Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Yellowstone Part 3

More Yellowstone.  I think there will also be more Yellowstone.  So much to see, so little time.

Now perhaps I have already said this, but purposely planned our trip for the end of the season.  We thought there would be less people and I guess there was, but it was not empty by any means.  I can't even imagine the number of people roaming around being stupid.  Anyway.


Walking up to a geyser or a paint pot the first thing you notice is the smell.  Sulpher!  Rotten eggs!  And the steam is hot and fills your lungs.  Then you hear the noise, the sound of the gas escaping

This is the Dragons Mouth, it sounds a little like waves crashing with explosions mixed in, just crazy.

Blood pool

I can't even remember the name of this one.

My point is that there is so much to see here, whether you hike the difficult trails, or the easy ones, or don't even get out of your car, go there and see it.  

On our last night we were sitting in the lobby chatting about what we had seen and how crazy the geysers are.  The man sitting on another couch joined our conversation.  While I know we had all thought about the fact that we were exploring a volcano, but this man said it out loud.

Did you know we are sitting on top of the largest volcano in the world.  It is down there bubbling and working and someday it is going to explode.  It will be the biggest volcanic eruption ever.  It will destroy everything.  The world will start all over again.

Gee thanks buddy.  Maybe it could happen right now?

We removed ourselves from our new friend and went outside to watch Old Faithful one more time.  Yes, it was dark.  Yes, it was cold.  But who knows when we will be back.  I half expected it to be lit up, but it was not.  It was cool to see it in the dark.  The water is white when it is shooting out and it is just as beautiful when you can't see it all as it is during the day.

The next morning we were off to the Grand Tetons.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Yellowstone - Part 2

The largest thermal plain in the world.  Think about that.  There are over 500 geysers, hot springs and mud pots in Yellowstone.  Just about every where you look there is steam coming up out of the ground.  It is a little spooky, truth be told.

We decided to start out at Biscuit Basin.  On the map it looks about 5 minutes away, but Suri says it is about 48 minutes from our current location.  And who is bound to be right.  Well my advice is turn Suri off and stop listenting to her.  We drove 48 minutes, right out of the park and into a little town.  We got out of our cars and looked at each other - asking did anyone see any sign?  WTF.  Well up side, great t-shirt shop that is closing for the winter and everything is on sale.  So after shopping we start back into the park to have lunch at a spot Christine has picked out.  

A lovely spot among many lovely spots.

With that said, as much as I'm showing and talking about there is so much more than I can put into this blog.  So if I forget anything (Cheryl, Mare, Fred & Christine) it is not because I don't think it is important or fun or that I forgot it, I just can't fit it all in.

After a lovely lunch, we part ways with the very fit Fred and Christine and head out to explore some more of the park.

One place we stopped was Kimball Falls

This was a great waterfall.  I'd like you to take a real close look at this photo.  In the bottom right corner you can see a little yellow dot.  That little dot is a man, well that is kind of weird.  How did he get down there?  Yeah, weird.  But what was weirder?  The first people I saw down there were a woman and a young child.  WTF???  Really???  I mean look at the picture.  How did they get down there?  Seems they hiked down there with the kid in a backpack carrier.  As we stood there and watched them they started back out.  They went up, they went down.  The woman, who looked pregnant was having a very difficult time climbing over trees and around rocks.  The guy had the kid in the backpack and kept trying to find the best way out.  Could not believe what we were watching.  Now maybe the guy and the woman were very experienced hikers, but with a damn baby on your back?  One false move and it is lights out for the little kid.  We watched, they looked like they were in trouble, we watched some more and they finally came back down to the river below the falls and crossed over the river and were able to walk around the corner and out of sight.  Maybe the going got easier?  Maybe eventually they could come to a place and be able to get up off the river bed?  Maybe someday they will grow a damn brain.  We wondered what to do as they struggled.  Call the ranger?  How??  No signal.  We just hoped for the best and checked every car parked on the side of the road for a baby seat.  But, would people that would put their child at risk in a climb like this have a baby seat?  

