Monday, July 17, 2006
Yellowstone/Glacier Trip, Part V
Wednesday, July 5, 8pm
Yesterday morning I slept in, well I laid in. When I got up and at 'em I drove to West Glacier along US Hwy 2. The drive takes a little over an hour, depending on how many vehicles are in front of yours. I learned today that US Hwy 2 runs for 4,060 miles from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon and beyond -- all the way to Seattle. It even goes into Canada at one point. It is also called Theodore Roosevelt International Highway. The drive is mountainous, twisty curvy, and absolutely beautiful. The road follows the path of the Great Northern Railway line, and I saw a couple of trains going along.
Upon arriving at West Glacier, there is a little cluster of shops. These shops all sell pretty much the same things. I was able to find an appropriate T-shirt for my nephew. There is no sales tax in Montana, which is refreshing, so a $9.95 shirt costs just that - $9.95.
I then went down the road through the west entrance to the park to the town of Apgar which is situated on Lake McDonald. There is a souvenir shop located in the old Apgar one-room school house that was built in 1915. I regret I didn't take a picture of it. I should also pause to make a note that many of the buildings in and around the park are so old that the floors slant and very little appears plumb or level. This is especially true of the structures in East Glacier which is actually located on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and may or may not be subject to state and federal building codes. I looked in a couple more shops then grabbed a quick lunch at the only restaurant in Apgar. Afterwards I had huckleberry ice cream in a waffle cone. Huckleberry is BIG around here. All the shops sell a ton of different huckleberry products from salad vinaigrette to hand lotion.
I then walked down to the edge of Lake McDonald, took a few pictures, then walked back to my super dented car. It was very evident yesterday morning that the hail did some real damage to my hood and roof.
I needed to get back to East Glacier to get to my horseback ride by 3. My friend wanted to go back to a shop called The Spiral Spoon at which she had purchased 3 gorgeous hand carved spoons. These spoons were works of art - truly, so I dropped her off there, parked at the Lodge, and walked to the horseback riding concession place.
I've ridden numerous times in my life, everywhere from the mountains in Breckenridge, Co, to the desert in Phoenix, AZ, and of course the crappy nose/tail rides as a kid at camp. This ride was wonderful. We had three guides. One's name was Freddie. Freddie is a Sioux Indian who has been in several movies as a stunt man - Dances with Wolves and Hidalgo are the two I remember his saying. Another guide was Mouse, a Blackfeet Indian who won the national rodeo in 1977, I think. The third was a younger kid from the area named Brandon. The ride was a serious climb for the horses, and mine was definitely up to the task. His name was Gigi, which I think is a girl's name, but I don't think the horse cares. There was a guy in the group who was from somewhere in Florida. He was a talker...a geek talker. He was always just on the cusp of annoying me so much that I might have reigned my horse around and punched the geek talker in the face. I learned a great deal about the land during that ride, and even got to trot several times which is way more fun than just walking along.
After the ride I went to eat dinner at a little Mexican restaurant behind the motel called Serrano's. The food wasn't terrible, but it did reinforce the idea that while traveling you should only eat food native to the area. Mexican food in Montana doesn't work out too well. Elk or bison or trout at the lodge would have been a better choice. After dinner I returned to the motel, played numerous games of cards, then listened to and watched people across the street set off fireworks. The sound of fireworks continued well after I went to bed, but I had no trouble falling asleep.