Tomato vs. Tomahto

I’ve had a tomato explosion out there!  While on vacation, my tomato plants went on a rampage and just took over the entire bed they were in.  They are spilling out onto the patio and the yard.  Usually, I have a really hard time growing tomatoes.  The weather won’t cooperate and getting the right amount of water on them is difficult.

Who knew that this year would have the perfect weather to allow the plants to go crazy?  And they would pick my vacation to explode everywhere.  I wasn’t here to pick them up and redirect the vines into the best places to hang.  I doubt that my son has any idea what to do with a tomato plant.  He doesn’t even like tomatoes.

I attempted to pick up the heavier branches and to get these off the ground.  It was too late to handle it in a good way.  I just had to deal with it as best as possible.  It’s definitely not stopping the tomatoes from growing and ripening though.

A couple of days after we returned, I was able to harvest the first set of cherry tomatoes from the vine.  They were warm and sweet.  I swear you can taste the sunshine in them.  I’m not a big tomato fan.  But when they come straight from the vine, I do love them.  There is nothing better to define summer than a vine-ripened tomato.

The other day, I finally picked one of the beefsteak tomatoes after it had ripened.  I served it up with dinner and it was delicious.  It went perfectly with the sweet corn that we bought from someone at work.  Two garden fresh items at one sitting.  I do love summer.

The bad news is that Sascha has discovered the tomatoes.  She has been picking the cherry tomatoes off the vine and playing with them.  Then she discovered that you could eat them and she loved the flavor.  Now I find her with her head buried in the vines picking them all over the place.  Until yesterday, she was only bothering the cherry tomatoes.  Then I found a small green tomato pulled off the vine and lying in the driveway.  I have to convince her that tomatoes are bad for dogs.  Bad dog!  Bad tomatoes!

As summer continues for the next month or so, I hope to enjoy more tomatoes.  I have a couple of people who have asked for any surplus tomatoes.  So I’ll be able to share the warm sunshine buried in the tomatoes with others.

Beautiful tomato plants all over my patio.
Beautiful tomato plants all over my patio.
Can't help it, one more.
Can’t help it, one more.
Lots of tomatoes in there.
Lots of tomatoes in there.
Enjoying the tomatoes.
Enjoying the tomatoes.
Deep inside the vines of the tomato plants.
Deep inside the vines of the tomato plants.

 

 

 

 

Big Sky Vacation Day 15: Drive!

We got up and got back on the road this morning.  Not much to say other than Rich passed a few cars during his time behind the wheel.  We made it to Mitchell, South Dakota this evening.  When in South Dakota, you have to have a really good steak.  I found a place called The Brig Steakhouse.  It looks like a converted VFW hall.  The steaks were awesome.  I ordered a petite filet and it was like butter melting in your mouth.  There is nothing like a steak when you are out west.

We drove and that’s about all you can say for today.  Almost home though.  We have to get through the rest of South Dakota, through Minnesota, and then through Wisconsin.  With some luck, we’ll be home just after dinner time tomorrow.  I’m not ready to end vacation, but I’m ready to see my dog and sleep in my own bed.

Big Sky Vacation Day 14: Say it isn’t so!

Oh no, it was time to head for home!  Say it isn’t so?  But yes, it is the day I’ve dreaded.  Time to head home.  Today is a driving day as we head out of Canada and make our way toward Holiday Hills.  It was also going to a long day since had to make it to Sheridan, WY by tonight.

This morning, the siren went off again.  The siren is a 2 year old who doesn’t want to do anything that is expected of him.  Last night, his family returned to their room around 10:00 PM.  He screamed and cried for almost 2 hours that he didn’t want to go to bed.  I went to bed, but had a tough time getting to sleep with his screams across the hall.  Why you would keep a 2 year old up that long is beyond me.  Of course, why didn’t he just fall over tired?  They had arrived late on Tuesday and he cried that night also.  He cried Wednesday morning and then again Wednesday night.  Now on Thursday morning, he was crying that he didn’t want to leave!  Not fun for those in rooms around them.  We saw them in the parking lot as we were leaving.  He was pretty small for those big lungs.

It was kind of cool that it didn’t get dark up here until almost 11:00.  I hadn’t thought about it staying light that long.  Then again, it was not cool that it didn’t get dark until almost 11:00.  There was no shade on the bathroom skylight and the room was rather bright for a long, long time when we went to bed.  I kept thinking someone left the light on in the bathroom.

We got moving a little later than expected.  We walked down to Trapper’s Grill where we had dinner the first day in town.  They appeared to have the best breakfast around.  It was delicious.  I had a waffle with Saskatoon berries.  They were basically huckleberries.  The coffee was delicious.  Rich got an omelet with bison chili over it.  This should stick to some ribs for a while.

We packed the car and took for the border.  It was a 30 minute drive to get back to Chief Mountain border crossing.  Along the way, we noticed a sign telling us to slow down due to foxes on the road.  We didn’t see any foxes on the road.  I wonder if they warn you about every type of animal that comes in heat and uses the road a path to go courting.

As we drove around the bottom of the lake, we noticed that it was still hazy around the mountains.  It finally struck us that the wildfires in Canada and Washington state were drifting this way.  That’s why the scenery appeared to be wrapped in a hazy film.  It was worse today than yesterday.  Too bad for anyone just coming in.

We arrived to find quite a line with a tour bus.  Turned out the car line had been closed and it reopened while we were waiting.  Rich was telling me that the border guards were tougher than back in the day when we went to Nova Scotia.  Now I was wondered about what he was going to ask me.  The van in front of us was from Michigan and the guard was holding a handful of passports.  He kept talking to them and asking questions.  Finally, he pointed to have them pull over by the building.  Oh my gosh, they weren’t going to let me back in!

It was our turn.  He asked pretty standard stuff and I knew the answers to the questions.  Pretty quickly, we made it through the customs check and were on our way.  No need to worry.  As we pulled away from the border, the people from the Michigan van were sitting out front of the building.  They appeared to be Japanese.  Rich figured they had other passports rather than American.

We were back in the U.S.  We headed to St. Mary’s and stopped for coffee and bathroom break.  As we drove through Many Glacier and St. Mary’s, the hazy was covering up all of the mountain views.  It was a good thing we already had our pictures from these parts.  The hazy just wasn’t too pretty.

Then it was back on the road into Montana.  We were making fairly good time.  In Great Falls, we got gas and Rich took over the driving.  We turned off of 89 on 12 as part of our zigzag across the state.  We were met with road destruction.  This wasn’t here a week and a half ago.  The road was all torn up for several miles and a pilot truck led you through the destruction.  How had they done this?

Also, Rich wants me to tell everyone that he drove over 300 miles and passed 6 cars.  Two of his passes were for twofers.  We probably saw a total of 8 cars until we go to the destruction and saw 6 cars in the line.  It is pretty desolate out there on the byways of Montana.

We got to Billings and decided to have dinner.  We’ve been lucky enough to find brewpubs in Billings.  This time, there were more choices.  I picked Uberbrew because the beers sounded good and the food was what I expected from a pub.  We found the pub right downtown.  Walking inside, it was very light and bright with lots of wood and stainless steel.  We got a table across from the bar.  Cathy, our waitress, gave us the low down on the specials of the day.  Rich ordered a beer and we ordered up food.  Rich was giving Cathy a hard time about okra in the gumbo.  She didn’t really care and said it was great anyway.  I got a sandwich and beer cheese soup.  It was wonderful and warm.

After Rich enjoyed a second beer, we got our bill and a t-shirt and got back on the road.  I had a little trouble getting out of the town.  My navigator was busy with his phone instead of helping.  We managed to get turned around and out to the highway again.

It was another 2 hours to Sheridan, WY for our stop.  I was getting really tired of Montana by this time.  Didn’t this state ever end?  It was 544 some odd miles before we hit the Wyoming border.  About time?  Was I just a little crabby after being in the car for so long?  Probably.  I had managed to finish my book and made some notes for this blog.  Still, I was ready to relax and sleep without a screaming kid across the hall.

Ah, I put my feet for a while.  We went down to the bar to get a drink.  Why not, I had gotten a free coupon for the bar when I checked in.  Rich had another beer and a taste of bourbon.  Then it was back to the room to write up the blog for the day.  No pictures.  I did take one of the road destruction, but it is too much trouble to load it up.  Maybe tomorrow.

Big Sky Vacation Day 13: All around the townsite

We have only one full day in Waterton, Alberta.  I really didn’t know what we would do here other than hike a few trails and poke around the area.  It turned out to be quite the surprise though.  The largest town is about 3 hours from here.  The other towns are fair sized.  This is actually a resort area for many parts of Canada.  It is quite beautiful and peaceful here.