Next up Firehole Lake Drive where we happed upon the White Dome

We had seen it from a distance just sitting there with some steam coming off it.  We walked up and took some pictures and I turned around to look at something else and I heard a noise and thought, what is that?

Well, that is what it was.  White Dome erupting!  It was very cool.  Seems it does something every half an hour or so.  Sometimes more, sometimes less.  I do wonder how can they keep doing this?  


We stopped at the paint pots where we saw mud boiling, water so blue it did not seem real.

We saw this:

and this

You can start making up your own words because I am running out of them.

It was all other-worldly and again I kept wondering when a big hole was going to open up and swallow us or at least steam clean us.

More next them.

Yellowstone - Part 1

Now we are at Mammoth Hot Springs.  This is our first thermal area:

Hot Damn!  Really.  Hot Damn.  

This was - I feel like I am using the words spectacular, fantastic, majestic over and over again but all of these adjectives fit all of these sites.

One of the main draws of Mammoth are the elks.  It is the elk rut season.  What does rut mean?  It means horny, territorial, loud male elks.  The seem to gather an many females and young around them that they can find and spend all their time bugleing (screaming, which made me giggle every time I heard it all night and I mean all night) and trying to get lucky.  We did see him get very close one time, but mostly the females seem uninterested.


The big guy right under our window

The big guy and some of his girls.

Today we also met up with Mare's brother Fred and his lovely wife Christine (my sister by another mother).  I had spent the last two days fretting over the fact that I believed that I had done something really stupid, that I had made reservations and was expecting Fred & Christine to share Mare's room.  Well two days before I realized the rooms in Mammoth and Old Faithful Inn only had one bed.  Oh dear.  Cheryl and Mare stopped along the way and purchased a blow up bed and we were just going to make the best of it.  So we get to Mammoth and rearrange furniture and blow up the bed and get the room all ready.

Fred and Christine show up and we stop them before they get to the reception desk and saying oh no, mistake made, blah, blah, blah.  Christine looks at me like I am out of my mind and says:  We have our own room here and at Old Faithful, what are you talking about.  I felt like the weight of an elk had been lifted off my shoulders.  Whew!  Uncomfortable room situation avoided.  

We had had dinner the night before at the Mammoth Dining Room and were not impressed, so we thought lets go into Gardiner for dinner.  5 miles down the road - what a waste of time and money and taste buds.  Worst food I had ever had in my life!  Yuck.

Next day we head over to Lamar Valley - supposed to be THE place to see wild life (other than elk) in the park.  We did see this:

A mama long horn and her babies.  So cute.

I read somewhere that somebody thinks people treat Yellowstone as a petting zoo.  They forget that these are wild animals - you hear the rangers all day and night - get back from the animals - stay away from the animals - and having them be so close you forget sometimes that they are wild.  You want to touch them, but don't.  Because if they hurt you, they get destroyed.  Killed because you could not obey the rules.  Bears get killed because you feed them.  Bison get killed because you get in their face.  Stay away from them, they get close enough to get pictures, keep it that way.

When you see people pulled over you know they are looking at something and you want to see it!!!

But man, you do not even have to get out of your car to see things like this:

This big guy was just at the side of the road.  We were pretty much stopped, because people were stopped to look at the bison.  Right after I took this picture he looked up at me and took a step or two closer and I got scared and rolled up my window.  Not that the flimsy glass and metal between me and him would have stopped him from head butting me into the next world, but it did make me feel a bit safer.

After two nights at Mammoth we headed down to another fucking fantastic place - Old Faithful Inn.

This place is crazy!  The lobby is 76 feet high.  Four stories.  A four sided fireplace (damaged in the 1959 earthquake, so only one chimney still functions, the wood harvested within 5 miles of where I am standing, the rock from Black Sand Basin down the road, that Old Faith Geyser is right outside and and has been blasting water and steam into the air around every two hours for who knows how long, it is like Disneyland, but real.  

