England and Wales, Part Two

The second part of our England and Wales adventure blog begins again after a fun evening enjoying a music festival at a nearby pub called the Chestnut Inn, named for the gazillion huge chestnut trees all around.  We woke to a boat wake rocking Trimdon Grange against the cement wall of the canal in Worcester; time to get moving!  We had to have her back in the marina by 0900, so we untied and pulled up stakes (literally) and off we went.  Making the final 90-degree turn into the marina was a piece of cake now that we were so experienced, ha!

Pretty soon the boat was safely moored in her slip, and we were ready to hoof it to a hotel we’d booked for our last night in Worcester.  As it turned out there was a half marathon going on in the city and it seemed as though everyone one in England was running!  Various streets were closed so we had to wind our way towing suitcases across the bumpy cobblestone roads through the throngs of people.  It was pretty funny trying to get to our hotel without having to cut across the wall of marathon runners.  We did end up crossing the crush of runners three times.  I’m sure the locals enjoyed watching two Yanks puffing their way through the gaps in the crowd!

After a luxurious night in our hotel (Boutique by Brown’s, highly recommended) by the River Severn, we once again had to trek across town with suitcases in tow to the rental car agency to pick up the “wrong side driving machine” that we’d be using for the next three weeks.  I was the designated driver, with Marty handling the navigation duties.  Of course, the very first challenge when pulling out of the car park (parking lot for you Yanks), was to figure out which side of the road to turn into, followed by the ever-lurking clockwise roundabouts.  We survived the first few miles as I quickly learned to shift using my left hand, muttering my new mantra; “stay to the left, stay to the left”.

We soon left Worcester in our rear-view mirror and headed northwest toward Wales. While driving through all the picturesque towns (cute town alert, cute town alert!!), we noticed what looked like an elevated aqueduct in the distance.  Pretty soon we came to a sign post for the famous Pontcysylite Aqueduct, so we made a quick U-turn and went for a look see!  It’s an amazing sight, with 18 tapered stone towers rising over 125 feet above the River Dee, supporting a 1000 foot long cast iron trough deep enough for the canal boats to cross over!  The architect was Thomas Telford, who designed many of the Industrial Age canals and bridges in England and Wales, including the suspension bridge that we would soon cross on our way to Anglesey.

Our plan was to drive through Snowdonia National Park, an area with 90 mountain peaks, on our way to the coastal town of Caernarfon (Ka-NAR-von) where we’d be staying for five nights.  As we approached the mountains, the weather deteriorated quickly, and the front bands of Tropical Storm Helene started pummeling our little car with wind and sideways rain.  Mt. Snowden, the tallest mountain in Wales at 3,560 ft., was hidden in the clouds, but what we did see of the countryside was gorgeous.

At one point we stopped for a look-see at the top of a pass, and as I walked across the car park I almost got run over by a soggy sheep heading for the hills!  It was freezing cold and the wind was trying to knock us over, so our little walking excursion didn’t last long.  Included in “the plan” were a few days of hiking in the mountains, along with a train ride to the summit behind an old steam engine.  Unfortunately, Helene had different ideas!  The train was only doing a partial ascent and hiking was not advised due to “60mph gusts which can knock over hikers”.  Okay, we get the picture – time to snuggle in front of the fireplace for a couple of days!

When Helene finally moved inland, we donned our rain jackets and headed out to explore the area.  Caernarfon is an historic city that began as a Roman fort originally built by Agricola in about 77-78AD.  The fort was huge, covering an area that would have included the castle and was occupied up until about 394 AD, just prior to the final flight of the Roman forces from Britain in the fifth century.  Caernarfon Castle that dominates the local skyline today was built in 1283 by Edward I, following his conquest of Wales, and was also the site of the Investiture of the Prince of Wales in 1969.  Yes, I stood where Queen Elizabeth stood!