Rich woke me up this morning with the news that I had slept in.  This was the first day I had actually done that.  I was really tired yesterday.  I guess it showed.  We got up and got ready for the day.  First stop was breakfast.  We went across the street to Pearl’s Café to eat.  This was because we had a 10% off coupon.  This was a little disappointing since it was really just breakfast sandwiches.  We got the Hungry Hiker rollup, which had egg, sausage, and some other stuff on it.  It wasn’t bad, just not what we wanted.  The coffee was good though.

We walked down to the marina and purchased our tickets for the cruise around Waterton Lake.  We didn’t plan to go hiking, but figured we would cruise the lake and see the sights in comfort.  We had some time and came back to put on sunscreen and get our hats.  We didn’t take our passports since we didn’t plan to need them.  So we missed getting them stamped with the Goat Haunt symbol.

Back at the marina, the line was getting pretty long for the cruise.  We jumped into place and waited with the masses.  Pretty soon, they began to board.  The boat had an upper deck out in the open while the bottom had windows.  The fantail of the boat had a roof, but no windows.  We headed for this and settled into the corner.  Pretty soon, it was full with little room to move around.

Captain Tom got the boat underway.  We could see the Prince of Wales hotel from the water as it towered over us from the hill at the end of the lake.  Jeremy was the tour guide for the trip.  This was his first year on the boat and he was doing all the talking.  He turned out to be very entertaining for a young man.

First thing he did was tell us where everything was on the boat.  Men’s’ room was on the left since the women are always right.  OK, maybe not so original.  Jeremy told us a great fishing story on the way out.  Mr. and Mrs. Hunter and a friend were going fishing in 1921.  Mr. Hunter and the friend took the boat and left Mrs. Hunter on the shore.  Everyone knows that women in boats are bad luck.  When the men returned with their little fish, they discovered that Mrs. Hunter had caught a record trout for the lake that weighed 52 lbs. and 12 oz.  Jeremy proceeded to tell us why he didn’t believe women were bad luck on boats.  He always tried to get as many girls as possible whenever he took his boat out.

By the way, Pat’s Garage has a picture of Mrs. Hunter with her prize catch.  No one has caught a bigger fish in the lake since.  The picture shows a woman who looks a lot like Ma Kettle from the movies holding this huge trout that stretches from her chest to the ground.  Bet those guys were sorry to see her at the end of their day.

As the cruise headed toward the Montana side the lake, Jeremy said to let him know if we saw any wildlife on the mountain.  I happened to see a black bear wondering from the trees into a clearing.  I just could tell him fast enough since we were downstairs.  It was an adult and just lumbering along.  I was so excited I didn’t get a picture or tell Rich about it!  I did see one, really!

Jeremy gave us more information on the formations around and the park history.  We got to the boundary between the U.S. and Canada.  There is a swath of clearing from the lake and up over the mountain with a border marker for the U.S. and one for Canada.  Apparently, every year or two, the ranger teams from each side go up through the mountains and clean up the line.  This is because the agreement between the two countries states that the line must be easily recognized.  Jeremy’s comment was that in the plains, they must then plant trees on the border so you can see it.

We arrived on the U.S. side at Goat Haunt.  This was a place that the mountain goats used to hang out.  That was back in the days before they used to hunt the goats to almost extinction.  The name stuck though.  Two border guards got off the boat just ahead of us and went off in the direction of the rangers’ station.  If you wanted to go beyond that point, you had to go through them to pass customs.  We didn’t plan on doing this.

After a 25 minute stop to walk around and take pictures, we boarded the boat to return to Waterton.  This time, Rich and I sat on top to get a better view.  The mountains were beautiful.  We got to a specific place on the mountain and Jeremy explained that a specific V and A pattern in the rock just above the water line had been designated a particular geological formation.  Apparently, this one little squiggle was the best preserved formation showing the plate tetonics in the area.  National Geographic had been out a couple of times to film for a documentary.  It was cool how the folds showed the crinkle in the rock from the pushing force around it.  So we’ve seen really old rock and now the evidence of plate pressure.

We continued on with the cruise without seeing any wildlife.  The comments were fun and Jeremy did an excellent job for his fourth stent as a tour guide.  We got off the boat at the marina and headed down to Trapper’s to pick up some t-shirts that I wanted.  From there, it was lunch at the Wiener Shack.  We got dogs and poutine.  One of the national dishes in Canada is poutine, which is fries covered with gravy and cheese curds.  It really is pretty good.  When in Canada you know.

Time to jump in the car and drive to a few spots.  We drove down to the Cameron Falls which is just at the edge of Waterton townsite.  The falls were just gushing down the mountain.  We sat on the benches enjoying the cool spray.  Then Rich decided he could do the 60 foot straight up walk to the top of the falls.  Not me, I’m all hiked out at the moment.  I sat and watched him.  That and watched the kids feeding the ground squirrels all around me.

I bet you wonder why I kept saying Waterton townsite.  I wondered that also when I figured out this leg of the vacation.  Everything in this area has Waterton in the name.  Townsite is used to distinguish the actual town from the rest of the attractions in the area with the same name.  Townsite must be the Canadian way of saying town.  Like my town is referred to as The Burg.

We went further down the road to the beach.  Now why do you need a beach on a glacier feed lake.  The water is like 30 degrees.  We did see people playing in it, but not staying very long.  The beach is gravel and chunk rocks all around.  There is no sand.  The loose gravel is just as bad as sand for walking.  We walked down the beach to where the Cameron Creek met the lake.  You could see where the spring runoff could be very, very, VERY wide.  Today, it was a single creek, but pretty forceful.

We crossed the bridge to the other side and walked on the gravel (not sand) bar created by the full force of the creek from runoff.  It was pretty cool to walk out there.  Some guy had his three kids down there to play.  Just image how much kids love to play with rocks.  These three were in heaven with tons and tons of rocks around them to move and do what they wanted with.  He was getting some very quiet time on the bank.

From here, we drove up to the Prince of Wales hotel on the hill above the townsite.  This imposing structure look very large from a distance.  We got up to the hotel and the parking lot was pretty small.  The hotel isn’t that big up close.  I was a little disappointed.  Compared to the other hotels built by the railway, this one was small in size.  The grandeur was good though.  It was very beautiful inside.  The chandelier was a humongous wrought iron structure suspended from the ceiling.  Rich got a really great shot of this.

Late lunches were being served in the main lobby area along with a harp player.  I think there were getting ready for high tea at 4:00.  We wondered the gift shop, where Rich could get yet another cup of coffee.  He was disappointed that he couldn’t have a good beer and sit on the bluff overlooking the lake.  From there, we went out to the bluff to take pictures.  It was a great view to all of the lakes around.  We found a nice rock that allowed us to sit and contemplate the view.  The wind was whipping around us and it was warm.  It was a great place to sit for a while.

Time to head back to town.  We decided to go look for someplace that would allow us to drink and sit as close to the lake as possible.  We found it at the Fireside Lounge.  Rich had a McNally’s Irish Ale and I had a white wine sangria.  It was perfect.  We watched the foot traffic walking by and listened to the conversation around us.  Everyone was Canadian so there were different accents and they were holding some interesting conversations.  The best one was the lady with the Siberian Husky whom she failed to teach how to stop.  That would be the first thing to teach a Husky!  They don’t understand the concept of stop.

We walked around town a bit and then came back to rest up and clean up.  How can I be so tired over the last couple of days?  It’s not like I hiked my usual 5 miles.  OK, that might be the reason right there.  We decided on the location for dinner and walked down to the street going in that direction.  I looked up to see a deer walking along the fence of the playground on the corner.  The darn deer turned into the playground and started feasting on grass.  There was a group of three boys on that particular hill.  One of the guys stood up and was trying to figure out what to do.  The deer didn’t seem to care and kept on munch.  I bet those boys weren’t more than 10 yards from the deer.  That’s like last night when we walked within 5 feet of a deer.  They just don’t care!

We went on dinner.  One thing I have to say about this side is it’s expensive to eat.  Everything has to get trucked in for the time period.  There is only one very small grocery store.  The restaurants work very hard to provide good quality, but that means expense.  I assume since this is a resort, everyone expects that.  The people are friendly and try very hard to please and help.

According to Jeremy on the boat tour, the town population is typically 2,000 people in the summer.  That’s just the town and its workers and not the tourists.  During the winter, there are only 50 residents and one restaurant and one hotel is open.  Everything else closes up and the people go somewhere else to work and live.

