§ Mary’s June 2nd flight was canceled so she ended up on the same flight as Karen from Denver to Kalispell on June 3rd
§ Rodney was supposed to be on the same flight as Theresa from Seattle to Kalispell. But Rodney’s flights on Alaska Airlines were delayed so he got moved to United and a non-stop flight from Denver to Kalispell – the same flight Karen and Mary were on!
§ Karen’s flight from Austin was delayed so she had to literally run in Denver from gates 23 to 82. She barely made the flight, and her suitcase with camera in it barely fit in the overhead, but it squished in! Her suitcase however did not make it.
§ After a very long wait, we took the hotel shuttle to the Hilton. Karen thought it was “right by” the airport. Turns out it was the City Airport that was right by the Hilton; Glacier Park International Airport was about 25 minutes away.
§ We decided we really needed the rental car that afternoon instead of at 10am as Karen had reserved. Called Enterprise and they said they didn’t have a large SUV yet as we had reserved but would call us if one came in. 15 or 20 minutes later they called! They picked us up at the hotel (we ate square Oatmeal cookies while waiting), we went to Enterprise in a very nice Suburban that Mary decided should be “our” car. But we got a Chevy Tahoe. Turns our USAA allows unlimited extra drivers for free so both Rodney and Mary were signed up.
§ We went from Enterprise to the Kalispell Airport and picked up Theresa, then took her to Enterprise so she too could sign up as an extra driver.
§ Went to Kalispell Brewing Company on Main St. for dinner but they didn’t have any food. But there was a BBQ food truck out back where we bought dinner and brought it into the Brewery to eat (through a few rain drops).
§ Then we went across the street to Sweet Peaks for homemade ice cream, then to back to the airport to get Karen’s suitcase which actually did come in at 9pm as predicted.
§ Also went to Target for snacks and WalMart for Rodney to get some cash (‘cause he forgot to do cash-back at Target).
§ It was still daylight so we found Foys Lake around sunset and drove around the area. Stopped to take photos of horses/mules and the countryside.
HOTEL: Kalispell Hilton
§ Breakfast at Montana Coffee Traders Coffee Shop.
§ Shopping at Huckleberry Patcch. Rodney bought the infamous Selfie Stick; Theresa her beloved orange bag.
§ Went to the Apgar Visitor Center but didn’t get much info from the people at the counter. Drove by Lake McDonald on Going To The Sun Road. Stopped for photos at a number of places.
§ Theresa and Mary saw an eagle. Supposedly.
§ Lunch at Lake McDonald Lodge in the lounge vice the full restaurant. More photos out back with the waterfall and boats. This is one of two chalet lodges build by the Great Northern Railroad.
§ Back to Apgar Visitor Center to catch the #80 Red Jammer tour bus. Cas, a broker from California, was our driver. First part of the tour was pretty lame. Huckleberry Hill. Hmmm.
§ Then we got out and walked the Train of the Cedars to Avalanche Creek and Waterfall.
§ Cas took us past where Going To The Sun Road was blocked so we could look back and see the tippy top of the one of 2 glaciers in Glacier National Park. Sort of. It was white and the clouds behind it were white.
§ On the way back to the Visitor’s Center we each sat in our own row in the bus. Cas took a photo of us hanging standing on the seats.
§ Stopped in Columbia Falls for dinner at a place Theresa found on Yelp. Backroom, part of Night Owl. Great fry breat and BBQ!
§ Back to Kalispell for more ice cream at Sweat Peaks again, then to Target again.
HOTEL: Kalispell Hilton
SIDENOTE: Montana has no sales tax.
STEP COUNT: 14,055
§ Started the drive around the southern part of Glacier National Park. Stopped at Goat Lick Overlook but no goats.
§ Took an impromptu turn off toward Hungry Horse Dam. Found a turnout for Lion Lake. Wow, great reflection photos!
§ Drove by East Glacier Inn and repeated the oft-used comment “We could have stayed there”. Turns out it was where we were staying!
§ Lunch at Luna’s in East Glacier, followed by Huckleberry Pie (with graham cracker crust, much to Mary’s chagrin). T&K split an Indian Taco.
§ Our rooms shared a really wide balcony, along with the room in between us, and a few others. Tried to get rooms on the other side with a mountain view but nothing was available.
§ Drove towards Two Medicine Lake. Stopped at Running Eagle Waterfall but only did a short walk by the creek. Then went on to Two Medicine Lake and decided to return the next morning for sunrise.
§ Went back to Running Eagle Waterfall based on T and M’s comments that we didn’t do the trail. So we parked again and followed the trail. Great waterfall!
§ On the way back to the car K and T struggled over and finally remembered all the words to the GS Song “Oh Running Bear”.
