Tag Archives: Montana

Montana and Wyoming: Yellowstone

August 30, 2013 (Friday) – As I noted earlier, I am covering Yellowstone in its own post as it is deserving and we covered the park in two days.  Today was the first, which entailed a very early start.  We hopped in Dave’s rented SUV with some of his family in Big Sky and he drove about an hour to the town of West Yellowstone, MT.  Dave organized and hosted a full-day tour, I believe the company was Buffalo Bus Touring Company.  We did the lower loop tour which may have been modified from the traditional route as this was a private event.

We visited Upper Yellowstone Falls which is nice but not comparable to the spectacular Lower Yellowstone Falls which sit at the end of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.  Flip-flops sufficed for the walk down Uncle Tom’s trail despite the warnings of how treacherous it is.  The up-close vantage point of the falls and nearly constant rainbow make this well worth a little effort.

After a pre-packed lunch on the bus we arrived at Old Faithful having just missed an eruption.  The good news is that it is called Old Faithful for a reason so we were secure in our belief that the next eruption would come within 90 minutes.  Moreover, the lodge there is spectacular and our two gargantuan scoops of huckleberry ice cream (for a very reasonable $3.60) helped pass the time.  We walked much of the loop around various thermal features, some of which look like hot tubs with mesmerizing colors.

Old Faithful delighted and then we continued to Fountain Paint Pots where we were treated to a not-so-ordinary eruption of Fountain Geyser.  Though diminutive compared to Old Faithful, it was awesome to see the boiling water slosh around violently when the steam dissipated.  In the same area we observed a steam hole where the fissures emit a sound like a jet engine.

The day was wonderful, except for hitting my head inside the bus really hard, twice, and mildly breaking my sunglasses in the process.  Our guide was Matt Henry and he was excellent.  Very knowledgeable and informative while also lighthearted and funny.  The town of West Yellowstone looked a little Western kitsch but kind of neat.  There is the well-regarded Playmill Theatre, some BBQ joints and of course touristy shops and tour companies.

September 7, 2013 (Saturday) – Today we headed east from Bozeman to Livingston, MT then south on Route 89 through Gardner and entered Yellowstone through the Roosevelt Arch.  The approach was lovely.

The Albright Visitor Center area is like a small town/campus with a justice building, post office, etc.  Undine Falls was quite nice.  We saw some pronghorn up close and lots more bison today.

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At Tower Roosevelt service station I noticed the word Longmeadow on the Excel Dryer…small world, it seems that company is based in East Longmeadow, MA.  From there we drove 20+ miles out the Lamar Valley as this is nicknamed America’s Serengeti and we had aspirations of sighting some serious wildlife.  Alas, we did not.  In luckier times, folks may see elk, bears or wolves.

We re-traced our path then drove south to Canyon Village and past the lake to exit out the south entrance.  It was pretty in this area with a river gorge.

Some recollections on what I might have learned in Yellowstone:  Ravens are super smart and they will steal things from your bag if you are not very careful.  There are legends of ravens stealing cash and diamonds.  Then again, they are from Baltimore.  Bison can apparently jump up to 6 feet vertically and run 35 mph.  They may look slow and laborious, but…Our guide told us of the Sheep Eater Indians, I think a band of Shoshone, who fashioned bows from the horns of bighorn sheep.  Yellowstone Lake lies at over 7,000 feet and is the largest lake in North America at such an elevation.  A wolf can eat 20 pounds of meat in a sitting…like me at Peter Luger.

Montana: Bozeman

As I am unconscionably behind on these posts, it is time to try something different.  I will write some in a more summary and informal way.  While it pains me to let the quality drop a little, the alternative is continuing to fall farther and farther behind.  Here goes…

September 5, 2013 (Thursday, cont’d) – After checking into the Western Heritage Inn we did a bit of work before driving a very short way to Montana Ale Works at 8 pm.  There was a wait but Jenni quickly grabbed a table in the lounge area.  It is a huge space, reminiscent of a high school gym but a little narrower and maybe even longer.  It is fairly dark and loud but good for those with years to go before AARP membership.  My Steep and Deep from Lone Peak Brewery of Big Sky had an ABV of 8.1% and was delicious.  This place has tons of beers on tap and all are available in half or full size and cost about $2.75-3.75 for a half or $4-5 for a full.  Quite a bargain.