After dinner, we walked back up to Pat’s Garage because we realized we had forgotten to see the picture of Mrs. Hunter with her huge trout.  It was big.  There are other trophy fish on the wall there.  The next largest trout was like 12 lbs.  Nowhere near that of Mrs. Hunter’s catch of the century or two.

We meandered back to our hotel to hang out.  We contemplated one more beer, but that would mean moving and we are just cozy here.  Tomorrow, we begin the end of vacation and start for home.  The first leg is to Sheridan, Wyoming.

Our cruise ship, the International, in Waterton marina.
Our cruise ship, the International, in Waterton marina.
Rich getting ready to cruise the lake
Rich getting ready to cruise the lake
Joy on the cruise ship
Joy on the cruise ship
Smokestack on cruise ship
Smokestack on cruise ship
Waterton townsite from the cruise ship.
Waterton townsite from the cruise ship.
Prince of Wales hotel from the cruise ship
Prince of Wales hotel from the cruise ship
Stream that ran from mountain down to Waterton Lake
Stream that ran from mountain down to Waterton Lake
U.S. and Canadian border on other side of the lake
U.S. and Canadian border on other side of the lake
Looking back down the lake toward Waterton
Looking back down the lake toward Waterton
Arriving in Goat Haunt
Arriving in Goat Haunt
Looking down Waterton Lake back up to Waterton townsite
Looking down Waterton Lake back up to Waterton townsite
International Peace Park pavalion
International Peace Park pavalion
Welcome sign for the U.S. at Goat Haunt.
Welcome sign for the U.S. at Goat Haunt.
Waterton lake from the Montana side
Waterton lake from the Montana side
Looking down Waterton Lake back up to Waterton townsite
Looking down Waterton Lake back up to Waterton townsite
Checkpoint to enter the U.S. in Goat Haunt.
Checkpoint to enter the U.S. in Goat Haunt.
Cruise ship docked at Goat Haunt.
Cruise ship docked at Goat Haunt.
Blooms becoming berries
Blooms becoming berries
Yellow columbine along the trail at Goat Haunt.
Yellow columbine along the trail at Goat Haunt.
Cow parsley
Cow parsley
Rich on upper deck getting ready to come back.
Rich on upper deck getting ready to come back.
Leaving Goat Haunt
Leaving Goat Haunt
Jeremy giving the tour
Jeremy giving the tour
Captain Tom and Jeremy in the boat house
Captain Tom and Jeremy in the boat house
Canadian and U.S. border cut into the mountain
Canadian and U.S. border cut into the mountain
Prince of Wales Hotel from the bluff
Prince of Wales Hotel from the bluff
Lobby, dining area, tea room and etc. in Prince of Wales hotel
Lobby, dining area, tea room and etc. in Prince of Wales hotel
Ceiling in the Prince of Wales hotel.
Ceiling in the Prince of Wales hotel.
Rich having a coffee break on bluff at Prince of Wales hotel
Rich having a coffee break on bluff at Prince of Wales hotel
Rich enjoying the view from the bluff looking down on Waterton townsite.
Rich enjoying the view from the bluff looking down on Waterton townsite.
Looking down the lake from Prince of Wales hotel bluff
Looking down the lake from Prince of Wales hotel bluff
Rich at the top of Cameron Falls.
Rich at the top of Cameron Falls.
Rich hiking to top of Cameron Falls
Rich hiking to top of Cameron Falls
Rich at the top of Cameron Falls.
Rich at the top of Cameron Falls.
Ground squirrel getting feed at Cameron Falls
Ground squirrel getting feed at Cameron Falls
Cameron River flowing to Waterton Lake
Cameron River flowing to Waterton Lake
Standing on the beach in town with hazy mountains in background
Standing on the beach in town with hazy mountains in background

 

Interesting flowers down by Waterton Lake shore
Interesting flowers down by Waterton Lake shore
Afternoon cocktails by the lake
Afternoon cocktails by the lake
Rich having a McNally's beer on patio
Rich having a McNally’s beer on patio
Royal Canadian Mounted Police station in Waterton
Royal Canadian Mounted Police station in Waterton
Little boys didn't know what to do with the deer.
Little boys didn’t know what to do with the deer.

 

Deer in the playground confounding the kids.
Deer in the playground confounding the kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Sky Vacation Day 12: O Canada!

Today, we drove to Alberta, Canada.  The Waterton Lakes National Park is the northern half of Glacier National Park and together they make up the International Peace Park.  I’ve always wanted to see that side of the park and this trip I was going to make that happen.

We got up this morning and completed packing.  We got the car packed up and the house cleaned up.  After one last sigh, I closed the door on the East Glacier Home Away from Home that we rented for the last week or so.  It was great, but time to move on to other locations.

We grabbed breakfast up in town and then headed up Hwy 49 one last time toward St. Mary’s.  From there, we took 89 up through Babb and into Canada.  There weren’t many cars on the highway in this direction.  We probably only saw 4 or 5 cars total.

After about an hour, we came to the Chief Mountain border crossing into Canada.  We had to wait for someone to come out to the border gate to let us through.  The questions were pretty routine.  I wasn’t as nervous this time.  Most of the questions they ask are from census information and you have to give an answer that kind of matches.  The times of computer information.

We got the nod and headed over the border.  We were officially in Canada, again.  From this point on, I had to read the inner circle on the speedometer for the speed limit.  Here, it is typically 80 klicks or 50 mph.  I’m even talking in klicks!  We stopped at an overlook to take a break and use the bathrooms.  We didn’t realize it, but this overlook was over Waterton, which is our final destination for this leg.

When I came out and joined Rich at the view point, he was talking to a couple.  Turns out, they were from Chattanooga, TN.  Their destination was Lake Louise up in Banff.  They have a long way to go.  Luckily, we are almost to ours.

It was only about noon, so we had time to kill before we can check into our hotel.  We went by the Visitor’s Center to get information.  While we were in line to get info, a lady came in and said that a bear was spotted on a trial behind the center.  It was maybe 15 minutes up the trail.  Funny, the trail behind the center is called Bear Hump.  I guess he was humpin’ it out there, too.

We got our info and some hiking suggestions from the ladies behind the desk.  We had to go back up the road to catch a turn going northwest.  As we were getting out, everyone on the road suddenly stopped and got out of their cars.  Guess that bear was coming this way.  I told Rich we should stop and get a shot, but he didn’t like that idea.  He saw the bear, but I didn’t.  Turns out it was an adult grizzly.  Two bears in two days for Rich.

We drove out to Red Rock Canyon where the road ended.  First, we stopped by the first oil well in these parts.  I guess the area was known as a tar patch for centuries and someone decided to sink a well to get it all out.  They did and now it is dry.  We continued on to the canyon and parked and walked out to the trail that would take us to Blackiston Falls.  I told Rich, “Hey, we have a Blackiston Falls on the Silver Creek in Clarksville, too.”  He wasn’t impressed.

I was more impressed with these falls.  It was a little bit of a hike back to them, but they were well worth it.  They were beautiful with lots of water flowing.  Looking around the area, you could see where the falls had moved around and changed course.  The wall in front of falls had been worn away and released what looked like a pool at one time.

We walked back up to the Red Rock Canyon.  This is another river or creek that cut through the red rocks of the area over a long period of time.  It also turned out to be a very popular swimming hole for a lot of hot people.  There were pools of water and some smaller falls that people were using as slides.  Seems like they should be hurting the formations, but no one else seemed to mind.

We walked up and around the canyon before heading back to the car.  In the parking lot, I saw the funniest thing.  There were two motorcycles parked together.  His and Hers, I imagine.  The lady’s bike was pink and white with a barbwire motif.  The man’s had pennies, nickels, and dimes glued all over anything that might hold them.  Wonder how much money was on there?

We then drove down to Cameron Lake to do a couple of hikes.  The lake was beautiful with the mountains all around it.  There was boating, fishing, and swimming.  In the background, you could see a mountain covered in snow that was actually in Montana.  The center was bowled out from centuries of avalanches.

We walked back to Akimina Lake first.  This is a small and very quiet lake up above Cameron Lake.  We found a lady with a couple of pugs sitting on a platform there.  Her husband was fishing the lake for trout.  He came in while we were talking with a really nice rainbow trout.  The dogs were too thrilled to see the fish though.

We went back to Cameron Lake and walked the trail that ran beside the lake back to the avalanche zone.  There the trail stops.  In this area, there is too much danger of the upper level snows on the mountain letting go and creating an avalanche.  They try to keep people out of that area just in case.  It was July, but they had had a lot of snow this past winter and it was still hanging up on the mountain.  We didn’t hang out there long because the mosquitos were huge and vicious.  We had to reapply bug spray just to survive.