We took a tour one morning, our tour guide Mary was great.  Now Mary told us that she was from Kansas and truthfully just looking at her, you would have known that.  She gave us a great tour of the Inn, built in 1904 by a 29 year old architect.  People would pay $50 to spend 5 days in Yellowstone, they would spend one night in each of the great lodges.  Old Yellowstone Inn and Mammoth are the only ones left from the "olden" days.  The doors of the Inn are 3-4 inches thick, they were made very sturdy to give the guests a feeling of security from - Indian attacks.  Really?  Yes, really.  

Anyway, back to the tour.  Again I could go on about the 500 tons of rock it took to build the fireplace or they crew of five men sent out to find all those little "branches" at each post - or the fact that there is a widows walk on the very top - that is closed to the public - but if you are lucky enough to be standing around when a bellman is going up there you might just get invited to a private moment up there - we were not lucky.  I will tell you that if you go - ask for rooms in the original part of the lodge, you might have to share a bathroom, but might just be worth it.  Next time I am requesting room 248 and will build my time around the availability of that room.

At the end of the tour people asked questions.  The most important one was this:

How did they pick this spot?  With all the thermal activity around how did they know this was a good spot.

The answer was:

Luck.  They saw grass growing and thought this must be a good spot.

This did not leave me with warm fuzzy feelings.

In 1988 the worst fire ever started in Yellowstone.  It burned and burned.  It came up the ridge behind this hotel.  Flames 200 feet high.  Luckily in 1987 the park had gotten 30 million dollars to do renovations and one of the renovations was an outdoor water system.  That's right, sprinklers on the outside of the building that continually poured water on the building and sparks could not catch.  Good use of money I would say.

I'll tell you about the thermal basin of Yellowstone next time.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Montana Part 5 - on to Yellowstone.

Today we leave Many Glacier and I remember the words of wisdom given by a stranger:

Remember you are paying for the view, not the room.  

Truer words were never spoken.  Cheryl and I stayed on the top floor, the fourth floor.  I am pretty sure that this is where the servants stayed.  The room had enough room for a double bed, one side table a sink and a little desk and chair.  The shower and toilet were in a little room that used to be the closet.  Keep in mind that when this hotel was built there was no indoor plumbing or electricity or heat.

Even with the shower the size of a coffin, the sloped ceilings, the lack of any floor space, the view out the window anytime of day or night made it all worth while to be in the servants quarters.

Mare's room was a bit bigger and she had a door out onto the balcony, it was not expansive in any way, but again look out the window.

So we pack up and call down for the bellman and his leiderhosen and pack up the car and head for Yellowstone.

I think I speak for us all when I say I hope to come back here to this place.  I hope it is here to come back to.

So long Glacier - Hello Yellowstone!

We have about 440 miles to go today and we start our drive south thru Montana.  Montana, Montana, more Montana.  Montana is a BIG state.  While not as large as California in square miles, it sure felt like we were never going to get thru it.  It is beautiful, parts of it seem empty, but I sure it is not.  

I picked up a book called "Montana Women Homesteaders - A Field of One's Own".  It is about single women that homesteaded to Montana in the early 1900's.  I was not sure I could homestead in this country now, let alone over a 100 years ago.  It is an interesting read and I admire those women.

And we are still driving in Montana.

I think the people at AAA when doing your trip tik think, where can I have them go and still get them to where they really want to be without getting in trouble, well AAA peeps you gave us a nice route, weird sometimes, but nice.

Our ride today took us thru Choteau (Sho-To) where we stopped for lunch at the Outpost Deli on Main Street, we had the best grilled cheese sandwich ever, and looked out at this:

And for some reason this:

Choteau is actually a place the homesteader book talks about.  Walking 14 miles one way to the nearest town Choteau to get supplies.  I look at the buildings in the first picture and imagine one of the women on the porch of one of them.  Amazing.

