Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Week in Montana

Our daughter lives with her boyfriend in NW Montana.  Last month, my husband and I visited them for a wild, wonderful, amazing week.  Here are the highlights of what we did:

We spent the entire day soaking in all that we could experience in the western part of Glacier National Park.  What a spectacular place, full of beautiful scenery in every direction.  We hiked the trail to Avalanche Lake (4.5 miles), drove the Going to the Sun Road to Logan Pass, and finished the day with a hike to Hidden Lake Overlook (2.7 miles)  We saw lots of wildlife:  ground squirrels, mountain goats, chipmunks, marmots, a brief glimpse of a long-tailed weasel being chased by ground squirrels, big-horned sheep, and a long encounter with a coyote (who nonchalantly crossed over the trail ahead of us, while he was hunting ground squirrels for dinner.)

Avalanche Lake

Here are all four of us, at Hidden Lake Overlook.

Mountain Goat.

I was like this a lot ... staring at the scenery and details through the lens of my camera.

The trail back to from Hidden Lake Overlook to the visitors center at Logan Pass.

A mama Mountain Goat and her twins.

The day began with a stop at Polebridge for huckleberry bear claws for a late breakfast.  (totally yummy!)  Then we went to see Bowman Lake.  While hiking, we ran across some park service men documenting a load of fish that they had netted, to assess contents and health of the lake.  One trout was so big that they had to cut it in half because it maxed out their scale.  They were interesting to talk to.

In the afternoon, we went to an outdoor shooting range in the Flathead Forest ... bringing along an assortment of stuff for us to 'play' with.  My husband got to fire his dad's pistol, which our daughter inherited.  I shot a .22 rifle, but found that it was difficult to sight the target because my near vision is so bad without reading glasses.  (Made me wonder if they make bifocal shooting glasses?)

We finished the day at dinner with our daughter's boyfriend's family.  They own the Historic Tamarack Lodge in Hungry Horse ... it has been a ten-year project with a main lodge, numerous guest cabins and things to do, and a really nice restaurant.  It was a very enjoyable evening, and we loved meeting everyone.

Huckleberry Bear Claw from the store at Polebridge.

Bowman Lake.

Target shooting.

My husband shooting clays.

I was lucky with this photo to capture both the smoke of the shotgun barrel and the impact on the clay.

Firing his father's pistol.

Most of the day was spent on a trail ride ... the young people on their motorcycles, my husband and I in a side-by-side.  My husband is used to driving muscle cars and going fast, and this vehicle was perfect for him ... as he drifted and slid around most of the curves on the trail and tried repeated to see if he could get us completely airborne.  I am a perfect passenger, and I loved the ride and how much fun we had.  We chilled a bit in the afternoon (all this fun can be totally exhausting)  Dinner was an assortment of delicious sushi.  Yum!

This was our 'chariot' and my chauffeur for the day.

Our daughter, all suited up and ready to go.

Desert Mountain overlook

Smoky mountains and reflection in the reservoir.

Lunch break.  

It took a bit of 'encouragement' to close the tailgate on the trailer.

Downtown Kalispell.

One of the things we ordered at the Japanese restaurant was called a Spider Roll.  I wish I had captured the look on our daughter's face when one of the pieces looked as if it truly DID contain a big spider.  She had already eaten two pieces of it before making this discovery, deeming it to be delicious, so she gritted her teeth, stuffed the spider back into the roll, and ate it.

We later found out that the 'spider' was actually a small soft-shelled crab.  Our daughter wants everyone to know that she ate this while fully believing that the thing she's holding in the photo was, indeed, a real spider.  That's my girl!

The day ended with a smoky red sun.

After all of the fun and activity that we packed into the first three days of our visit, Thursday morning was spent doing some very-much-needed chilling and sitting around visiting.  Who knew that having fun would be so much work.  It was our daughter's market day.  After she loaded up and headed to the market, the rest of us went to Kalispell to tour the Conrad Mansion, rode through downtown Kalispell, then went to Lone Pine overlook to see how little of the mountains and valley was visible through the smoke from nearby wild fires.  Market was from 5:00 to 8:00, and we hung out with our daughter when she wasn't busy, visited with some really fun fellow market vendors, and shopped.

Conrad Mansion in Kalispell.

