from the road

Days 30-31: Glacier National Park

Wow, Montana goes on for-evaaaar! We visited its capitol building on Thursday on the way to Glacier. To be honest, most of the capitols we’ve seen are running together; they’re all some variation of a big symmetrical building with a dome. Fortunately, Montana’s says “MONTANA” on the front in case you forget.

Montana State Capitol

Montana is not a densely populated state, so we deemed it prudent to grab lunch while we had some food selection in the capital city. This is how we ended up at the Helena branch of the Staggering Ox, which serves sandwiches in hollowed out bread cylinders. Very strange!
Staggering Ox Sandwich

Harrison read that Montana is larger than the entire Northeast but is less populated that the city of Hartford, CT. I was amazed at how many fields and mountains we passed with no civilization, just a cows and fences as far as they eye could see.

However, when we stopped for gas in Choteau, MT, we drove by the Old Trail Museum. I’m a little sad that we didn’t stop to explore the dinosaur exhibit.
Dinosaur Statue, ChoteauBut there was no time, we had to get to Glacier!

Glacier park sign(Total disclaimer: I have no idea who these kids are, but they were in the way when I wanted to take a picture.)

Harrison was most excited about seeing Glacier National Park. Once again, I had no expectations for this portion of the trip because I didn’t even know that it existed.

The scenery is pretty breathtaking. The mountains are so tall and rocky, nothing like I’ve seen in Appalachia!

Glacier mountain

Right outside the park entrance is the Park Café, which was highly recommended by our guidebook. Their motto is “Pie for Strength,” isn’t that cool? The boysenberry did not disappoint.

Boysenberry pie, Park Cafe

After we set up camp (all of ten minutes of work), we went for a hike to the Beaver Pond:

Hiking in GlacierSome of the trail was quite overgrown:

Tall flowerThere are signs everywhere, warning that you are entering bear (and mountain lion) territory! While on the path, we followed good “trail etiquette” by clapping our hands and yelling “Hey!” (à la Will Ferrel’s Harry Caray) every so often. We also made sure to dispose of all food trash and lock our food up tight in the car at night. I guess it worked because no bears bothered us during our time in Glacier:

Bear Country sign


We’ve gotten quite good at “glam-ping,” I must say.

Campsite, St. Mary's campground

Unfortunately, our marshmallows were in a bad way after several weeks in a hot car.

Marshmallows melted in bag

My s’more was literally a hot mess last night:

Messy s'more

We got up early to hit the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. Our guidebook proclaims this to be “the most scenic route on the planet.” It’s hard to take in so many breathtaking and beautiful sights at one. I think I was on scenery overload!

In general, my photography policy is “must include people or animals.” I don’t fancy myself a photographer by any means (just good at taking snapshots!), so any attempt I take at capturing beautiful scenes just falls flat. It never looks as impressive as really being there. Fortunately, some of the views in Glacier offer themselves up nicely for photos.

Glacier collage

It was quite cold at the Continental Divide (at the Logan Pass), and the other hikers around us were serious: hiking poles, fancy clothing, big cameras. In my hoodie, Nike shorts, and running shoes, I did not feel at all equipped for hiking. Not to mention we overheard a ranger saying that there was so much snow on one trail that using crampons would be necessary.

Since we mostly did a driving tour of Glacier, we didn’t get to see any grizzlies or cougars. We did, however, see tons of ground squirrels, much to my delight.

Ground squirrel


The best part of the day was seeing a family of mountain goats! The adolescent one even pooped right in front of us!

Mountain goats

It was really cool to see them run down the side of a mountain. Even though it is implied by their name, I could not believe how easily they just run down a vertical rock wall as if it ain’t no thang!

mountain goat running in snowThe baby mountain goats (“mountain kids”?) were really cute…until they started behaving inappropriately!

inappropriate goat behavior


Because it’s so cold in the mountains, there is still a lot of snow that is melting away. As you drive along twists and blind turns, you pass tons of waterfalls that are funneled under the road. At one point, you can stick your hand out and touch the running water and let it clean your windshield.

The water runs down out of the mountains into a really beautiful blue-green river along the road. That melted ice water is frickin’ cold though. Even though I didn’t take a shower this morning, I was in no hurry to get clean in the stream.

Waterfalls in Glacier[The left photo is a tunnel…for Kim!]

Once we exited the park, it was an afternoon of driving to Spokane, Washington, where we are spending the night. We’re officially on Pacific time, though we’re still quite far from the West COAST.

So that’s our last (third–aha!) camping adventure on Wedding Victory Tour. I have to say, I like camping more when it’s just a dedicated camping trip–no worrying about all the other crap and things like, uh, showering. Oh well, as Harrison keeps saying, the purpose of this trip is not to spend a lot of time in any one place. It’s a preview for things that we want to remember to do later, like glam-ping! (Harrison said today that he wishes to become a proficient hiker of bad-ass rugged trails.)

As I keep saying, we might be unemployed forever, so then we will have tons of time to squat in the wilderness and glamp. Yay!