Homer's Travels: Installment #7: Glacier 2000

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Installment #7: Glacier 2000

Using frequent flyer miles, I got two free tickets on Amtrak and a free car rental for a week. We used these for our 2000 summer vacation. Back in 1995 I went to Glacier - one of the most beautiful places in the lower 48. In 2000, I wanted to head back so I could share it with the wife. We boarded the train in Oxnard on Friday morning and road the train north to Portland and then east to Whitefish, MT. The trip was relaxing and quite delightful. I got some reading done and watched the scenery go by. We went to sleep near San Francisco and woke up with the sunrise in the forests of Oregon. The coach seats were a little small for me and my sleep was a little spotty but it wasn't too bad. We arrived at our destination early Sunday morning. While our train ride was free, it turns out the car rental coupon was not valid in Whitefish, MT (Dag Nab It).

We started with some mediocre breakfast in Whitefish and drove on to Glacier National Park. The drive was 30 - 45 minutes. We had reservations at the Village Inn at Apgar,a lodge on Lake McDonald located three miles inside the park. Since it was still too early to check in we drove the Going-to-the-Sun road and ended up at Logan Pass Visitor's Center. We checked out the displays and the introductory movie and then decided to start our exploration with a short walk on the Hidden Lake Nature Trail. The trail lead to an overlook with a beautiful view of ... Hidden Lake.

Over the next few days we did a hike to Avalanche Lake, took a boat ride on one of the many lakes in the park, and enjoyed the heart stopping vistas. The only place I have been that is more spectacular is Jasper, Alberta, Canada where we honeymooned. We looked into taking a helicopter ride over the park but, because of fires in the area, all helicopters were unavailable and we had to change our plans.

On the last day we went to the east side of the park to hike up to Scenic Point. I had hiked this six mile hike (round trip) back in 1995. Back then it was overcast and the trail took me through the mist and up above the clouds. I took a picture of myself sitting on the edge with the flat layer of clouds behind me extending out to the horizon. This picture turned out to be the first picture I gave to the wife while we were dating. This time the skies were clear and the views went on forever. We were exhausted after the hike since we were not in shape for the over 2000 foot climb of the trail. We were saved by ice cream before we started back to the lodge.

One of the highlights of our trip - the small things that stick with you long after the trip - happened just outside the park. We were driving to town when we passed a a sign that we both thought said Buffalo Jerry. What the heck is Buffalo Jerry? It turns out that it read Buffalo Jerky. DUH. We still laugh at that one every now and then. We can be such dorks sometimes. Now every time one of us misreads a sign, we think of Buffalo Jerry.

For more proof of my quirkiness, I will tell you the story of the Glacier Stones. When I was there in '95 I picked up two stones from a riverbed. One red and one green. Remembering all the Hawaiian curse stories, not to mention the Brady Bunch Tiki story, I asked for permission from the Lady of the Glacier and I promised that the stones would be returned someday. The stones rode on the dash of my Honda for several years. I figured that the stones brought me luck since I met the wife less then a week after getting back home. I kept my promise with the Lady of the Glacier and returned the stones to the same river bed that I borrowed them from. I thanked her before I returned to the car.

It was time to head home. We drove to Whitefish, checked into a hotel for half a day (they gave us half the daily rate) so we could use the hot tube and do some laundry. We got on the train and headed for Portland. We had a brief stop over there so I scouted the area and bagged us some Subway sandwiches before we got back on the train and finished our return home.

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