After lunch we went next door to get a coffee drink for the road.  Cheryl and Mare got a hot chocolate and I got a coffee.  A coffee that was so hot I could not drink it for at least an hour and I would swear that the little bit I got rid of at the end of the day was still hot and probably is still hot!  Yes, it was hot!

Back out on the road

Big Sky Country, without a doubt.

We pull into Gardiner - Gateway to the northern entrance of Yellowstone and we are met by the welcoming committee.

This was our first elk.  While in Glacier we saw mountain goats, big horned sheep, black bear, grizzley bear and of course the dangerous bunny, but no elk.  They were everwhere in this little town.  And a word of advice, don't eat in this town.  Food is bad and just not worth it, at least where we went.

Into Yellowstone!
We came in by the northern gate, once more using Mare's senior pass.  Excellent perk.  I actually thought that all of Yellowstone is in Wyoming, but no.  You actually go a couple of miles into the park before you enter Wyoming.  

Stay tuned.

Montana Part 4

I thought I would include a photo of the fireplace at Many Glacier since I talked about it last post.  Cozy!

This day started early because I was under the impression that we were scheduled for a boat ride this morning.  So up we get and have a quick breakfast and get down to the boat dock to pick up our tickets for the 9:00 am trip.  Imagine my surprise and Cheryl and Mare's dismay when we are told our tickets are for tomorrow.  Opps.

So we decide to take a hike and this is what you see at the start of every trailhead:

OK, if this does not make you think twice...

We did not have bear spray, we had our bear bells and made lots of noise.  And there were lots of other people on the trail that did have bear spray, so I felt, I really will only have to outrun one person, so off we went.

The air was clean and sweet.  It was warm, well for northern Montana in September and I was happy I had a hat on.  

It was a beautiful morning even if we were not doing what I thought we would be doing.

We took another hike that afternoon, part way around the lake.

This was the only wildlife we saw, we whipped out our bunny spray but he did not seem very aggresive so we walked slowly by and made it back ok.

The next morning, we get up to actually take the boat/hike/boat/hike thing I thought we were doing the day before, exept this time we were actually at the right place at the right time.

We started on a boat right in front of the hotel on the Swiftcurrent Lake.  We took the trip that had a guide to give you a little history and tells you how the mountains and park was created.  Glaciers.  Plates moving.  We found out that Glacier is not named Glacier because there are so many glaciers, it is named Glacier because glaciers created it.  Glaciers moving slowly over a long time creating valley's and lakes and waterfalls and just beauty wherever you look.

So the three of us hop on the boat and head off across Swiftcurrent lake.

At the end of the lake you get off the boat and take a short but very steep hike to the next boat on the next lake, Josephine. 

It was another beautiful day.  We got off the first boat and Cheryl I and continued on for the hike, next boat, hike.  Mare took the boat back to wait for our return or to send help if necessary.

We got off the boat at the far end of Lake Josephine and hiked to Grinnell Lake, about a mile and half thru the forest.  The trail was well marked, there were quite a few of us doing this hike along with our cute little guide, Julie.  She was a nursing student who worked at the park during the summer.  This was her second and perhaps last summer, since her nursing program now became a 16 month program with no breaks.  She was hoping to find her way back to Montana once she became a nurse.

So anyway, our hike.

We made it to the Grinnell Lake. You can see Grinnell Falls in the background.  There are lots of things named Grinnell here in Glacier.  The joke is that if you don't know its name, just call it Grinnell and chances are you may be right.  All named for George Grinnell, an early Amercian conservationist who is one of the reasons Glacier is a national park.  Thanks George.

We ate our lunch here and then hiked back to the boat, hiked over the hill, got on the next boat and returned to Many Glacier.  Oh and I forgot to mention the suspension bridge.  It is funny the look on peoples faces when those words are uttered.  I'll just say that compared to the Carrick-a-Rede suspension bridge in Ireland, this one was a piece of cake.

