Saturday, August 13, 2016

Oh, Montana!

When you first drive into Montana from the east you find that it isn't much different than the east.  We drove for a couple of hours into Montana and Pearl said, "is this Montana?"  Her vision of the state was much different.

We told her to just wait.....

Wide open fields and "big sky" greeted us in Montana.

Note the mountains in the distance.
We left the Black Hills en route to Glacier National Park.  We expected to stop along the way and did in Billings, MT.  It was late and dark by the time we got there.  We hadn't made a hotel reservation because this was one night of our trip we weren't sure how far we would get.  We didn't think it would be difficult.

And then we stopped.  The first hotel had suites only and it was expensive.  The second had one room left - we'll take it.  Imagine our surprise when we let ourselves into "our room" to find it occupied.  Stuff was everywhere!  Somehow the hotel made a mistake.  The guests allegedly checked out, but didn't.  They showed up as we were sorting things out and were surprised that their keys didn't work.

The hotel did make arrangements for us to stay at another local hotel and they paid for the room which made it much better, but it was late and we were tired and and were toting luggage all over God's country!

The next morning our route took us on some of the byways in Montana to Glacier.  Pearl was happy when we got to the mountains.  This is the Montana she expected.

One of the things I remember so vividly about Glacier National Park isn't the namesake glaciers, but the water.  I have yet to find appropriate descriptors for the chilly blue/teal of the rivers and lakes in Glacier National Park.  I find myself photographing the water more than any other aspect of the park.

Along Route 2.

Lake McDonald. Our hotel overlooked the lake.

In the park along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

We had never driven along Route 2 before from East to West Glacier.  I would drive and redrive and redrive this route all day long!  I did want Jamie to slow down.  The speed limit is 70 and I have no idea how we drove 70 and didn't end up in the water.  The road is quite curvy.  I think the truck must have been on fire or something because we were driving so fast - must get to the hotel!

Another hotel glitch.  We booked two rooms at Glacier for two nights - Lake McDonald Lodge - one of the oldest lodges in the park.The hotel had a reservation for one room and that room had two double beds.  Nope, that won't work with the three of us.

Our trusty clerk said "wait, I have something up my sleeve," to which I replied, "great, I'm a fan of sleeves."  He explained that they had a storm about the time of my booking and those who booked at that time had their reservations screwed up.  He did have a room that had just been redone - one of the deluxe double queen rooms with a balcony overlooking Lake McDonald.  Hey, dude, I like your sleeves.  

Below is the view from our room.

A little bird watching us outside our window.
We enjoyed amazing meals at the Lake McDonald Lodge restaurant.  Pearl had trout which came with a side of asparagus.  It should be noted that Pearl is like a toddler - she is quite picky about her veggies.  I have never seen her eat asparagus.  She picked the asparagus up and ate all of of it.  I said to her, "Mom, you're eating asparagus," to which she replied, "so I am."

Pearl did tell us about "trout'n" as a child in St. Carol's, Newfoundland.  She and her siblings would fish for trout each afternoon after school.  They would use bamboo poles not these fancy poles that people use today.  They would bring back all these fish and her mother (my grandmother - 'nan) would cook them for breakfast the next day.

I asked if kids still did that and she said that they do not.  "I think kids today are just too lazy."

She also noted that her belly was "expensive" because she was eating all the expensive stuff on the menu.  Hey, Pearl, anything for your belly!

We made the trip to Montana before the Going-to-the-Sun Road was completely open.  We could only go so far on the road so we didn't see as much wildlife, didn't see the glaciers, didn't see as much of the park as we would have liked.  We still drove around and saw much.

One unique feature is a "fen" which is a bog/swamp-like feature.  It's deceiving because it looks like a beautiful field but if you step on it, you sink into the grass.  Your shoes get wet and so do your socks and feet.

Pearl had a great time looking at the scenery and taking very short walks. I enjoyed the water and got better at selfies!

Jamie figuring the camera out and Pearl waving.

Near our hotel where the creek meets Lake McDonald.

Waterfalls and the river.
One of the highlights of our trip to Glacier National Park was a boat ride on Lake McDonald.  The park ranger who was our boat guide was 90 - literally.  He joked about being 90.  He also repeated stories.  And he shared opinions in a way that made me uncomfortable.  He lamented that people don't get off the beaten path and that they expect to see animals on the yellow line in the road.  Normally I would say, "sure, people need to get off the road," but when you are traveling with someone who isn't mobile enough to do that, it's a nice sentiment but it's also alarming to suggest that someone may not enjoy the parks because she can't go hiking.

He also couldn't answer what I considered to be simple questions.  He noted that there is an invasive trout species in the Lake.  He couldn't tell more beyond that.  How did it get there?  What's happening with it?

We did hear about forest fires and how natural they are.  We also heard about how he fought in the big forest fire of 1900 or something like that.  The ride itself was beautiful; the lake incredible.  I couldn't wait to get off the boat!

After two days in glorious Glacier National Park we headed south to Virginia City and Nevada City.

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