We had great fun climbing around the castle and enjoying the views across the Menai Strait to the Isle of Anglesey.  The wind and current made us glad we weren’t going to be sailing Happy Dance through the channel!  It was beautiful though, and we could just imagine archers standing on the ramparts in the cold north wind, where the carved gargoyles on the top of the walls had been whittled by the wind and rain to narrow stubs over the centuries.

Walking the narrow cobble stoned streets of the old walled city we found many treasures to remember; sitting next to some well-lubricated locals at the historic Anglesey Inn who enjoyed teaching us a few words of Welsh, afternoon tea and amazing leek soup while sitting on the sidewalk people watching, visiting with a shop owner who explained the slate trade to us, and of course, lamb shanks, and steak and ale pie at the pub!

One day we drove over the impressive Menai Suspension bridge to the Isle of Anglesey and Holyhead.  The island is beautiful, with low rolling green hills, rock walls, and dramatic coastal views.  We drove to the northwest corner of the island and walked a bit of the Anglesey Coastal Path that circles the entire island, but the wind was blowing so hard that we could barely keep our feet under us.  We had fun watching the waves crash on the rocks around the South Stack Lighthouse, laughing at a herd of black sheep that we first thought were rocks, and exploring the amazing Ty Mawr iron age hut circles that date back about 4000 years.

One of the fun factoids we learned about this area was that Holyhead was the site of a semaphore station in the days before electric telegraph.  The station here was the furthest west of a line of eleven stations that could send a signal to Liverpool in less than 30 seconds using only line of sight flags and signals, to alert Liverpool of the condition and arrival times of inbound ships.  Think of the excitement to learn of a ship coming in after months or years at sea!

I should also mention just how fun our accommodations were in Caernarfon.  We stayed in an AirBnB that was the home of a Mom and daughter who lived nearby.  The narrow row house had three stories of creaky staircases with books and fun artwork everywhere.  The “hob” was a beautiful old iron stove, and there was a cozy electric fireplace that we enjoyed while Helene was howling outside.  It was fun to be in a real Welsh home, with books in Welsh and English lining the shelves, cupboards full of tea and foods we’d yet to try.

Our time in Caernarfon soon came to an end, so we packed up our little wrong side driving machine and headed toward Cardigan…soon to be another chapter coming to a blog near you!

Sorry, Love!!! (England and Wales, Part One)

Our first introduction with a local Brit was when I accidentally bumped into a group of “young tuffs” while we were trying to find our hotel.  Marty and I both laughed out loud when we heard his cheerful, accented response as he reached out to make sure I wasn’t going to tip over and said; “Sorry, love!”  That became the quote of our trip, but not because it was a sorry trip; it was a month of England and Wales adventures to remember!

After arriving in London we hopped on a train to Worcester where we planned to spend a few days recovering from jet lag and getting our travel legs under us.  We wandered the streets of Worcester for three days enjoying the great walking streets, shops, exhibits, river views, swans, rugby matches, local music, history, and of course, pubs!  Our Airbnb was located above (way above..) a central walking street, allowing us to come and go easily as we headed off in a different direction each day.

Pretty soon it was time for week one of the big British escapade, and what this trip was really planned around.  So, what’s blue, 50′ long, 8′ wide, goes 4-mph, and floats?  You guessed it; our cute little canal boat, named the Swindon Grange.  Being that we were celebrating my birthday, it was only right that our boat was blue!

We checked out of our flat, stopped to pick up Welsh cakes and wine, Cumberland sausages, and some makings for a good mash (we love the local food!), then walked to the marina to move onto our floating home.  After an overview of the systems from the friendly service guys at the marina, including how to clean the prop each day (Marty’s job), we were ready…maybe?  There’s no test driving involved, just a quick how-to video about the locks, and the walk-through onboard.  Casey, our instructor, kept saying, it’s no problem, you’ll be fine; then why do I have butterflies in my tummy?…argh!  This was as almost as scary as leaving the dock in Ketchikan headed for San Francisco!

