bucket


Blog
Comics
Drawings
Poetry
Interviews
Golly Gee
 
 
Previous Blogs

My Trip to Big Sky
Country, Part 0ne

July 29, 2007

Letterboxing, etc.
May 25, 2007

LETTERBOXING=
CRACK

May 9, 2007

Barbara's, St. Louis,
Randy's Birthday,
Step It Up Rally

April 18, 2007

Letterboxing Event
March 22, 2007

The Rock Party
March 8, 2007

Bethel Inn,
New Lamp

February 25, 2007

Best Photos of 2006
and Start of 2007

February 10, 2007

The Holidays
January 21, 2007

Nashville!
January 2, 2007

FLW House,
Random Stuff
With Brandie,
Greg's Going Away

November 22, 2006

Halloween Party
November 9, 2006

Mike's 30th Birthday
October 30, 2006

Project Runway!
October 18, 2006

Birthday fun
October 7, 2006

King Richard's Faire
September 19, 2006

Rocky Horror
September 4, 2006

Mike's Barbecue
August 22, 2006

The Samoset
August 13, 2006

Walloon
August 6, 2006

Camping!
July 28, 2006

Reunion and
Six Flags

July 5, 2006

Museum of Bad Art
June 21, 2006

Shadow: The
Man(Cat), the Myth,
the Beast. R.I.P.

June 14, 2006

The Return of
Anthony and Elise

June 1, 2006

Archives
May 2006–October 2005

My Favorite Posts

Home   About Us   Contact Us  
Marissa's Blog!

August 5, 2007
 

My Trip to Big Sky Country, Part Two
 
 

When I left off in the last post, we had just left Yellowstone National Park on Day 4 of my trip to Montana/Wyoming. Day 5 was spent relaxing and trying to adjust to the insane pace of a trip scheduled by my mother. We had a really nice day, and went with my brother to a natural hot springs in Norris (called, ironically enough, Norris Hot Springs). The water was about 100 degrees and it was SO relaxing. I really needed it. After only four days it had felt like a week! :D

On Day 6, Mom's itinerary led us back through Yellowstone on our way to Grand Teton National Park. There was a forest fire going on in the western corner of Yellowstone as we drove through it. And after hearing all about the fires there in the 1980s it was VERY eerie. Luckily, this fire didn't get nearly as bad as the one back then (thank goodness!).


 
 
 
 

The Grand Teton mountains are just spectacular, and we saw many a beautiful sight. Some of the best of which were from the top of Signal Mountain, where I led Mom and Dad on another letterboxing quest (it was hot so Grammy stayed behind). Talk about a perfect location for finding a letterbox! It really doesn't get better than that! :)

We also visited the Museum of the Indian, which I really enjoyed. I have to admit though, I was hoping to purchase a nice Native American-made product, and everything I found was either exorbitantly expensive or cheap tourist crap. And unfortunately, Mom had not scheduled time for me to go perusing the shops on reservations, so I came home with no Native American crafts. C'est la vie. The museum had some AMAZING beaded things, and even toys that the children used to play with.


 

Greg was unable to come with us to the Tetons, which was fine, because it meant that we didn't have to fit three of us in the backseat (because, according to Mom, Greg's legs are too long to fit in the back of the car. COUGH!BULLSHIT!COUGH!).

I took a ton of pictures when we stopped at this particular lookout, because every time the clouds moved and the light shifted, the mountains looked different and more beautiful. I think Teton is the big one in the middle. Yeah, that one. :D

We visited a tiny church that reminded me of the one in Kill Bill. Tiny, in the middle of a desert, with two beautiful stained glass windows (one of the church in the winter, and one of the church in the spring) and a gorgeous view of the mountains through a window behind the alter. I can't imagine paying attention to a sermon with a view like that though! :D


 

That afternoon, we went on a raft float down the river, with a badass guide who I totally would have a crush on if I was, say, 50. He's a sculpter and when he's not paddling tourists down the river, he sculpts, and in the off-season he drives the school bus. Just the type of guy who nothing affects, he was so laid back. :) And on that float we saw a number of birds, and elk, but the highlight was when we saw a BEAVER! He was so cute, and watched us as we floated by! Unfortunately, due to our proximity to water, I had not brought my camera, and Mom and Grammy were too slow to snap a picture. Rats! :)

On our way home from the Tetons, we had to drive through Yellowstone, and because Dad had driven for the whole rest of the day, I was now behind the wheel. And it occurred to me that we would be driving right by Old Faithful. So my Mom and Grammy and Dad were kind enough to stop there again with me, and I got to see it erupt for real. It made me so happy to not have missed out on that (and also made me feel less like a full-on addict of letterboxing, even though that's what I am :D). Plus, they said that this eruption was MUCH longer than the previous time, which was only 30 seconds or so (this time it went on for almost five minutes!). So that made me feel good.


