Monday, July 8, 2013

Glacier National Park Road Trip - Day 09

Riddle: What seems to happen the day after you go through the car wash? Easy one. You all had the answer. Yes, it rains. But that's OK. Actually, it was a rather large thunderstorm that came through Missoula early this morning. It did not dampen our day and we were never in downpours during the time that we had to be out of Wilma.

We were packed and on our way for breakfast at Cracker Barrel by 8am and out of there by 8:45. Linda had a yogurt parfait with granola and giant blackberries. It came with a giant blueberry muffin. She had to get a to go cup for her grapefruit juice because it was icey like a slushy. It was good, just hard to drink until it melted. John had eggs, bacon, grits and biscuits.

Remember Valomilks? That was a favorite lunchtime treat in junior high and now they come in a dark chocolate. Something looking very much like them is called Boyer Dark Chocolate Mallo Cups. When we went back out through the store part of Cracker Barrel we got one and also another two-parter: Anastasia's Key Lime Coconut Patties (dipped in dark chocolate). We will both have to be very good at dinner to deserve those treats!

Next we went to Starbucks and it was so crowded they were taking last names instead of just first names. John decided to have some fun with the perky blonde cashier. She asked, "What's your last name?" John replied, "My last name is Fudpucker and please don't misspell it”. She said “How about if I just call you Fud?” So Old Buzzard #2 now has another nickname. Take note Spunky.

We were out of town and onto Highway 93 headed north by 9:08.

We turned off onto Highway 200 to go to the National Bison Range. The National Bison Range was started by Teddy Roosevelt in 1905. He asked congress to appropriate the funds to establish the range in order to save the now nearly extinct bison. It was the first time in history that congress appropriated funds to  protect wildlife.

Enough history. By 10:00 we got to their very nice visitor center. On display was a stuffed buffalo and Linda got her passport stamped. She also got a white buffalo pin for her hat. It had stopped raining so we took  the Red Sleepy Mountain Drive. This is a 19 mile loop that takes about two hours to navigate. We were hoping to see some buffalo (which are actually supposed to be called bison because they aren't technically buffalo). Okay, another lesson. Buffalo are found in Asia and Africa (water buffalo, cape buffalo, etc) and are in the genus bubulas and genus syncerus, respectively. The American bison is in the genus bison. Today there are three types of bison still living, the plains, woods and wisent bison. See, that was really easy.

We drove on a dirt road for about 20 minutes and finally saw a truck stopped to see a buffalo (that's what we are going to call them, OK? -- Note: John protests, but knuckles under.) John got a shot of it before it loped off into the trees. About five minutes later we spotted another one but he was mostly behind some trees and when he moved where we could see him better he just had his butt towards us. Nevertheless, we were enjoying the pretty green scenery of the trees and the hills. And we thought that maybe lots of the buffalo had Mondays for their day off. Then we came across a lone buffalo very near the road who was slow-moving and very photographable. He tired of us and quickly climbed up the side of the road. We were both so happy to have gotten to see a buffalo up so close. And just as we were speculating that we were going to just see lone buffaloes today, we rounded another turn in the twisty road and there was a whole herd of buffalo to the right side of the road and all the way down to the river. Having just crossed the river, they were headed (slowly) towards the road in front of us and crossed it while we were able to get lots of photos and to enjoy seeing them up very closely without being in any danger while safely inside Wilma. We both got lots of photos of bulls, cows and calves. There were calves nursing and adults taking occasional dirt baths. In talking with one of the staff later, this year was a record year for the number of calves born. And, there are about 450 head of bison on the range at this location.

Bison calf nursing

Too bad about already using “Home on the Range” for Song o' the Day two days or so ago. We saw more buffalo roaming today than in our four or five days at Yellowstone last fall. At least it seemed that way. So today's song is “In the Good Old Summertime by Ken Shields and George Evans”. Linda finally made it past all the many songs starting with the letter “I” and will take up tomorrow on page 151 with “Lime House Blues”. John would have preferred "Buffalo Gal".

Our trip on Red Sleep Mountain Drive had taken us two hours and as it was 12 noon we found our way to the picnic grounds that are a part of the bison range. For lunch we had leftover pizza that had been taken from the cooler and briefly warmed on the dashboard. Beverages were a Drpur for John and carrot juice for Linda.

Once we got back on the Highway 93 we stopped briefly (in Polson, MT) at the Miracle of America Museum of 150,000 or so oddities. We took a few photos outside but could not go in and leave Fannie Mae in the van since it was 78 degrees outside and who knows how long it would have taken Linda to look at even 150 oddities? (John knows, but he's keeping quiet!)

Soon we passed through the picturesque town of Kalispell, MT and arrived at our destination for the next week – Whitefish, MT – at around 3:00pm. We had been curious about our accommodations because of the name which is Cheap Sleep Motel but it is very nice and cute and clean. Their motto is “We love old timers, pets and good coffee”.

Dinner was at The Buffalo Cafe. We had a pretty cute server and once we had settled at our table and gotten menus and drinks, John asked her for a "hot date". Actually that was a menu item which was a burger with dates, blue cheese, and aioli on a kaiser roll. However, they let you substitute a chicken breast for any burger, and that's what John did. And, it came with beer-battered French fries. Linda had a hot veggie salad (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, sunflower seeds and raw spinach leaves) served with secret dressing. Both were yummy and we may go there again. Linda spotted some salmon tacos that have her name on them.

There are 95 images in today's photo gallery. And, as you might expect, many of them include bison. You can view the gallery by clicking here.

Happy trails!

1 comment:

  1. Keep the updates coming as I know at least one person out here is enjoying the trip besides the four of you.