Home Away From Home, Montana, National Park

Hidden Lake Trail

Well, believe or not we got up and out before 7:00 this morning. We knew we had to get to Logan Pass early to snag a parking place and we were right. We arrived a bit after 7:30 and only got a place because someone was pulling out.

We decided to do the Hidden Lake Lookout trail and then decide if we wanted to do more. Since it was 44 degrees when we got up this morning I dressed for the weather – long pants, long-sleeved tee plus a coat. Jerry had on shorts and a shirt. Guess who was dressed for the weather?

The mile and a half hike to the overlook was a little warm in the direct sun and with no breeze, I was wondering if we’d make it. Shortly after we got started, we saw four longhorn sheep. They just grazed as though we were not there, only occasionally glancing our way. Although there were no benches there were occasional rocks where we could rest and catch our breath. We finally decided it was not the altitude causing us problems as we have acclimated fairly well. It’s the uphill climb that gets us.

About halfway up though we began to feel a slight breeze and that helped cool things down some. We saw a couple of marmots and a squirrel or two. We don’t have marmots at home so that was a treat for us.

The overlook is indeed an overlook looking into the valley as the mountains rise in the background. There are many wildflowers speckled around with lone trees standing sentinel. All in all, it was a very beautiful sight and well worth the hike.

As we descended (yes!) on the return trip to the Visitor’s Center the path was much more crowded. There were many families, some with very young children. I don’t know how they did it!

On our way back to the campground so I could change into cooler clothes, we saw cars parked on the side of the road. Obviously an animal alert. We couldn’t park so we passed by, turned around, passed by again, turned around and then found a spot. It was a big grizzly bear across the road probably a hundred and fifty yards from us so we were safe. He stayed down on all fours as he was grazing but we could definitely tell it was a grizzly.

After changing clothes, we headed back to Many Glacier and guess what the first thing we saw was. Of course – cattle in the road. They let us pass without moving an inch. We followed the bubbling stream as far as we could go occasionally sharing the road with the cattle and trying to dodge the potholes in the road. That was not easy!

It turned cold!
With signs indicating that the parking lots were full, we decided to pull off of the road beside the beautiful Lake Sherburne. I can’t imagine a more beautiful place to have lunch. The wind was blowing and we could see the white caps and hear the waves tumbling to the shore. After we ate, we walked down to the shoreline over rocks – exquisite. With the wind blowing it was now much cooler. Why did I change clothes? How grateful we are to be able to enjoy God’s creation and if this part of the earth is this beautiful can you imagine what heaven will be like?

What a wonderful place for a picnic.

We went on up to the Park Check-in only to find out from a ranger that Many Glacier was full and there was no parking at all even for people with reservations. We returned to the RV disappointed but so glad we got to go yesterday.

This morning was early for us so we both collapsed and very quickly fell asleep! Naps are good!

After our naps we started doing preliminary Tasks for breakdown tomorrow. Jerry tried valiantly to clean the windshield and the front of the coach. It’s a tireless job and perhaps fruitless. With such low humidity the water, i.e soap dries almost before you can remove it ending up with streaks and water spots.

We met Pam and Brian at Johnson’s for dinner. It was delicious. As we were walking in someone mentioned that the soup was delicious. What kind of soup? On the FAQ on the menu, it just said “good soup”. We found out that it was vegetable and beef and came with every entré. I’m a little picky about my vegetable soup but this was indeed delicious. We thought about buying some to take with us but elected not to. Mistake!

I have been reading some books where the characters talk about how good walleye is. Never having had walleye I decided that would be my entré and now I know why they write about it. It is good!

After dinner, the four of us rode to Two Dog Flat where we had been told we could see Elk and Bear at dusk. No bear tonight but we did see elk. A gentleman Jerry had talked to at the restaurant was parked next to us and he had his iPhone connected to some type of magnification spotting scope so we got a good look at the elk while they grazed and then wandered away.