To give me even a few more jitters, as we were completing our walk-through we watched another couple depart the dock in their boat heading for the first challenge; a 90-degree turn to exit the marina and enter the narrow canal.  We heard a loud thud as they drove their boat up onto the far side bank of the canal, followed by the engine screaming as they put it in full reverse to get back off!  Great…we’re next!  Maybe our boating experience actually did help us though, because we just treated this like leaving any tiny marina in Happy Dance; Marty on the bow giving the all clear, me on the helm slowly doing a three or four point turn – phew we made it!   Sorry, love!

After leaving the marina we were now in the canal leading to the River Severn and about to arrive at our next challenge; the first lock!  Marty was the designated “lock labourer” (he got a special button and everything), so we pulled over to the side to tie up while Marty walked up to investigate the lock workings.  Pretty soon he was signaling me through, so I pulled into the tiny space, and watched as the water disappeared beneath me!  When Marty opened the gates, I drove out and picked him up on the other side and we were off to the next set of locks.  We repeated this process many more times over the next week, for a total of about 50 locks.  Marty got his exercise and I took lots of photos!

Our first night on the river, we pulled up to a cute pub (redundant?) named The Camp House and tied up to their dock.  We headed up to join the Sunday afternoon gathering and we were soon chatting merrily with the locals, sharing stories and learning about their easy lifestyles.  There were as many dogs in the pub as there were people, but amazingly enough they were all very well behaved and I even had a cute little guy named Georgie on my lap for most of the evening.  Anyone who knows me is laughing now…go ahead, it was a magical night among new friends.

The rest of the week followed much the same pattern; we’d get up and have our coffee on the aft deck, then we’d head off for more wetland adventures.  The weather was perfect for us all week, with puffy clouds and intermittent sunshine and only one rainy day, so all was well on that score.  We’d explore whatever town or village or countryside we ended up in, and find somewhere for a tasty meal.

Some of the channels were crazy narrow, so tight that we’d have to drive through the reeds in order to pass a boat heading the other direction.  A few spots were called “pinch points” where you had to plan ahead because if you did meet another boat one of you had to back up to let the other through!  There were lots of old arched bridges, a few tiny tunnels where we had to duck to make it through, and lots of different types of locks.  It was beautiful in a green leafy way, with plenty of swans, grebes, and ducks all around.

So how did we like our boat away from boat you ask?  We loved it (don’t tell Happy Dance!).  It was definitely a different type of boat living than we’re used to, but there are some similarities.  The peaceful, slow, quiet mode of travel is wonderful, as is the coziness of the boat itself.  Just like on Happy Dance we had all the comforts we needed, and our view changed daily.  People in other boats were always friendly and helpful, and we were surprised at how the locals were so interested in our adventures as well!  It’s a great way to travel and explore the rolling  countryside and quaint villages of England.

“Sorry, Love”, our next canal boat trip is going to have to be longer!

See you next trip!

 

 

Where the Air is Thin

Our national park adventures have kept us in the stratosphere for some time now, and our latest stop in Rocky Mountain National Park carried us even higher.

Longs Peak, elevation 14, 259′

During our visit to the park we took a few hikes, enjoyed some afternoon thunderstorms, and drove the Trail Ridge Road, which we soon learned is the third highest road in the US at 12,183’ above sea level.

The drive to the summit was spectacular.  Once above the tree line the views opened up, with more mountain majesty’s everywhere we looked.  At the visitor center we took a short trail to the top, climbing 100’s of stairs to reach 12,000’.  Even after supposedly being somewhat acclimated to the altitude, it was still a bit of a struggle with 30%-40% less oxygen than we are used to at sea level!   It was mind-boggling to learn about the alpine tundra with all the miniature flowers and adaptive plants, and how they survive in such a completely harsh winter environment.

