Northwestern Travelogue

Day 3

September 11, 2005

This morning it’s 38 degrees and still raining. All night long it felt like we were inside a movie popcorn machine. That's the sounds that the rain drops were making on the roof of our trailer. It was a combination of the large drops from the trees and the smaller drops from the sky that made it sound that way.

We are off to a lazy start but then we are on vacation and supposed to take it relaxed and easy. Our first planned stop for the day is a WiFi hot spot so we can send and download email. We found a little gift shop in West Glacier that had a secure WiFi for $6.00 for two hours. We only needed it for about a half hour but went for it any way.

After that we were on our way to Glacier Park. We bought a season pass at the gate that will get us into any National Park until next September, $50.00, not too bad. Otherwise it would have been $20.00 for a two day pass and we'd have to pay the same at other National Parks. It will be good when we go to Yellowstone and anywhere else we go. The forest ranger was almost trying to discourage people from going into the park. He said that the road is closed thirteen miles ahead due to snow. We guess he felt that we wouldn't get our money's worth with just thirteen miles.

Glacier Park Sign

First stop in the park was the information center in Apgar. Apgar is a small village of gift stores, a grocery store and the National Forest information center. Parking is limited and we couldn't imagine what people must do in the summer at the height of the tourist season. It must turn into a real zoo. We talked to the ranger in the center and they had got about five inches of snow during the night which is enough to close Logan Pass on the Going-To-The-Sun road. This is the main road through the park with all the wonderful views of the mountains, so we're told.

We headed up the road along McDonald Lake to the old McDonald lodge. It's one of those wonderful old hotels that were built in the 1930's by the Great Northern Railroad for the idle rich to go play in. The interior is rustic barked wood with lots of mounted trophy heads. There is a huge fireplace in the main lodge area and because of the weather there were many people huddled around it. We had lunch in their restaurant and got to sit in front of their large fireplace. The waiter threw a couple more logs on while we were eating and each one was four to five feet long.

McDonald Lodge

The hotel is right on Lake McDonald and they have a beautiful back lawn that would be a great place to sit on and watch the boats go by on a nicer day. There is a large dock and they have a tour boat that will take you around the lake to see the sites. We decided that it wouldn't be very good site seeing from inside a boat with fogged up windows.

Back Yard of McDonald Lodge

In front of the hotel was a fleet of the old red tour busses built in the mid 1930's. These wonderful old busses have canvas tops that are removed for viewing the mountains while driving around the park. The busses were totally restored by Ford in the 90's and are really a sight to see. On a sunnier and warmer day we might have given one of them a try but not today.

Tour Busses

We drove on up the Going-To-The-Sun road to where the gate was closed. It was 37 degrees and raining but no snow. You could see snow on the lower elevations of the mountains and there was some on the trees near the gate but nothing sticking on the ground. We turned around and drove back stopping at many of the viewing areas along the way. Most of them were to show you the majestic mountains as a backdrop against the lake. Unfortunately the cloud layer was so low there were only tiny openings in the clouds where you could sneak a peak of the mountains. The gray of the sky sort of blended into the lake. There is a really nice stream that runs along part of the highway that has some very pretty falls. That was the most scenic thing we saw.

Flathead River

Flathead River

By this time it was raining harder and not a lot of fun for sight seeing or hiking. We headed for the trailer and the peace and quiet of our popcorn maker. We took a hot shower at the campground showers and then on to a relaxing evening.