This morning we got up at 7 am, and after showering, we were treated to a nutritious and delicious pancake breakfast home-cooked by Kristen’s dad, topped with homemade chokecherry syrup and fresh strawberries on the side. Yum! Unfortunately we couldn’t stay to have fun adventures with our friends, because we had to get ourselves to Glacier National Park as early as possible, knowing there was a very good chance that we might not get a campsite for the evening. We drove off at 9 am, waving goodbye as we drove out the gravel road, while the kids chased us as far as they could run.
We fueled up in Hardin, and then drove for as long as we possibly could. We got as far as Livingston, MT, where we took a bathroom break and got some groceries at Albertson’s. We got back on the interstate and realized that there wouldn’t be many options for lunch once we passed Bozeman (which was just a few miles after our stop in Livingston), so we got off the highway again there. We got lunch from Dairy Queen, and topped off the gas tank. We ate lunch in the car so we could continue to make progress across the great state of Montana.
This section of I-90 may be the most beautiful. It follows the river known as Clark Fork as it snakes around and through several different mountain ranges. The river, the pine-covered hills, the different sets of snow-capped mountains in the background – it is all breathtakingly gorgeous. There was one spot where there were a few different people bicycling along the side of the interstate. Seemed crazy to me, but they looked like they were traveling through – with packs tied to the back of their bicycles.
We stopped briefly in Butte to grab some Starbucks, where the extroverted barista told us that Glacier is the best national park, and pshawed Yellowstone.
Finally we got through Missoula, and exited the interstate at Rte 89 around 3:45 pm. We stopped at the travel plaza for the usual bathroom and gasoline break, then started heading north toward Glacier.
It was a LOOOOOONG drive. Just a few miles north of I-90 there was a serious road construction project going on that had the entire road torn up for 14 miles. Some of the driving was actually more like off-roading. It was slow going. Finally past the construction, we were able to go full speed for a little bit, and then came up over a hill to see a spectacular view of Flathead Lake, a beautiful and quite large recreational lake, on which Kalispell is located to the west. We took the eastern route around the lake. This drive was painfully slow – after all, it was Saturday, and there were a lot of people going to and from their lake homes, etc. I just wish they could all learn to drive the speed limit instead of 10 mph under. =(
FINALLY we arrived at the west entrance to Glacier National Park at around 6 pm, only to learn that all of the campgrounds in the park were full. So discouraging! We stopped at the visitor’s center for a quick restroom break and then turned around and headed back out the park.
I was anxious that we might spend the rest of the evening playing the “no room at the inn” game. However, God took care of us – the first campground we came to, about a mile outside the park, had plenty of tent campsites. It was a really nice, shady site in the woods. The tent spot was a tight squeeze for our big tent, but it worked. After we got everything set up, we discussed the option of pulling up stakes in the morning to try to get a spot in the park. Ultimately we decided that this campground was very nice, AAA approved, had good bathrooms, and was convenient, so there was no reason to move. Dave went back and paid for a second night, and we settled in.
For dinner I made stir fry with tuna, bellpepper, and onions, over rice. It was a light healthy meal. We were so tired we didn’t even bother making a campfire. We chilled out in the tent for the rest of the evening before going to bed around 10:30 pm. Here in the northwestern part of the Mountain time zone, it wasn’t even completely dark by the time I closed my eyes and went to sleep.