This photo was taken at 4:30 in the afternoon.  There was so much smoke in the air, and the sun was obscured to the point where we could look directly at it.

Lone Pine overlook.  The smoke is completely obscuring the view of the mountains that surround the town.

Our daughter makes a line of skin-care products using only carefully chosen natural ingredients.  I use them and I love them ... and I'm not just saying that because she's my daughter.
Visit her web site to learn more:

Our daughter's products are carried in some local shops.  This display is at O'Brien's Liquor and Wine in Columbia Falls.

Went all the way to Montana and met Virginia boy Tim Smith (from the TV show 'Moonshiners') during an appearance at the Columbia Springs Farmers Market.

We were all over the place on Friday, doing all sorts of things.  Started with looking for huckleberries (didn't find any), some junk hunting, sipping drinks at a restaurant overlooking Flathead Lake, bowled a couple of games, and finished the day with a really good pizza at Moose's Saloon in Kalispell.  Smoke was unreal for most of the day, completely obscuring any view of the mountains and countryside.  In late afternoon, the wind shifted, rainstorms came, and the air was noticeably clearer.

Looking for huckleberries.  Our daughter said that they have been hard to find this year because the bushes are producing very few or none at all.

Antique shopping in Somers.  I bought a Bemis grain sack to add to my stash.

Had a beer and enjoyed the view of a very smoky Flathead Lake from the deck at The Raven.

Smoke completely obscured the sky as we sat overlooking Flathead Lake.

Soon, the wind shifted and the sun was almost able to peek out through the smoke.


Photo of the approaching storm.

Sawdust on the floor, loud music, and good pizza add up to a fabulous time at Moose's

The skies were relatively clear, as the smoke from the fires blew away from us, and we started the day on the east side of Glacier Park hiking around at Many Glacier.  Then, we drove the entire length of Going to the Sun Road from Saint Mary all the way to West Glacier, passing through the remains of the Reynolds Creek fire from July.  By the time we got back to our daughter's house, all four of us were SO tired.

Bear Creek Fire, as seen from Route 2 in Essex.

This helicopter had just dropped his load of water on the fire at Bear Creek, and he was heading off to refill.

There I am, taking photos at an overlook in East Glacier.

Choosing a hand-crafted wooden spoon at The Spiral Spoon in East Glacier.

Grizzly Bear munching something in the birch trees on the side of the road.

Free-range cow.

Charred forest at Reynolds Creek on the east side of Glacier Park.

Travel day.  The wonderful week with our daughter in her adopted home state comes to an end. We repacked our suitcases, making room for all of the treasures that we had picked up at each of our stops, hoping that our checked bag wouldn't be too heavy (it wasn't!)  Then it was time for us to go.  We shared kisses and hugs and tears ... till next time ... which can't come soon enough to suit me.

The view from our daughter's living room, on the morning that we left for home.

We crammed so much activity and catching up into our short week-long visit.  It was fun for me to do this post, as I relived everything we did ... and shed a few more tears in the process.


  1. Fabulous scenery, thanks for sharing, now I want to go!

    1. Julie, dear, do it! Even if we hadn't had the extra added incentive of visiting our daughter, I still wanted to experience that part of the US. Fortunately, we got to do both ... with seasoned locals who know all the good places to take their guests. :)

  2. Sweet! That's only an hour and a half from where I live. I'll have to make time to visit that park someday.

    1. I knew you were in the west, but I had no idea that you were that close to Glacier. That place is even more beautiful than I could possibly capture in photos. So much to do and see. I hope you go one day.

  3. Wow, wow, wow... looks like a great trip!

    1. I'd say that it was a trip of a lifetime ... but I'm planning to go back over and over. :)

  4. Well now. Another place added to my bucket list. Complete with all the same activities we so enjoy.
    So very happy for you and yours to have spend such great time together.

    1. I loved everything about our trip … except the good-bye part. I’ll bet you would love it, too.

  5. Dear Connie ~ Thank you for sharing this adventurous week with us. It was all so beautiful, sorry about the fires though and hope they were soon put out.

    Will check out your daughter's website.

    Have a nice holiday today and a great week ~ FlowerLady

    1. Adventurous is a great word for it ... it perfectly describes our daughter and all the activities that she planned for us. Rain will help the fires (and there was rain last week) but they won't be completely out till snow comes. Some of the higher elevations got snow two nights ago, so the end may be near.