§ Cas had recommended eating at Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant in East Glacier Park, MT. (Mary was correct on that fact even though we tried to convince her he really meant up by St. Mary not East Glacier.) We found the hole-in-the-wall place, parked below the Amtrak Station, and shopped at an old timey store while waiting to get in.
§ Cas also recommended Key Lime pie at Serrano’s. More graham cracker crust!
§ Back to the hotel. Karen spent the whole evening taking photos around the park grounds and waiting for sunset. After some night photos of the front of the lodge, R and K took pics of the old Red Bus/limo with its headlights on.
HOTEL: Glacier Park Lodge
STEP COUNT: 12,246
Mexican food in Montana? Key Lime Pie in Montana? It came highly recommended so we tried it. It did not disappoint.
§ Sunrise photos at Two Medicine Lake, then back to the hotel for a nap (K) and breakfast in the Lodge (M, T and R).
§ Drove to St. Mary Glacier Hotel, which didn’t open until June 15th. This year is the 100th birthday celebration of the building. K & R took lots of photos while M & T sat by the lake and waited. Patiently.
§ Drove to Babb, which is not even big enough to be called a township, and ate lunch at the Cattlebaron Supper Club’s Bunkhouse Café, with ice cream from the Bunkhouse Creamery.
§ Checked in to St. Mary Lodge where we found out we got upgraded to rooms in the new building. And an upgrade it was too! So nice that we decided to hang out in the rooms and on the balcony overlooking the river for the evening.
§ Went to Rising Sun Pizza and hung out there while waiting for takeout pizza. Took it back to one of the rooms, took photos on the balcony then went in the room ‘cause it was too hot.
HOTEL: St. Mary Lodge
STEP COUNT: 11,743
§ Breakfast at Johnson’s World Famous Historic Restaurant. They had old farm equipment hanging from the ceiling, lots of antiques, homemade bread toast, and an “outhouse” bathroom in the “lower restaurant”. Also tractor seats on milk cans out front.
§ Started our long drive from St. Mary to Lake Louise.
§ Photos of Chief Mountain.
§ Fun banter with the border guard at the crossing into Canada.
§ Stopped at Prince of Wales Hotel. Found it they opened at noon and we got there about 12:20.
§ Went to Waterton Park Townsite to look around and have lunch at Trappers Mt. Grill. Free homemade Saskatoon Berry pie (NO graham cracker crust!)
§ Shopping for a new selfie stick since we thought the old one broke; but no luck.
§ Had ice cream and sat on park benches to take advantage of the free town wifi (only available on the street; not in the restaurant).
§ Stopped next at Red Rock Canyon (bumpy road getting there).
§ Stopped at Pincher Creek for sodas; decided to follow the GPS suggestion and go via Calgary vice smaller roads around it.
§ Rodney drove from here into Calgary and made many U-turns in Calgary (no thanks to the GPS) as we adapted to having no cell service.
§ Dinner at Tim Horton’s with free wifi. Then to Walmart for K to buy a 2TB external hard drive for photo backup. Also looked for new selfie stick but no luck here either.
§ Drove past Olympic Park (1988 Olympics) on the way out of town.
§ Drove to Lake Louise, arriving at lodge about 11:45pm. Office was closed, but there was a very nice note on the door. Great “suites” with a double bed in one room and twin beds in the other; kitchen and bathroom in between.
HOTEL: Paradise Lodge and Bungalows
STEP COUNT: 10,620
§ Happy Birthday Rodney!
§ Left at 5am to hit sunrise at Moraine Lake. Mary slept in.
§ Beautiful views from the top of the rocks. Rodney met Callum Snape, professional photographer. Turns out he was on the job that morning doing a photo shoot for a portable canoe on Kickstarter. Rodney also found an article on United’s airline with a whole spread he did.
§ Theresa sat on a bench the whole time; met a photograph couple, Nancy Jones and her husband from Maryland.
§ K didn’t see T on the bench when it was time to leave so went back down without her. Rodney had to go back up to find her and bring K’s camera bag and the car keys back down. Ooops!
§ Back to bungalows for showers and packing car. Met nice people in the office and thanked them for the nice note. Rodney asked them for a job!
§ Somewhere along the long T fixed the selfie stick so a new one wasn’t needed.
§ Drove to Lake Louise and the Fairmont Chateau.
§ Theresa tested the temp of the water by stepping in it.
§ More photos and selfies. Rodney got dandelion poop on his pants.
§ T & M photo bombed R’s photos. Lamby (did we ever end up with a final name?) photo bombed K’s photos.
§ Lunch and wifi in Lake Louise’s Samson Mall at the Family Restaurant.
