I was lucky enough to tag along on a weekend family adventure to Whitefish, Montana. My parents, Julie, Joe and I (Kristin had a baseball tournament in Revelstoke, and Jason went to the lake to visit his family) left right after work on Friday, and leisurely wound our way down around Glacier National Park to a condo rental in Whitefish.
What really struck us, when we started to get close to Browning (in MT), was the heavy smoke that seemed to be hanging over everything. Suddenly, as we cleared one area of mountainous terrain, we could see the forest fires blazing. They were way off in the distance, and looked immense, ominous, and kinda scary (especially in the twilight).
As we drove along the southern border of Glacier National Park, we passed one spot where there was a small fire blazing ... we could feel the heat from it on our faces as we drove by.
Soon after passing this small fire spot, we passed the fire camp where all of the forest fire fighters were based. There were tons of tents, meal trucks, and lots of equipment parked in a clearing where there were a lot of people and lots of activity going on. It was kind of exciting to see.
Soon after we got to Whitefish, we heard that the fire camp had been evacuated to the town of Whitefish, and that the highway that we had been travelling on had been closed.
In Whitefish, we got to have an excellent and relaxing weekend. We stayed at Ptarmigan Village, in a very nice condo. It was pretty fancy, with a neat loft, and a steam shower. There was both an outdoor pool (super close to our condo) and an indoor pool (a short drive away) that Julie and Joe took advantage of. Only thing that sucked, was that it appears that a cat sometimes lives there, since there was what looked like a cat door, and Julie and I stuffed up pretty quick in there.
There was also private beach access, which we did check out, but "beach" here referred to a rocky shoreline, so we didn't really hang out there for too long, just long enough for Julie and Joe to take a dip. From the pictures below, you can really see how smoky it was (it was so smoky that we'd wake up in the morning to ash on the vehicle).
We checked out the town site where we shopped and partook in some grub from the Red Caboose cafe (service was not good, food was decent, you could get yam fries, which is kinda fun). Here's Joe, Julie, ME, and Dad sitting on the moose bench outside some Whitefish shops.
We also took a spin down to Kalispell to check out the shops (yeah Famous Footwear and TJ Maxx ... I got shoes, shoes, shoes! And ... a Tinkerbell t-shirt at Target ... I do love Tinkerbell ... even dressed as Tink for my T-Party back in March (of which there are far more embarrassing pictures ... the one I posted on my blog is pretty tame, though).
Down by Kalispell, we took a look around Flathead lake, and watched people launching their boats for awhile. It looked pretty, but because of the ever pervasive smoke, it was hard to get a true appreciation for where we were at. Not much we could do about that.
On the way back to Calgary, we drove through Glacier National Park. We stopped at Lake McDonald Lodge, which was just gorgeous. Really reminded me of Crater Lake Lodge, where Jason and I had breakfast on our Oregon vacation last year. Same feel to it. It'd be a neat place to spend a weekend (either Lodge, really).
We took the Going to The Sun Road to Logan Pass to get through the rest of the park. MAN ... is that ever trippy. I don't remember as much about this part of the journey from the times we did this trip when I was young, but as an adult, I'm glad that I sat in the furthest seat from the edge of the road. It is really something that everyone should do. The narrow road drops off to NOTHINGNESS as you climb up a mountain.
In this pic you can see the line of the road across the side of the mountain:
The drive was surreal, it was absolutely beautiful, with gorgeous waterfalls on the way up and down.
At the peak of the road, there is a stop at Logan Pass. They have an interpretive center there, with a boardwalk hike up to some views. I remember this boardwalk from when I was so little that Julie and Joe didn't even exist yet. Mom has a picture of Kristin and I sitting on the stairs when we were knee high. Funny. There were lots of mountain sheep up there, posing for tourist pictures, and even a mountain goat with a wee baby.
Here's Julie and I, at Logan Pass:
And ... Joe and I, same place, different view:
The entire drive through Glacier National Park was a haven for motorcyclists. They even have specified motorcycle parking at Logan Pass. Hilarious.
All in all it was a pretty awesome weekend. I actually do feel relaxed and refreshed, and ready to tackle my moving adventure.
Now ... if only I had a place to move to.