 
 
 
 

Day 7 was another time-out day for recovering (thank god!). So Greg and I decided to go on a tube float down the river just outside of Bozeman. The river was pretty calm, and shallow, and I got much more exercise than I ever expected doing something like that. :D We kept getting stuck when our tubes would wander into the shallow parts (which were, oddly enough, in the middle of the river :D). But Greg and I had a nice time chitchatting, and another nice group of tubers gave us a couple of PBRs, which was awesome. It was so relaxing! :) Then I scraped my knees getting out of the tube once we arrived back at the car. Oh well! :D

That night, we had what was one of the best meals we had there (other than the sushi night...mmm...sushi...), at Sir Scott's Oasis. I know, it's probably the weirdest name of a restaurant EVER. It sounds like it's going to be British/Hawaiian infusion food or something. :D But no, this is a classic Montana steak house, complete with waitresses with teased hair and flourescent lighting. I fully expected to be disappointed. Instead, I was blown away.

I would like to now point out that the T-bone steaks on our plates are larger than our heads. Do you see??? :D Look at Dad's, that brown thing on his plate is not a pool of gravy, it is a GINORMOUS STEAK! This meal offered pre-meal snacks, salad, soup, garlic bread, deep-fried potatoes (not French Fries, large chunks of potatoes deep-fried...so good!), vegetables, and dessert. All for something like $13.00. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing. And my brother has already gone back there at least once. :D Damn him for being in such close proximity!!!


 
 
 
 

The next day (Day 8, for those of you keeping track, so no one :D), we started the day early by picking up Greg (which meant Mom, Grammy, and I were squeezed in the back seat) and commencing the drive to Kalispell (five hours away). On the way, we would be passing AT LEAST 75 letterboxes within a 5-10 mile radius of the highway, and how many did we stop for??? THREE. We stopped for THREE boxes. This is why I don't travel with my family very often. :D Just kidding, it really was fine.

One of those boxes was found here, at the Smokejumpers Center. Smokejumpers are people who are [crazy and] trained to literally jump from a plane into the MIDDLE OF A FOREST FIRE in order to fight it. We got to see their gear, learn about their training program, see the planes they use, and what they keep in their packs. The really funny thing was a letter from a governor in the museum part of it, that pretty much said "you'd have to be crazy to do this job" and I'm BARELY paraphrasing here. You can tell the smokejumpers have a fantastic sense of humor though, as shown by this photo. :D

Later on in the drive, we passed through an Indian reservation, where I was hoping to stop at some of the shops, but gave that up after Dad made NUMEROUS totally embarassing comments in front of the Indians who worked at the ONE we stopped at. :D


 
 
 
 

From Kalispell, we continued driving the next morning another hour to Glacier National Park, which is right on the Canadian border. This is a much smaller park than Yellowstone, but I'm really glad we saved it for last. It didn't have quite as many animals, but it was probably the best park overall out of the three we went to, though all were great for their own reasons.

Plus, you can't argue with the fact that we started the day by finding a letterbox! Huzzah! :) Here we all are, after stamping in.


 
 
 
 

The views at Glacier National Park are absolutely amazing. When we arrived, the lady at the information desk told us we were going to love it, and that we were just going to keep stopping every ten feet to take pictures, because we wouldn't think it would get better, and it did. And that lady was 100% correct! :)

The park is filled with these red and green colored rocks, which come from the minerals in the mountains. I took a few little ones home with me. This river is almost Xmas-y with color! :D

That river dumps into a small lake, which we took a boat ride on. It was narrated by a knowlegeable gentleman who gave us a nice history of the park and the area, most of which I've since forgotten (my apologies). :D


 

I love this photo, which I took in the lodge from where the boat rides depart. It was a gorgeous hunting-lodge-style log building, filled with paintings of the old west and stuffed dead animals (ew). But the lamps (of course, as all lamps are, according to Indigo) were beautiful. :D


 
 
 
 

We had to hang around in the lodge for a while before our boat ride, and Greg, who was hungover from going out with his friends the night before, passed out on the couch. And I, being the dutiful sister with a blog, photographed this moment. Yes, I'm an ass. :D


 
 
 
 

Lunch was eaten at that lodge and then we journeyed onward to an old-growth forest with a beautiful boardwalk trail going through it. Even Grammy could do this hike, so it was nice to all enjoy the place together. The trees, as you can tell by this photo, are GINORMOUS! It was absolutely gorgeous. And the neat thing is that when they die, they don't always fall over right away. I'm not sure if it's termites or what, but many of them stay standing, but end up hollowed out inside! Many children were spotted hiding inside these hollowed out trees. Some of these children were my brother. :D Alas, yet another photo that's on his camera, not mine.


 
 
 
 

Much of our time in Glacier was spent in the car, just as the lady said, driving and stopping to take photos. Then driving a little more, and stopping to take another photo. Rinse and repeat.