Our time at Glacier National Park has come to an end as we are leaving in the morning. It goes without saying that it is an absolutely beautiful park and I wish we could have stayed longer. We saw a lot but there was so much more to see. We didn’t see a lot of animals, in contrast to Custer State Park and Theodore Roosevelt National Park but we did get glimpses of deer, one grizzly bear, elk, marmots, and squirrels. I’m quite sure we’ll see more wildlife sightings as we continue our journey.

We made it!
Home Away From Home, Montana, National Park

Our First Day in Glacier National Park

Our plan was to get up about 6:30 and be on the road by 8:00. Well, we woke up at 7:15 and as badly as I hated to get out of bed I did. We quickly got ready and since we didn’t have any breakdown, we were on the road by 8:10. Again, an uneventful ride. There were very few gas stations and we were down to a half tank since we had to run the generator all night. I don’t like to get below a half tank because you never know when you might see another station. We finally found an accessible Exxon in Shelby, Montana and filled up there.

Then we began to see pretty vistas. Up until then, it had been pretty much miles of land and crops on either side. After Shelby, we began to see snowcapped mountains in the distance. How far away? No clue. I had earlier received an email from the campground advising us to take an alternate route from Browning as there was construction and long delays on 89 leading to St. Mary. I was a bit concerned that we might miss the turn to 464 so I had my Garmin, Waze and Google Maps all going simultaneously. We easily found the turn so no worry but 464 isn’t the greatest road for an RV. I don’t know what the grade on these ascensions – hills, mountains, whatever they are as they are not marked but at one point we were struggling at 35 mpg to get up one. We did reach 5000 feet above sea level.

We arrived at Glacier KOA a little after 12:00, checked in and set up fairly quickly. After a quick lunch, we rode over to Johnson Campground where Pam and Brian were staying. Soon after we all headed to the Visitor’s Center. We got some ideas of things to do for the next three days and then decided to take the free shuttle to the Going to the Sun Road. The road is 50 miles long and takes about two hours to drive it. We decided the shuttle would be better today and perhaps we’ll drive it another day. The view from the shuttle was absolutely amazing as we rode along the beautiful St. Mary Lake with the mountains in the background. Our pictures could never do it justice.

After discussing the various hikes, we decided on the St. Mary Falls hike. Actually, there are three falls on the hike but only two in the direction we were going. Things were going fine until I tripped and fell. Yep, gravel on the hand hurts A LOT! I jumped up, brushed myself off and soldiered on.

The first fall we saw was St Mary. It was beautiful, to say the least. There were right many people there and some were actually jumping into the water. Wow, it must have been so cold. We took some pictures, enjoyed the scenery and then headed on to the next fall, Virginia Falls which if possible was even more beautiful. We went through sunshine, shade, warmth, cool and occasional breezes. It was not a difficult hike at all but when I looked at my FitBit at the end we had hiked five miles!

We took the shuttle back to the Visitor’s Center where our car was, took Pam and Brian home and headed back to the KOA. I had planned on tenderloin for dinner but Jerry wanted something else so Plan B. Before we left home, I had browned and frozen some hamburger so we pulled it out and made spaghetti sauce. Actually, Jerry did all of that because my hand was so sore. After dinner, he went out and bought some big band-aids to cover the worst of the injuries. Boy, I hate being a klutz but a tree root will throw me every time if I am not paying attention. In fact, Jerry and I had talked earlier about not being able to look around when we are hiking on some of these trails because we need to watch where we are walking. Obviously, I wasn’t doing that. Oh well, I’ll heal and live to hike another day – like tomorrow!

