Sunday, July 31, 2011

Missoula, Montana

We left the Miracle of America Museum in great haste as we were concerned about securing a place to stay in Missoula on a Friday & Saturday night.  We had good reason; we secured the last spot for both nights with a bummed someone in line just behind us.  The kids enjoyed our stay here at Camp Jellystone.  The playground & the pool were big hits, and we had full hookups.  It was a little pricier than our first choice, but it turned out to be  a good stop anyway.

Our whole stay here in Missoula turned out to be all about the kids.  We spent the day at the Dragon Hollow playground, the Carousel, and the Families First Children's Museum.  All four kids had an absolute blast!  The children's museum was great.  The staff was super nice, they accepted our reciprocal museum membership with no hassle whatsoever, and the atmosphere was relaxed & low-key enough that Steve managed to find a quiet spot to take a nap!  Even though before leaving Texas, we'd been to the super nice Fort Worth Museum of Science & History  which has waaay more stuff for the kids to see & do, our kids all said they had a better time here.  It was just the right amount of stimulation without big crowds.  And now that we live in an RV without all the toys of home, this was just what the doctor ordered!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Polson, Montana

After leaving Glacier, we continued our trek westward with the goal of making it to Spokane by Sunday afternoon, so Steve could finish out his last week of work training his replacement.  We were hoping to secure a spot at Big Arm State Park on Flathead Lake along the way for two nights.  We did pull in, and we determined that it is indeed a lovely place to camp!  Absolutely beautiful sites, most right on the lake, and the lake is gorgeous!  However, there were only a few sites large enough to accommodate us, and they were all already occupied or reserved.  We nearly hit a large tree as we rounded the loop!  Fortunately, Steve saw it prior to hitting it and managed to back up & maneuver carefully without damaging the rv or the tree.  We continued on to Polson and set about trying to secure a place to stay.  We saw a super spendy motorcoach resort; each site had a very nice outdoor kitchen and patio set.  We stopped there to change a poopy diaper, and I wish I had taken a picture.  I’ve never seen anything like it!

We ended up staying at a little rv resort for the night.  We took the kids for a frigid swim in Flathead Lake.  I declined the opportunity to freeze my tush off. J  Afterwards, we went out at the only Thai restaurant in town.  We all miss the yummy Thai restaurants in North Dallas.  This wasn’t bad, but it definitely lacked the complexity in flavors we’re used to. 

 Linda had one of these old record players as a kid
I like the way the way he thinks
They had an old soda fountain display
The kids loved the old food containers with many brands they knew
We took off in direction of Missoula, a little concerned about finding a place to stay for the next two nights, Friday & Saturday (weekend + summer-time makes travelling reservation-less a little nerve-wracking at times).  We passed right by the Miracle of America Museum, and then decided we’d backtrack and check it out!  So glad we did!  We all enjoyed browsing through gobs of relics from the past, and the little coin-operated rocking boat for little kids was worth waaaay more than the dime it took to make it go!  Genna giggled & giggled, and Shanan, despite her age & legginess, insisted that she simply must have a turn, & since we had another dime, we acquiesced.

A Vietnam era chopper
Many, many old restored cars
Really old snowmobiles
"snow car"
They had old playground equipment from before the lawyers took over
Although a strong case can be made that these see-saws weren't very safe.   Shanan jumped off and hurt Alyssa.

We’d definitely recommend making the stop here.  It wasn’t pricey, we had to pry the kids away despite having been there for nearly three hours, and the owners actually run the place and are as nice as can be.  As we were leaving, Steve expressed concern about finding a place to stay in Missoula as our first choice was already full, and she offered to let us stay on her property, and she really meant it!  We didn’t take her up on the offer, but we were so glad we had backtracked and made time for a visit here.  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

More Fun at Glacier National Park

After much huckleberry picking and a hike to Avalanche Lake with Alyssa in flip-flops (if you tell an 8 year-old to get in the truck NOW, she will, even if she doesn’t have the right shoes on for hiking four miles & you won’t notice because you’re too busy trying to get the other 3 kids in the truck, along with your water, lunch & snacks for the day)…the kids & I took a day to get reacquainted with some school, write postcards, clean the inside of the rv, etc., and Steve went on an 8 mile hike alone.  I think he needed that time to hike at his own speed, and the kids and I needed a down day. 
Avenue of the Cedars
Avalanche Lake
Avalanche River
We decided to spend the next day driving the Going to the Sun Road to hike in the snow to Hidden Lake, as well as go to St. Mary’s to hike to the falls.  A lot for one day, but we decided to combine them because the Going to the Sun Road is under a lot of construction, so the journey there is time consuming, a good hour and a half from our place. 

