Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Roadtrip Highlights: Montana

Montana (two destinations: Ashton and Anna Sanders (my cousin and cousin in law ) and Glacier National Park
  • Only 22 hours lay between Moline, IL and Ashton's house. Twenty-two itty-bitty hours, and whats more, broken up in two days! How hard could it be? Nothing to dread right? HA! Well, we did dread the drive, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, it was far from pleasant. In fact on a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being lovely and 10 being as close to the ring of fire as possible, I would say that we were seared but not burned! The AC worked most of the time and we entertained ourselves with books on CD, music, snacking and mad libs.
  • Our second couch surfing experience was also an experience to remember. The guy we were staying with was very hospitable, and nice. When we arrived to his front door, we heard a chorus a girls voices squealing in delight and laughter. His 12 year old daughter was having her birthday party, and a pinata was being hoisted into a tree. We were offered dinner, since they had cooked enough for the party. After the pinata broke, the daughter placed the broken limbs of the horse/llama on her own limbs and said she was a llama. The other girls, taking cue, picked up sticks and tried anew to bust open the pinata. There was also a make shift tight rope tied from the pinata tree to a pole. Luckily no one actually injured themselves but it didn't seem very safe to me. As for the house, the man was a hippie left over from the 60's. His house was not a disaster, but it wasn't clean either. We decided it was best if we went to bed as early as possible so we could get up and get on the road for the rest of our drive.
  • 5:30 am in the morning we rolled out of bed. The entire trip to Polson, MT took us through Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming and the entire state of MT which is the 4th largest state in the US after California. Because there are more farm animals than humans, I found the size deceiving. We arrived at Ashton and Anna's little piece of heaven around 5 pm. Somehow, driving in the car for hours, even without physical exertion, one feels disgusting. First line of business; showering, second; eating cherries while food was being prepared, third; boys became manly men by the mere act of grilling, fourth; eating previously discussed manly grilled food. Yummy in my tummy!
  • After we ate dinner on their front deck, admiring the view of mountains, and soaking in the sounds of nothingness, we went out to meet her horses. Her horses were like large puppies because if they could have gotten in our laps, I think they would have. They loved human interaction. At on point three of the horses boxed me into a little Vanessa cubby, and I had to use force to make them move their big butts out of the way. The entire time we were playing with her horses, I was making special care to watch my feet, which were in flip flops, (I know not the best choice of shoes, but that is what I wore to dinner) however I was not careful enough. Standing in front of one of those beautiful giants, with my back towards her face, I assumed I was safe, however, the horsey wanted attention, stepped forward and stepped on my exposed foot. I reacted quickly enough so that I only walked away with a scrape and a bruise. Next time, no flip flops!
  • We spent the rest of the evening watching a film and playing on the internet. In the morning, we slept in, which felt so good. Rising early is not something I would say that Kyle and I particularly enjoy. We had a relaxing morning with french toast and then we were off. Ashton and Anna have a beautiful home, set far away from the hustle and bustle, a peaceful haven that I can't wait to return to.
  • Our drive to Glacier National Park was only supposed to take 1 hr 15 min. to drive to the park which was accurate, and 1 hr 30min to drive through to our hotel which took much more time than we expected. We left before noon and didn't arrive to our room until 6 pm. Now, I should explain, the extra time taken was our doing as we couldn't stop taking pictures. It was a beautiful and scenic drive, almost impossible to explain with words, so I think I will let you just look at the pictures.
  • The first night in GNP (glacier national park) we stayed at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. Our cabin was, simple, quaint, adorable and might have been perfect had it provided a bathroom. Our first attempt at finding the bathroom took 15 min, as did the second since we had gotten so lost on the first try. The day had been very warm, but the icy hand of the evening took a strangulating hold. I don't know what has happened to me in the last few years, maybe I am secretly an old man, but I have come to the point where I am no longer able to sleep through the night without needing to go to the bathroom before morning. My bladder woke me at dawns early rise. I attempted to ignore it. My bed was warm, the cabin and the air outside were not, and I did not want to leave my nest, however when I could no longer take it, I crawled from my warm bed. Once out of my warm and cozy hovel I made a silent resolution not to wander around the camp grounds hopping around, crossing my legs, and getting lost trying to find the bathroom, that was what the great outdoors is for. Unfortunately for me, I had spent too much time in bed willing my bladder to be patient, and the suns rays were much more illuminating than I had hoped, but that didn't change my plan. Luckily, not another soul ventured from their cabin, and I finished undetected. You may laugh at my silliness, but had it been you freezing your tush off, you would have done the same thing:)
  • We woke early, packed our bags, and drove to where we were to catch our 8 am boat. As we boarded, we noticed that we were the only passengers without hiking sticks. Kyle was also the only person wearing simultaneously a bandana, a beanie, a cowboy hat and socks with his chacos, always going in style my husband! Our hike was to Grennel Glacier, the closest glacier to the main road. In total, including hiking up the mountain and back down again was 7.6 miles. Ranger Bob was our guide, explaining much of the geography of the land, which mostly went over my head. The hike included glacier run off lakes, that were almost teal in color, waterfalls, ground squirrels that were skilled at stealing humans lunches, big horned sheep, and a magnificent glacier. By the end of the hike, I had formed and popped blisters, making walking a bit painful.
  • However our day was far from over. The online course, Kyle was enrolled in scheduled a test the day we were in GNP, not very considerate if you ask me! The only place we found in the entire park with available internet was another hotel about twenty min. from ours. However half way through the test, the internet timed out and he was not able to finish answering the questions. Frustrated and hungry we went to eat dinner at a local diner, but when we had paid the bill and gotten into our car, the car wouldn't start. After much deliberation with a local, we decided it was the battery, and hopefully we had just been careless and left the lights on, but alas, that was not the case. When we arrived at our new hotel Many Glaciers, (the hotel made famous by Steven King, the inspiration of the movie, "The Shining") the battery died yet again. We were told that the closest mechanic was in Canada, about forty min. away.
  • The following day, we drove into Canada, $131 later, we had a new battery and were heading back to the Park for another hike. This hike was only a 4 mile hike, because my blisters had reformed and were incredibly uncomfortable. However on our hike we saw a Mama moose with two of her calves. Also, later on in the evening we saw two grizzly cubs not 25 yards from the road. I was extremely grateful that mama grizzly never showed her face, because she might not have been so thrilled to see so many humans looking at her babies.
  • Montana is a beautiful state, and I recommend to everyone to make a trip to Glacier National Park within the next ten years. When the park was founded in the 1890's, there were over 150 glaciers. There are now only 20 glaciers left, and melting at remarkable speeds. It is worth the trip, we certainly enjoyed nearly every min. of it, save the cold morning, the crashing internet, and the dead battery!

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Aaron said...

I have really enjoyed reading your blogs. Very well written and extremely captivating! Of course, reading it while stuck in a cube doing work that I never receive credit for and hearing my cube mate explain to someone on the phone that ctrl c is ‘copy’ and not ‘cut’ makes your trip seem even more exhilarating!!!

Keep writing and thank you for sharing your trip with us!

Ashton Sanders said...

BUAH?!?!? You Saw BEARS?! I don't believe it! And Moose? Wow, you had quite a trip heading up there. I'm glad you enjoyed Montana.

Keep up the posting!