We eventually made it back to the boathouse and concessions.  Rich stopped in for coffee.  It was after 2:00, you know.  There were a bunch of 3 and 4 years old around the door.  They were cute, but definitely in the way.  Kids that age just don’t see anything outside of themselves.

Time to head into town and find our hotel.  The GPS was having a hard time understanding where we needed to be.  I recognized the outside of the hotel from one street over.  It just took a bit to figure out how to get over there.  It looked better than I had hoped.  You never know about hotels these days.

We got checked in and sent around to a yellow building.  So there are probably 9 buildings and each building holds 12 or so rooms.  It was kind of an interesting way to stack them.  Rich figures this is so they can shut down rooms in the winter when they don’t need as many.  We ended up on the second floor and there was no elevator!  I thought I was going to die dragging my suitcase up the stairs!  We made it though.  After showering and settling in, it was time for dinner.

We walked out to the street to find the business section.  I could see people on the sidewalk taking pictures of something.  Then I turned to my left and a deer came walking through the complex.  Right behind her came a baby.  They were less than 25 feet away.

We walked up the street and could see the Prince of Wales hotel on the hill overlooking the lake and town.  Pat’s Garage was on the corner.  We walked to the right and found our restaurant.  This was Trapper’s Grill.  It seemed to have the most promise.  We got in right away and got a table.  Rich ordered the smoked trout appetizer and we had a couple of beers.  It was delicious and I’m not a big trout fan.  We ordered a bison steak and bison meatloaf.  Dinner was pretty good.  Or were we just hungry?  We had another beer and talked.  Time to pay.  You don’t even look at the bill and just put it on a card.  Everything is expensive.  It’s a resort town.

I looked around the gift shop and say some really great t-shirts.  Rich was not impressed.  We walked around town to look at other restaurants and bars.  Pretty much, everything was the same.  Not a lot of choice, but some interesting places to go for breakfast and dinner tomorrow.

We walked out to the marina to look at the schedule for the boat tours.  We figured we would go on a lake tour tomorrow rather than hike.  Our legs and feet are tired and we’ve seen a lot of mountains and falls over the last few days.  The tour on the lake would be about 2 hours.  We would go to Goat Haunt on the U.S. side and then come back around to town.  We’ve drive up to the Prince of Wales hotel and poke around a bit.  Then come back to town for dinner and hang out.

Sorry for not attaching picture today.  The link here is really slow and pictures would be impossible.  I’ll add them later when we get to someplace where the access is better.

Gateway to Canada
Gateway to Canada
Welcome sign and the fact it said wild rose.
Welcome sign and the fact it said wild rose.
Overlook going into Waterton that appears on the far side of the lake.
Overlook going into Waterton that appears on the far side of the lake.

 

Sign explaining the mountains around Waterton.
Sign explaining the mountains around Waterton.
Pennies, nickels, and dimes
Pennies, nickels, and dimes
Blackiston Falls from a distance
Blackiston Falls from a distance
Blackiston Falls
Blackiston Falls
Interesting rock cairn at Blackiston Falls
Interesting rock cairn at Blackiston Falls

 

Looking up the river at Blackiston Falls
Looking up the river at Blackiston Falls
Magma that came up through the crust and cooled.
Magma that came up through the crust and cooled.
Popular place to play in the water
Popular place to play in the water
People all up and down the canyon.
People all up and down the canyon.
Anderson Mountain at Red Rock Canyon
Anderson Mountain at Red Rock Canyon
Cameron Lake and the boat dock.
Cameron Lake and the boat dock.
Info on avalanache area in Cameron Lake
Info on avalanache area in Cameron Lake

 

Beautiful little flowers along the trail
Beautiful little flowers along the trail
Akamina Lake
Akamina Lake
Trails end on Cameron Lake
Trails end on Cameron Lake
Grizzlies on plaque at Cameron Lake
Grizzlies on plaque at Cameron Lake
Hiking along Cameron Lake
Hiking along Cameron Lake

Snows over avalanche bowl on mountain in Montana

Avalanche area in one of the creeks
Avalanche area in one of the creeks
Alleluvial fan going to Cameron Lake
Alleluvial fan going to Cameron Lake
River plain where people have lived for centuries.
River plain where people have lived for centuries.

 

Our hotel for the next two days.
Our hotel for the next two days.
Our building at the resort
Our building at the resort
Rich in heaven with his beer and smoked trout.
Rich in heaven with his beer and smoked trout.
Deer on our walk through town.
Deer on our walk through town.

 

Prince of Wales hotel from down in Waterton
Prince of Wales hotel from down in Waterton
Pat's Garage in Waterton where you rent everything you need.
Pat’s Garage in Waterton where you rent everything you need.
Deer outside of our building at the hotel.
Deer outside of our building at the hotel.
Fawn following mama
Fawn following mama
Wild rose in the wild.
Wild rose in the wild.

rose bud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Sky Vacation Day 11: Yodeling for bears

Today is our last day in Glacier.  We decided to do one last hike out at Many Glacier area.  Since it is just Rich and I, we decided to take it easy.  I didn’t sleep well last night, so unfortunately Rich was up earlier than he would have liked.  We were lying in bed comparing train sounds.  Exciting, right?  Rich says that the sound that comes from far away and builds must be a turbine engines.  There is a whistling sound and then what sounds like a tornado coming in.  I heard a couple of old style trains with the normal rumble last night.  Rich is probably right about those different engines.

We got our stuff together and headed out to breakfast.  Luna’s did a fine job yesterday, so we decided to do a repeat.  Rich went for the Denver omelet and I got just standard bacon and eggs.  The coffee was good and the waiter was talkative.  We enjoyed our start to the day and then headed out on my favorite road.

On the way out, Rich was still deciding where to go.  We talked about a couple of different trails.  One of these was to the Swiftcurrent Fire Tower.  After hearing the mileage, I explained he would have to get Alex or Zerah to do that with him.  My Dad was famous for his pronunciation of certain words.  Fire tower is one of these.  It actually came out more like “faar taar”.  We come up with reasons to say fire tower just to pronounce it that way.

We can tell the newcomers to the road now.  They drive it slow and unsure.  I know every bump, dip, and turn now.  The one rule the newcomers don’t know how to handle is the turnout.  If you are going slowly and there is traffic behind you, you are expected to take the turnout and let everyone by.  Most of the visitors on the road don’t use this.  Then they wonder why everyone passes them in a hurry.  Big thanks to those people who do use it!  We love you!

We had to cruise at 30 miles at an hour forever on the main road to St. Mary’s.  I was finally able to get around the guy at the head of the pack and get up to speed once we were out of town.  I really like going 70 mph and not the enforced 30 of the temporary visitors.

We took the turnoff to Many Glacier and caught up with another slow car.  The line to enter the gate here was pretty long.  Luckily, most of them had passes and could just spend a couple of minutes.  There was a caravan of 5 cars that each had to pay and talk to the ranger.  Too bad the rangers don’t have time to teach each visitor the proper park etiquette.

I overheard someone at Logan’s Pass complaining how some people treat the park.  I saw a lot of that today.  Let’s start with the man and woman picking wildflowers at will!  Come one, this isn’t your backyard.  Kids are allowed to run wild and rampage over the sensitive areas of the park.  Not to mention putting themselves into dangerous situations.  The use of turnouts could be part of the instruction as well.

Oh well, back to today’s blog.  We ended up following a large van creeping very slowly through the park.  I overheard them at the gate saying it was their first visit.  That figures.  We could almost to the Many Glacier Hotel when a juvenile grizzly bear appeared on the far left side of the road.  This was my very first grizzly!  The bear calmly sauntered in front of the van to the other side of the road.  The van stopped and wouldn’t continue forward.  This is what’s known as a bear jam.  I waved and waved at the guy to keep moving.  He finally pulled up where we could see the bear, but any good photographs weren’t possible at that point.  Darn van!

I managed to pass the van and head down to the Swiftcurrent Pass trail just on the other side of the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn.  Amazingly, I got a parking spot right at the trailhead.  We suited up and hit the trail.  Rich had decided to go back to Redrock Falls, which was 1.8 miles back.  We had done this hike back in 2003 with Rick.  He was Andy at that time.  The trail was fairly level with some high ridges.  The climbs were terrible, but did hurt the calves a bit.

We passed an older lady with a cane who was making her way up the trail.  I figured it was going to take her a little bit.  Most of the other traffic consisted of younger family and one group of college age or a little older.  They were moving a lot faster than we were.  We met one guy who told us he had seen a bull moose up the trail.  Turns out, this was a whole lot further than we had planned to go.