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The NFL season opener was on.  The Broncos were playing so the TV flashed Elway’s career start and end dates and Jenni thought he was deceased.  I got buffalo wings which were crispy and not a ton of sauce.  Kind of like a mix between the wings from Espresso’s in Medford and a more traditional offering.  The blue cheese was thick and yummy.  Jenni’s Pyramid Nitro Weiss Cream Ale tasted like a beer / cream soda combo.  This is the kind of place I believe would do well in most college towns.

Sept 6, 2013 (Friday) – Although it was my birthday, we spent the whole day working in the hotel room.  Well, we did enjoy some make-your-own Belgian waffles and mediocre coffee in the lobby of our hotel in the morning.  And we fit in a 7-minute workout in the room.  Look up the 7-minute workout which is 12 exercises for 30 seconds each with short intervals.  I cannot imagine it is a perfect substitute for longer workouts, but it is better than nothing.

Enjoyment increased when we walked into town and secured a table by the open windows at Plonk.  This place was recommended by a friend we made in Walla Walla.  The pork belly appetizer was perhaps the largest portion of said dish I have ever eaten.  The texture was a little tougher than usual but I loved it.  Our scallop appetizer was a hit.  I ordered a steak and enjoyed it but was underwhelmed.  It was a NY strip but appeared (a one-knuckle rather than two-knuckle thickness) and had the tenderness more of a ribeye.  The waiter said that is because it was grass-fed and from the valley.  Environmental concerns and animal rights aside, I like my beef corn-fed.  I have found pretty consistently that the steaks I have enjoyed the most are not those eaten in cattle-raising regions.  Rather, they are the steaks I get in fancy steakhouses in big cities.  Places like Peter Luger, Mastro’s, Bones, Wolfgang’s, Gibson’s, Peter Luger, Strip House, Sparks, Grill 23 and, of course, Peter Luger.  That said, Plonk is a nice place with a very good menu and we enjoyed our meal.  We passed Blackbird on the way to dinner which also looked good.

After dinner we went to Copper Bar which was in a downstairs space that was very upscale ski lodge.  There was a stone wall, long bar with copper and dark wood.  A youngish crowd.  I ordered the rough mule which substitutes rough stock spring wheat whiskey for vodka.  Bad idea.  We walked around the block to work up an appetite and saw the neat statue of Jeanette Rankin sitting in a crescent moon at the corner of Tracy and Babcock.  Back on the main drag, there was a 12-year old kid playing guitar and singing along with his dad or friend or who knows.  He delighted us with Sweet Child of Mine followed by Sweet Home Alabama.  Jenni had found a $5 bill on the street in Portland and decided his tip jar was the home she had been seeking for this nickel.

On the way home we stopped into the downtown Co-op which makes sandwiches etc.  I got a salted caramel brownie and Jenni a lemon rosemary buttermilk cookie.

September 7, 2013 (Saturday) – We got a fairly early start for the long day ahead of exploring more of Yellowstone and getting down to our desired campground in Grand Teton National Park.

Bozeman is a nice town and I see the appeal.  There is a main street with several blocks of shops and bars and restaurants.  We did not see the college campus but I imagine there is more to do there.  Outdoor activities abound in the surrounding valleys and mountains.  The vibe is laid back cowboy white water rafting guide bonhomie.  There are some serious hats and belt buckles, but perhaps even more Oakleys and sandals.  A gentleman was playing the upside down buckets on a street corner across from Plonk.

Montana: Glacier National Park

September 2, 2013 (Monday, cont’d) – After a Herculean effort to overcome last night’s bender, we arrived at Two Medicine Campground in East Glacier Park around 6 pm.  It costs $25 for a 7-day pass valid only at the same park, or $80 for an annual pass valid at all national parks and recreation areas etc.  We chose the $25 option but two days later paid the extra $55 to upgrade.  For all you old folks out there, $10 buys lifetime access for anyone 62 or older plus up to three accompanying adults!  When your social security runs out, you can still enjoy our finest natural wonders.

Glacier N.P. is quite large and it can take a long time to get between places.  We intended to camp in Many Glacier because it is known to have the best access to day hikes.  However, the park’s online campground status site informed us that it was fully occupied.  I think this was for the best because Two Medicine is relatively isolated and quite stunning which means (a) it is more like serene wilderness and (b) we probably would never have seen it had we not camped here.  At Two Medicine, we chose site number three from the many available options.  This site is close to the entrance and right across a little stream that connects two lakes.  Rising Wolf Mountain affords a magnificent backdrop.  It costs $20/night and there are flush toilets and potable water.  Here, too, one may store food in the car.

