The saga continues. We are still feeling smug, maybe not QUITE as much before as our children are acting like wildebeests, and we are getting looks from people. But still no major disasters!
August 10, 2015
Great Falls, MT to St. Mary, MT (and for all intensive purposes, Glacier National Park! Hoot hoot!)
We awoke after a night of listening to Zoe scream for unclear reasons. We even did all our parental tricks on her – gave her ibuprofen, acetaminophen, let her walk around in the dark bedroom while we rest our eyes (that’s Sarah’s “trick” that Matt hates), gave her milk, snuggled with blanket, bicycled her legs, changed her dry diaper. God it was awful. Anyway, after some crappy coffee from the Faster Bassett (same place as last time, do we not learn our lesson) and kids continued arguing about the goddamn Car Fairy (who didn’t bring any toys for Zoe who didn’t seem to care), we sped off to the grocery store and Arby’s. It had been a rough night.
We hit the highway and realized that the Maps program was taking us on a new route through (shocking) more boring ranchland. (We had to reference our last trip log to note this was different route). Matt found another geocache at a rest stop (nerd again). We hit Browning on the Flathead Rez, and then up to St. Mary! You could smell the forest fire from Glacier. Then we could see the plumes of smoke. We rolled in around 3 pm, checked in, and realized that things never change. We were staying at the same lodge in St. Mary as last time. The parking lot still sucked. The door still did not completely close unless you pushed it in and deadbolted it (apparently not just a quirk of our last room there). There are still scary wrought iron pine cones decorating the bathroom that look like tarantulas and will scare you the first time you see them. BUT instead of one fuzzy TV station from Canada, we have DIRECT TV!!!! No wi-fi yet, but the lobby/restaurants in the attached buildings do – maybe next time!
We decided to go for a “hike” from the visitor center, which was really all of us yelling at each other, and never found the trailhead. Braden repeatedly said he would call the police to bring mommy to jail because she was naughty (mommy had told him to stop running in the road). Mom and Dad decided to make a fun game where the first person who found wildlife (NOT counting farm animals even if they appear wild and NOT counting bugs, birds, plants) would get a treat. Then Matt promptly found a coyote and Noah began sobbing. Great game. (The coyote was running as fast as it could away from us. Smart coyote.)
We did go for a short drive on the Going to the Sun Road but turned around right where the wildfire had started at the last possible turn around (otherwise we would have been stuck on road for an hour).
Treated kids to ice cream (their dinner).
We ate take out from the nice restaurant at the lodge and spent 2 hours wrestling the kids into bed because no one ever tells you it is light here until 11 pm and all the kids think it is still daytime. Matt and Sarah enjoyed the rest of the beer from MN. Well, Matt did. Sarah thought it sucked.
Miles driven: ***
Candy crush levels beaten: NONE. Level 374 SUCKS.
August 11, 2015
Well, these days blended together as Zoe awakened every hour all night. We tried our pathetic moves on her and they went nowhere. Oddly, the boys slept through all of it. We awoke to the sound of fire helicopters dropping supplies at the lake near our lodge in the park. Just like “Planes Fire and Rescue”. Let’s learn about wildfire ecology, kids. We loaded up and got coffee and headed up to Many Glacier – just 10 miles from Canada!
Sarah dreams of staying someday at the Many Glacier hotel – it looks just like the Swiss Alps. We would never subject the people up there to our kids, however.
We had booked a boat ride that one of Sarah’s patients had told her about – we were on an old wooden boat across one lake, then “hiked” ¼ miles to another boat across another lake.
We then hiked to Grinnell Lake, a glacial fed lake about a mile and a half from the boat dock. Easy hike, lots of people to keep away the grizzlies. Sarah had read all the books about grizzlies on the drive here whenever her Candy crush lives (well actually Soda crush, but whatever) were depleted.
Anyway, the lake was fun and we made some new friends. These darn ground squirrels (We don’t really know WHAT they were) actually tried to CRAWL INTO our backpack where our food was. They also tried to grab food out of Braden’s hand. Brave squirrel to try that. We loudly kept saying that we hadn’t given them any food, which we SO hadn’t, so other hikers didn’t think we were bad people. They followed us everywhere!!
We hiked to a waterfall. Pretty. Zoe loved riding in the pack. Well, tolerated it. At one point she made a loud squawking sound and everyone ahead of us stopped and looked up as it sounded like a hawk was above us. Sarah had to tell them it was our baby. **sigh** Sarah actually had thought it was a hawk too.
Then some friendly hikers were all, did you see the bear? Immediately we were all on high alert. Sarah questioned them but it was just a black bear. Eh.
Boat ride back across the lakes was good as kids were tired. The boat stopped so we could watch a moose at the edge of the lake and Braden kept saying loudly he just wanted to go back to the hotel.
After we got back, we went and got ice cream (have a feeling this will be the theme of the week). We met some nice people from Dillon MT (Sarah knew a doc who worked there). Saw a black bear on the drive out of Many Glacier.
Got back and Matt noticed everyone looking at the sky and plumes of smoke. Guess one of the two wildfires exploded overnight – we saw more helicopters going that way. Got dinner from the Park Café (Matt is a brave soul to eat medium rare ahi tuna from a place in St. Mary). At night sitting on the balcony saw new plumes of smoke from behind a mountain. It is hot and dry and windy here – 80-90 degrees. We enjoyed some kind of beer labeled “Strong Red Ale” which was excellent.