We reached Redrock Lake and could see the falls at the other end.  At least we knew where we were headed this time.  We walked the steep hills down to the falls.  This is a multi-layered attraction that came spilling down over dark red rocks.  They were almost blackish red.  This all really stood out with the environment around them.  We walked around and around taking pictures from different angles.  There were just so many ways to see this set of running streams.

We rested a while enjoying the view before it was time to head back. On the way, Rich was doing his best John Lee Hooker yodel.  It sounds more like a serious of grunts than yodeling.  I have to take Rich’s word on this.  He was doing this to make sure the bears knew he was there.  From the grunting, I seriously thought this would attract more bears than drive them away.

We made it back to the trailhead in good time.  We didn’t let a little 250 foot gain hold us back.  We walked up to the motor inn and sat on the front porch for a while.  Rich had gotten coffee and we just kicked back.  There was a guy talking to his wife in what sounded like German.  He was rattling off all kinds of things and she just nodded.  There tend to be a lot of foreign tourists in the park.  I’ve heard French, Japanese, German, and a couple of languages I was sure about.  Then there are kids from other countries who come to work in the park to be in the U.S.  I don’t think they get to see too much.

After taking a breather and pretending we belong at the inn, we headed back to “the crib” as Rich calls it.  I needed to pick up and clean up from the Zurek clan.  We started to pack our things and get ready to move tomorrow.

Then we both started hearing the dinner bell ring.  Not literally though.  Rich made an executive decision to return to the Whistlestop Restaurant for BBQ.  The food was really good and we could get beer again.  We got seated and ended up with the same waitress we had the other day.  I got a BBQ pork sandwich with homemade potato chips.  It was really good.  Rich went for the Buffalo burger.  His beer of choice was the Dancing Trout.  At one point, the waitress stopped to tell Rich that this was formerly known as Trout Slayer.  But because they sponsored trout habitats in Montana, they had to change their name and logo.  That explains the cheap Trout Slayer shirt I bought a couple of days ago.  The t-shirt is already vintage!  Oh yeah, we stayed for pie.  I got huckleberry again while Rich got lemon meringue.

Back at “the crib,” we got all of stuff together.  But the rain finally arrived after threatening to descend on us all afternoon.  Packing the car can wait until tomorrow.

So tomorrow, we leave the U.S. and enter the Canadian side of the International Peace Park.  Our destination is Watertown Lakes.  I can’t wait to see it and hike a bit.

Gate for Many Glacier area.
Gate for Many Glacier area.
Backside of a young grizzly bear
Backside of a young grizzly bear
Trying to get a good shot of this young grizzly bear.
Trying to get a good shot of this young grizzly bear.
Map of the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail system.
Map of the Swiftcurrent Pass Trail system.
We are here and we want to go there.
We are here and we want to go there.
Swiftcurrent Lookout is where Rich really wanted to go.
Swiftcurrent Lookout is where Rich really wanted to go.
Trail Sherpa ready for action
Trail Sherpa ready for action
Beautiful green rocks all shattered from pressure.
Beautiful green rocks all shattered from pressure.
Rich getting the shot and being the shot.
Rich getting the shot and being the shot.
Joy holding up the world.
Joy holding up the world.
Reflection of the mountains in Redrock Lake.
Reflection of the mountains in Redrock Lake.
Valley around Redrock Falls
Valley around Redrock Falls

 

Swiftcurrent Valley
Swiftcurrent Valley
Lots of red rock around the falls
Lots of red rock around the falls
Cascading waters from Redrock Falls
Cascading waters from Redrock Falls
My view of Redrock Falls
My view of Redrock Falls
Another shot of Redrock Falls
Another shot of Redrock Falls
Rich got this from an outcrop looking up at Redrock Falls
Rich got this from an outcrop looking up at Redrock Falls
Another shot of Redrock Falls
Another shot of Redrock Falls
Sunset over Dancing Lady Mountain last night.
Sunset over Dancing Lady Mountain last night.
One last shot of the sunset.
One last shot of the sunset.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Sky Vacation Day 10: Good Samaritans of Cut Bank

Another sad day on our vacation.  Zerah, Sean, and the boys are heading home today.  We always knew this day would come.  Rich and I have a couple of more days in Glacier before we head to the Canadian side of the park.

Last night, I was keeping tabs on the boys.  They pretty much slept through the night with very few whimpers.  I heard everyone of them.  That and the trains passing in the night.  I swear they sounded like tornados approaching the house.  I hadn’t heard them really before then.  I guess I was blocking them out until I needed to hear Zane and Owen in the next room.

Sean and Zerah packed up the car after breakfast.  They were headed to Sean’s parents first.  Zane is staying there for a few days when the rest of the family moves on to Tacoma.  I know he was excited at the prospect of staying at Grandma and Grandpa’s.  We will miss them though.  The trails will be strangely quiet.

Rich and I headed out for breakfast this morning.  We went up to Luna’s Restaurant on the other side of the tracks.  Luna’s is right next door to where we had dinner the other night with everyone.  It must have been early because there were lots of empty tables.  We got seated and ordered our food.  The coffee was pretty good.  I ordered huckleberry pancake and Rich got the breakfast burrito.  The pancake was done to perfection.  The salsa for the burrito was smoky ancho and delicious.  This should get us started on our day.

We came back to the house and got our gear together to go on yet another hike.  Today, we were driving down to Cut Bank to walk the trail back into the meadows and forests.  First, you have to drive down my favorite road.  Everyone on the road this morning was new to it and going slow.  We finally got to the Cut Bank turnoff.  This is a gravel road that you go back 5 miles to the ranger station and campground.

When we got there, a sign told us to park at the ranger station as the parking lot was full.  OK.  The ranger station looked more like someone’s house with laundry drying on the front porch.  We got our gear and had to walk maybe another mile or so to the campground.  We hit the bathroom before hitting the trail.  Seemed like a good idea after so much coffee.

As we started to the trail, a couple of rangers stopped to talk to us and find out our plans.  They appeared to be a couple of kids, but it was their job to watch over the campground and those hiking the trail.  This trail leads back to an overnight campground for those doing backcountry hiking.  So the ranger attempt to know who might be out there on the trail so they know who to look for when cars don’t leave.  They told us to talk loud to scare any bears.  Where is Zane and the gang when you need them?

The trail ran through a meadow before entering a forested area of pines.  It also picked up the Cut Bank River in the forest and ran along with this for most of our hike.  The trail was moderate and stayed pretty level.  This was important today since we’ve done some big hikes and we were tired today.  Rich decided to follow the trail back to where a creek from the mountains meets the river.   This was approximately 3 miles in.  I was hoping I could do without getting too tired and whining to be carried to the car.

We did pretty well though.  There were some ups and downs, but everything was pretty level.  We found the creek by looking up for the waterfall on the mountain.  It was quite broad where we had to cross it.  The park service had created a log bridge to span the creek.  This was our further point out though.  After a short break, it was time to head back.  We actually did pretty well on the trip in at 1 hour for the 3 miles.

We had passed a couple of trail runners on our way in.  Then a couple of overnight backcountry hikers went ahead of us at the creek.  On the way back, we finally ran into the couple who were getting ready to come on the trail.  They must have been going really slow.

Our next group was a family of four heading to the overnight campground.  They were loaded down.  The Dad had a Texas accent and said they were going for a 3 night stay.  Good luck to them.  The next group was a family of five wearing Brooklyn t-shirts.  They didn’t say much as they went by.  Finally, a young couple passed us on their way out.  We exchanged hellos as they went.

We had almost made it back when we began to feel the heat and fatigue.  I think the temp must have been around 85 out there at that point.  We saw what we thought was a very dark brown squirrel on the trail.  Its coat looked like mink, but we knew it wasn’t a mink.  Turned out to be what is called a fisher.  It was absolutely beautiful.  The ranger said they are shy and you usually don’t see them.  Lucky us.

We got to the parking lot when the young couple overtook us again.  We stopped when they asked where the parking lot was.  I explained that this was the parking lot.  They looked a little concerned.  They had come in through Two Medicine to the overnight campground and had walked about 14 miles.  Over the three days out there, they had done different trails.

Today, they were looking for the fastest way out of the wilderness, which was the Cut Bank trail.  They had figured they could get to the parking lot and find someone going to Two Medicine.  However, they thought this was a major trailhead, which it is not.  This is a very remote section of the park.  The parking lot held maybe 8 cars and there were 6 more up by the ranger station.

Most of the cars in the lot were for the people we had passed.  I just didn’t see the likelihood of them finding a ride with anyone.  Since we had to go by Two Medicine, I offered to take them.  They seemed surprised, but really happy how it worked out.  We got them loaded and talked to rangers at the station to let them know they had come out.