§ Started the 3-hour drive up the Icefields Parkway.
o Bow Lake
o Peyto Lake
o Mistaya Canyon
o Little waterfalls up in the mountains
o Jasper/Banff sign
o Athabasca Glacier (@Columbia Icefield and Glacier Skywalk)
o Goats on road – K got out for telephoto lens shots
o Tangle Creek – waterfall on side of the road
o Athabasca Falls with rainbow
o Elk on the side of the road (we thought caribou but were corrected by T’s friend later)
§ After Mistaya Canyon, back in the car, we heard rattling. Karen said it was coming from the backseat while Mary was convinced it was in the front of the car. Karen turned off the car but rattling continued – it was Lamby!
§ Along the drive, Mary named a couple of glaciers: Moustache-Goatee Glacier and Molar Glacier.
§ Arrived in Jasper; a very long train stopped cars getting through so we went around another way. Cute town!
§ Drove around a bit, then decided to park and find a place to eat. K parallel parked the Chevy Tahoe on the first try.
§ Ended up at Karouzo’s Steakhouse for dinner, then ice cream at Grandma’s Place. Very nice couple owned the ice cream store and gave Rodney an extra scoop of Birthday cake ice cream. Rodney sat on the pink bench outside and was joined by a lady and her mother from Edmonton.
§ Trans Canadian Train and station was across the street.
§ Today we hit 19,500 steps on K’s Fitbit!
§ Quotes: “Battery is exhausted” from Rodney’s camera; “Please turn right” from the very polite GPS; Make a U-turn when possible” from the GPS in Calgary - many times.
HOTEL: Crimson Jasper
STEP COUNT: 19,779
§ Breakfast at Crimson Jasper Hotel
§ Shopped on Main St. again for souvenirs/T-shirts
§ Drove back down Icefields Parkway towards Banff.
§ Stopped at Moraine Lake to see it in a different light, and so Mary could see it.
§ Headed for the Lake Louise Lodge for a sort-of lunch (chips and sodas)
§ Mary was wearing her TAMU tshirt. A man with a UT hat made a comment. K said she lives in Austin and from there the Texas party began.
o The man and his wife live in Corpus Christi. Both went to Lake Highlands HS in Dallas (’70 and ’74).
o K said let’s have a Texas connection photo. As we were lining up 3 girls walked by and excused themselves for getting in the way. I said it’s OK, and are you from Texas you can join us. One girl said she was! So she came over and jumped into the photo too! She went to High School in Ft. Worth.
o The man from Corpus said he student taught at Richardson HS and stepped on the eagle on the floor his first day. And he taught at Tarrant County Community College.
§ Drove the rest of the way on Icefields Parkway to Banff.
§ Stopped for photos at ”Weeping Wall” waterfall.
§ Saw goats @12:45
§ Banff Springs Hotel and Tunnel Mountain Drive
§ Walked Banff Ave.
§ Dinner at Wild Bill’s
§ Ice Cream at Cow’s
§ Bow Valley Parkway was closed
§ Vermillion Lakes Drive (view of ? Mountain)
§ Drove up to Banff Gondola and Hot Springs - photos of mountains in distance
§ Back to Vermillion Lakes Drive for sunset then to hotel
§ Very short and small parking garage under the hotel.
HOTEL: Best Western Siding 29
STEP COUNT: 12,338
I know better after 30 years of friendship, but somehow I forgot and Dr. Marygot hold of my phone. Silly me for leaving the camera app open. So here's a collection of passenger shots. I'm not including the photo of a parking lot stripe or the video of my phone charging.
§ Free full breakfast at the hotel
§ Karen scared Theresa and Rodney at the same time coming out of their room!
§ Sat in the lobby waiting for Mary’s shuttle which was 40 minutes later than they said.
§ Drove Bow Valley Parkway look for bears and other wildlife but saw none.
§ Hiked to the Lower Falls (didn’t do Upper Falls) of Johnston Canyon. Saw a chipmunk. Wildlife sighting for the day.
§ Asian tourists asked about the falls and Rodney and Theresa gave a description and showed photos.
§ Karen met Susan M. Stephens Davis (name on Facebook) outside the park bathroom when she heard Susan’s son say he was from Texas. Susan is a single mom with 6 kids and now RVing and homeschooling full time. Her mom just bought an RV too and is traveling with Susan’s aunt. They were in Canada for 30 days, then Alaska for 30 days then back through Canada. They are from the DFW area (Bedford) and are selling their house there.
§ Drove back to Banff; lunch at the Spaghetti Factory (Rodney’s favorite).
§ Shopping for 20 minutes on Banff Ave for shirts, etc. T bought little stuffable elk bag
§ Drove to Calgary and stopped at Olympic Park on the way for photos
§ Dropped Rodney off at the airport.
§ Karen missed a turn on the highway leaving the airport and got off on a road trying to get back to the right highway. T took over driving and went through many more GPS-caused U-turns trying to get to A&W so Theresa could have a root beer float.
