Thursday, July 11, 2013

Glacier National Park Road Trip - Day 12

The Buzzards and their trusty canine companion, Fannie Mae, were off to Glacier National Park by 7:45 am and even before pulling out of the motel parking lot they spotted a deer across the busy street. She was oblivious to the vehicles rushing by and seemed intent on munching on leaves in some poplar trees. Look closely at her very full right cheek when you see the photo.

While getting ready to leave the motel room John spotted the bedside table that Linda had made for herself out of two luggage holders. “Very clever” he commented. “I think I'll shoot it”. “Just let me tidy it up” Linda called out from the other room. “No way, that would ruin it” answered John as he proudly snapped his first photo of the day.

John got his wish. He was hoping for a variety of weather during the road trip. Today started out with dark clouds and no sunshine and by the time it cleared up there were beautiful white puffy clouds to compliment the blue sky and beautiful features of the park.

The intention for today was to drive over the Going-to-the-Sun Road to get to a part of the park had not visited yet and hike to a lake that has some glaciers in it. But both old buzzards had so much fun with animal sightings and noticing things they somehow missed yesterday. Also, there were those dreamy creamy puffy clouds that add a lot to a landscape photo. Linda had noticed a small patch of bear grass which has beautiful flowers. We first saw it on our unpaved road drive up to Heaven's Gate in Idaho. So, she had the patch pretty well pinpointed as to location and we found it. Why did we want to find it? Photo Scavenger Hunt: Exotic flower or plant. The idea was for Linda to lay down (exotically) among the bear grass. It was on a steep slope with a path going up the slope (probably goat or sheep path). The path was covered with little bits of rock and shale. Pretty slippery. After taking the photos, John got down the hill before Linda and took a little video of part of her descent. It's below....

video
Linda, definitely NOT part mountain goat

Having traversed the park from west to east, it was nearing lunchtime as the buzzards left the park for St. Mary and the Johnson Cafe. They found a place in the shade for Fannie and Wilma, so lunch was inside today. John got a Glacier chicken club sandwich and Linda got a Huge Hugo sandwich (grilled veggies on homemade bread). Both had a bowl of their homemade bean soup. Everything was beautiful and delicious. This is the family's 63rd season. The restaurant has interesting decorations. The checked tablecloths have glass tops underneath which are old family photos and pages out of the guest sign-in sheet from way back when to the present. For more info about this interesting family and their businesses you can go to www.johnsonsofstmary.com.

To get back into the park the old buzzards and Fannie used roads in the Blackfoot Reservation and re-entered the park at Many Glacier. Wildflowers were in profusion in many areas along the way, as were other beautiful touches of nature. It is a place you should really put on your bucket list (except for you, Rusty, unless you already forgot that you came here last year). There were warning signs in the Many Glacier regions that warned against feeding the big horn sheep. John remarked “First I will have to find some sheep”.

Well, we didn't find any big horn sheep to not feed, but ahead of us, there was a bit of a traffic jam. People pointing their cameras and binoculars off into the distance. Being great tourists, we pulled off the road (well, mostly off the road) to see what was going on. There was a huge bull moose standing in a pond about 200 yards off the roadway. Both of us were able to get some shots of the moose.

We gleefully went the rest of the way into the Many Glacier area (it's only 12 miles deep as far as the road goes). We passed the Many Glacier Lodge, a beautiful resort on a small lake, and reached the turnaround which happens to be at the trailhead for Iceberg Lake. Alas, it was too late in the day to make the 4.1 mile hike (one way). So, we turned Wilma around and headed back home.

Now that you are experts at this, you know what it means when we say there was major traffic congestion just ahead of us and people gawking and pointing their cameras. So, we finessed a parking spot (mostly off the road) and walked to see what was going on. There was a grizzly bear in a meadow and it was only about 150 yards off the road. First standing, then lying down. It was a great sight. John cranked on his camera's high speed continuous mode and started firing away. Between the two of us, we got some decent shots. They will be in the photo gallery when we get it done. We are a bit behind right now.

Huckleberry pie and huckleberry licorice were obtained on the trip back to Whitefish. After perusing the local menus in a notebook at the motel, the old buzzards decided on dinner at the Tupelo Grille (www.tupelogrille.com). John had the Zydeco Combination (shrimp, dirty rice, crawfish, crab, catfish, jambalaya and corn cake). Linda had Loosiana (their spelling) Gumbo (chicken, duck, Andouille sausage). The restaurant had an authentic feeling of jen-u-wine Southern cuisine. Everything tasted SO good. Before placing her order, Linda inquired as to whether the gumbo included okra (normally a strict requirement). “No, you are in Montana” the server replied. Linda only thought of her “shoulda said” about five minutes later in which she “woulda said” this: “Well, you manage to get crawfish to Montana, you should be able to get okra for gumbo in Montana”. It turned out to be some of the best gumbo Linda has ever had – in Louisiana or anywhere (with or without okra)! The cook who started the restaurant is from Tupelo, Mississippi, thus the restaurant name.

An evening adventure was a quest to check off another item on the San Jose Mercury News photo scavenger hunt – a neon sign at night. The Great Northern Brewing Company (www.greatnorthernbrewing.com) had a cowboy (on a horse) saying “Yahoo!” so that filled the bill. The tricky part was that the cowboy was about 15 feet up on a brick wall and John had to figure out how to get Linda into the photo. It was still twilight outside but 9:45pm should be counted as nighttime, at least on Planet Buzzard.

Back at the Cheap Sleep, the buzzards shared their piece of huckleberry pie. Which brings us to the SONG O' THE DAY: Moon River on page 163 of The Daily Ukelele by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini (1961). Parts are very reminiscent of The Two Old Buzzards: “Two drifters off to see the world, there's such a lot of world to see. We're after the same rainbow's end – waitin' round the bend, my HUCKLEBERRY friend, Moon River and me.”

There are 97 images in today's photo gallery including the bull moose and grizzly bear. Hope you enjoy them by clicking here.

Happy trails!

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