Livingston to Cody

Started the day in Livingston MT.  Wanted to visit the Fly Fishing Museum and a couple of neat places in Livingston.   If you pass this way, the Fly Fishing Museum is best described as a “work in progress” but the railroad museum is first class.  Bought a couple of books at what is billed as the best Western bookstore in MT.  And it is.  Thought we could make the trip shorter by going through the NW side of Yellowstone.  Forgot how tedious the drive could be what with stopping in traffic jams for buffalo and the twisty turny roads. However, from Livingston to Gardiner is a most beautiful drive through Paradise Valley through which the Yellowstone flows northward.  Ends at the arch which is the old original entrance to Yellowstone dedicated by Teddy Roosevelt.  Very historic and everyone trying to get their picture taken underneath.  Finally made it to Cody and mom has discovered shopping Nirvana.   We started at the old Irma Hotel which was Buffalo Bill’s and they block off the street and have a gunfight every night at 6.   I watched………mom shopped.   Tomorrow we are starting out visiting what is billed as one of the most impressive museums in the country at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.  We passed it on the way in and it’s huge.  You get 6 in 1 here with the Buffalo Bill Museum, Draper Museum of Natural History, Museum of the Plains Indian,  the Cody Firearms Museum, the Whitney Gallery of Western Art, and finally the McKraken Research Library.  Pretty much an all day thing.  Rooms are at a premium here with a Holiday Inn going for $230 a night.   We found a Dalton motel for a couple of nights which is clean and comfortable, and we can park in front of the door like the old days.  So, we are off to the 8 AM opening and will follow the Museum trail with the door to door Cody march.  Hope to have dinner in the Irma Hotel tomorrow and then we can plan our relentless march eastward towards Rushmore, Deadwood and maybe even Sturgis……………sans the motorcycle.

Can’t make it…………….we are dead in the water!

Well, we’ve discovered that Canada to Cody Wyoming is a long, long, long, way.   We looked in the guide book and found that Livingston MT is a must see, with three museums and tons of SHMBO shopping opportunities plus the World Fly Fishing Museum, plus what is billed as the best Western Book Store in the U.S.  So Cody will have to wait as we found a nice motel room, we are flat exhausted, and we refuse to move any farther.   That is provided the man on the way up can make our air conditioner colder.  If not, we will move to a another room, but not a foot further.    Sorry we’ve got nothing of interest to report.  The only stop we made was at McDonald’s in Helena and then here.  The man is here now fixing the air.  he has an exasperated look on his face.  Hard to discern his look without teeth to give it expression. He now says he is going to get ANOTHER air conditioner.   Not sure what that means  since the air conditioner is built into the room………..stay tuned.

Oh Canada!

Well if I knew the words to Oh Canada I’d sing ’em for ya but I don’t.  We are staying a couple of nights in the Prince of Wales Hotel in Alberta which is inside Waterton National Park.  One of the great Railroad Hotels built in the 20s and has the oldest working elevator in all of Canada.  Requires them to operate it for you but cool nevertheless.

Yesterday afternoon, Kay wanted to go to something they call “high tea” so I tagged along.  Not understanding the rules of this thing, Kay promised to show me the ropes.  First off, guess what they served?  That’s right.  TEA.  Seems if you try to order a Microbrew they really don’t like it.  Then Kay ordered these things called “scones.”  I think they thought she said stones because they brought these little rocks that would have made great skipping rocks in the lake, and then some other stuff called finger sandwiches which won’t fill you up ’cause they apparantly have very small fingers in Canada.  Tried to order a Bacon Cheeseburger, and they frowned on that as well.  So much for high tea.  Tried to ask them why they call it “high” tea but they didn’t know.  Drank a bunch of it but never got high so who knows?

Also discovered this morning that a Canadian screw stuck in you left rear tire depletes said tire of air at the exact same rate as an American screw will but fortunately found a Canuck that fixed it while we waited.  Hope it makes it home.  After that we went cruising the park and saw an Elk and a bunch of Bighorn Sheep and visited a place called Red Rock Canyon where the rock really is red.  How about that.  Gonna relax this afternoon and get caught up.   Was debating on whether to head up to Banff or not, which we dearly love, but there was an element of “been there done that” that made us decide to head back into the US tomorrow and head towards Cody Wyoming which everyone says is a must stop in the West so we will leisurely head back south tomorrow.  Here’s a pic of the hotel.  Location, location, location heh?

GRIZZ! YIKES!!!

Well, today we tackled arguably the most scenic drive in the nation, The Going To The Sun Road in Glacier NP.   If you’ve never seen this, get here quick.   There are no mountains, waterfalls, glaciers, rivers or streams anywhere that can compare.  Get here quick too as they say that at the current level of melting due to climate change they will be here until about 2030 and at that time Glacier National Park will be devoid of Glaciers.  Troubling thought isn’t it?  We visited the three premier Western Lodges in the park, Lake McDonald, Many Glacier, and the grandaddy of them all, Glacier Park hotel.  The lobby is in the pic.  You cannot imagine the size of the timbers it took to build this place.   All of them built in the early 1900 s.