Now, I offered them a ride to Two Medicine, but I didn’t warn them about how I drive.  I did slow down and take it easy.  Rich said he heard a few gasps from the backseat and assured them I knew the road.  We got to the Two Medicine turnoff and I told them I would take them to their car.  It was hot and 7.5 miles back to the lake.  Once again, they were surprised.  I told them this would give me two days of good deeds done.

We got to the lake and dropped them off.  We found out their names were Nate and Natalie.  He was from Tennessee and she was from Massachusetts.  They worked in Missoula, MT and had come for a long weekend.  Saying good-bye, Rich and I headed to the house.

Once back, we got cleaned up and rested our feet.  Wow, another good day of hiking in.  That was approximately 6 miles round trip, which accomplished by 5 mile goal per day.  Rich wanted to go to the Izaac Walton Inn before dinner.  Our friend, Spank, said we should check it out.  Apparently, it was hotel for Great Northern Railway guest and some of the rooms were actually rail cars.  We ran out to Essex and found the place.  It was pretty cool since it appeared to have been at the turn of the century.  We checked at the desk before we walked around the grounds.  There was an engine converted to a room as well as a couple of cabooses.  Walking across the bridge over the active rail tracks, we found a bunch of wooden cabins and several more cabooses.  This would be cool for kids.

ADDENDUM 7/14:  Rich informed me that the hotel here was really the bunkhouse for trainmen.  This is a train yard and the hotel structure was a place to sleep besides on the trains.

We headed back toward town and found our dining spot for the evening.  We went into the Bison Creek Restaurant.  Alex had wanted to eat here, but we never got to it before he left.  We went in and only a couple of girls were seated.

The waitress told us to see wherever we wanted.  The menu looked pretty good.  I got huckleberry lemonade to drink.  There is a pattern out here.  Huckleberry everything.  I ordered the country fried steak and Rich got the New York strip.  The meat is all Montana raised.  That was a good sign.  Everything we had was tasty and wonderful.  Rich’s steak was a little too rare, but they fixed that pretty quickly.  We ended with huckleberry ice cream.

During dinner, the phone rang and the waitress, who was Molly, said, “Dad is out fishing, Ed.  I’ll have him call you back.”  Apparently, Molly knew the other people who came in for dinner.  She was telling them about what her mom was fixing in the kitchen.  It was a real homemade place.  Molly did the dining room and her mom was the cook.  Apparently, her dad did the fish entry.  No wonder it was so good!

As we sat and talked, or had silence a lot since we were tired, we watched the clouds coming over the mountains just in front of us.  It was pretty cool that you got great food and a great view at the same time.  I also noticed that Molly had a great accent and ended everything sentence with, “Right?”  Is it a Montana thing?  Right?

So we headed back to the house to put up our feet and write this blog. I’m working on cleaning up after everyone left.  Seemed right that I did it.  We still have a couple of days here.  There’s not that much to do anyway.

Well, tomorrow is our last day here.  We plan to go back to Many Glacier and hike the Swiftcurrent Valley.  We plan on another flat trail day.

Miss y’all, Zerah, Sean, Zane, Owen, Alex, and Joe.  Safe travels.

Trail sherpa about to start down Cut Bank trail.
Trail sherpa about to start down Cut Bank trail.
View of the mountains at the beginning of Cut Bank trail.
View of the mountains at the beginning of Cut Bank trail.
Waterfall that told us where the creek was.
Waterfall that told us where the creek was.

 

Our destination about 3 miles into the trail.
Our destination about 3 miles into the trail.
Great tan hunter looking for the river and creek confluence.
Great tan hunter looking for the river and creek confluence.
Alex, we saw bear scat on the trail today.
Alex, we saw bear scat on the trail today.
Izaac Walton Inn in Essex.
Izaac Walton Inn in Essex.
Front side of the inn on the Great Northern Highline tracks.
Front side of the inn on the Great Northern Highline tracks.
Caboose room at Izaac Walton Inn.
Caboose room at Izaac Walton Inn.
Engine room at the inn.
Engine room at the inn.

 

 

Standing on the bridge over the tracks looking at the inn.
Standing on the bridge over the tracks looking at the inn.
Cabooses on the opposite hill from the inn.
Cabooses on the opposite hill from the inn.
Other cabins in the woods at the Izaac Walton Inn.
Other cabins in the woods at the Izaac Walton Inn.
Bison  Creek Restaurant where we had dinner.  It was truly a homey place.
Bison Creek Restaurant where we had dinner. It was truly a homey place.
View of the mountains from Bison Creek.
View of the mountains from Bison Creek.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Sky Vacation Day 9: Why did the deer cross the road?

Day 9 has come up so fast.  Today, Alex and Joe decided to head off from Seattle a day early.  They heard about the Hiawatha Trail where you can ride a bike down either a 30 mile or 15 mile downhill course.  Can you image finding that more fun than hanging out with us for one more day?  At least they will be a little closer to Seattle before they fly back to Michigan.  Miss you guys today.

After Alex and Joe left, we all packed up and headed into Two Medicine for the day.  As we drove into the park, a deer crossed the road rather tentatively.  I take it they know that the cars don’t like to stop, even for a deer.  I told Rich this joke:  Why did the deer cross the road?  Because the chicken said it could be done.

Sean and Zane were renting a boat to go around Upper Two Medicine Lake.  Zerah, Owen, Rich, and I were going to hike along the trail on the other side of the lake from where we had hiked on the first day.

Getting to the boathouse, Sean checked on what it would take to rent a canoe or rowboat.  We waited as Zane got suited up with a flotation device.  The girl at the boat house helped them into the boat and pushed them off.  The rest of us waved as they pushed off and Sean hefted the oars into the water.  Time to start our hike.

We had to walk back to the campground and picnic area to find the trail.  We stopped in to the ranger station there to find out where the trail started.  The ranger was nice enough to point out where we crossed the field to reach the bridge and the trailhead.

We were trying to get to a clearing on the path where we could see Sean and Zane out on the lake.  We hiked for a ways until we could see the lake well.  This turned out to be directly under the falls we had looked at from Paradise Point across the lake.  Hey, maybe we could tell what the shiny stuff on the wall beside the falls up there was.

The hike was moderate, but even the small hills were pulling the muscles a bit.  We hiked out to the clearing and tried to wave Sean down.  He wasn’t looking at us.  Time to try the secret weapon.  I took a deep breath and shouted Sean’s name.  I knew learning to hog call would come in handy.  It just works better with two syllable names.

Zerah was able to hike down to the water’s edge and meet Sean when he rowed over.  They discussed the plan to meet at the picnic area.  As Sean got away from the shore, he shouted back, “But you have the keys!”  Then I guess we’d all have to go back to the cars.

Hey, Alex, that shiny stuff you saw from Paradise Point turned out to be just ice.  We saw a lot of it hanging from the cliffs around the waterfall.  It must have just been catching the sunlight just right.

Walking along the trail, the beargrass was plentiful and the trail was covered with beautiful flowers.  Everyone was trekking on and I was enjoying the views.  I kept stopping to take photos.  A few others had the same idea since I kept having to stop as they passed up the trail.

There was one place where a slide had come through.  The rocks were strewn all over in a flow pattern.  The trees and other vegetation showed signs of having been battered.  It was interesting to see how the flow had come down the hill.

We got back to the campground.  I volunteered to take the keys over to Sean and then we could drive the cars over to the picnic area.  It was a challenge to keep picking up my feet, but I managed.  Sean and Zane were hanging out by the store.  Zane was finishing up a huckleberry chocolate bar.  Those things are the best!

Meanwhile, Zerah and Rich had picked out a nice table with a great view of the lake and the mountains.  It was great to have the mountains towering over our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  No, make that ham and cheese for Rich and Sean.  After lunch, we hung out on the shore as the boys were throwing rocks and looking for things in the water.

Apparently, Sean and Zane stopped by the bathroom after finishing on the lake.  Zane went into the stall to use the bathroom.  After getting done, he couldn’t open the door.  Sean tried to walk him through the mechanism, but the excitement of feeling trapped kept him from hearing the instructions.  Sean finally had to climb under the door to rescue him.  They made it out alive.

The day in the park was over and we drove out to Glacier Lodge in the town where we are staying.  Zerah and Sean wanted to see if it was possible to use the pool.  Unfortunately, it was for overnight guests only.  Too bad.  It was a warm day and would have been good to use.