Home Away From Home, North Dakota

On to North Dakota

Twenty-one days and almost three weeks on the road. Wow! Things started out a little auspiciously this morning. I slept until after 7:00 which put us later preparing to leave. Jerry went out to move the car to the back of the coach because we could easily hook up right at our site. Then I tried to put the jacks up. Dang it, the battery was dead AGAIN despite have started the coach twice yesterday. Guess we’ll be using the battery disconnect at each stop which means we put down the front shade and it stays down for the duration of the stay. Kind of feels like a tomb inside because it’s so dark. Jerry moved the car back to the front of the coach and we jumped it again. Then I moved the car to the back to hook it up. The car was on a slight downward slope and Jerry couldn’t get it close enough to the coach to hook it up so I had to go in and back the RV up “just a little bit”. That’s scary. We finally got it attached, came in prayed and checked our Departure list and then Jerry looked at the dashboard only to see the check engine light on. The gauges were all reading fine so he decided to soldier on and keep a lookout on the gauges. About an hour into the 250-mile trip the tire pressure monitoring system began to beep. What now? We stopped in Belle Fourche for gas and Jerry checked the air pressure. It was perfect so he thinks possibly a bad battery in the sensor caused the alarm to go off. Guess we need to carry spare batteries for the TPMS.

When we finally entered North Dakota, our 31st RV state, the land just went on and on. We saw gently sloping hills, vast grasslands, hayfields, occasional oil rigs (think that was South Dakota as well as North Dakota) and open land as far as the eye could see. Obviously, the land was farmed but we saw few structures. Sixteen miles per hour winds buffeted us some but otherwise, it was an easy drive. Although our four-lane ended in Belle Fourche, the two-lane was an easily traveled road, wide enough with no drop-offs. And then we ran into road construction. Of course, but it was just a brief section.

As we neared Theodore Roosevelt State Park, we could see that we were entering the end of the Badlands. Two weeks ago we were in Interior in the Badlands and today in Medora, ND in the Badlands. As we were driving along just seven miles from our destination someone flagged us down and told us to pull over. Uh o – what? One of our locked bins had come open. That’s the first time that has ever happened. I was afraid something was wrong with the car. I am very leery when putting the car into towed capability and always doubt that I have done it correctly. You would think that after four years of towing flat down I would be an old pro but not so. I have an instruction list and I “try” to follow it line by line every time. This morning I couldn’t get it to work because I had skipped a step and you can’t do that.

We safely arrived at Medora Campground, a city-owned park and as I was checking in a guy from Georgia was checking in also. As I was walking out of the door, I commented that I was from North Carolina. The fellow checking him in said he lived in North Carolina for a couple of years, in Greenville which is about 30 miles from our home. He had been to Kinston several times. Again, small world. As I was checking in Jerry was outside chatting with the fellow who had flagged us down when he saw the bin opened!

We got set up and decided to take a quick ride over to the Teddy Roosevelt National Park which was only a mile away. We went to the Visitor’s Center, walked through a very interesting museum and talked with a ranger who gave us some ideas of what to do tomorrow.

Just laying around not paying us any attention
We took the Scenic Highway and were absolutely amazed at the breathtaking beauty around us. As I said earlier every park is unique. Every park is special and this one is no different. Just before we got to Wind Canyon where she had suggested we hike we saw a large herd of bison, probably a couple of hundred. The ranger had advised us about getting to close as it is rutting season and the bison are a bit, rowdy. Despite that there a man out of his car walking around taking pictures. Unbelievable! We rode on to Wind Canyon but decided that since I had on sandals we would forego the hike today and come back tomorrow. As we were leaving the park Jerry spotted a coyote near the wild horses and scads of prairie dogs.

We made a hasty decision to go to the Walmart in Dickinson which was 30 miles away. We were in need of the basics like milk and bread so off we went. The highway to Dickinson was mile after mile of land, hayfields sprinkled in between oil wells and grazing cattle and sheep. Thought we were told it was 30 minutes away it actually took us longer plus when we got in line to pay, we were behind a couple with a problem so we were over 20 minutes in line. Knowing we had tickets for the Medora Musical at 7:30 we sped back to Medora hurrying into the coach to put away the groceries and grab something warm to wear. No dinner tonight.

The Medora Musical is absolutely fantastic and a must-see for anyone in the area. It’s held in an amphitheater that is accessed by riding an outdoor escalator. The show revolves around the history of Medora and Teddy Roosevelt. Despite the misting rain, the performers did an excellent job. The weather forecast was calling for a thunderstorm around 9:30 so they shortened the show some so everyone could get out before the storm. Side note – it never stormed despite the weather predictions!