We stopped to take a few pictures at a waterfall and after we were through I noticed two Mountain Goats watching us only 50 feet away laying on a ledge.  That’s cool.  Next we spotted a Grizzly (NOT a black bear) feeding in a field about 50 yards away.  So me and 200 of my closes friends were all on the side of the road photographing the thing.  Truly epitomizes wildness and strength.  Twice the size of black bears and with a pronounced hump on their shoulders, they are unmistakable.  Only the second one I’ve ever seen in the wild (other in Alaska).   We also took a very nice boat cruise on St. Mary Lake which was calming and refreshing all at the same time.  Excellent guide and a lot of fun.  We’re bushed tonight but we will have to get ready to cross the border into Alberta tomorrow and check in to the Prince of Wales.  Mom can’t wait.  See you soon.

GLACIER! MADE IT!

The Izaak Walton Inn

Today we came up from Ft. Benton, across the Missouri Breaks and the Blackfeet Reservation to Glacier National Park.   The Missouri Breaks are miles and miles of wheat and antelope.  They actually come out and fill your tank at the gas stations.  How long has it been since you’ve seen that?  We are in the Izaak Walton Inn which is the coolest.  Built in the early ’30s to house passengers on the Great Northern and the 60 workers it took to keep this stretch of tracks free of snow.  The food is 5 star and BNSF still runs behind it all day long along with Amtrak which actually stops at the Inn with passengers.  Cool.  We are now officially “old people.”  We went to West Glacier and into the park and signed up for our Senior Lifetime Pass into all the parks for the rest of our lives.  Good news is that anyone in my car gets in free as well!  Since we had paid $25 to get into Yellowstone and Grand Teton, they credited us that money and gave us our pass for free.  Neat stuff huh?We wanted to get all that stuff out of the way for an all out assault on Glacier tomorrow.  We will tackle the Going To The Sun Road from the West Side of the park to the east, which is one of the “must do” drives in America.  We will cross the Continental Divide for the umpteenth time this trip.  Unfortunatly, the verdict on our good Nikon D50 camera is that is terminal so we are limited to Kay’s little digital or the Iphone camera for the duration so don’t expect much.   Just wish it would have lasted through Glacier where, we suspect, will be the best pics of the entire trip. Our luck continues to hold out in our strategy of checking for last minute cancellations in the premier hotels of the National Parks.  We actually got a reservation for Sunday Night at the Prince of Wales Hotel on the Canadian side of the park (in Alberta).  This has been a long time want of ours to stay there at least once.  If you’ve never seen the setting, Google “Prince of Wales Alberta” and you will see multiple pics.  it’s unbelievable.We will get up early and hope to get to Lake McDonald early enough to get on a boat tour.  We’ll see.  Love to all.

OK, so it’s family stuff time.

Well we made it north to Ft. Benton MT, home to my nephew, his wife and 2 children which I have not seen since they were little kids.   They are all about 12 feet tall now and got to meet Kaela’s fiance and they will be married soon.  Staying in their house as there are only two hotels in town.   Had dinner in the best of ’em which was fantastic.  Actually the town which  has a total population of under a thousand, and has one stoplight which is yellow blinking and the town’s big decision is to actually make it red/green.  Actually the town is quite historic and Lewis and Clark stayed here awhile with Sacajewea.  We stopped in Great Falls at the request of my fishing guide on the Yellowstone to see the Charlie Russell museum which was actually quite spectacular.  Over two thousand pieces of Charles M. Russell’s art plus his home and log cabin studio.  All super interesting and gives a great appreciation for western art.  The guy really documented the American and Indian West and between him and Remington, there is no better.  Pme dissapointment though was to see the Great Falls of the Missouri, the daunting obstacle to Lewis and Clark.  They’ve erected a series of hydro electric dams on the Missouri right at the falls which has rendered them just a shadow of what Lewis and Clark saw when they rounded the corner and said: “Holy Crap Sacajewea, what the heck do we do now?”

Toured my nephew Kevin’s insurance agency in a building built in 1893 which was beautiful and which they have spent alot of money restoring to it’s original appearance.   Very historic stuff in this town to say the least.  Off to bed as we will arise early and be off to Glacier National Park.  Our luck has run out and we couldn’t get a room at the premier lodges inside of Glacier but we did get into one at the edge called the Isaac Walton Inn which is very historic, built at the turn of the centurey and so we will be off early.  We will keep calling and what do you want to bet we might end up in the Glacier Lodge?  We’ll see.