We got back and cleaned up.  Dinner was at Serrano’s tonight.  This is the Mexican restaurant just a couple of blocks from the house in town.  We arrived a few minutes early and wandered through a couple of stores.  Then we walked around the iron sculpture of an Indian on horseback.  It was pretty cool.  Even thought it had been out in the sun all day, you could still touch.  The boys enjoyed it a lot.

Finally, Serrano’s opened and we found a table big enough for all of us.  We got chips and salsa and a little guacamole to snack on.  The waitress was Kinsey and took our order.  We already knew that there was no alcohol served since it was a set of holidays on the Blackfeet Reservation.  That was fine.  A margarita might have been nice, but not required.

Food came and we ate up.  It was really good.  I was surprised at how good it was.  Everyone got something different and it all looked wonderful.  Of course, was that just because we had been out hiking and any food looks good at that point?  I finished up and gathered Zane and Owen for the walk back to the house.  I figured the adults could use some time by themselves.  They didn’t take that long before they came in with flan for dessert.

I made a tent out of the bed where Zane would be sleeping tonight.  I figured Zerah and Sean could use some alone time before they end their vacation.  I’m staying with the boys tonight.  Rich will be fine without me for a night.  We have the entire next week to hang together.

I’m finishing this as the boys drop off to sleep.  We’ve read a few books and talked a bit.  Now it’s time for nighty-night night.

 

Rental house sits on a corner.
Rental house sits on a corner.
Garden at rental house.
Garden at rental house.
Spring flowers in bloom at the house.
Spring flowers in bloom at the house.
Zerah and Owen at Two Medicine Lake.
Zerah and Owen at Two Medicine Lake.
Beautiful view with a rowboat.
Beautiful view with a rowboat.

 

Zane getting his flotation device on.
Zane getting his flotation device on.
Sean and Zane leave the dock.
Sean and Zane leave the dock.
Trail lined with Beargrass.
Trail lined with Beargrass.
Owen having a good time.
Owen having a good time.
Indian Paintbrush is plentiful.
Indian Paintbrush is plentiful.
Standing across the lake from Paradise Point where we were the first day.
Standing across the lake from Paradise Point where we were the first day.
Store and boathouse are a long way away.
Store and boathouse are a long way away.
Lunch tine spent in a good environment,
Lunch tine spent in a good environment,
Store and boathouse are a long way away.
Store and boathouse are a long way away.
Walking across the debris field from a slide.
Walking across the debris field from a slide.
Flow from rock slide.
Flow from rock slide.
Lake is so still today.
Lake is so still today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Sky Vacation Day 8: Walk on the wildside

Today’s adventure was going to be Many Glacier area of the park.  We had breakfast and headed up my favorite road to just north of St. Mary’s.  Many Glacier contains some of the last remaining glaciers in the park.  There are three or four good glaciers still there.  With the past winter just being over by a few days, the glacier viewing was going to be spectacular.

We drove through the town of Babb and we had to recount the story of the little restaurant there where we had breakfast on our first visit in 2003.  The restaurant was owned and run by a group of college kids who used as their way to make money.  Their spare time was spent hiking and hanging out in Glacier National Park.  Seemed like a fair trade.  The food was wonderful.  It was the first time I had heard about a hurricane party.  They explained it to us during our visit with them.

We arrived at Many Glacier Lodge and parked in the visitor parking.  From here, you have to walk over a small rise that tested the strength of your calves coming and going.  This lodge was built in early 1900s by the railroad to promote sightseeing in the U.S.  It is a wonderful use of local materials and makes a wonderful backdrop for our visit.

We went inside and looked around a bit.  Then it was on to the boat dock to check out the times for the boat rides across the lakes.  We arrived too late for the 11:00, but there were openings for the 1:00.  We paid for our tickets and worked on what to do with the hour and an half until it left the dock.

Zerah and Sean took the boys to the nearby ranger station to complete Zane’s induction as a Junior Ranger.  This meant that he had to turn in his completed manual and take his oath as a ranger.  We arranged to meet them in the parking lot at 12:30 for lunch before the boat and hiking.

Zane looked really spiffy wit that new badge pinned to his chest.  He was so excited about having said his oath and finalizing his rangership.  He also got a stuffed bear for his visit.  He named it Stevie, after his cousin.

After lunch, we walked back over the rise, with aching calves, and meet up at the boat dock.  It was getting close to time and we could see the boat returning from across the water on the other side of Swiftcurrent Lake.  It arrived on time and disembarked the passengers.  Then it was our turn to board Chief Two Guns, as the boat was named.  Zerah couldn’t find her ticket for boarding.  A quick check at the office and the clerk assured us the family would have no trouble getting on board.  And they didn’t.  We settled in for the ride across the lake and to Lake Josephine.

As the boat is travelling up the lake, the captain gives a tour and describes what you are looking or should be looking at in the mountains, falls, and other features in Swiftcurrent Lake.  For one thing, the water is a beautiful turquoise green.  This color comes from the minerals running from the glaciers up above.  It is one of the most beautiful colors.

After getting safely to the other side, we walked up a really steep hill to get to the other lake and board the Morning Star in Lake Josephine.  We travel the length of Lake Josephine to our destination on the other side.  The captain, who is a young lady named Jenny, tells us about the mountains around us on this lake.  She explains about the berries getting ready to ripen and the bears that could be about.  Someone calls out that they see a bear and the boat stops. It was a false alarm.  No bear sighted.

We reach the dock and disembark for our hike to Lake Grinnell at the end of the valley.  The walk is pretty level and there are lots of people.  We get to the split for our trail and the Grinnell Trail.  Everyone is gathered around.  An older gentleman explains that a bear just crossed the path a little further down.  It was a sow with two cubs.  Sorry, I’ve seen bears.  I find it best to avoid them.

We continue down our path because the bear has already crossed it and is headed in the other direction from us.  We are marching along at a pretty good clip.  My legs are getting tired.  Zane is keeping up with the guys at this point.  They have designated him as bear bait when he tries to get ahead of everyone.

We stop at the pit toilets before going on.  When I come out, Zerah and her crew has moved on.  Only Rich, Alex, and Joe are waiting.  We continue the enforced march.  We get to the suspension bridge over the river.  When we had done this hike back in 2008, the bridge was basically a log with ropes suspending it over the river.  This version was actually planks that gave you some width.

Rich went across first with success.  Alex went next and almost ran across.  This wasn’t good for stability and I thought for sure he was going into the river.  Joe went next and took measured steps without rushing.  He did very well.  Then it was my turn.  I attempted to follow Joe’s example, but had some trouble toward the end.  I did make it across without getting wet though.

We continued on to the lake.  At the shore, you could look up at the Feather Plume Falls and granite of the mountains surrounding you.  It was very beautiful and solemn.  Or it would have been if the kids, including Sean and Joe, were skipping rocks and enjoying the water.  What is it with boys and water?

Rich wanted to go to another beach a little further up.  This meant walking over some logs lying across the muddy expanse of a small stream.  The guys did pretty well.  Then it was my turn.  I managed to get across with help from Alex.  I had to give Rich a hard time that my brother-in-law helped me over the rough spots.  Rich did help get back over.

Then it was time to head back and try to catch the next boat out of here.  We had just missed the next boat and had a 30 minute walk back to the dock.  I got started since I figured it would take me a while.  Rich came along.  He was still sore from yesterday and wanted the extra time also.  We took some time to get pictures at the bridge and noticed a waterfall we hadn’t seen on the way out.

We arrived at the dock with only a few people there.  Soon, the crowd begins to grow and people were circulating around the dock in no order.  Our arrival for third in line soon became like fifth or so.  No worries though.  There was plenty of room on the next boat.

As we stood around and waiting, people were talking about their experiences on this side of the lake.  One couple had seen a moose on their hike.  They had gone in a different direction that most of us.  A couple of people were talking about the bear and her cubs.  There were different reports on what had actually happened.

The Morning Star returned and Jenny got us on board.  The trip back to the other shore was pretty quick, with no other bear sightings.  From there, it was another hike up the 80 foot hill to get back to Swiftcurrent Lake and the Chief Two Gun to take us to the lodge.  The views were beautiful and we were tired.

The return trip back to the house was uneventful.  The tired and dirty hikers gather our stuff and got into the house to collapse.  I started dinner so no one would starve.  It’s amazing how good any food tastes when you’ve been out in the wilderness all day.

I took a shower after dinner to find that the water was getting steadily colder.  Darn!  I really needed that hot shower.  After getting dressed, I went out to find our landlady to see if someone could check the hot water heater.  Sure enough, it had blown a fuse.  At least the others would have hot water though.

After that, we sat around the living room talking and just enjoying the company of Zureks.  Finally, it was time for bed.  But first, I had to write this blog before I forgot anything!