It may have been due to the thin air, but at some point, my mind suddenly veered to veni, vedi, vici.  While the correct translation is ‘we came, we saw, we conquered’, in our case it can be more accurately described as we came, we ahhed, we huffed and puffed our way to the top!

Sadly, our mountain adventures in the Murph have come to an end for this year, but in true permanent picnic form we have begun yet another escapade!  Now that we’re back where the air is full of wonderful oxygen cells we’ll soon be regaling you with the continued adventures of Marty and Sue…stay tuned!

On the Road Again

As we’ve been visiting big name places and filling in the pages of our National Park Passport, along the way we’ve also had some pretty fun side trips.  We always keep our eyes peeled for historical markers because, oh my, oh my, McMartyMan loves historical plaques!!!

Here’s his favorite road sign along with a few other memorable moments along the byways…

Lewis and Clark Caverns is a beautiful spot, even though Lewis and Clark never saw the caverns, but they did camp in the valley nearby! We camped in the valley where we had huge views of the mountains all around and the river down below.  In the afternoons the winds would start blowing and we’d get thunder and lightning and even some rain.  It was gorgeous.  We took a fun tour into the caverns and it was pretty crazy!  Up and down steep narrow stairs carved into the rock, with even a few places where we had to slide along on our rear ends.  It was beautiful though and definitely well worth the huff and puff uphill hike to get to the entrance.

We also camped at the Headwaters of the Missouri (think LOTS of mosquitoes), and read all the historical plaques before leaving the campground early while we still had some blood.  It was a nice area, and we saw our first moose of the trip, but the campground itself wasn’t one of our favorites.  Being in the river delta we were surrounded by lots of cottonwoods and willows, so after being in the open valleys of the Caverns area it felt a bit closed in.  So we left!  Ain’t retirement great?

We took an unplanned side tip to a couple of ghost towns in Montana.  We camped at a cute park outside Virginia City, which is a Victorian town from the 1800’s that is frozen in time.  When the gold ran out and the town ran dry, the stores and buildings remained exactly as they had been until the 1960’s when Montana declared it a National Historic Landmark District (and added an ice cream parlor).  It’s a fun little town with LOTS of historical plaques, but still a bit of a ghost town; in other words, good marketing, not so great in reality.  We  took the nighttime ghost tour…spooky, and went to see a funny satirical Follies show at the Brewery.  A fun side trip but not one that we need to repeat.

We also went to Garnett, another well preserved ghost town up in the mountains.  We drove for nearly an hour up this crazy STEEP, bumpy, one lane dirt road, and surprise, surprise, when we got to the top there was a paved road coming up from the other side, and a full parking lot!  We had expected to be walking around in the hills finding falling down shacks; nope!  Lots more plaques and plenty of tourists – too funny!

So, sometimes we just have to laugh at our adventures, and when we’re feeling silly we take pictures to record the events…

While near Bozeman we went to the Museum of the Rockies and I highly recommend it.  The dinosaur complex houses one of the largest and most amazing collections of actual dinosaur bones anywhere in the world.  Somehow I’d always thought of dinosaurs as a Jurassic Park creation, but to see the real thing and to see the progression from all the research that is performed is amazing.  Since we had been learning all about the geology of the area, it was also very interesting to now place living creatures into the timeline.  My brain cells are getting a work out!

On our way south from the Tetons we spent a few days at the Firehole Campground on the northern edge of Flaming Gorge. It was totally unexpected to find ourselves in a landscape full of Monument Valley type rock formations, without a tree in sight, and TOTAL silence.  We had two afternoons of wild rain and thunder storms while there, so it was quite a change from Jackson Hole.