Mare was happy to find out that she did not need to make calls to our families that we had be lost to bears.

It was on this hike that we were told that the estimates today are that there will be no more glaciers in Glacier by 2020 - 2030.  What will happen when the glacier's are gone?  Well, the experts don't know. Will there be enough snow every year to have waterfalls?  All the lakes are glacier lakes, will they dry up?  What about the animals?  What have we done to this planet?

On our last night at Many Glacier I reflected on how incredible it all is, how the people that made this all happen (no matter what their own goals) deserve to be thanked for saving all this for the future.  How what we have seen over the last few days has been magnificent and no matter how many words I put in this blog, there are not enough words in my vocabulary to describe the beauty of this place.

One other thing, Many Glacier offered a cheese from the Poor Orphan Creamery in Montana.  If you ever see ANY cheese by this small goat cheese maker, grab it.  You will not want to share it with your loved ones, but be nice and give them a taste.  Yummy!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Montana Part 3

So it is time to move from the Village Inn at the west entrace of Glacier to the Many Glacier Hotel in the north/east part of the park.  This requires another trek over the Going to the Sun Road, this time with one of us driving.  That one, would be my beloved, Cheryl.  She got behind the wheel and away we went.  As we got further towards Logans Pass and the continental divide again, it started to snow a little bit.  We were able to stop more since we were not in the Red Bus.

There was a bit more snow on the mountains on this trip over them

It was not alot of snow, but it was snow and we were on a narrow road up and over mountains. It was a little nerve wracking at times, but Cheryl did a great job and we landed at the the loop

thankfully the only switchback on the road.  We got up to Logans Pass and again used the lovely pit toilets - they do not get any better no matter how many times you use them - then we were on the other side.  Funny thing to get to the other side of the park you have to leave the park.  

So out we go, take a left go a few miles and take another left onto one of the worst roads ever.  A few miles down the road was the ranger station where you buy your pass.  We had come into the park after the ranger station was closed and had not gotton a pass yet.  So Mare whips out her drivers license and gets a senior pass that covers entrance into the park for life and all that for $10 bucks!  Yup, that could just be the reason you see so many seniors in national parks.  Although it is getting harder and harder to tell them from us.

We drove down the road, bumping and avoiding bumps, stopping to take pictures.

I will tell you that I thought East Glacier was spectacular - well West Glacier is more spectacular!  We came to our final destination in Glacier and home for the next three days - Many Glacier Hotel.  

From the bellmen in leiderhosen to the view

yes, this is the view, the mountains reflected on Swiftcurrent Lake, we knew we were somplace special.  The history of how Glacier came to be is interesting and how this little alpine chateau came to sit at the edge of this lake is a tale of big hopes, knowing the right people and strong backs.

The hotel was started in 1914 and completed by the summer season of 1915.  The winters here are harsh to put it mildly, but many men labored thru it and there it stands today, looking just about the same as it did 100 years ago.  Except it now has heat, running water and electricity - makes it a little easier to be there - except it is only open for three maybe four months out of the year.  The rest of the time, it is boarded up and has a caretaker to make sure nothing bad happens.  

You walk into a big lobby with a huge fireplace that is kept going 24 hours a day by the bellmen in their little shorts and suspenders.  It is elevated about a foot off the ground on a stone platform, there are chairs and couches all around and a very homey feeling.  People are friendly and help you spot bears up on the hill.  People that have hiked all day or climbed a mountain or something come in and tell their tales.  

One guy came in, he was a very outdoorsy looking guy, shorts and a sleeveless shirt and a bandanna wrapped around his head (by the end of the time there, we were pretty much convinced that he was bald under that do-rag like Hulk Hogan).  He had obviously been here more than once and knew alot about the place and proceeded to tell those around him about it.  The most interesting thing he said was that the big horned sheep that was over in the corner of the lobby had fallen thru the sky light on the roof one winter and was not found until spring.  They stuffed him and there he sits in a corner forever wondering what made him take that last step...