Miles driven: negligible
Candy Crush levels beaten: 374!!!!
August 12, 2014
Well, Zoe only tortured us moderately last night so it was “okay”. We awoke to what we all thought was a beautiful morning fog and ran onto the balcony into choking wildfire smoke. Everyone ran back in fast. But we aren’t deterred easily. Because we’re stupid. The new fire had exploded in size overnight here creating more smoke.
We packed up and with the help of coffee, were on our way up to Logan Pass in the center of the park. It was crazy to drive through the burned areas that we had hiked in last time we were here.
They are all closed, which is a bummer for tourists. We saw lots of helicopters and an airplane that Matt ID’ed as a C-130 cargo plane which was probably hauling firefighting equipment. Sarah had told the kids it was a fighter jet and is now banned from teaching kids about aircraft.
Three years ago we had wanted to do the Hidden Lake Trail at Logan Pass (tallest point on the Going to the Sun Road through the Park), but the snowpack was too heavy at the start of July and the trail was covered. Thanks to global warming and coming here in August, there was no snow to be seen except higher up. We loaded up Zoe into her pack and we were off. The trail starts with a boardwalk, so it does tend to attract the more out of shape and less prepared hikers, which is always scary and fun at the same time. We got up there early enough to get going before huge crowds but it was still a steady stream of people. After you get to the top where there is an overlook, about 1.5 miles into the hike, most people turn around and walk in their flip flops and jean shorts back. I am not disparaging them but really, flip flops?? Come on, man. We saw big horn sheep which were cool.
The trail continues and drops about 770 feet over the next 1.5 miles through a series of switchbacks down the side of a mountain to a lake, although clearly visible, called Hidden Lake.
The kids did really well for this – the footing was tricky and this was not an easy hike for kids, or for Matt carrying Zoe and the pack down. It was not easy for Sarah, who was paralyzed with fear that the one-armed man we continually ran into would prompt Braden to ask loudly “why does he only have one arm?”. It was so weird, like we saw tons of people, yet the dude with the one arm was ALWAYS AROUND. Maybe there was more than one one-armed man. Maybe having just one arm forced him to keep the same slow pace as our family with three kids 7 and under. Maybe he wondered why WE were always near HIM. We still don’t know how he kept his backpack shoulder strap up on that side. And we had plenty of opportunities to inspect his gear because he was ALWAYS there.
The other family always near us was headed by a dumbass father who talked like he was from some large liberal leaning city (hey, we’re liberal, it’s cool, we can still make fun of him) and looked like he was out of an LL Bean catalogue. Sarah almost socked him when he told his daughters to drink water straight out of the river near by because it obviously had just come from that glacier and they didn’t see any animals near by, so they were NOT going to get Giardia. He also told his kids that grizzlies will only hurt you if you attack their babies, so you don’t need to worry about grizzly bears. At this point, Sarah almost wrestled him to the ground and stabbed him with his fancy fishing poles.
We had lunch down at the beautiful “hidden” lake, where Braden did NOT rest as instructed, but instead spent time throwing billions of rocks into the lake and rolling around in the rocks and mud.
Then we had to hike back UP the mountain. That’s when B fell apart and about every 1/8 miles would just refuse to walk. He kept saying he had 0% power left (damn iPads – at least Noah would say he was at 50% and would appropriately increase his percentage after rest breaks and hydration). Sarah then picked B up and carried him at times, and he would just lie limply in her arms.
At one point, a group of other hikers asked if he was okay and if we needed more water, and Sarah lied and said we had tons of water (we had like 2 bottles left but we were FINE) and after they turned around and hiked on, B smiled evilly. Yup.
We made it down the rest of the trail back, amidst Mennonites, Mormons, people with yarmulkes on, European and Asian tourists, Americans wearing flip flops and Camelback hydration systems, mountain goats, and the damn one armed man. As we followed Mr. One Arm into the parking lot, Noah very quietly asked why he only had one arm. Sometimes the kids pleasantly surprise you!
Drove back, got ice cream and sandwiches for dinner. Kids in bed. We were planning to go to Two Medicine tomorrow, a part of the park we have never been to, but it’s closed due to the exploding wildfires (well, the trails are closed). So basically we have four areas of the park we can go to now (instead of six) because the others all burned down or are currently on fire. And we don’t have passports. Plus our 6 mile hike SEEMED to tax the children today (and Matt seems to be developing some kind of shoulder/neck problem from hauling Zoe around) so we are combing books for trails less than 6 miles and in certain areas of the park (those not currently on fire).
We spend our evenings fighting over the chargers and various electronic devices at this point. Zoe loves taking chargers and running away with them and sleeping with them (it’s wrong, we don’t care).
She clearly realizes they are valuable bargaining chips in our family. There is no Wifi here, so if Matt wants to use it (since he ran through his data on his phone already), he has to go in the morning to the lobby which DOES have Wifi – with all the Sturgis bikers from the campground who come and sit outside the lobby on the curb and smoke, drink coffee, and surf on their ipads.
Matt is drinking Charlie Russell Red by Harvest Moon (from gas station) and Sarah is drinking her Strong Red Ale again tonight. We earned it!!
Miles driven: negligible
Candy Crush level beaten. NONE 🙁