Wanting to make the most of their visit to America we decided upon a road trip to Glacier National Park, Montana with sons 1 & 3. As with our road trip to Portland, Oregon with son 2 and his Gorgeous Girlfriend it was awesome to get away with our family. We are so lucky to have been able to share some of our time away from the nest with our no longer fledglings. I’m not sure who’s gaining more from our flight – them or us!
Not wanting to disappoint sons 1 & 3 we had the usual vehicle hiccup before leaving Bellevue – it just wouldn’t be the same if we hadn’t! HG had dashed off early on the bus to the car rental company to collect the reserved car while the boys and I finished off our packing. Our aim was for an 8am start. Said vehicle and HG arrived back and we traipsed down to the carpark with our luggage – it had a nice big boot and so we didn’t have a problem fitting it all in. HG, after locking and unlocking the car a few times, announced the lock/key function wasn’t working properly and we weren’t leaving town with a dodgy ‘key’ – so back to the car rental company we all went. Of course, Rental Representative had no problem locking and unlocking car (don’t you hate that!) but offered to exchange it for another anyway. They were running around like demented flies as it was so busy so the car they offered us hadn’t yet been cleaned – but no problem, we’d wait. 15 minutes later the car is ready and we transfer all our luggage from the dodgy ‘key’ car to the nice clean car – which I notice at that point is slightly smaller. Is this car a category smaller than the one I booked I ask? Yes, but it’s only slightly smaller they reply. When I reserve a car I always do a lot of research finding one with enough leg room and head height – important especially on this trip because a) we are driving a return trip of 1168 miles (1879 Kilometers), and b) son 1 being the New Zealand Firefighter Combat Challenge National Champion (yes, I’m proud of him) is not small, and son 3 is the height of a lamp post (also proud)! Not wanting to delay our departure much longer we grudgingly hop in, only to find son 3 doesn’t fit ………. unless he looks at his knees the whole trip. HG makes another trip into the office and returns with the keys (yes, actual proper keys) to a nice big car with plenty of boot and head room – just returned, not cleaned, and with quarter of a tank of petrol but who cares ………….. we’re on our way (only 2 hours late) in our 3rd car of the day and with a car rental contract barely readable with all the changes made on it!
Day 1 Bellevue – Republic, Washington
Travelling the less busy US 2 road to Republic, the scenery was beautiful. The weather was great especially with the thunder storm arriving after us! A small town with a real cowboy feel to it, Republic is 40 miles south of the Canadian border. Maybe not our best choice of hotel – but that’s what makes it fun!
Day 2 Republic, Washington – Idaho – Hungry Horse, Montana
There’s not much of Idaho to travel through to get to Montana – but it’s all pretty. We arrived after a pleasant days drive at Hungry Horse just outside the gates of Glacier National Park. With a name like that we had to stay in that town and we had a very comfortable 3 nights at the Mini Golden Inns Motel. Like so many place names in America there is a story behind the town name. In the severe winter of 1900 two draft horses employed in the logging business wandered away and were lost. These wily horses, Tex & Jerry, were found in chest-high snow a month later, scrawny and famished. Their owners managed to nurse them back to health and they were rewarded with their namesake town. I was sure I had taken more photos of Hungry Horse …… but if I did I’ve lost them somewhere.
Day 3 – was a bit of a chill day. Feeling the heat and me not being well wasn’t much fun for everyone else. Being told of a fatal bear attack a month prior and only a few miles away made us feel less inclined to hike in numbers less than 4 people (recommended minimum number in group) – and with me out that made only 3. Knowing I could yell louder than them and therefore scare the bears away, HG and the boys were not prepared to go without me.
Day 4 – The boys and HG take themselves into the grand Glacier National Park on Going to the Sun Road, confirming the fact that they are better photographers than me – the photos they took were stunning. Left to recover and read my very appropriate Jean M Auel “The Valley of the Horses” book (I can very clearly envisage Ayla wandering this vast continent millions of years ago) I keep hoping they are having a fantastic day – and they did. Going to the Sun Road led to spectacular scenery and also to Saint Mary Lake where they hopped on board a boat for a quick trip around the lake.
Day 5 Hungry Horse, Montana – Wallace, Idaho – Bellevue
We chose to drive the direct and quick route home on the i90 – a drive of around 8 1/2 hours which we did in 10 with stops. Wallace in Idaho was our first – a quaint and historic town with a population of less than 1000. We also stopped at a lookout over Columbia River – a very tiny version of the Grand Canyon I thought, but vast and beautiful. The winds nearly knocked me over there, and the temperature was at 100 degrees F! Sadly we also had a re route to do – coming across an accident we backtracked and turned off only to find ourselves on a shingle road ………. and nobody following us! Worrying where we would end up, but also remembering we were Kiwis and used to the shingle roads (and there were 4 of us), we were soon back on track. Bravo to HG who faultlessly (the once were fledglings might not agree) drove the enormous miles and got us back home safely.