Jean and I in the jeep and our daughter Jeanette and her family in their van all left our lodging outside of the town of West Yellowstone mid-morning on September 6th. Our paths diverged less than a mile from the house. I accused them of wanting to get away from the old geezers just as quickly as possible. They did not comment. While they started their journey toward Salt Lake City to catch a flight back to Raleigh, NC, Jean and I headed back into the Park for a final visit and to begin our trip north to Glacier National Park in Wyoming.
On our way through the park, Jean and I elected to travel the northeast section of the upper loop of the figure eight that roughly describes the road pattern within the Park. We had planned to go as far as the Roosevelt Lodge, which we found (to the disappointment of my bladder) to be closed for the season. A quick stop back at Mammoth Hot Springs for dewatering and we were ready to exit the north entrance to Yellowstone National park; passing under the famous Roosevelt Arch on our way out of the Park.
The Roosevelt Arch at the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park
Predicting that we would not be getting on the road very early that day and knowing that we would be spending some final time in the Park, we booked the evenings lodging in Livingston, MT only about 50 miles north of where we exited the Park.
On our way north, we stopped at a nearly vacant primitive campground on the floor of a canyon for a picnic lunch. We have found that having a peanut butter and honey sandwich mid-afternoon works out well from a time and expense standpoint. Thus far, we have good luck finding lunch spots and the weather has cooperated nicely.
Lunch Stop north of Yellowstone National Park
Along the route we passed through the small town of White Sulphur Springs, MT (that’s how they spell it) which was documented pictorially as one of the stopping points on the original 1920 Park-to-Park tour. We looked for the Sherman Hotel depicted in one of the original photographs, but unfortunately, according to one long time resident of the town, it had been torn down several years ago to make way for the widening of RT 89 through town. Took a photo of Jean in front of the Murray Hotel which architecturally appeared to be of the same vintage. Oh well..
Jean on the main street in White Sulphur Springs, MT
On September 7th Jean and I left Livingston, MT for Choteau (pronounced choto), MT our next stop on the path Glacier National Park on RT 89. Other than a brief detour to take a peek at a dam on the Missouri River in Great Falls, MT, the trip was rather uneventful. For those of you who are keeping track, we did attend Mass in a small church in Choteau Saturday evening. Since the Jeep had been behaving quite nicely for the past several days, no Divine Intervention was solicited.
September 8th was an exciting day. Our plan was to reach Glacier National Park early enough in the day to visit some of its attractions before retiring in our “economy” accommodations at St. Mary Lodge on the eastern side of the Park. More on the “economy” part later. We were forewarned that there was some roadwork being done on RT 89 between Choteau and Glacier. We elected to stay with that route, as it was the most direct route and closest to the one followed by the original 1920 tour group. Well, we were not disappointed; we encountered 8 miles of unpaved and rutted road which coated our sweet Jeep with a layer of light grey mud. Eight miles is a long way when you are enduring a jostling, mudslinging ride.
Approaching Glacier National Park from the East at Dusk
Anyway, we found ourselves at the southeastern edge of Glacier National Park around 4pm. We decided to hit a couple of the areas in the Park that afternoon. Living up to our philosophy of taking the road less traveled, we took RT 49 down into the Two Medicine area of the Park. RT 49 lived up to our expectations; having curves, steep drop-offs, questionable footing, and beautiful scenery (if one dared to look). We had our traditional peanut butter and honey sandwiches in the Jeep at the edge of a lake in the picturesque glacier carved valley and headed up to the Many Glacier area of the Park backtracking on the same RT 49 that scared the webejeebees out of us on the way in (this time we were on the uphill side of the road).
Entrance Sign for Glacier National Park
The Many Glacier area of the Park was similar spectacular to the one we left; in that it consists of a lake-filled valley floor surrounded by tall jagged mountain peaks. It is more open, and the peaks more visible than at Two Medicine. Here we saw the expansive Many Glacier Hotel on the edge of Lake Sherburne. The hotel dates back to 1915. We took a short hike to a lake that was purported to have frequent visits by moose and black bears. Well, after 20 fun filled minutes waiting for something other than other spectators to appear, we decided to head back to our accommodations at the St. Mary Lodge. At dinner we ran into a couple of fellows that stuck it out at the lake far longer than we did with apparent no luck viewing wildlife. I just wonder if the wildlife was hiding on the other side of the lake quietly viewing the spectators and saying something like ”oh, look at the funny one with the green fur…”
Many Glacier Lodge in background. Established in 1915
Anyway, now for the “economy” room thing. So some of you may recall from previous posts that Jean and I do not make room reservations more than a day in advance, as we never know where the Jeep or our curiosity might leave us. Despite my poor judgment in selecting a motel to stay at in central Kansas (did I mention it was only $49?), Jean left the arrangements for our stay at Glacier National Park up to me. There really are not many motels close to the eastern entries to Glacier National Park, so I decided to explore staying at one of the Park’s lodges (they are actually run by an independent firm) knowing that they could be pricey. Then I saw it, right on the computer screen before my eyes “economy rooms”. Such a deal, how could I pass this up? I casually mentioned to Jean that I had found economical accommodations at one of Glacier’s lodges; and she (probably not understanding the full ramifications of my suggestion) said “sure”.
OK, so we get to the Lodge, which is clean and nicely appointed, and I sign up for our economy room. First, let me say that the room was indeed a good value considering it was clean and convenient to the Park’s services. However, she was a little taken back with its basement location and limited maneuvering room. So how much room do you need to sleep anyway?? However, the coup de grace was what I discovered upon returning to the room after a couple of hours of computer work in the lodge lobby. There in one of the two beds was my bride under the covers cloaked in several layers of clothes. Our sub terrarium abode had begun to take on the temperature of the surrounding earth and Jean had not discovered that the room was equipped with an efficient in-wall heater. I turned the heat up and soon everything was nice and cozy in her bed (and mine).
Jean in cold room before discovering the in-wall heater – note the rustic furniture
9-6-13 Driving the northeast loop at Yellowstone National Park
9-6-13 Bison in northeast portion of Yellowstone National Park
9-8-13 Eight miles of road construction on RT 89 going north to Glacier National Park
9-8-13 Drive into Many Glacier, Glacier National Park
9-8-13 RT 49 to Two Medicine in Glacier National Park
9-8-13 Drive north to Glacier National Park from Choteau