Sven effortlessly made the quarter-mile drive down to the general store by Two Medicine Lake after camp was set up.  This is a fairly well-stocked country bodega open 8 am – 8 pm with beer, wine, eggs, chips, assorted outdoors gear, some guidebooks, etc.  We picked up wood plus a neat, natural fire-starter made of wax and other materials costing a buck.  This sure beats $5+ for a Duraflame.  A beaver swimming in the lake near our site bade us goodnight.

September 3, 2013 (Tuesday) – Big horn sheep across the stream greeted us this morning.

The weather forecast was spotty so we passed up Scenic Point and lit out at 11 am for a less exposed hike in Many Glacier.  This is bear country.  Already smarting from a failure to see said furry beasts in Yellowstone or Big Sky, desperation was setting in.  As luck would have it, on Route 49 just a bit before the junction with Route 89 a black bear ran across the road perhaps 50 feet in front of Sven!  Shout out to my Cal Berkeley peeps: my inner monologue was on repeat with “You know it, you tell the story, you tell the whole damn world this is bear territory!”

In Babb we took a left onto Many Glacier Road.  The road slows but the aptly named parallel Swiftcurrent River and scenery offer solace.  We parked at 12:30 pm at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn (with bathrooms and water) but one could go past here and park right at the Iceberg Ptarmigan trailhead.  I am always happy to see Jenni, and there was a can of bear spray in my pocket.  There are endless warnings about grizzly bears and the need to carry bear spray and make lots of noise.  Shockingly few heed the latter instruction.  We were the vocal minority, periodically clapping and shouting things like “noise!”  I did my best Killers impression belting out “are we human, or are we bear sir?!”

The trail to Iceberg Lake is in great condition as this is a very popular hike.  It is just under 10 miles roundtrip with a stated elevation gain of 1,200 feet, though I believe this is simply the difference between starting and ending levels and does not account for the ups and downs of the trail.  Perhaps a quarter of the way up we saw some white mountain goats on cliffs across the valley.  Ptarmigan Falls is roughly halfway and would make a pleasant picnic spot.  Around the corner is a trail junction and just beyond that we saw some pine martens playing in the trees.  These are funky creatures, they look like a cross between a bear cub and a monkey and apparently are the most arboreal of the weasel family.

Around three-quarters of the way up we saw some big horn sheep on a hill in the distance.  After crossing a mountain stream on a short wooden bridge, we came to a lovely lake with a dearth of icebergs.  Panic set in, until we realized that global warming is just a liberal hoax and a few hundred yards further there was a veritable iceberg silent disco rave in a deep blue lake set in an amphitheater of 3,000 foot cliffs (including part of the continental divide).  It had been raining for a while and I imagine sunlight makes this place glorious, but it was still quite special.  The sound of glaciers calving enhanced the experience.

We “summited” at 3 pm and spent about 20 minutes there, returning to the car at 5 pm.  Early dinner at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn was a family pizza with two toppings for $18 and caprese salad with shrimp for $6.95.  The menu is mainly Italian and fairly tasty and reasonable given its remote location.  There is a good beer selection and several bottles of wine under $30.  Décor is medium colored wood with green or white fence squares on the walls, gingham curtains and green vinyl tablecloths.  A slightly nicer version of my old Maine summer camp dining hall.  Late summer in this region means huckleberry food and beverage items are pervasive.  Here we could have chosen iced tea, lemonade or cream soda, all huckleberry flavored.

On our way home, the Cattle Baron Supper Club in Babb was busy, as was Two Sisters Café a few miles south.  We refueled at a pricey Exxon in St. Mary, which has the area’s most substantial grocery store, a few other shops, and the St. Mary Lodge.  There are cows all over the roadside and one must exercise caution, especially at dusk.  The views and sunset were beautiful.

There was a man from Choteau conversing by the stream who cracked me up.  He had this accent and spoke in a nasally voice and generally reminded me of Dan Akroyd in Caddyshack 2.  “I don’t read” became one of our favorite quotes of the trip.

September 4, 2013 (Wednesday) – Today’s forecast was good but tomorrow’s was even worse than yesterday, so again we bagged plans to hike Scenic Point and instead drove the famous Going to the Sun Road which bisects the park east to west.  Our thinking was that Going to the Sun is the most popular activity due to its views and driving it in a hailstorm might be sub-optimal.