The Northern Pacific Railroad was behind the building of this place and their plan was to be the only way to get close to the hotel.  They would bring them as close as the railroad would come and then bring them the rest of the way by stage coach.  Then came the automobile, which made access to all the parks available to lots more people, but they did not need the railroads to get there, so eventually things were sold and the National Park Service took over.

I think I could really go on for a long time about the history of this magical place, but I won't bore you with it.  Let me just say thanks to the men and women that saved it from burning down.

Until next time.

Montana Part 2 - Going to the Sun!

Going to the Sun Road!

The weather - oh man.  The day we arrived it was warm and the sun was shining.  And then... overnight it snowed in the mountains.  I woke to beautiful low hanging clouds over the mountains and lake.  I wrapped up in a blanket and sat on the porch watching the sky change minute by minute.  I did wonder if we were going to be able to take our Red Bus tour or would the road be closed.  Well, hell it takes more than a dusting a snow to stop things from happening in Montana!  Our Red Bus pulled up and we loaded up and off we went.

Spectacular people!  Just spectacular.  We experienced this road the first time on a Red Bus Tour.  The drivers are called Jammers and our Jammer was Karl.  As all good tour leaders should be, Karl was full of information and I'll share some of it with you.  The buses were original White Motor Company 1936 buses first used in the park, sort of.  While the chassis were new and they were redesigned by the Ford and were made to run on gas or propane.  The propane thing has not worked very well, so a face lift will begin on that soon.  Seems that at one point all the National Parks had these buses, Yellowstone had yellow ones, Glacier had red ones, the Teton's Green.  Glacier is the only one that still uses them and they are fantastic.  The top rolls back and when the bus stops you can pop up and take pictures.  They provide blankets (not enough) and a running commentary that is both informative and funny.  As Karl said, if you are every on Jeopardy and they ask what color these buses are:  they are Mountain Ash Berry Red.  He does expect a cut, which I think is fair.  

Going to the Sun Road is an engineering marvel.  It is 50 miles long, took almost 30 years to complete, all the retaining walls are built from local rock, the tunnels were carved by hand!  Two tunnels - one about 190 feet long - they could carve about 5 feet a day.  Back breaking work.  There were two competing thoughts on how to build the road, luckily the smart guy won!  Only one switch back on the mountain instead of 15!  The grade on all parts is only 6% because cars needed to shift gears to do anything higher.  The road crosses the continental divide at Logans Pass and here you can stop and see a trail called the Highland Trail.  7.5 miles across a pretty flat trail, where you can hike to a chalet that will have a bed and hot meal for you.  But if you plan to do this, make your reservations cause there are no walk ins.

Three men died during the construction of the road and when you drive it, you wonder why that number is not higher.

Going to the Sun is open all the way only  a few months of the year.  This year it finally opened in mid June and will close sometime in October or earlier, depending on the weather.

We planned our trip for pretty late in the season on purpose.  We wanted to avoid the crowds.  One of the downfalls of this planning is that some things are closed.  Like the "real" bathrooms at Logans Pass.  So we and everyone else on the road had to make use of four pit toilets.  While a little smelly, not the worst ones we have run into (literally) but by far the coldest.  The top on the bus had been down for quite a while at this point and most of our bodies felt frozen anyway, so it was appropriate that our asses get caught up with the rest of us.

We went down the other side of Going to the Sun to St. Mary's - the end of the road - had lunch and started back the other way.  Thankfully the top got put up for the ride back.

On the ride back we were treated to the site of a black bear not fifty feet off the side of the road eating. We were also treated to the stupidity of people.  Everywhere you look are signs, everyone you talk to tells you that the wildlife is WILD.  Stay at least 30 yards from a bear, don't approach it, photograph it from a distance.  And every year someone is hurt or killed because they get too close.

