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Posts Tagged ‘Glacier National Park’

    “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity” – John Muir, Our National

The Weeping Wall on the Going to the Sun Road. -- Wikimedia Photo

The Weeping Wall on the Going to the Sun Road. — Wikimedia Photo

Memories of a Non-Wandering Wanderer

            I’m a firm believer of the philosophy that the journey is as important as the destination, and this day (July 29, 2001) was a great example of that. Leaving my bags in Kalispell, I set out with a packed lunch to explore Glacier National Park. I wouldn’t return back to the hotel until late that evening, but oh what a day it was.

Page from my Alaskan Journal.

Page from my Alaskan Journal.

According to my sketchy journal notes, the day was windy and cold, but well worth enduring. Among the day’s wonders were:

Going to the Sun Road. This narrow and twisting 50-mile, two-lane road spans the national park. It was begun in 1921, and completed in 1932, and was the first such project to have been registered as a National Historic Place, National Historic Landmark and Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

Sections of the road are banned to vehicles over 21 feet in length, 10 feet tall, and eight feet wide. While I drove it in a 2000 Subaru Odyssey Sport, I would have just barely been able to make the trip in Gypsy Lee, the small RV I lived and traveled in from 2004 to 2013.

I drove the scenic highway slowly this day, and enjoyed every minute of the journey,       The Weeping Wall is a spectacular sight as you drive pass it on the Going to the Sun Road, or sometimes through it. It’s a waterfall created both by Mother Nature and the blasting done to build the road. Since it was almost August, the wall’s shower heads were turned to low, but in the photograph above, you get a glimpse of it at its spring peak.

And another page from my journal.

And another page from my journal.

A Grizzly Bear was the cause of a traffic jam on the road. It was quite away off, but I got a good look at it through my binoculars. As much as I had been an outdoors person most of my life, and the fact that I had visited Yellowstone more than a dozen times, I had never seen a bear in the wild. I had seen moose, elk, raccoons, deer, beavers, weasels, bobcats, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, possums, porcupines, etc., etc. But I had never seen a bear until this day. It was a momentous moment.

Trail of the Cedars, a one-mile loop hike, which provided views of a meadow that was overflowing with purple flowers, and offered views of mountain goats and Avalanche Gorge, if you took a side trip over a footbridge, which of course I did.

I noted all these things in my journal, plus a note that I have no idea now what I was thinking about when I wrote it. In my own handwriting were the words: “But God isn’t an old woman,” underlined just like that. Perhaps it was a bumper sticker I thought was odd? Or perhaps it was a bit of conversation I overheard? Reading it bought back no memories of why the statement was on the page.

I love surprises when I’m traveling, and those words now surprised me. What fun!

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: Cape Code http://tinyurl.com/zbh4ujo Scenes from a novel.

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Life's "no problem" when you're cruising Jamaica's Black River. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 

“Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.” Groucho Marx

Travels With Maggie

Lonely Planet’s lead article in this month’s newsletter (http://www.lonelyplanet.com/us) features one day itineraries for five cities: Barcelona, Toronto, London, Paris and Istanbul.

I wanted to both scream and cry at the audacity of such a notion. The thought of spending so few hours in these fabulous cities, which I’ve not yet visited, made me quite sad.

Then I thought about places I’ve visited when circumstances only allowed me a single day, like Jamaica, Guayaquil, Fairbanks, Glacier National Park and Nairobi. While each of these places deserved more than a mere day to explore, there would be some big holes left in my experiences if I had missed them.

George, the alligator that responded to the Black River boatman's summons. Honest! -- Photo by Pat Bean

In Jamaica, which I visited while on a Caribbean Christmas cruise, I spent several hours in a giggley-jiggly bus with a guide explaining the sights and Jamaica’s “no problem mon” attitude, then took a float trip down the Black River where egrets ganged up in mangrove trees and an alligator named George came at the boatman’s call. Honest.

Guayaquil was the Ecuadorian starting point for my trip to the Galapagos Islands. Here I was served chicken and watermelon for breakfast at the quaint Andaluz Hotel before taking a walk on the city’s beautiful Waterfront Parkway. That night I watched the stars come out from a rooftop restaurant that overlooked the Guayas River.

In Fairbanks, Alaska, I spent a night at a quaint bed-and-breakfast and then the better part of the next day at the fantastic University of Alaska Museum before moving on to Denali National Park .

Glacier National Park in Montana was a detour when I drove the Alaskan Highway. The main event here was simply driving the awesome and scenic 57-mile Going to the Sun Highway. The frosting on the  entrée was a grizzly bear that stopped traffic. Fortunately my halt offered a good view of this magnificent creature.

Nairobi, Kenya, was the starting point for my magnificent two-week African safari. Here I stayed in the same hotel favored by Ernest Hemingway, explored the grounds of the University of Nairobi, which was just next door, and toured the home (now a museum) of Karen Blixen, alias Isek Dineson and author of “Out of Africa.”

I guess if that’s all you have, one day is quite enough. But I sure hope that if I ever get to Lonely Planet’s big five that I have more than 24 hours to linger.

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