Driving to Going to the Sun Road

Driving to Going to the Sun Road

We ate Ezekiel bread and almond butter for breakfast and stopped for coffee at the St. Mary Lodge, which sits at the eastern entrance to Going to the Sun Road.  The scenery is spectacular and there are various trailheads.  At a construction stop, we caught nice views of a glacier, which are fewer and farther between than 10-20 years ago.

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The Logan Pass visitor center is at the apex of the road and even after Labor Day the parking lot was a mob scene.  I dropped Jenni off to take a quick look while I circled for a spot to no avail.  Sadly we missed the short hike to Hidden Lake as I think this may be the best location for seeing mountain goats.  I remember visiting Glacier in the early 90’s and at one place seeing these goats all over and up close.  I think that was at Logan Pass.

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Beyond here, the road is a narrow, cliff-hugging affair that is a tad hair-raising.  Large pick up trucks must fold in their side mirrors.  I was happy to be here on a 70’s and sunny day with the top down.  Traversing the park took about 2.5 hours without a lot of stopping.  Now on the west side of the park, we drove to Bigfork to visit Flathead Lake.  Bigfork is a nice lake town with activity concentrated on Electric Avenue.  We had hoped to take a scenic cruise or rent kayaks, but most of the boat rental companies had already closed for the season or needed more advance notice.  We stopped a few minutest at Flathead Lake State Park for a closer view of the water.  It is said to be remarkably clear, but this was hard to judge in the shallow area we could see.  It does seem like a nice area for summertime recreation.

From here we drove north through Kalispell, which looked fine and has everything you might need…Wal-Mart, Costco, Target, Starbucks, Five Guys, etc.  I had heard great things about Whitefish so we parked on Central Avenue to see the charming town center.  Most of our time was spent doing research over coffee drinks at Red Caboose.  Next we cruised over to the city beach.  I found this an idyllic locale.  It was calm, there were people paddle boarding and the lake is surrounded by mountains with a great view of the Whitefish ski slopes.  I do not mean jagged, dramatic peaks but more like Vermont mountains with a higher-starting elevation.

We were tempted by Piggyback Barbeque near the lake and Southern fried chicken at The ShakMacKenzie River Pizza is a Montana casual dining chain with a location here.  It was disappointing to learn that the Taste of Whitefish would occur tomorrow, just out of our reach.

To return home, we took Route 2 which is definitely not as scenic as Going to the Sun Road but it does not close at night, offers nice scenery parallel to the train tracks and one may drive 60-70 mph.  Grilled cheese sandwiches cooked on foil on the campfire grill grate were good enough; the stars better than that.

Observations on Glacier N.P.: The scenery is up-close and jaw-dropping.  Our experience was a tad disappointing because it was gray much of the time, and we did not see as much wildlife as expected.  There are a lot of options for accommodation.  Choose wisely or you might find yourself with a 2-3 hour drive to get from your bed to a point of interest.  The backcountry lodges of Granite Park Chalet and Sperry Chalet probably make excellent options for those so inclined.  The west side of the park is more developed, accessible and has more recreational opportunities and more mountains outside the park.  The east side is less developed, harder to reach and I would say far more spectacular, plus it offers the contrast of jagged peaks and plains.

Observations on Montana: Distrust in the federal government is palpable. Ted Kaczynski took to the extreme and committed atrocities in the name of feelings that are probably shared on a much softer level by many.  I read that Montana has the third highest gun ownership percentage in the country, behind only Wyoming and Alaska and just ahead of South Dakota.  This is one of the only places I have been where I might choose to drive below the speed limit.  Drivers do not speed much, perhaps because the limits are set so high.  At gas stations one does not need to input his zip code.  Cows are abundant.  I was stunned by how many female workers I saw at road construction sites.  I love the large parking spaces because here nobody pretends that everyone drives a compact car.  Montana is beautiful and uncrowded, and it seems these folks want to keep it that way: http://www.montana-sucks.com/.  I found locals quite friendly.

September 5, 2013 (Thursday) – We woke and packed up early fearing rain and hail.  Tracing our route back to Bozeman, we again passed through Browning, which seems to be the home of the Blackfeet Nation.  At our campsite we had heard talk of recent peaceful protests.  I think there is ongoing tension here between the tribe and government.  There are several roadside stops with large dinosaur figures, apparently this area was fertile ground for fossils.