Speaking of Jackson Hole, we had our one “oh shit” of the trip while coming down Teton Pass.  The pass is a mere 8,432 feet high, and the valleys on either side are about 6,200 feet, so it doesn’t sound too intimidating.  The problem is that on the way down to Jackson, the grade is nearly 10% all of the way down.  We were keeping a reasonable speed when we started to smell something burning.  While trying determine if the smell was coming from us or a nearby truck, the dash light started flashing and an alarm went off with a loud squeal.  Marty headed for the nearest shoulder, stopped the truck, and out we jumped to investigate.  Yikes; get the extinguisher!  In the front wheel well we had a small fire that scared the poopie out of me, but thankfully went out before we even sprayed it with the extinguisher.  Long story short, we let everything cool down and got some much needed encouragement from the two Bobs (my bro and bro-in-law) and then we continued down the final turn.  We are now the proud owners of four new brake pads!  Note to self…next time, go around!

Okay, enough with the crazy photos and silly stories….but hey, I have internet…    Tomorrow we go bugle with the elk in the Rocky Mountains!

Parkin’ with the big boys!!

Critter Cam and other Scenic Delights! Yellowstone and Teton

As our mountain adventure continues, we remain awed by the boundless grandeur of this land we call home (we actually call Happy Dance home, but hey, I’m waxing poetic here!).  We’re talking purple mountain majesty on a huge scale, intact ecosystems (my new favorite science term) that live and breathe and change and excite; it’s all an unending series of oohs, ahhs, and – whoa, stop the truck I need a photo!!!

No elk were harmed in the taking of this photo.

Our time in Yellowstone and Teton National Parks was incredible.  We walked our little legs over many miles of trails and turnouts, scenic vistas and wildlife views.  Granted, there is so much more to explore, but on this, our first foray into the parks we were able to grasp at least some of the wonder and wildness of these great national treasures.  As one of the Park Rangers said; “as American citizens we all own a piece of these parks”.

One of our favorite hikes in Yellowstone was our hike along the South Rim of the Yellowstone Canyon.  Along the way we were treated to the classic views of lower Yellowstone Falls, as well as some pretty stunning panoramas of the entire canyon.  As we hiked along the edge we could look straight down to the rushing river, a mere 800-1,200 feet below us.  A few steam vents dotted the sides of the canyon to remind us of where we were, and the trees were hanging on by the tiniest of root holds in a very thin layer of topsoil.

The vast caldera that is Yellowstone, the rugged peaks of the Tetons, and the incredible geological history that is displayed throughout the west left us with a sense of how complex the earth is and how short a time man has been here.  For instance, in the Tetons “the granite on the summits of some of the peaks is more than three billion years old, which makes it some of the oldest rock in North America. But the mountains themselves are the youngest of the Rocky Mountains.  Only 12 million years old, they are mere adolescents compared with the rest of the 60-million-year-old range.” *

One of the Rangers helped us to visualize just how vast a history it is; hold out your arm and consider that to be a timeline of the earth beginning at your shoulder, then try to picture where the formation of the Tetons 12 million years ago occurred along that timeline.  Well, it’s out at your fingertips!  When you place human history along that same timeline we are just the tiniest of slivers out at the tip of your fingernail.  It’s pretty mind-boggling try to reconcile our place in the silent majesty of the Tetons with the thought of massive blocks being pushed up as the earth split along a north-south fault line to create the mountains and valleys.  Okay, enough, enough of the geology lesson; but it’s fascinating!

Mountain Majesty

Okay, so the mountains are beautiful, we get that, but what about those critter cams you promised?  Yellowstone provided lots of critter watching of antelope, elk, deer, bears, cranes, osprey, white pelicans, eagles, swans, coyotes, and of course; tatanka**.  One day we were sitting in our chairs enjoying our lunch while watching the herds of bison in Hayden Valley, when a huge male bison wandered down the hill, across the road (causing much confusion), right by our truck and down into the valley.  It was so funny to see this grand shaggy beastie stopping traffic and basically just saying; “out of my way, I own this place”!

