Tuesday, June 30, 2015

license to roam

I bought a National Parks pass, so I have many adventures to look forward to. My week around Glacier, looking for moose, attending ranger talks, and hiking around the lakes reminded me how central public land and wide open spaces are to our notion of America. 

Road trips have a way or reawakening longings, and old habits like singing in the car. 

He climbed cathedral mountains
Saw silver clouds below
Saw everything as far as you can see
And they say that he got crazy once
And he tried to touch the sun
And he lost a friend but kept his memory

People come from near and far, just as they did 100 and 200 years ago to see the Rockies and diverse wildlife in them. 

This sampling of license plates was from a single row. For a few short days—not long enough, really—we're brought together in a common dream of living in harmony with the world around us. Singing without irony around the collective campfire. 

Oh, and this one: mine. 979 miles later. Treasure, indeed. 

When was the last time you went to a ranger talk or sat around a campfire? Or headed out beyond the gym and the known world, singing?

Monday, June 29, 2015

"See America First"

As promised, a roundup of the 4 historic Glacier National Park lodges, designed 100 years ago, plus a short stop at Issak Walton Inn, just outside the park boundaries.

Glacier Park and Prince of Wales were planned in the teens after the park opened in 1910, but building was delayed because of WWI. 

Many Glacier
This hotel celebrates its centenary this Saturday, July 4, 2015. 

I was sorry to miss the Hootenanny. 

Guests gather in the lobby in search of mostly non-existent wifi. The view's not bad either. We listened to a very talented pianist. 

To distract modern guests from the fact that there's no TV in the room, the hotel thoughtfully puts out half-finished jigsaw puzzles. I can imagine really enjoying this in other months when it's not light until 11. 
Swiss touches are everywhere. James Hill hired two famous architects to design Many Glacier. Early guests were transported in carriages and enjoyed five-course meals. 

Glacier Park
Totems from the Pacific Northwest welcomed guests arriving by train, typically from the east. Luxury lodges competed with cruises to Europe in that era. James Hill responded with an ad campaign encouraging travelers to "See America First." 
Unlike the trees in the Many Glacier lobby, bark on these trees was left intact, perhaps because it's literally across from the East Glacier train depot. 

This Chickering baby grand is 100 years old. I grew up with a similar piano in my grandparents' house, now in my uncle and aunt's living room. 

Compulsory mounted animal heads.

Prince of Wales
Across the border in Waterton, another castle.

Here's a closer look:

Another huge atrium and chandelier.
And don't forget the Scottish theme, complete with men and women in tartan plaid kilts.

Lake McDonald Lodge
The first lodge I visited a week ago. It reminded me of one of the mansions on the shores of Lake Tahoe.

More Native-American influences in these charming lanterns.

Compulsory animal heads. Today there are signs warning you not to take antlers (or hunt) within the park boundaries.

Isaak Walton
This lodge in Essex is known for cross-country skiing. 

Plus you can sleep in a caboose. 
Great Northern trains stop right outside your door. Oh, that's the door to your room.
Not good for light sleepers. 

One last post tomorrow, reflecting on this journey and on our heritage of National Parks. 

huckleberry pie

Since so many of you want to know who has the best huckleberry pie in Montana: 

The answer is Luna's in East Glacier Park. Hands down. And I don't even like pie, but this had a graham cracker crust. 
Tart huckleberry lemonade too. 
And really good fish tacos. Now you know. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

another day, another glacier

I saved the best for last. 
No, really. 
Many Glacier might be the best yet. 
I hiked out toward the waterfall at red rock lake. 
Here's the red rock with the heart-shaped cloud. 

And of course the enviably situated Many Glacier hotel. More on that later. 

They were having a fire drill as I arrived. 
You can't be too careful on such a hot day with a huge log cabin, surrounded by forest. It's so hot they ran out of ice cream. 
Look at the trees used to construct it. 

On the outside it looks like a Swiss chalet. 
The rooms have Swiss flags and instead of kilts, the staff wears leiderhosen. No, really. 
I'll write more about the four Glacier National Park hotels later. July 4th will be the 100th anniversary of its opening, part of the Great Northern railway expansion. 

Happy birthday, Many Glacier. See you again soon. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

the great white north

Glacier National Park is actually Glacier–Waterton International Peace Park. 

Who could resist a chance to visit our neighbors to the north, if only for an afternoon. 

So I set off for Alberta, passport in hand. 

The drive was breathtaking. 

Despite it being almost a holiday weekend in Canada, I hardly saw a soul till I crossed into Waterton. 
I headed first to the Prince of Wales hotel for afternoon tea. This was especially ridiculous given the heat. And the fact that I'm not supposed to be eating wheat. 

But the view! And even though they used tea bags (!), the servers were as sweet as the desserts. And all the staff wear kilts in tartan plaid. 
This lime mint scone was served with clotted cream and a goosebery. I thought it was an orange cherry tomato. Kiwis are related to gooseberries. 

Then it was time for a walk. (Not really a hike—after so much driving, I didn't want to go deeper into the park.) 

Waterton was packed with Canadian families on holiday. The three-hour boat tour that crosses the border into Glacier was sold out. 

As always I wondered why I don't go to Canada more often. (The looney is a bargain vs the USD at the moment.) 

Some day ask me about my first trip to Jasper and Banff, when I drove a silver Camaro from Vancouver and went horseback riding with a real cowboy.  

I'll definitely return soon. (And to Joel, Sheila, and Melissa, happy Canada day. I'm coming to visit.)