View to the west on Route 89

View to the west on Route 89

Beyond several miles of construction, we ate lunch at Chubby’s Diner in Augusta.  What a classic spot.  There were hilarious signs and notes, like the permanent advertisement of free food all day tomorrow (jest) and the poster for an upcoming lawnmower race (real).  Jenni’s eggs and toast came with enough hash browns for four people.  I ordered the Super BOB (breakfast on a bun) with eggs, cheese, two large spicy sausage patties and raw onion with hot sauce on a sesame burger bun.  Strong.  This is the kind of place where when you ask if they can do iced coffee, they simply say “no,” even though we all are sure they have ample supply of the two key ingredients.  If you need a place to crash for the night, check out the Bunkhouse Inn.

We made it to Bozeman a little before 2 pm and Sven sheltered us from a torrential downpour while we awaited a response from an airbnb inquiry.  This never came so we checked in to the Western Heritage Inn.

Montana: Big Sky

First, apologies for such a long delay between blog posts.  I could blame it on sorting out health insurance, car troubles and planning our trip to Asia etc., but such a hiatus is simply an unacceptable way to treat my beloved readers!

In an attempt to return myself to your good graces, I have some breaking news to share: Montana is really big.  And it is sparsely populated.  If you find yourself lamenting that the world has become too crowded, spend a little time in these parts.

August 29, 2013 (Thursday) – We packed up camp and set out from Idaho for a luxurious wedding weekend in Big Sky, Montana.  Route 3 put us on I-90 a bit east of Coeur d’Alene and we avoided driving the same road as yesterday.  At an elevation above 4700’, we crossed Lookout Pass into Montana.  There is an eponymous ski resort located here, though I would not imagine it merits more than an hour or two of travel.

Interstate 90 passes most of the state’s largest cities and we broke for lunch in Missoula.  Only burgers are on offer at the Missoula Club, perhaps the executive chef sought the no-creativity crown from the name-giver.  We sat at the bar with a close-up view of the flat-top where the chef prepared some very tasty burgers.  Two singles with American cheese, mine with bacon, and a root beer to split.  The Mo Club also serves shakes and malts.  It is reminiscent of a double-deep, alcohol-serving, Montana style version of White Hut (credit to Jenni).

In addition to solid grub and ambiance, I had a wonderful “technology is everywhere” experience here.  The walls are covered with old black and white photographs of University of Montana and local high school athletic teams.  An older fellow saw me admiring the display and approached to tell me that he was on the 1953 state championship football team (and that his son owns nearby Red’s bar, I think).  He then pulled out his iPhone to show me pictures of a recent team reunion and told me he posted them on Facebook, after which he heard from classmates he had not communicated with in 50 years.

I grabbed a coffee at La Bella Vita, which is the first combo belle epoque furnishings / barista establishment I have visited.  We continued east on I-90 and spotted a billboard for the Testicle Festival.  How bizarre that Dave and Barbra did not choose their wedding weekend to coincide with this romantic event?  The drive was fairly scenic, much of it along a river.  Especially so on Route 191 which I believe runs through the Gallatin Valley from Bozeman south to Big Sky.  Apart from the usual summer construction delays, the trip was smooth.

Seth and Jill had already checked in so we went straight to the Mountain Home we had booked at Moonlight Basin.  Our foursome headed back down the hill towards 191 where we saw a big moose right on the side of the road!  We grabbed drinks, snacks and breakfast supplies at the aptly named Hungry Moose Market & Deli in the Big Sky Town Center before heading to Dave’s rented home where Dana cooked up some terrific chicken wings and ribeye steaks.  It was so nice to catch up with Dave’s family and meet Barbra’s.  The stars were outstanding.

August 30, 2013 (Friday) – Today we went to Yellowstone, but I am going to cover that in a separate post.  Many more wedding guests arrived today so in the evening we had dinner with close friends at Buck’s T-4 Lodge down on Route 191.  The menu was more extensive and upscale than I had anticipated, and we all shared an excellent pheasant quesadilla plus Jenni and I split pan seared red deer loin with truffle risotto and Montana natural lamb.  It is a nice place and the meal was tasty, though not superb.  Some of us hung out for a while back at our house.

Lone Mountain Trail runs about 10 miles from Route 191 up to Moonlight Basin.  There are a few different commercial areas, it appeared that the Big Sky Town Center is the most robust.  The scenery is great and the wildlife most impressive.  Lone Peak is a commanding pyramid that stands guard at 11,116 feet of elevation.  The meadow area closer to 191 sits around 6,000 feet and Moonlight Basin around 8,000 feet.  In addition to the moose mentioned above, we saw many deer, some bighorn sheep on the roadside, others saw a bear near the lodge on wedding day and Jenni promises she saw a wolf in the early morning on our drive to Yellowstone!  A few of us may also have seen a wolf.  Our hearts tell us so, though statistics might suggest it was a coyote.  But it sure did look like a wolf.