§ Finally back on the right road and drove to Banff.
§ Dinner at Saltlik Steakhouse in Banff after driving around trying to decide where to eat.
§ Then on to Lake Louise Inn - probably the only not-so-good the hotels we stayed in. 3rd, floor no elevator, but they did offer for a person to help with luggage which we accepted, both coming and leaving the next morning. Old and small room, but nice view out the window.
HOTEL: Lake Louise Inn
STEP COUNT: 12,988
§ Slept in. Just had granola bars for “breakfast”. Bellhop carried suitcases down.
§ Got right on Trans Canada 1 heading towards Golden. Passed the sign for “Entering British Columbia” so we had to turn around and go back. But the next U-turn was all the way back to Lake Louise.
§ Stopped for Yoho National Park sign as well as entering British Columbia where a dad took about a dozen photos of his daughter and then her stuffed dog. Huh?
§ Saw cars stopped on the road just after that. Pulled over and saw a bear but not in time to get a picture before he disappeared.
§ Stopped at Spiral Tunnels to see where the train tracks double back on themselves, and to watch for the trains to come down them. Tour bus came in and took all the photo spots then marveled at their timing at being there when a train came and that earlier they saw 3 bears. Hmph. Karen went to the car.
§ Went to Emerald Lake. Gorgeous turquoise water. Ate Lunch at Cilantro On The Lake for lunch. Tried to buy things at the little gift store but the credit card machine wasn’t working due to no signal. Went for a walk and came back and it worked.
§ Stopped at Natural Bridge.
§ Drove to Golden and checked in to the Ramada Inn for the first of 2 nights. Then drove around Golden trying to find “the town” and looking for a dinner location for later.
§ Headed up to Kicking Horse Lodge and saw 2 bears by the side of the road on the way! The lodge and condos at the top were deserted. Apparently it’s only a ski resort and no summer events, at least not in mid-June.
§ Went to Overwaitea grocery store for snacks and ice cream then back to the room for an hour or so. 2 ladies at the store had recommended Eleven 22 so we went there for dinner.
§ Back to the room for wifi and ice cream and relaxing evening.
HOTEL: Ramada Inn Limited
STEP COUNT: 9,320
§ Drove almost all the way back to Golden where there was a police stop checking for ids. That’s when I realized I didn’t have my wallet and was driving without a license. The very kind policeman let us go without a second look. We made a u-turn then pulled over while Theresa set up an international data plan and called Churbby Funster’s. Sure enough they had my walled so we drove all the way back to Revelstoke to get it.
§ Diet Pepsis exploded in the too-cold hotel room fridge!
§ Started the 5 hour drive back to Kalispell
§ Stopped in Cranbrook, ate lunch at Fired Up Breakfast & Burgers
§ Stopped for ice cream in Eureka at G’s Homemade Ice Cream and had a great conversation with the owners. They had only been open about a week and only as a “test”; they weren’t officially opened yet. Great homemade ice cream
§ Ate dinner at Loula’s Café in Whitefish, MT
§ Discovered that Going To the Sun Road was open to Logan Pass. Skipped homemade Huckleberry/”every other berry” Pie to head to Glacier National Park.
§ Sunsets on GTTS Road and of the Logan Pass Visitor’s Center.
§ Got back to Kalispell and to bed about midnight.
HOTEL: America’s Best Value Inn, Kalispell
Sunday June 14, 2015
§ Got up at 3:15am to drive 1:40 hours to Logan Pass. It was fogged in. So sad.
§ Started to go back down the road then decided to try Logan Pass again to see if the fog had lifted (and to be in front of the other 2 cars that were coming up the road). Still fogged in.
§ Took Heavens Peak waterfall photos on the way back down.
§ Stopped at the parking lot at the 170-degree turn around point, we saw a lone bear near the trashcans. Lots of photos! Even had time to get out the telephoto lens!
§ Continued back to the hotel in Kalispell, checked out and went to the airport.
§ T stayed in the car while K checked in, but her flight was delayed such that she would miss connections in Denver. Agents spent forever trying to find alternative flights. K went back out to the car to T could check in.
§ Still no final flights for K. K and T both took the car to the parking lot and found the Enterprise Key Drop in which to leave the rental car key. Gotta love a small town!
§ T left and started her trip home. K stood at the counter some more and finally got boarding passes to Salt Lake City then Phoenix, then Austin arriving at 2am.
§ About an hour later, sitting at the gate, Jeff, the SkyWest agent who finalized my trip walked up to me and said “I found you a better flight”. He found a seat on a nonstop flight from Salt Lake City to Austin! So I got home 2 hours sooner. And my luggage was on the flight!
§ Theresa flew to Boston via Seattle on Alaska Air, then took the bus the next morning to Farmington.
END OF TRIP L