Food, fun and fotos
Aug 4, 2010
|After three nights on the road (lovely campgrounds all – wish we could have spent more time in some of them) we arrived in Polson MT at the Eagle Nest RV Resort. We had arranged to meet Linda Davey and Steven Dempsey there for a week of exploring, photographing and fun. Linda and Steven are “wannabe” full-time RVers who are waiting for their teen-aged kids to finish high school before buying their dream rig and going on the road. We’ve been following each others’ adventures on the road for a while and when we realized that we were going to be in the same area where they were planning a short vacation stay, we decided it was time to meet in person. They got there a few days before we did, so they had a chance to relax and figure out what was going on in the area.
When we arrived, Ian was in the office checking in and I was sitting in the truck waiting for him, when I spotted Steven (whom I recognized from pictures on their travel blog) on his way out. He recognized our rig as well, so stopped and said he was on the way to pick up Bloody Mary supplies and we were invited to their place for a mid-day libation as soon as we got settled in. With that wonderful - and welcoming - introduction began a week of fun and getting to know these two wacky but solid people. If you don’t already know about their travel blog, you should check it out. They wrote every day (thus, I might add, making me feel seriously behind in my blogging duties); I can’t even begin to repeat all the details of every activity-packed day, so I’m just going to hit the highlights and attach lots of pictures.
After getting to know each other over drinks, more drinks and dinner (provided by Linda and Steven and delicious) we agreed to make Monday a low-key day. We needed to do some shopping and they had some chores to do, but in mid-afternoon we headed out for a drive along the east side of Flathead Lake. Flathead Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in the western contiguous United States – larger than Lake Tahoe. It’s the center of all activity around this part of the state – surrounded by resorts, cabins, marinas, summer homes and, on the east side, what seems like hundreds of cherry orchards. I guess we should have expected cherries this time of year, but we really hadn’t thought about it – well, around here it’s hard to think of anything else. Every corner has a little stand, there are a couple of “pick them yourself” places, cherries (and huckleberries, which weren’t a surprise) are on the menu in every restaurant – one night Steven and Ian even tried surprisingly good cherry ale! So we drove around the small towns, stopped at a couple of state park areas to get up close and personal with the lake (it was chilly, I’m told) and just generally got the lay of the land. We did stop at one cherry orchard (one of the “pick them yourself” places) which was closed so that I could get some cherry photos – that’s actually how I like them best, although we do have some in the refrigerator that are nice for the occasional snack.
Tuesday morning we arose at the incredible for us) hour of 4:15 (a.m. – who knew there was life at that hour!) so that we could be ready and waiting at the curb, all our camera gear at our feet, for Linda and Steven to pick us up for our planned day at Glacier National Park. It’s about an hour-and-a-half drive up there and we wanted to be there for the sunrise. Linda drove, which was nice, because I don’t think either Ian or I would have been able to follow a straight road at that hour, and we did, in fact, see the sun actually rise over a mountain. Linda, being used to this sort of thing, stopped their Yukon SUV on the proverbial dime and we all hopped out to catch the dramatic sight of the sun burning through the fog and rising over the mountain. Cool. And, even I have to admit, worth being up that early.
From there we went along the shores of McDonald Lake, the largest lake in the park at something like 10 miles long. Another objective of getting there early was to catch the lake when it was still enough to reflect the mountains around it and the clouds in the early morning light – later in the day it was actually quite choppy. So we found a spot we liked, parked the car and went down to the lakeshore to stake out the best spots. The light wasn’t dramatic (the day actually turned out to be mostly foggy, with the sun sort of weaving in and out behind clouds) but soft and peaceful and the glassy lake, rocks along the shore and mountains in the background made some wonderful images. I actually got so excited about it I got out the big 4x5 camera and fired off a couple of sheets of film.
From there we continued on our way, along the Going to the Sun Road (the main thoroughfare through the park), stopping for a while at a nice viewing area at the Upper McDonald Creek Falls – actually not so much a waterfall as rapids, but very interesting to photograph. As we made our way to Logan Pass, on the Continental Divide and the highest point in the park to which you can drive, we passed numerous small waterfalls, a couple of larger ones, cascading water and an ever-changing landscape of mountains, trees, small glaciers (there aren’t any big ones any more, sadly) and lots and lots of cars. We stopped when we could, slowed down when we couldn’t, got out and walked around when we had a 10-minute stop for a construction area, and finally made our way to the visitors’ center at Logan Pass. Unfortunately, the fog there was thick and cold and the visitors’ center was crammed with people so, after a browse around the gift shop and a short walk around a trail behind the center, we got back in the car and headed back down the mountain. We had hoped to see some Bighorn Sheep (some of the publicity material practically guarantees it) but either the weather or our bad animal karma took over and no animals were to be seen. Too bad.
We did stop near Lake McDonald Lodge for lunch (again, being early enough to beat the crowds) and to walk around the interesting lodge itself, built in 1914 and suitably rustic ("alpine" is the way it's described) in design. My favorite part was, actually, the decorative light fixtures in the lobby and the Kootenai Indian-language phrases written in the concrete at the entrances – actually I didn’t know that’s what they were until we got back and I looked it up on the internet, but I thought they were cool.
On our way back down the mountain we detoured into Apgar Village for a stop at another section of McDonald Lake. As soon as we got there Steven and I looked at the stormy lake, the angle of the light, the bobbing boats and the mountains shrouded in fog in the distance and said “photo op!” So we spent quite a while trying to capture the essence of the scene – the wind was whipping up rather nice whitecaps on the lake and the marina attendants were having to move smartly to tie up the boats or get them onto the beach so they wouldn’t be damaged. It was actually interesting to watch as well as providing camera fodder. While we were at the Lake, Ian and Linda wandered around the hotel there and Ian (who does attract small animals wherever we go) made friends with one of the local chipmunks. This despite the fact that he (Ian) didn’t have any food, which was clearly the chipmunk’s objective!
After that we decided it was time to head for home, so we did – tired but happy. It was a long day but clearly worth it.
We had tried to visit Glacier two years ago on our way to Alaska but it rained for four days straight and the Going to the Sun road was still closed with the remains of winter snows. So we were glad to see it – it’s not as large and diverse as, say, Yellowstone, and unless you want to take some of the many trails (which we really didn’t want to dodge the crowds to do) it doesn’t take long to see. We would probably come back again if we’re in the area, but I don’t think either of us feel that we absolutely need to or that if we don’t we’ll have missed something important. Still, it’s been on our agenda since that aborted visit two years ago, so we’re glad to have finally made it. And the area is beautiful, with enough interesting stuff that we might very well come back just for that.
I’m going to leave the rest of the week for a subsequent entry, since this has already gone on long enough. Stay tuned for more adventures.