Near our campground in Teton National Park we were once again sitting in our chairs enjoying lunch (do you sense a theme?) while watching four bull moose and one moose cow munching on their own lunch and cooling off in the river.  It was so fun to watch these big mangy moosekateers as they totally ignored the sound of cameras clicking from the other side of the river!  However, once they crossed over to our side the river we decided it was time to pack up and go!

We hope you’ve enjoyed more escapades of the not so rich and not so famous.  We continue to roam where the deer and the antelope play, and where the skies tend to open up in some pretty awesome cloud bursts!

*History: How the Tetons Were Formed

**In the Lakota language, the word “tatanka” is translated as “buffalo” or “buffalo bull.” However, according to native Lakota speakers, the literal translation is something more like “He who owns us.”

Pine Trees on the Moon (Yellowstone Nat’l Park)

It seems we’ve departed planet earth and landed on the Moon.  The vistas looks vaguely familiar, with pine trees and wildflowers, but everywhere we turn there is some strange upside down waterfall, or a hole in the ground blowing steam high into the blue sky.  Pools of boiling water in all colors send steam high into the morning sun creating rainbows and eerie, ghostly views.  Sometimes we find mud burping out of a smelly pit, creating big muddy bubbles on the surface that blow in the wind, with overwhelming smells, and steamy sauna winds.  What is this place?

Morning solitude…ahhh

Well, it’s a strange and somewhat unsettling place known as roche jaune*.  It’s a caldera, it’s a hot spot, it’s a crazy place!  It’s amazing to think that you’re walking around a very active and lively hot spot and that the volcano below you is still changing the surface and is only just sleeping.  Shhhhhh!

Mammoth Hot Springs

This is our first time to Yellowstone National Park, and it certainly didn’t disappoint!  We avoided the masses of selfie snapping tourists and their stinky buses by getting up at the crack of dawn and entering the park before the Rangers had even arrived at the gates.  By starting early we were able to see incredible sunrises through the steam rising off the rivers, and wildlife that was calm and well, wild.  It was the best time of the day.

We’d head of our chosen destination, park the car in a nearly empty parking lot and start off on a hike to somewhere.  We usually missed all the crowds with the exception of getting back to the truck and getting out of the parking lot.  Some days we just plunked ourselves along the edge of a valley with coffee and our comfy chairs and watched the elk and the buffalo roam.  We did a fair amount of people watching too, a.k.a. laughing at the Johnny Jackasses as they parked in the middle of the road, sometimes even jumping out of their cars to get a photo of some critter along the road.  It was fairly amazing.

We loved our visit to Yellowstone, and may return again someday, that is if the caldera doesn’t blow by then!

Here are a few of the gazillion photos we took…enjoy!

First….the upside  down waterfalls…a.k.a. geysers.

The hot springs…

And of course, the boiling pools and mudpots…

* Near the end of the 18th century, French trappers named the river Roche Jaune, which is probably a translation of the Hidatsa name Mi tsi a-da-zi “Yellow Rock River”.

Wows (Glacier Nat’l Park)

Wow…definitely the most used word after we entered Glacier National Park.  Once our senses went into overload our vocabulary deserted us.  Everywhere we turned there was another Wow!  For anyone who has been to Glacier National Park, you won’t be surprised or impressed with these inadequate photos and descriptions, but if you’ve never been to Glacier, let me just tell you it’s…WOW!!

For the first half of our visit, we camped in Fish Creek Campground on the west side of the park, next to Lake McDonald.  We grabbed the last available back-in site in the campground which as luck would have it included a charming 45-degree turn around a lovely tree, making the site barely long enough for our little Murph.  Marty and I shared a few exhalations of exasperation as the tree kept jumping out of line and getting in our way while we (Marty) proficiently and patiently parked the Murph while somebody (Sue) gave perfect hand signals.  Ahhh, Murph was soon settled in, and anchor beers were our reward.  Oh look, there’s a squirrel!

