Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My gardener and I took a few days last week to tour a part of the state of Montana that we hadn't been to yet. We headed west over to Glacier National Park, first.
It was an overcast day - not the best for pictures. We entered the park at St. Mary, Montana, which is the East Entrance. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is 50 miles of paved road which winds through the mountains. It was was constructed in the early 1930's. The road gets its name from the nearby Going-to-the-Sun Mountain. 

This picture was taken at Logan Pass, which is about half-way on The Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Logan Pass is where we crossed west over the Continental Divide. Before the road opens up to traffic in the summer, up to 80 feet of snow must be plowed from the road at this point, and it can take up to 10 weeks to plow the entire length of road. The opening day for the park is dependent on the weather.

See the horizontal line in the two pictures above? That's a section of the Going-to-the-Sun Road! The entire road is going through a major 5-year rehabilitation and we were stopped several times while a single line of traffic passed us from the opposite direction. It felt like we were on a train and I found myself paying more attention to the workers who were building guardrails with huge sections of stone than I was to the landscape.

There are several beautiful waterfalls in the park. The Weeping Wall was just glistening as we passed by it, but take a look at this animation that shows what it looks like in the Spring!

That's my gardener looking down at at Bird Woman Falls.
Again, here's Bird Woman Falls. I wanted to go to the bottom. It'd be really easy to get down there. Getting back up to the road might be a problem. ;)
The Going-to-the-Sun Road ends at West Glacier, Montana. We stayed the West Glacier Motel. No pets, no smoking, no phones, no internet, and no TV. Our room is there on the left in the motel section. They also have cabins...
... and when I saw them, I'd wished I'd made a reservation to stay in one of them. They were so cute! I asked my gardener to sit in a chair outside one of the cabins. I told him I was going to post it on my blog and tell people that's where we stayed. He didn't want to do it... said it was 'false advertisement' LOL, but I managed to get him to sit there so I could take a picture.  About 30 seconds after we walked away from the cabin, the people who really rented it drove up. My gardener would have been embarrassed to death if they'd caught him sitting in their chairs!!
There was a nice picnic area by the motel and we found a table overlooking the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. We talked to two couples from Sacramento, CA who were riding through Glacier on their motorcycles; a man who was meeting 7 family members for a mini-reunion the next day; and a family of 5 with grown children on a hiking trip through Glacier before the children went to new jobs in other states. They saw black bear, a grizzly and several mountain goats while they were hiking.
Here's a picture of the river that we could see over the fence and down the bluff.
This is a picture of the only wildlife we saw in the park. One lone prarie dog. (Actually, we did see several deer, but they're too fast to shoot them with a camera.)

My very good meal that night at the restaurant in West Glacier. Not a very good picture, but I had to include it -- this is a food blog after all!
The next day, we took a beautiful drive down Highway 83.

The Flathead National Forest.

This was a really beautiful waterfall. I could have sat by it all day long and just listened to the water rushing down.

The Stray Bullet Cafe - Ovando, MT from Lynn Donaldson on Vimeo.

I had seen this video about the Stray Bullet Cafe in Ovando, MT. Since we were in their neck of the woods, we decided to stop by! The sign coming into town says "Pop. About 50 - Elev. 4150' - Dogs: Over 100".
This building was constructed in the 1870's of hand hewn logs. The cafe opens for business 7:00AM and closes at 3:00PM. We arrived at 3:15PM.
When I went in, the gentleman sitting at the table greeted me and asked where I was from. He said "I don't know if she's still fixing meals, but she's back there in the kitchen if you want to ask her." I told him we weren't there to eat, just to take pictures because I'd seen the video on the internet. Pretty quick, the waitress/cook/dishwasher came out and said hello. I asked the couple if they minded if I included them in the picture and he said "Sure, go ahead." I promised I wouldn't get them with their mouths open! Really cute little place!
Across the way from The Stray Bullet Cafe, was the Blackfoot Commercial Company General Store.
This gentleman was welcoming us at the door.
And this kitty welcomed us as we went inside! She followed me all over the store, meowing and rubbing up against my leg. They had a little bit of everything in this store and there were two men sitting at a table just passing the time of day.
After leaving Ovando, we crossed the Continental Divide (east) on Rogers Pass.
Our next stop was in Choteau (Show-toe). In 1999, David Letterman bought a 2700-acre ranch about 35 miles west of Choteau and I wanted to look around town and see if we might see him at the local cafe having a cup of coffee! We stopped in the local coffee shop and a few other shops, but no Letterman, so all I have to offer is a picture of the Teton County Courthouse where Dave and his longtime girlfriend were married in 2009.

On the way home, we passed through several little towns. Most of them have a big handmade sign with the name of their town. Here's Chester, population 871.

Rudyard has a population of 272 people (and apparently one dinosaur).
And Hingham, population 153.  I should have taken a picture of Havre's welcome sign. Havre has only 9,700 residents but it's the 8th largest city in Montana! In fact, the entire state of Montana (population 975,000) has fewer people than the city of San Diego (population 1.3 million)! 

I hope you enjoyed coming along with us on our trip!