Well we witnessed a couple of idiots, they were on a motocycle (that is not why they are idiots) but they stopped their bike near the bear, the woman got off the back of the bike and hopped over the barrier and approached the bear, turned her back to the bear so her side kick could take a picture.  The bus driver was telling her to get back on road, people in the area were calling her stupid, she just posed for the picture and then the ranger pulled up.  I am hoping they got a citation of some sort.  We drove away with a great picture of the bear (taken by my beloved from inside the safety of the bus) and wondering how long before that woman got eaten by a bear.

Next up - day 2 - Driving the Going to the Sun Road on our own.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Montana Part 1

So, on to Montana!

I have got to say Montana is probably the most beautiful place I have ever been.  I will however not tell very many people this because I do not want to ruin it.

We left Idaho and continued up route 90 and as you know always on the look out for a rest stop we found the first one across the state line.  It was clean and shiney and had a couple of old Marines in a little red trailer selling drinks and cookies to raise money for Toys for Tots.  Lovely way to start a day.  We drove for a bit and came around a corner and saw this.

This was just the first stop of many along the side of the road.  We did a lot of gasping!  Things really are this beautiful.  We travelled a long way north and east.  Thru little towns and thru lots of land.  The people that live out here have got to be hardy strong people.  We commented at one point about where do they buy groceries and holy shit what if you forget something. 

We travelled into the Flathead reservation and all I could really think about was man, the white man sucks. This was not their country, they were pushed here by people that wanted what they had, even their land.  But man, this was beautiful.  Flathead Lake is big

We stopped along the road to take this photo and met an old man travelling by himself.  He came over to me and asked what lake this was.  I told him this was Flathead Lake.  He asked if I was sure.  Yup, pretty sure.  We just came up here (I showed him on the map, because I can read a map and believe that anyone that replies soley on their GPS or phone really need to get out without them and see where they end up) and we are right here.  Flathead Lake.  Oh ok.  Thanks.  He went back to his car and we drove on.  I did wonder where he was going and if he would get there.

Then finally

Our first stop was Apgar Village where we stayed at the Village Inn.  Right smack on Lake McDonald

This was literally what we looked at when we stood in front of our room or sat on chairs to enjoy the view.  Breathtaking!  While sitting here I noticed little homes around the lake.  I could see four or five from where I was sitting.  I wondered about them.  Hmmmm, must be ranger homes.  No, not at all.  Before Glacier was a national park there were people here, homesteaders.  Again hardy people I am sure.   Well, they are still there.  Glacier National Park is built around them.  Yes, private land ownership inside the park.  Can you imagine having some of the 132 acres that are still privately owned.  I tried to find some for sale, but they do not change hands very oftern it seems.

I read a couple of stories about these cottages and here is what I learned.

One woman is 87 years old and has spent every summer of her life at her family's home on Lake McDonald.  Just like her mother did before her and her's before her.  Imagine that.  She currently has 16 children and grandchildern.  She knows her magical time at this place is coming to and end and she has no idea what is going to happen to this place.  Will her children be able to come to an agreement about using it or will they decided to sell it?  It pains her, but she says she will be dead and there will be nothing she can do.

The other story is also from a women about the same age.  She however knows exactly what will happen when she dies.  Her home and land will go to the National Park Service and become part of the park.  Her children have no choice.  She has no choice.  Her mother deeded everything to the Park Service in her will, once the daugher dies the land no longer belongs to the family that has summered there for close to 100 years.  She is bitter.

It seems the Federal Government does try to buy the land when it becomes available, but is not always successful and the NPS fears what could be built and what it would do to the park.

I am not sure how I feel about it.  Part of me thinks as long as it stays in the family it should remain private, but trying to sell it should not be allowed.  Once the last person goes, it should become part of the park.  Right?  Don't know?  I just know I would hate to see some big giant McMansion or modern hotel built anywhere in this park.

Hypocritical?  Maybe.  I am about to take advantage of the early commericialization of this land and who am I to say when it should stop?