Tomorrow, Alex and Joe leave us to return to Seattle for a couple of days before flying home to Michigan.  Zerah and her family will be with us for another day before they return to Tacoma.  Then it’s just Rich and I in this house.  Wonder what fun we can have?  More hikes, I’m sure.

Many Glacier Lodge from the visitor's parking lot.
Many Glacier Lodge from the visitor’s parking lot.
Back of Many Glacier Lodge overlooking the lake.
Back of Many Glacier Lodge overlooking the lake.
Different levels inside of Many Glacier Lodge
Different levels inside of Many Glacier Lodge
Inside the lobby area of the lodge.
Inside the lobby area of the lodge.
Inside the lobby of Many Glacier Lodge
Inside the lobby of Many Glacier Lodge
Plaque for Swiftcurrent Lake and the mountains.
Plaque for Swiftcurrent Lake and the mountains.
Zane got his Junior Ranger badge.
Zane got his Junior Ranger badge.
Looking down Swiftcurrent Lake toward the glaciers.
Looking down Swiftcurrent Lake toward the glaciers.
Mount Grinnell
Mount Grinnell
Alex crossing the suspension bridge on Grinnell Lake trail.
Alex crossing the suspension bridge on Grinnell Lake trail.
Rich crossing the bridge.
Rich crossing the bridge.
Joe crossing the suspension bridge.
Joe crossing the suspension bridge.
Owen takes the easy way out.
Owen takes the easy way out.
Angle Wing and Mt Gould
Angle Wing and Mt Gould
Zerah watching over Owen.
Zerah watching over Owen.
Boys, water, and rocks.
Boys, water, and rocks.
Rich and Joy at Grinnell Lake.
Rich and Joy at Grinnell Lake.
Zureks on the beach at Grinnell Lake.
Zureks on the beach at Grinnell Lake.
Boardwalk for trail over the smaller streams.
Boardwalk for trail over the smaller streams.
Our ship has arrived at Lake Josephine dock.
Our ship has arrived at Lake Josephine dock.
Zane looking out the window of Chief Two Gun.
Zane looking out the window of Chief Two Gun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Sky Vacation Day 7: Are you kidding me?

Thanks to Joe for being today’s photographer.  Great job on the pics, Joe!

Today was a split day.  The adults were taking off to do a hike while I was staying behind with the boys.  Rich wanted to do a pretty good hike for length and height.  He picked the Scenic Point trail that we had gone partially up on the first day in the park.  Since there was no way I could do a hike like that, I was the logical person to stay and handle the rowdy rounders.

Alex and Joe got moving to go do 9 holes of golf before the hike.  I thought they were going out at 7:00 so I peeked in on them.  Turns out, the shack didn’t open until 8:00.  Sorry for the early alarm.  They got up and went out for coffee and some supplies that we needed.

After getting breakfast, the adults loaded up and headed for the trail.  Meanwhile, the boys and I settled in for some quiet time at the house.

Back at the ranch

Zane and Owen settled in pretty quickly after their Mom and Dad took off.  We watched some cartoons and played with toys.  I was working on the blog to get updated and doing some laundry around the house.  Before you know it, it was lunch time.  We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Chocolate milk was the treat for lunch.

After cleaning up, the boys went down for a nap.  Well, kind of.  I had them lying in bed quietly for an hour or a little more.  I don’t think either one of them fell asleep.  At one point, I heard a noise and went in to find Zane standing up in the pack and play with Owen.

A very stern expression was enough to send him crawling out and for his own bed.  I think he was a little upset with me for overreacting.  He had his chin stuck way out there with attitude.  The rest of nap time went quietly.  However, I could hear Owen singing very softly to himself.

I worked on my blog and getting pictures posted so I could actually publish it today.  I wanted to be able to keep up with our activities and not get too far behind.  I got the text written with most of the pictures inserted.  Then it was time to let the rascals up from enforced quiet time.

I got out the sheets that I brought and made a tent in the kitchen with the chairs.  The boys gather up their toys and hung out there for a while.  They were talking and giggling a lot.  We came out and hung around talking and playing for a while.  It was a really great afternoon.

Then about 2:00, I grabbed hands and we walked up to town for ice cream.  This was just a couple of blocks from the house.  We got into the store and made our way to the counter.  Since the girl serving was busy, I sent the boys to sit down.  Unfortunately, the toys were hanging right there.  I totally lost them to the toys.  Zane kept asking for a specific toy and I just answered with no.  He informed me that his Mom would buy it.  That was fine with me.

We got our chocolate ice cream and sat down to eat.  The boys were pretty good at talking my ears off.  Even the 2 year old has a lot to say.  Owen is still learning, but he does pretty well.  I’m learning to understand him.

We left the store and headed to the playground.  There wasn’t much that they could do since the equipment is for grade school kids.  The equipment was hot from sitting in the sun.  Zane did the slide, but said it was not a repeat performance.

We walked back to the house the long way.  Wendy, the owner, was getting ready to leave.  We stopped to talk to her again.  The boys had lots of questions and she was very patient and answered them.  The biggest question was about the skulls at the back of the house.  Turned out to be a horse skull.  Zane was duly impressed with the answer.

We came in and settled into a movie and hanging around the house.  Around 5:00, the adults straggled home looking weary and dirty.  Sounded like they had a great day, too.

Way on high

The adults packed up the car and took off for Two Medicine where they were hiking the Scenic Point trail.  The trail started out pretty well.  They got to the point where we made it on the first day.  From there, it gradually got steeper and steeper.  As they made their way, they were pretty sure they had made 3 miles.  Then someone on the trail informed them they had 2 more miles to go.  Darn, had it only been a mile!

The trail goes through alpine, subalpine and some really rough terrain on the way.  It contains a lot of switchbacks that get you slower up the mountain one level at a time.  A saddle, or split in the mountain, was tough, but the last few feet were the worst.  Rich made it just beyond the saddle before the altitude got the better of him.  He waited as the others continued to the top.

The top was at about 7,522 feet.  That’s actually quite high for going it without oxygen.  Rich experienced dizziness, which is not good on a trail that narrow and high up.  Alex was calling him the trail Sherpa.  I think it was the hat.  As Sean said, it wasn’t the first 3 miles, but the last 2,500 feet that killed you.

Up near top, Alex was trying to look over the edge.  I don’t think he knew exactly how close that Kelli came to collecting the insurance.  The pictures tell it all.  I think when the 50 to 60 mile an hour gust came through, he had second thoughts about that ledge.

The views from the top were wonderful.  You could see all around at the mountain tops and down into the valleys.  The pictures of Two Medicine Lakes were beautiful.  Alex even got a shot of the store and marina where we had been the first day.

The group got back down the mountain about 4:15 and returned in dirty and tired triumph at the house around 5:00.  We got some dinner and settled in for the night.  Needless to say, the sleepless nap meant the boys went to sleep in good time.  So did a few of the adults.

6 rough and rugged trail

Barren on the way up
Barren on the way up
Trail goes up and over.
Trail goes up and over.
Interesting tree on the trail
Interesting tree on the trail
Rich, Alex, and Sean on a switchback.
Rich, Alex, and Sean on a switchback.
Sure sign of a rock slide
Sure sign of a rock slide
View of the valley from lower on the trail
View of the valley from lower on the trail
Joe leaves behind a legend.
Joe leaves behind a legend.
Zerah left her mark.
Zerah left her mark.
View down into one of the valleys
View down into one of the valleys
More views from on high
More views from on high
Stacked cairn for fellow hikers
Stacked cairn for fellow hikers

 

Alex on the trail.
Alex on the trail.
Still more of the lake from another height
Still more of the lake from another height

 

Alex and Zerah on the trail.
Alex and Zerah on the trail.
Alex and Rich on the trail.
Alex and Rich on the trail.
Ground squirrel up at the heights
Ground squirrel up at the heights
Ice and snow up here too.
Ice and snow up here too.
Up level with the mountain tops.
Up level with the mountain tops.
Beautiful view for up there.
Beautiful view for up there.
Zerah and Joe on the trail.
Zerah and Joe on the trail.
Rich on the trail.   Or is that trail sherpa.
Rich on the trail. Or is that trail sherpa.
View of the store and marina at Two Medicine Lake.
View of the store and marina at Two Medicine Lake.
Alex hanging over the edge.
Alex hanging over the edge.
Zerah up at the very top.
Zerah up at the very top.
Joe with an attitude problem.
Joe with an attitude problem.
Father and son experience.
Father and son experience.
Rich made it back down.
Rich made it back down.
Rich had an opinion on what that sign said.
Rich had an opinion on what that sign said.