Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Big Decisions .... GV or north to Glacier National Park??

Posted by Melissa
Sorry it has been so long since we last posted. Internet access has been a bit of a problem. The following entry is actually from the end of June.
Well, the time finally arrived when we needed to make a really tough decision. As most of you know, we left Carlo, our sweet cat, in Grass Valley while we were on this trip. Carlo enjoyed time staying with our friends, Marsha and Steve, for a few weeks and then moved back to our old house where the new owners, Kerry and Dave, welcomed him back. We have been missing Carlo very much - especially at night when he usually slept at our feet. But - we also knew that he had become very comfortable with Kerry and Dave and that he had really bonded with their young son.

They were really hoping that they could adopt him. We decided that since he was so happy back in his old house and especially with his new buddy and because a 2 day road trip may be very stressful for a cat that howled the entire time whenever he was in a car, that we would leave Carlo there. (We are still missing you very much Carlo!!!)

We then realized that we could decide whether to return to Grass Valley to pick up a few things we had stored with John & Tracy and visit with friends or to just head north to Bellingham. Also if we headed north, we would have time to see Glacier National Park before arriving in B'ham at about the first of July. The smoke and heat (we heard that California had 1500 or so fires and horrible heat as well) sealed the deal! We headed north!!

Much of Montana is wide open spaces - Big Sky Country is an well deserved moniker. The horizon was flat for much of the drive so that when we began to see mountains off in the distance we were excited! We stopped for lunch in the little town of Wolf Creek (the name reminded of us home), but it was sooo small we couldn't find an open cafe. We stopped in the Post Office -about the only open place - and asked about something to eat - she recommended that we drive another 40 miles or so to the next town and stop at the Buckhorn Bar. We had been really hungry for a steak lately and thought this might be a good lead so we headed back out on the road.

It was a little scruffy on the outside - but in we went. The inside was about the same - but with the added bonus of smokers!*@#%! Have we mentioned lately that we miss some things about California! Oh well, we settled in and ordered - 10 oz top sirloin for both of us. It turned out to be one of the best steaks ever. It came with the standard baked potato and a HUGE salad with house made dressing - all for $10. WOW sorry no pics of lunch - it was all gone by the time we thought of it. But if you are ever near Augusta, Montana- try it out!
After that it was off to Glacier National Park. We began taking pictures well before we were in the park - this was the road to the park. Another view from the road outside the park.
It was absolutely beautiful, quite different from the Sierras that we are used to. We spent two nights here and can't wait to go back. I'll let the pics do the talking...

The park was celebrating the 75th anniversary of the completion of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. - an engineering marvel that crosses the park . We were here around June 30th and the road was still not cleared over the pass - it had about 10 feet of snow left and required surveyors to lead the snow equipment safely through. Thane thought about returning to work for about 10 seconds - but instead he bought a hat with the Going to the Sun logo on it!! We drove up as far as we could - to Jackson Glacier Overlook. From here we could see one of the few glaciers remaining in the park.In 1850 there were 150 glaciers in the park, today there are 26. They are all expected to be gone by 2030. Get there fast if you want to see any!!

We were also able to see where the Hudson Bay Divide meets the Continental Divide at Triple Divide Peak from this road. This peak is the dividing point for three major drainage systems in the US - the Hudson Bay, the Pacific Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico (it is the sharp peak just right of the center of this picture). We didn't hike it so we will have to take their word about the 360 degree view - maybe next time.

We toured the Many Glacier Hotel with a park ranger. He told great stories about the hotel and the park. The hotel is closed for the winter and sometimes in the spring when they come to reopen the hotel they find great snow drifts inside. This old black and white photo was in the hallway of the hotel (those are about 10' ceilings).
Well, it didn't look like that when we were there.
This old hotel was built in 1914 by the Great Northern Railroad as part of an overall plan to get people to ride the railroad. It prospered right away and through the 20's but was nearly closed down in the 1930's during the depression. One story was that the hotel employees fought valiantly to save the hotel from a forest fire and when it was all over and they notified the owners - the owners replied with "why didn't you let it burn?" Lucky for us they didn't.

Here is the view of Swiftcurrent Lake from the hotel balcony. Yep, this view and a glass of wine and I am set for the evening! Trivia Question: Did you know that the movie scene in The Shining where Jack and Wendy Torrance are driving through the mountains on their way to the Overlook Hotel was filmed in the park? Now you do!

We stayed at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn and Cabins with a great view of the mountains.
Thane found this van parked outside of our hotel on our first night.And we found this sign the next day on a trail (sorry about cutting off the left side of the sign!)We were really hoping to see a grizzly on this trip (from a distance and while in our car! ) but alas we did not.

This ... ...and this was about as exciting as the wildlife got in the park for us.
We found this little wayside cafe just outside the park. I'll tell you right away that they poured about the best margarita of the trip. Seconds?? - No way - I was hoping to be able to walk again before lunch was over. I think the bartender was pouring for heartier mountain types than me! It sure made up for some really lousy margaritas we found elsewhere on this trip. Did I mention that I am really loving margaritas these days? ahhh - retirement!!!

This place was so cute with murals and artwork all over the place. I loved this map of the US.

and these cute bathroom doors.

Overall we absolutely loved Glacier Park and hope to return there soon for a longer stay.

Next up: Spokane family roots and visiting family in Oregon before arriving in Bellingham.

1 comment:

Rosemary said...

Wow! What a wonderful journey you have been on!! Reminds me of our "Farewell Tour of the USA" when we traveled across the country before leaving for Italy. Wonderful images! Great stories! I've enjoyed scrolling and reading all your recent posts. Thanks for sharing.