We spent two nights in this part of the park.  On our first full day we took a tour in this:


Going to the Sun Road here we come.

Stay tuned for Part two.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The National Park Tour - Post 1

I will admit right off the bat that I forgot the little do-hickey that allows me to easily transfer photos from my camera to my ipad, so I'll just be posting photos that I take on my phone.  Which I have to email to myself and open on my ipad.  Yes, I know I could just take photos with my ipad, but I think that looks really dorky.  So, look for more photos once we are home.

Anyway, we hit the road about 1:00 Friday afternoon, Cheryl, Mare and I in our pretty rented Ford Explorer.  We did run into a little traffic getting out of the Bay Area.  Once we got past 80 and onto 505 N it was pretty smooth sailing.

We drove up to Oregon.  Sometimes I find it hard to believe that I have lived on the West coast for all these years and rarely been north of Sacramento, much less cross the state line.  We drove past some pretty places

This was one little town we drove thru. It was funny.  

We continued on to Bend, because we thought if we stopped at Weed...

We had been told that Bend was a cute little town, but I really can't tell you.  We drove in after dark and left the next morning.  One thing I can tell you is to avoid the Shari's there.  We went for dinner, it reminded us of Denny's and thought "how bad can it be".  While Cheryl and Mare did not have any problems, this is how my night went.

I'll have a cheese omlette with potato's and sour dough toast.

Waiter brings our meals and I cut into my omlette and in addition to the cheese were all these nice consistent size bites of ham.  Vegetarian here, this is a problem for me.  

I call the waiter over, he takes the plate back.  Oh would I like a free piece of pie while I wait?  No, but Mare wanted pie for dessert so she gets a free slice of peach pie.  Cheryl and Mare start to eat.  Ten or fifteen minutes go by and my remade omlette has still not made an appearence.  Finally the waiter brings it over and sets it down in front of me and there is no toast - oh and no fork.  Waiter says toast is being made, it will be right over and my beloved grabs a fork from the next table.  I start to eat my very well done omlette while waiting for my toast, and waiting and waiting and waiting.  The manager comes out to ask how things are?  Well, still waiting for my toast - oh ok.  She leaves and toast finally arrives.  It looks like they held the toast in front of the toaster.  Needless to say I was not thrilled.  We asked to see the manager again, waiter returns and says she is not coming back out.  What?? Really?  So waiter goes back and manager comes out.  Cheryl says I don't think we should have to pay for her meal, had to wait so long, the omlette was over cooked.  Manager finally says well, just take it off the bill, I'll figure it out.  So just avoid it and I promise not to base my feelings for an entire state on the service at Sheri's in Bend.

One thing we did notice was in some of the small towns there were public bathrooms.  We stopped at one, because after all, we are women of certain age and we like to know where the bathrooms are.  One of the things we liked about Ireland was every little town you passed thru had a very nice public bathroom, but I digress.  This little town in Oregan had a very nice public bathroom and if I could remember the name of the town I'd tell you.

We continued on to Idaho, I just don't know how you can take such a good picture while travelling at 70 miles an hour.  Technology!

On our way to Couer d'Alene.  For those of you without the google, Couer d'Alene was named by French trappers and roughly translates to Heart of the Awl.  Yes, awl as in leather working tool.  The city symbol is a very cool heart with an awl thru it.  When you think about it, it is not a great symbol.

It was very pretty.  It used to be a pretty sleepy town and is now a really big resort area.  You can see the new constuction every where and a whole lot of it looks like any place USA.

They seem to like public art here

We stayed the night, went down to the lake front the next morning and walked around

And yes, the water was cold.

And I have a question about Idaho - how do they get their flowers to grow so damn big and pretty

Everywhere I looked were hanging flowers, flowers in big pots, half pots hanging of the side of buildings.  You think they water them or something?  I'll have to try that once we get water in California again.

Then on to Montana!