There was a slide right outside the Logan Pass visitor center
Snow fun.  Everybody against Dad.
The kids loved basking in the snow

This one deserved to get a snow shampoo

Love this shot, see the snowball in midair.

What a memorable & spectacular day for our family!  Not only did Jake’s first tooth make an appearance, but we had sooo much fun!  The kids had an absolute blast in the snow, as did Steve.  I shielded Jake from snowballs and really enjoyed watching them play & play!  The hike in the snow was actually quite challenging.  The snow was deep, the trail was a lot of uphill, and it was slippery, but it was beautiful & just fun to watch the girls romp around in the snow.  At the overlook to Hidden Lake, there were quite a few mountain goats up close, as well as one big horn ram up on the mountain side in the distance.  The girls played hard & hiked hard, and I was pleased that I managed to only slip & fall on my butt once since I was toting Jake on my front!

The trail was difficult
I see Glaciers.
Hidden Lake below, mostly snow covered
Hidden Lake Overlook

Friendly and curious mountain goats everywhere

Everyone was pretty whooped after hiking in the snow, but after water & snacks, we traiped off to St. Mary’s to hike to the falls.  At first, we were just going to hike to the first falls since it was late already  & we were tired, but everyone perked up & Genna even hiked all the way to the first falls, taking “pictures” with her rock-camera as she went.  Love, love her imagination!!  We did so well, we decided to continue on to the next set of falls, Virginia Falls.  Definitely an awesome hiking day because everyone did so well with so little complaining!  It was one long day though…I think we made it back to the rv around 10 pm, and we were all grateful that dinner was waiting for us in the crockpot! 

We were happy to stay put & take it easy for Steve’s 42nd birthday on Tuesday.  Definitely needed after our crazy fun hiking day on Monday and Jake’s super cranky day.  We made it out for huckleberry pie with huckleberry ice cream and huckleberry soda for dessert in honor of the birthday boy.  And to finish up our time here at Glacier, we headed back out for more huckleberry picking today…mosquitoes were awful but we still picked half a gallon of huckleberries.  We’ll definitely be making more huckleberry pancakes! 
Huckleberry Pie with Huckleberry Ice Cream, and Huckleberry Soda

Huckleberries, which only grow in the wild. 
Below are photos of Steve's solo hike to from the Loop to the Granite Park Chalet.  It was 8 miles round trip.  It included part of the long hike that he wanted to do.

This is the trail to Logan Pass that is closed due to snow. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wonder Woman

The girls had the door to their room closed, and Steve went to open.  There were protests & shrieks, “We’re changing!!”  “Changing into what? Wonder woman?” he asked.  “Who’s WonderWoman??” Shanan asked.  “Mom is!” said Alyssa.  I always knew I liked that girl.  :)

Wonder Woman on the Hidden Lake trail in Glacier

Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer ???

Lake MacDonald from Rocky Point in Glacier National Park

I realize the month of July is more than two-thirds over, but this doesn’t feel like summer!!  We arrived in Hungry Horse, Montana at Mountain Meadow RV Park for our week-long stay to visit Glacier National Park.  The temperature has been in the mid-60’s for a high and the 40’s at night!!  It’s actually cold!!  And boy, Steve was bummed to learn that all the hikes he had been researching & looking forward to for our time here are closed due to snow!  Apparently, it is the coldest summer they’ve had here in years.  Nonetheless, we are here, and Steve decided we’d go for a reasonable hike today after the rain cleared.  Kids weren’t so thrilled at the thought…until we discovered huckleberries along the trail!  After passing all these little roadside stands with huckleberries, Steve looked them up online so he knew what they looked like.  They were everywhere along the trail, and my oh my, we picked a lot of them!  I don’t think I’ve ever seen our girls so excited about a hike.  We couldn’t get them to stop picking; even Genna had a blast picking and eating!  I think huckleberry pancakes are for breakfast tomorrow!  Yummm!!

Genevieve Annalise
Alyssa Eliana

Shanan Grace

Much of the forest here was burnt in a forest fire

We met a family visiting from China

Our huckleberry take, what we didn't eat
Yummy Huckleberry Pancakes