge truckstop also includes a sit down deli is famous for their home baked bread and wonderful sandwiches. Most of the stores in town, including Costco, carry bread from Wheat, MT.
The rain was letting up as we arrived. And the smell of the fresh bread baking permeated the entire parking lot. Just inside the silo intrance, Hillary Folkvord, daughter of owner Dean Folkvord, was waiting for us. We were just shaking hands when I realized that I was surrounded by stacks and stacks of 50# bags of various wheat flours. My logical brain knew the sacks were completely sealed. The floor was sparkling clean, no sign of flour dust. Still, I cringed and my primal celiac brain took over. WHAT IF??? What if some kids came in here....running with sissors? We all know how that happens.
Thankfully, logical brain won out and Hillary showed us around. We found a perfect table for our interview, set up the cameras, put on my mic and we were ready to rock and roll. We also got very lucky as my son, and professional photographer, Jeremy was available join us to shoot stills. Thank You Jeremy.
As the interview began, I learned some of the history of Wheat, MT, and about what this family has created from nothing. It was truly inspiring. But even more inspiring is their sincere committment to serving a safe product to their gluten-free patrons. We discussed the increase in gluten-free requests and what would be needed to create a safe kitchen. I was surprised by how much they already knew. Anxious to get into the kitchen, I moved through my questions quickly. When all were asked and answered, I nodded to our cameraman, Dan: "Let's go into the kitchen". Dan lowered the camera for the move. But then the interview took an unexpected turn and somehow, now I was the interviewee. Dean sincerely wanted a crash course in Celiac Disease. The cameras started to roll again. He was focused and direct in his questions and the information flowed. When we were done, I felt confident that Dean's desire to embrace his gluten-free patrons will translate into some safe and delecious choices
It was lunch time and the kitchen was very busy. Adding the cameras and extra people made for a very interesting dance. We found the area that would be designated gluten-free. I met the server who would prepared the GF sandwich. I set up the "color-coded" GF cutting boards and we discussed the protocols, the gloves, utensils, condiments, etc. Sarah put on clean gloves and I handed her the sealed GF bread (**baked by a local bakery - which be featured in another post on our GF road trip)
All of this was caught on tape. And voila! The first gluten-free sandwich in the history of Wheat Montana was about to reach my lips. Just one more little cringe as I noticed the Wheat Montana paper lining the sandwich basket.
**(Currently the folks at Wheat are not sure what GF bread they will use going forward. Today's sandwich was baked by On The Rise Bakery in Bozeman using GF flour from Montana Gluten Free Processors.)
Next Hillary took us out to the Wheat fields. The rain had stopped and it was GORGEOUS! The still-wet wheat sparkled in the sunlight. The camera would love this!
Just another little cringe as I stood in the wheat field. I wasn't concerned about the wheat. It was green, plus there wasn't a breath of wind. It was the SNAKES! Just before I walked in, Hillary had warned me. "Look out for those rattlers"
But right now I have to head to Billings, Montana where Dr. Fasano is speaking at the Montana Celiac SocietyConference tomorrow. We were going to drive over in the morning, but yesterday MCS Vice Pres. Carl Solberg called to invite us to join Dr. Fasano and a few others on a private tour along the famous Beartooth Highway leading into Yellowstone Park. I am honored to be included and excited to spend some quality time with Dr. Fasano while getting to know the Montana Celiacs.
And now it's back to the open road.