I know these are horribly out of order, but at least this completes the last of our pictures from our trip across the US last summer. After leaving Yellowstone we made our way north through Montana, stopping for the night in Helena (pronounced Hel-eh-na, not Hel-lee-na like I’d been saying my entire life in those name the capitol quizzes).
Official border crossing while leaving Yellowstone
More impressive state sign in Gardner, MT
We decided to check out the Lewis and Clark Brewing Company for dinner since 1) it was just down the road from our hotel and 2) like the yuppies we are, we’re fond of local breweries. The reviews online praised their beer and burgers, but when we got there they only had beer – no food except some popcorn and bar nuts. Also as a brewery they had some interesting rules:
Fortunately Helena had a great little pizza place just a block away and we filled up our bellies there instead.
Montana bills itself as one of the last great wildernesses in the contiguous United States and after spending much of the next day driving through it, the claim is pretty accurate. Despite being June it was cold and we spent hours driving without passing another car or building. I can only imagine the solitude here in the depths of winter.
Our goal was to see Glacier National Park and drive its famous Going-To-The-Sun road as one of our final destinations before Seattle. We should’ve known that wasn’t going to happen when we stopped at a diner in West Glacier for some huckleberry pie and the only people there happened to be us and a park worker that said he started next week “at the beginning of the season”. My entire life I was somehow incorrect in counting June as a summer month – in Montana at least it is more of a late winter/early spring season.
We were some of the only tourists going into the park and one of the only rooms occupied in the Village Inn at Apgar. The Going-To-The-Sun road was closed due to snow and they hadn’t yet finished plowing it. I was pretty disappointed because I was looking forward to driving what has been called one of the most scenic roads in America, but we made the best of the evening and treated ourselves to a delicious meal at the nearby and nearly empty Lake McDonald lodge before retiring to our hotel room to hunker down under several blankets with the heater cranked on high.
View from our hotel window when we first checked into the the Inn
Lake McDonald – getting a glimpse of the peaks as the clouds moved out
Our first sighting that Glacier National Park has glaciers..
The next morning brought sunnier, clearer skies
The next morning we decided to drive the 10 miles of the Going-To-The-Sun road that were open to at least see a little of the park that we’d budgeted two days to explore.
Attempt as a self portrait from our hotel patio
The loyal Jeep
Since our ability to see more of Glacier was hampered by the snow fall we decided just to go ahead and drive to Seattle that day and end up there two days early.
To round out our road signs:
The day we drove in Washington was characteristically rainy – appropriate I think for our first time together in the Northwest.
Eastern Washington reminds me a lot of Kansas – flat and agricultural.
And that rounds out our trip across the US. If you ever have a chance to do it, go. We have a vast and diverse country. Travel on back roads as often as you can. Eat huckleberry pie from the dingiest diner you can find. Play all your favorite songs and listen to some new books. Pick a good co-pilot. Know that BLTs are best enjoyed at the local gas station/restaurant. Experience the areas you’ve only ever seen in books and on postcards. Do everything you’ve ever wanted – who knows when you’ll make your way there again.
And always keep in mind that the best part of the trip is the journey itself.