I am not complaining in the least about this though. But I'm only going to share one of those many photos with you for now, otherwise we'd be here all day. The road was narrow and wound around the edge of the mountains, giving us many, many spectacular views.


 
 
 
 

As we ascended, we perchanced upon a family of mountain goats. This was late in the afternoon and I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that we wouldn't be seeing any animals at Glacier National Park. I was very, very wrong. The only thing that sucked about the mountain goats was that they do not fear cars. These three were standing right at the edge of the parking lot, and I had to shoo one of the little ones out of a parking space at one point so Dad could park there. They are so cute though. And even the littlest one made the jump from the ground to the top of the five-foot rock wall like it was a two-inch step. Amazing! :)


 
 
 
 

There was a little pathway near where the mountain goats were hanging out, and when I stopped at a corner to look at the view, the little boy next to me was like "Look down there!" and pointed down below the railing. And look I did, and saw these two creatures. They were adorable, but I had NO IDEA WHATSOEVER what they were! I thought they were kind of raccoon-ish, but yet also badger-ish. Later we learned that these are hoary marmots. Yeah, I knew that (not at all). :D


 

At the top of the mountain, there's a giant visitors center and museum, so we stopped the car there. In the parking lot, there were at least a hundred people scattered about, many with binoculars and cameras with zoom lenses staring at the hillside in the distance. So we inquired as to what they were looking at.


 

My camera has no zoom lense, but with my very meager zoom feature I was able to get a semi-recognizable photo of what they were all observing: a big-horned ram. Emphasis on the BIG. This guy is a BEAST. I watched him for quite a while through the binoculars, and it was just mesmerizing. I think he was probably the most unexpected sight of the whole trip!


 

Did I mention that it was the first of July when we were here? Yes that's a solid foot of snow. :D

We thought that this was going to be our last stop on our trip through Glacier National Park, because the rest of the road through the park was closed due to flooding and the consequential bridge repairs. But rumors were flying that they were going to open the road that evening. Originally we had heard that the road would open at 5pm, but we got there at 6pm with no luck. At 6:45pm we were literally driving out of the parking lot when we saw a large group of cars and people hanging out next to the "ROAD CLOSED" gate. So Dad asked them what they were waiting for (it seemed obvious, yes, I know), to which they replied, "We're waiting to see if those rangers in the car behind you are going to open the gate." :D So we pulled over, and the rangers went through the gate, and closed it behind them. Mom decided that we should wait fifteen minutes to see if they would open the road before we left.

After a mere FIVE minutes, they opened the road! I might point out that this road had been closed since FEBRUARY, so we totally lucked out! Plus, it meant that we didn't have to drive back through the 3/4 of the park we had already seen, and could now simply continue on through the last part to the road that would lead us back to Bozeman. Believe me, this was a HUGE relief! :)


 

Here's another breathtaking view of Glacier National Park just as the sun was starting to set. It was a LONG drive home that night, with very few choices as far as meals, and we ended up at Arby's at around midnight. I tried to convince myself that it tasted good, but by the fifth or sixth bite I just felt disgusting. God I hate fast food. I blame Greg for this dining experience. :D I will never "think Arby's". EVER! And we didn't arrive back in Bozeman until almost 3am that night. Good times.


 

On our last full day of the trip, my family let me sleep in a bit (despite the four of us being crammed into one hotel room), and then we went to the Museum of the Rockies. They had some fabulous exhibits, but it is by far the most oddly-laid-out museum I've ever been to.

We were lucky enough to visit the museum while they were showing a whole exhibit on King Tut, including the actual artifacts found in his tomb. It was very impressive. :)


 

But I think their exhibit on Picasso's ceramics was more my style. Did you know Picasso liked owls too??? :D


 

Then we went to find our last letterbox of the trip, which just happened to be at a park where Greg walks Quannum all the time, so Greg brought him along. Here is Quannum "helping" Greg drive. Apparently he did this for most of Greg's drive from Maine to Montana. I just try to focus on how cute it is, and not how dangerous. :D


 

This was Quannum's very FIRST letterbox-finding experience, and he seemed to enjoy it immensely. And by "enjoy" I mean that he stepped on our log books and got every close to stepping on our ink pads and went swimming in a nearby stream. But he was very supportive of our clue-following and stamping efforts. :D

Sadly, that was the last I'll see of my dear nephew-puppy for quite some time, as Greg had to drop him off at home before we went to dinner. And then we had to say goodbye to Greg as well. I probably won't see him again until my cousin's wedding in October. I do wish I could visit him more often.

The following morning, we were up at the butt crack of dawn to catch our 6:30am flight, and luckily, we had no travel problems going home (HOORAY!!!). It was a fantastic whirlwind of a trip and we definitely saw as much as we possibly could. But I'd love to go back and just spend a whole week in each of those parks—seeing an entire park in just one day is pure insanity (especially when stuck in a sedan with your family)! :D


 
 

|

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com

Previous

2007 Bucket Magazine. All rights reserved.