  6. What a beautiful place... I can see why your daughter adopted it as her home! I'm about to go check out her website. I loved the picture of Winnie and the kitty on your lap when you got home (last post). Vacations are wonderful, but it is always great to be home!

    1. I totally understand why our daughter fell in love with Montana pretty much at first sight. It suits her, and I can see that contentment in her ... as much as it pains me to have her living 2000+ miles away. She's happy. That's all that matters.

  7. GREAT pictures. I can see why your daughter calls it "home". What wonderful captures of all your time there- but the sad one was the fire-touched trees/land. xo Diana

    1. Diana, look in the upper right part of the fire photo. See the patch of green? The forest was already starting to reclaim the damaged land. (I'm a glass-half-full kinda gal.)

  8. I'm so glad you had such a wonderful trip! I so enjoyed all your photos as they brought back wonderful memories of many trips to Glacier. Thank you for that! xxojoan

    1. Hi, Joan! I can't adequately describe how wonderful I trip was ... it's going to take some more time for it to sink in. We saw and did so much in that short week. Glacier is definitely a special place. Sifting through photos to do this post brought it all back. Sounds like the same thing happened for you.
      xxo, right back at ya!

  9. We've only been to Montana once, but really loved our visit overall and were in awe of the scenery. We stayed near Kalispell at a guest ranch, riding horses all week and staying in a cabin on the ranch (with an overnight horseback ride and camping trip to one of the glorious lakes) and we got to go to fabulous Glacier as well. I loved all your photos, Connie. How cool that your daughter has such a wonderful life and business in Montana! I do hope they get the fires out soon. The harm they do is heartbreaking.


    1. You stayed pretty much right where we were and you experienced much of the same things. (but you can keep the horseback riding). Our daughter fits Montana perfectly, and it suits her. She looks great and she has made a very happy life there. I am a very proud mama.

  10. Glacier NP is one of my family's all-time favorite places to visit. You took some wonderful photos....some of these places I haven't seen yet. Seems like everytime we go, the Going to the Sun Road is closed at the Pass. Looks like you had a blast.

    1. I totally understand why your family loves Glacier so much. It was our first visit, and we will definitely be returning there soon. We were lucky to be able to drive the whole length of Going to the Sun Road because it had just recently reopened on the east side of the Pass, since the Reynolds Creek fire was right there. The park closed off all the overlooks and turn-outs along the fire-damaged area, and we were warned not to stop for any reason. Avoiding gawkers, I’m sure, since the fire was completely extinguished. I wish we could have stopped (or at least slowed to a crawl) to better take in what the fire had done.

  11. Thanks for taking us along with you. What an interesting trip! A new state for my bucket list. Your photos are glorious. Such a beautiful and enterprising daughter. :)

    1. You must, must, MUST be sure to get to Glacier some time. Photos can't come close to capturing the beauty on all around that we saw. We had SO much fun!

  12. Wow what a week! There was a lot to take in here but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think your photos were just wonderful. Loved seeing the mother Mountain Goat and her twins. - Also that Bear Claw pastry actually did remind me of a bear's claw. Oh and that spider thing that turned out to be a crab....I might not have been as brave as your daughter had I thought it was a real spider.

    1. It is a lot to take in, but I wanted to do it all at once instead of dragging it out through multiple posts. The wildlife at Logan’s Pass is accustomed to having humans around, and they completely ignore us. The coyote I mentioned was loping along on one side of the trail, checking under rocks and stopping to stalk ground squirrels, crossing over the trail right in front of us, as if he were almost unaware of our presence. It was SO cool!

      I’m used to Bear Claws that are filled with almond paste. Having one with fruit filling in it was a whole ‘nuther experience!

  13. OH! I love this post so much!
    It looks like you had so much fun and such a beautiful place.
    Looks to be a perfect vacation.

  14. I loved looking over your shoulder during your vacation. I have always wanted to see Montana, maybe one day in person. Thank you for sharing!

  15. What a wonderful vacation in such a beautiful state. Such a shame about all the fires out here. It's been awful for so many and the air quality really suffers. I've been to Montana a few times and your photos make me want to return again. Your daughter seems to have chosen a pretty darn good life for herself. I'll take a peek at her products. Thanks for sharing your special trip.


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