I departed Ellensburg and headed east. After about two hours, I arrived in Spokane to have breakfast at Frank’s Diner. I’ve always enjoyed the old rail car that has been turned into a diner.
After crossing the border into Idaho, I couldn’t resist the urge to visit where my aunt and uncle lived for some time. Coeur d’Alene completely surprised me! What a really neat town with the most beautiful lake. If I hadn’t been feeling a bit under the weather with a mild cold, I would have rented a kayak for an hour and paddled about. I did manage to walk along the longest floating boardwalk. At one point the waves from the boats stopped me dead in my tracks so I could hold on and wait for the rocking to subside.
I continued to drive towards Glacier NP. Passing Flathead Lake made me remember the times I’ve whitewater rafted near there. Around that time, Jim Gaffigan came on Sirius XM, at which point I began laughing hysterically. At one point, I needed to pull over to wipe away the tears from laughing so hard. With my cold, I began having some trouble breathing. I’ve been fine with all of the hiking on the trip. Put on a hilarious comedian, and I almost needed my inhaler.
Glacier NP has always been on my “must visit” list. Some climatologists predict the glaciers will be gone from the park by 2030. I was glad to be arriving well before that time. I set up my campsite, which was just steps away from a beautiful lake, and got settled for the evening.
The sun was just coming up as I woke up. After taking a few pictures, I packed up camp and began the drive on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. My goal was to reach the top of the road early, as everything I read stated how much of a pain parking is as the day progresses. Even though I was early, the lot was already 3/4 full. I hiked to Hidden Lake, which was about 1.5 miles away. The highlight was seeing mountain goats up close. On the return trip, I spoke with two guys on an unconventional bachelor party/trip. After the hike, I walked around the area as I didn’t want to give up my parking spot yet. (It was a parking nightmare now, with people yelling at each other.) I met a nice retired couple who have traveled all over the world. We shared our experiences, and they offered travel suggestions for me since I’m so young. (I always laugh when I hear people say that.)
The drive down the eastern side of the mountain was a bit shorter and led me to my campground. I relaxed a bit, and then headed towards the Many Glacier section of the park. I got a coffee at the hotel on the lake, and wrote postcards. On the way inside, I saw a grizzly bear on the side of the mountain. (Thanks to the guy for showing me the photo he took with his massive telephoto lens.) Unfortunately, I didn’t have my bigger lens, and the bear was just a tiny brown dot on the camera.
After an hour, I drove to the end of the road and hiked a short distance to a lake. When I arrived, a cow moose and her calf were on the other side of the water. The people there said I missed four other moose, including a bull moose, by five minutes. It was my first time seeing a live moose ever.
With a long day of driving ahead of me, I decided that I would get coffee on the road. On the way out of the park, I couldn’t resist pulling over to capture the pink sky and the remainder of the “super moon.” I stopped in Great Falls for coffee and quiche.
This photo captures the essence of the remainder of my day:
When I arrived in Miles City, I had my first of many My Cousin Vinny moments. The people at the KOA desk starting talking about NY with me. The guy mentioned how he drove through there several times when he drove a truck. He asked how I liked living there. I gave my “everywhere has positives and negatives” explanation. The woman said that she wouldn’t like it at all and would never go. I began telling her of all of the great things that NY has to offer, and she said that it wouldn’t be good. (Has anyone seen that commercial with the guy who doesn’t like almond milk, even though he’s never tried it?)
I set my tent up, during which a million gnats swarmed me. The 95 degree weather didn’t help, either. You know it’s bad when wandering around Walmart is an enjoyable experience.
My second moment came in Walmart when I interrupted two employees to ask where the tissues were located. Blank stares. I made a gesture of blowing my nose. One of the women, with an attitude, asked if I meant Kleenex. When I got to the aisle, what did it say on the aisle list… tissues.
When I returned, I took a dip in the bug infested pool. Nobody else seemed to notice. The bugs were still everywhere in the air. Cooking dinner would be scrapped and I decided to head back out to grab a bite to eat after doing laundry.
My favorite connection was when the train horn sounded multiple times during the night. Each time, at least six horns blasted from somewhere near the campground. I actually found it funny, as the My Cousin Vinny thoughts came to me the night before. This just made the parallel even better. (This was my least favorite campground to date.)
I arrived at Theodore Roosevelt NP after driving a few hours. The park film was nice, and explained how the region influenced his career and preservation beliefs. The 36-mile scenic drive was a great way to take in the scenery with such a limited amount of time. Bison are some of my favorite animals, and I enjoy being near them. (Though I get a bit nervous when they decide to cross right in front of me. I always envision the males charging my car.)
I continued driving and stopped in Jamestown to go to the National Buffalo Museum. I remember reading about this location years ago when a white bison was born. After viewing the exhibit and looking out into the pasture for awhile, I was disappointed not to see the bison I was hoping to see.
I decided I had some extra time, as my drive to Fargo was only an hour and a half or so. The decision turned out to be a good one, as twenty minutes later White Cloud was there when I looked again.
On the way out, I drove up the hill to see the largest bison in the world.
Fargo had always been planned as a stopover location and as a place to get my oil changed. (I did the same in Carlsbad. For those wondering, I’ve driven 9,400 miles so far since leaving NY.) Also, Fargo is a movie that I’ve always enjoyed. I was beyond excited when I learned the wood chipper from the movie was on display. If you’ve never seen the movie, these photos may be a spoiler.
The U.S. and Canada decided to join the two parks along the border in the early 1930’s to form an International Peace Park. If there could only be more peace parks in the world.
The retired couple in Glacier were seasoned travelers. When I mentioned how I was mostly camping to keep the budget within check, she explained how they did the same thing at my age. I began to say that I know I could have saved more money by staying home, when she interrupted me with the funniest question.
Have you ever seen an armored car following a hearse?
I laughed a few times throughout the day thinking about that question. I’ve never heard it explained in those exact words. I’ve been really good at budgeting, but I’m also happy to be spending money on this trip. The memories and experiences will motivate me even more to save up for future summers.