Aside from the dining options I tried, some recommended spots include Blue Moon Bakery, Choppers Grub and Pub, Lotus Pad, Broken Spoke, Olive B’s, Rainbow Ranch, The Corral Bar and Steakhouse and The Cabin Bar and Grill.

August 31, 2013 (Saturday) – Today was a great day.  We saw Seth’s ass and didn’t even have to use the A.K.  Plus, Bugaboo Cafe cooked the Montana Size breakfast sandwiches with much hog.  We grabbed these before rehearsing at the chapel and then heading to white water rafting the Gallatin River.  Montana Whitewater Rafting Company guided us through mostly class 1 and 2 rapids.  In my raft were Jenni, Phil, Seth and Jill.  The weather was perfect.  Seth was cajoled into joining after declining via email because he was only interested in class 4+.  After all, it was not long ago that he had run a West Virginia dam release with class 5 and 6 rapids.  Shortly after we set out, the raft hit a little bump in a mild rapid and out popped Seth.  We all laughed hard.  Phil immediately reached for him and ended up pulling down his shorts.  But we believe he re-secured his under garments before being pulled out of the water.  At which point his shorts caught on the rope on the side of the raft, and he was left flopped over the side, half in and half out, limp as a dead fish, big white ass facing the world with his shorts at his ankles.  This was one of the funniest experiences of my life.  A raft with the same company (but visitors outside our crew) was in perfect position just upstream and the guide got some amazing shots.

MOONlight Basin, the PG-13 version

MOONlight Basin, the PG-13 version

At this point in the season the river was pretty mild, but whitewater rafting is always supremely enjoyable.  Nobody did the zip line also offered onsite.  After some relaxing jacuzzi time on our home’s deck, we boarded the 4:30 pm school bus shuttle to the rehearsal dinner.  The ride up to the mountain top pig roast catered through Cache Creek Outfitters was on a narrow dirt road that we shared with some cows.  With a little vino in hand, we took a horse-wagon loop ride and enjoyed the views and late afternoon light.  The pig was wonderfully tasty (I went just with the Carolina-style vinegar sauce though there was also a sweet sauce), there were heartfelt toasts, a s’mores station and a local bluegrass type band.  Another highlight was the welcome/warning  from the proprietor informing us that there was a grizzly in the area so think twice before wandering off.

The after party, of course, was at our house.  We put a large dent in the Glenlivet 12 that Koz had given me, and Jenni wowed the crowd with her backcountry knowledge that Dorito’s make an excellent fire-starter.  I guess if Duraflame tasted as good then I might shrug off all those chemicals, too.

September 1, 2013 (Sunday) – I cooked some bacon, eggs and cheese then relaxed a bit before donning my tuxedo and visiting Dave and Barbra’s new cottage and then the lodge for some wedding party pictures.  Newly endowed with stylish blue-striped socks, a fine silk bow-tie and a Tiffany money clip, I was ready to celebrate the marriage of one of my dearest friends in the world.  We had a fabulous night of dancing to an awesome Montana band, followed by an after party in the penthouse suite at the lodge and then the after after party back at our house.  We hit the pillow around 4:30 am, best I recollect.

September 2, 2013 (Monday) – We beat the odds and made it to the brunch at Dave’s original mountain house.  I was pretty crushed and placed low odds on completing the six-hour drive to Glacier National Park.  A large iced latte from the coffee stand (these are ubiquitous in this region) in the Conoco lot at the intersection of Lone Mountain Trail and Route 191 helped us get started.  After passing through Helena we stopped for gas in the tiny town of Augusta.  It would have been cheaper in Choteau but this is not territory flush with civilization.  The drive becomes especially scenic around Dupuyer where the Rockies loom to the west juxtaposed against the plains to the east.  Dinner was a sordid affair consumed between the Taco John’s drive through in seemingly dejected Browning and our campsite at Two Medicine on the east side of Glacier.  TJ’s makes Taco Bell feel like organic kale and quinoa.

Please note that I cannot insert a hyperlink to Two Medicine campground at the moment because lunatics have hijacked the Republican party and shut down the federal government.  But hey, when you can print the world’s reserve currency and after trillions it remains so, why not shove your middle finger in the rest of the world’s face and hope for the best?