We’d been given plenty of reading material upon entering the park, so we set to work figuring out “the plan” for our week in this stunning area.  The next morning there was a Ranger led hike that sounded just about right for our stubby legs and creaky knees.  We met up with Ranger Randy at the appointed time and place and introduced ourselves to about twenty other hikers who ranged from the very young to the young at heart.

We’d chosen the hike to Avalanche Lake, which we later learned is the most popular of all the hikes in Glacier.  Since we wanted some Glacier education as we got our bearings (not the furry kind), this hike was the perfect start to our adventures.  The trail traversed some wetlands through a pocket of huge old growth cedars and black cottonwoods (a new kind of tree for me!) then we started climbing along Avalanche Creek through some colorful rock formations.  Ranger Randy explained how the glaciers carved the mountains and canyons in the area and how the green and red argilite (yay, we remembered!) rocks were formed.  At one point we stopped across the valley from the path of a recent avalanche, but the wow part was seeing the swath of full-grown trees broken off about 20-30 feet up and blown UP the mountain on the side of the canyon away from the avalanche.  Some trees were even pulled out at their roots, all from the blast of wind created at the leading edge of the avalanche.  WOW…the force of nature!

Avalanche Lake is gorgeous, ringed by steep cliffs with glacier-fed waterfalls pouring in to create the beautiful aqua color of the lake.  As we learned about the glacier’s role in the creation of Glacier Park, we also learned that the glaciers in the park are quickly disappearing.  There are only a few dozen glaciers left of the more than 150 that covered this area 100 years ago.  It’s estimated that in 12-15 years, all the glaciers in the park will be gone.  Avalanche Lake will become a seasonal lake driving immense changes to the environment that it now supports.  Sad wow…consider all the ecosystems that must adapt.

While enjoying our week in Glacier we took two other hikes, a boat ride and a trip up to Logan Pass in one of the historic red buses.  Our trip from Lake McDonald up Going to the Sun highway to Logan Pass in the red bus was great.  It was hot and sunny when we left the lodge and Marty and I scored on getting the last row in the bus all to ourselves.  We prairie-dogged (stuck our heads out the top) at all the great photo stops, laughed at our driver’s bad jokes, and ooh-ed and ahh-ed at all the incredible views.  As we neared the pass the clouds started rolling over the peaks and at Logan Pass we couldn’t see 10 feet in front of us; we were in a cold drizzly cloud!  Oh well, just another summer day in Montana!

In the middle of the week we moved to a campground that was at the south end of the Park.  The drives through Blackfeet country were probably some of the most beautiful.  It was also interesting (disturbing?) to read up on a bit of the history of the park and the ongoing disagreements with the local Indian tribes.

While on the southeast side of the park we took one of the scenic boat tours on Saint Mary Lake.  The boats are old restored wooden boats and the guides are fun college kids who come up for the summer to wow all the tourists with factoids and beauty.  During our stopover in the boat we hiked along St. Mary’s Lake up to the falls and back.  It was in an area that had burned about three years ago, so the area was going through a big change.  The scorched black tree trunks are still standing, surrounded by a zillion wildflowers…wow.  It was definitely a scenic boat tour and we loved it.

Our last hike was from Two Medicine Lake up to Aster Falls and the Aster Park Lookout.  This was a great hike to end our Glacier visit, walking through fields of wildflowers and marshy meadows, with rocky peaks soaring all around…definitely more wows.

We were extremely impressed with Glacier and not only for the beauty.  We were impressed to learn that it is an intact ecosystem and that the focus is to keep it that way.  Glacier is clean, well-organized, the volunteers and Rangers are all excellent, and the Park is maintained in such a way as to minimize the impact of the 2+ million visitors.  Sadly, it’s also being drastically affected by the changes in climate.  So big, so beautiful, so wow…

So, there you have it…Marty and Sue’s visit to Glacier.  I’m sure everyone who’s been there is remembering their own wow moments, and if you haven’t been there, go get your own Wow!!!