On another note, we have done our part for North Dakota extermination of bugs program. Jerry cleaned the windshield of the motor home yesterday so it was clean when we pulled out this morning. He commented just before we got to Medora that if we didn’t get somewhere soon he wouldn’t be able to see where he was going. The windshield was that dirty! When we went to Dickinson in the Jeep we had the same problem. In fact, I thought at one point it was raining as it sounded just sound big fat raindrops hitting the windshield.

Home Away From Home, Utah

Arches National Park in Moab, Utah

We woke up this morning to 16 degrees with a real feel of 9 degrees and Jerry had to unhook everything plus we had to hook the car up! At 7:00 it showed no signs of warming soon. We got everything done inside and then went out to get the car hooked up. Of course the windshield on the car was frosted again so with my head out of the window I drove the short way to the back of the RV. It wasn’t so bad and we were on the road by 8:40. About 15 minutes later we stopped to fill the propane tank which we knew was low. I had read that most RV propane tanks last about five days in cold weather and we had used ours four.

As Jerry drove along I searched for a campground for the night. I had called and left a message yesterday with a Passport RV park but had not heard from them so I continued my search. I called Spanish Trails RV and they had space so I made the reservation for three nights.

As soon as we got checked in and got some lunch we headed to the Visitor’s Center in Moab. We got a lot of information and a lot of good tips. We then headed to Arches National Park where we watched an informative video, talked with a ranger and got recommendations on what to do with our afternoon. Some of the trails were closed due to ice so we decided just to drive the park and stop when we wanted to.

Our first look at the majestic view was absolutely overwhelming. The beauty, the majesty, the ruggedness defy description but suffice it to say it was breathtaking. The park has over 2000 arches and they are easily visible. Interestingly enough the arches have a life cycle just like humans do. They are ever changing even from day to day. Rain, snow, cold, and heat all play a role in the life span of an arch.

The Three Gossips
We began with the winding road going up and first stopped at the Courthouse Towers Viewpoint. From there you could see the Three Gossips, the Sheep Rock, the Tower of Babel and the Organ very clearly.

We continued on to the Balanced Rock which was amazing. We got to walk all around it and even clamber over some of the rocks. There was a path going around and the signs instructed tourists to please stay on the path as going off could cause extensive damage to the vegetation and cryptobiotic crust. Another way to say “Leave no trace”.

The ranger had suggested that we might want to be at the Windows Section at 4:30 when the sun began to set so we bypassed that turnoff and continued on the road up. Our next stop was the Viewpoint for the Upper Delicate Arch and the Lower Delicate Arch. The path to the Lower Delicate Arch view was very short and there in the distance was the beautiful arch. The path to the Upper Delicate Arch view was a bit longer, a half mile of moderately strenuous trail and part of it muddy and icy. Someone had placed rocks along the muddy parts for walking across but that person certainly had longer legs than I. At one point they had placed a log to walk on. Jerry circumvented it but I walked across both ways without falling in the mud! The hike was surely worth it and the arch was stunning.

We continued up to the Skyline Arch which again was stunning. We walked up as far as the path allowed and got some pretty pictures. We rode on up to the Devils Garden Trailhead but knew immediately that it was beyond our capability – 7 ½ miles!

On the way down we stopped at the view point for the Fiery Furnace. The red rocks reflecting in the sun were mesmerizing. We heard some others trying an echo so as we left Jerry yelled “Wolfpack” and we heard it faintly echoing over the rocks.

We quickly headed to the Windows to see the sunset. Apparently everyone had the same idea as there were lots of people there and some serious photographers. Many had tripods and were quickly going to their favorite spot to get the best shot. We walked around quite a bit with Jerry trying to find the perfect spot to catch a shot of the sunset through one of the arches. A difficult task surely but I think he got some nice shots.

Afterward we went by the City Market, got some groceries and headed to the house!

The Setting Sun – the end of a day