Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Into the Great Wide Open (Montana and Wyoming) Day 3

Going to the Sun Road

We’ve been in Glacier National Park before, but I have never been here when Going-to-the-Sun road has been open. We tend to travel in Spring, before school gets out and we want to be available over the summer to help with care of our grandchildren. The last time we were here, it was early June, and Going-to-the-Sun road wasn’t open, would not be open until June 20th. Some bicyclists has been caught in a Spring avalanche, and disaster crews were busy trying to find them, and rescue them before they perished. These mountains are nothing to fool with.

It’s a cloudy day, and AdventureMan is grumping at me about getting up so early. I want to be there for the morning light, and we are about 30 miles away from the entrance. We take a twisty-turny road, have a lovely sunrise, then get to the entrance. I had gone to a lot of trouble to get a reservation; Going-to-the-Sun road went reservation only for the summer, but when we get to the gate, there is no one there to look at our pass, so we drive along. There is no rain, but there are dramatic clouds. The scenery is spectacular. We have the road to ourselves, for the most part, up to Logan Pass.

We intended to hike some of the trails at Logan Pass, but at 0753 at Logan Pass, every parking lot is full, there isn’t a parking spot to be had. Just after the pass, which was the only crowded place we found on the entire drive, we stopped at a lookout on the other side. It was very cold, snow was in pockets where little sun reaches and the air had the sharp clean smell of pine trees. We did a short hike starting on a frosty, slick boardwalk to overlook a valley, then headed back. The smell of the fresh clean pine was intoxicating.

We head down toward Lake MacDonald, stopping where we can to walk and to take photos of scenery and waterfalls. It is a spectacular, memorable morning altogether, but we are freezing cold. Clothing that was adequate for the high elevation at the entrance is pathetically not suitable for the high elevation and the bone-chilling winds. We walk anyway. There is snow. It is beautiful.

When we finally get back down to the Lake MacDonald Road, once again, all the parking spots are taken. We love the lodge at Lake MacDonald and had thought to stop there for breakfast on our way to Kalispell, but we could see that would not be possible.

We love Kalispell, Montana, and one of our major plans was to hit the Kalispell Farmer’s Market and pick up some Flathead Cherry Juice, which we love drinking. We had also thought we would see if anyone brews a Flathead Cherry Juice liqueur, so we headed on towards Kalispell with the help of the Bossy Lady.

AdventureMan gets short tempered with me when I am navigating. Sometimes I don’t communicate clearly, sometimes not quickly enough. So for several years now, ever since I discovered Google Maps, I have been getting directions, and putting them on speaker phone. It works like a charm. AdventureMan gets SO annoyed, but not with me, with the Bossy Lady! She doesn’t take any of his annoyance seriously, she just carries on with aplomb. We can laugh about it.

The closer we get to the market, the quieter we get. It started sprinkling on the way to Kalispell, but as we enter Kalispell, it is pouring rain. We carry on to the market, and there are about ten hard-core vendors there, none of which are the Flathead Cherry Juice vendors. 

We visit a couple sports stores in the area, looking for a long sleeved “performance layer” or “basic layer” because AdventureMan just brought one, and it is COLD. We don’t find what he needs. 

We head into Kalispell to dry off and warm up, and find the Ceres Bakery, on Main Street, and it is just what we need. We have gorgeous, tasty pastries; I have a Mocha cafe and a brioche like ball that has cinnamon sugar on the top and a croissant like interior. AdventureMan has a Pain au Chocolat and a cup of hot chocolate. It is delightful, with a mouthwatering display of breads available in addition to the pastries.

The Bossy Lady takes us on some back roads to get us back to Highway 2, which will take us back to the East Glacier Park side. It is very rural, but also avoids all the traffic of the major roads. 

East Glacier Park has a glorious big timber lodge, Glacier Park Lodge, which unfortunately, is not serving meals but doing take out only. Meal options in East Glacier are limited, even the Mexican restaurant is closed until dinner. On our way in, AdventureMan sees a sign for the Isaak Walton Inn and asks me what it is. I tell him I am not entirely sure, but I know it has a good reputation and has something to do with railroads. We decide if they have a restaurant open, we will stop there for lunch. 

Black and White print over our table, loved the First Nation and Snow

The Izaak Walton Inn was an old railroad stop for visitors to the Glacier National Park, famous for it’s atmosphere and food. In this time of COVID, they were still serving meals, although the menu is more limited. 

We are happy to have a booth in an unpopulated part of the restaurant. Our meals are good, above average, not great. No photos, can’t even remember what we ate. As we finish, a large group with a guide comes in to take a large table right next to our booth, so we put our masks back on and exit as quickly and graciously as possible.

We are tired and still wet and cold when we get back to our cabin, but AdventureMan makes a wonderful discovery – the gas fireplace we have not been able to figure out how to turn on is operated by the thermostat on an opposite wall. Now we have a beautiful gas fire and a toasty cabin to warm up in.

For dinner, we go into Browning, on the Blackfeet Reservation, where there are two grocery stores and I find Ramen and AdventureMan finds Campbells Vegetable Soup, which suits us both just fine. The grocery store is clean and well organized, and there is a man at the door, masked, who takes our temperatures as we enter. The Blackfeet Nation is taking COVID very seriously. Did you know of all the ethnic groups, the First Nation peoples have the highest rate of vaccination in the country? We feel very safe staying in East Glacier Park. We have a microwave and refrigerator in the cabin, hot soup is the perfect ending to a chilly day.

Going into Browning

September 13, 2021 - Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Geography / Maps, Hotels, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , ,

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