Monday, May 31, 2010

Making the most of dismal weather

Yesterday we decided to visit Glacier National Park in spite of the weather. The last time we were out with the dogs they made such a fuss each time we left the car to look at a view that we decided to leave them home. Shortly after leaving the campground, heading east we approached the Continental Divide. All streams and rivers east of here drains to the Atlantic or Gulf and all waters to the west drain to the pacific. Helen wanted her picture taken under the sign, so here it is.

From here we continued east to reach Route 49 north. This was to take us to St. Mary, the eastern Gate to the park. A few miles up the road was blocked due to snow the night before, so we took the road to Two Medicine instead. This is just inside the park in the southern section. On the way to this section a large bear dashed across the street up ahead. I couldn't identify the bear but I did identify that it was a bear and it was BIG. At the entrance to the park we came upon this sign.

I'm glad I didn't stop for this bruin. Later at the gift shop I mentioned the sighting to one of the operators there. He asked "how old was it?" Was I supposed to know the answer to that? We did find out that is a young male residing just outside the park entrance.

Helen took this picture of some forbidding mountain across the lake. Believe me when I say it was cold and raw.

Also beside the lake was this the Two Medicine Store which was originally an early lodge where FDR gave a fireside chat beside the huge fireplace.

Another awesome mountain.

There wasn't much more to see, so we decided to try an alternate route to St. Mary. We back tracked to East Glacier and took Route 89. Now, Route 89 would be a fantastic trip on a motorcycle or a sports car, but it was a beast in the Jeep. It was like driving a slalom course where the road CONSTANTLY twisted and turned, left, right, hairpin turns. This, believe it or not, was the route I was going to take to our originally chosen campsite, but a call ahead revealed a phone no longer connected. We had to go with our second choice. What a blessing this was, because on Thursday night, in the ice and snow, I definitely would not have made it to St. Mary. I would have driven off the road due to the slippery condition and lack of visibility. When we leave the campground and head to Canada, this was to be our route, one that I would not even attempt when it's warm and dry.

In the Jeep we finally got to the St. Mary park entrance, only to be told that the 50 mile road through the park was closed due to the storm and only 5 miles was passable. OK, we'd do the 5 miles. The scenery was stark and the weather threatened cold rain or sleet. Still, Helen got this picture of some mountain across St. Mary Lake.

This is the passable part of the road.

I mentioned how bad Route 89 was south of St. Mary. That is not entirely true. Most of it was very bad, but the last few miles were very good. This road leads directly to Canada from St. Mary and I wondered if the quality of highway continued north. Beside, I was looking for an alternate road to take from the campground. The road was fantastic! I guess they want to make the park easily accessible to the Canadians. As we got away from the mountains of the park, the weather improved greatly. The temperature went from 43 to 55 and we saw sunshine. This is looking back at the park from some distance.

A short while later we turned east on another road heading back to East Glacier and came a cross a line of horses making their way along a fence. There were several mares with foals and Helen caught the cutest of the bunch.

Just after this picture was taken, the mare got between the foal and the camera person,so no more4 good picture were taken.

The road back to East Glacier was perfect for our needs and I decided to change the route plans in our mapping program. To my surprise, the mapping program was ahead of me. It was not going to take through the road of death, but the much better route. By the way, that section of 89 that I mentioned was practically littered with crosses marking where people had died traversing this part of the Blackfeet Nation.

For today, we have been chilling out and I've been picking at the heater core job. Having the right directions and pictures is priceless. The removal went very well and I could see that the heater had been worked on before. I knew that the front had been taken apart because they left out so many fittings putting it back. Then, when I got the core out, I could see where they had re soldered the core. It held for a few year, so I guess it was a success. I am waiting almost patiently for the new core to arrive tomorrow.


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