Glacier 2019

We left on the Amtrak headed for Glacier National Park on Sept. 10, 2019. It’s an amazing park, and we hiked just a fraction of the many trails they have.

Train trip home

by grace on November 12, 2019

The train arrived at the station right on time on Sunday morning, Sept. 22nd, and left promptly at 9:50.

Here’s a picture of the river as we left the station.

I didn’t take any more pictures most of the trip home. It was a fine trip, and we met some more interesting people. Here’s the only picture i took – these are the two nice guys in the roomette across from us – i can’t remember their names, and i’m not even sure we found that out? they napped quite a bit.

After we’d been going for a couple of hours, we were sitting at lunch, and the train came to a stop in the middle of nowhere. They announced that we had engine problems. Oh boy. they kept making different announcements about what was going to happen; at some point i recall they said that one of the two engines was bad so we were going to go to the next town and swap it out? I think that’s what they said. I just know that we sat around on the stopped train for about three hours or so.

But it wasn’t bad – I like being on a train, it’s all good in my opinion. I think they did swap out the bad engine for a freight engine which doesn’t go as fast as a regular engine, so we were really really delayed.

Our sleeping car attendant was a woman exactly my age named Stephanie. On our other train trips the attendants were fine; i don’t remember anything about the guy on the trip out to Glacier except that he didn’t seem too keen about his job, but he did a perfectly ok job.

But Stephanie, oh my, Stephanie – she had stuff taped up on the wall, things like a menu and some kind of decorations, and she had lights all around her beverage station. the beverage station in the car is the place where you can get coffee and water and juice in the morning. She also had books you could borrow, and she had some kind of contest – she had people think of the most songs about trains that they could, and the winner got…a t-shirt? i wish i could remember more. I know that everybody who participated (and luckily kevin had entered) got a nice little cup full of candy.

Stephanie was short and cheery and just a little bit crazy. It turns out that her mom grew up in Springfield, not that far from where my mom grew up. I immediately called mom and asked her, but she didn’t know Stephanie’s mom, who is the same age as mom but she’s not doing well, about to go into a nursing home?

I don’t think the sleeping attendant has much of a chance to sleep on the trip; we were scheduled to get into Chicago at 3:55 p.m. on Monday afternoon. But because we’d sat around not going anywhere for such a long time we were very very late, and because she hadn’t slept much, Stephanie started getting kind of punchy. she kept wandering up and down the car muttering, “I have to make up 20 beds, I have to make up 20 beds,” because she had to make all the beds and take down all her stuff before the train started up again with another attendant.

We offered to help her make up the beds, but then she said she liked doing it after everybody was off the train, so she could relax and listen to tunes as she did her stuff. She sang a little bit of some Barbra Streisand songs; her favorite movie is “On a Clear Day,” starring Babs, and she started singing the title song. The thing is, my mom starred in that play here at our local Muni when i was a kid and i knew the song, too, so we sang together. Then one of the guys across the way found the song on his phone and we watched it with glee.

Stephanie also told us she’d done a series of podcasts about her experiences on Amtrak called Stephanie’s Train Travels. And that’s why it’s taken me so long to write this last post; i wanted to wait and listen to one before writing. Today I listened to two of them, and they’re terrific! She did 13 in all, and I’m looking forward to hearing more of her stories. I highly encourage you to listen. they’re about 30 minutes apiece.

So anyway – we were going to take the 7:00 P.M. train from Chicago to Springfield on Monday night, but of course we didn’t make that connection.

When we finally got off the train at Union Station we felt crazed from being on the train for so long. About forty of us had missed connections, but the people at Union Station were ready for us. we were told to go to the Amtrak counter, where they would give us hotel vouchers and new tickets for tuesday.

Because i am me, we were first in line for the vouchers. We were all then escorted outside to a waiting coach; it was like a really big fancy van. They shuttled us all the way out to a far suburb 30 miles away, and on the way to the Holiday Inn i looked it up on trip advisor and of course it had wretched reviews.

When we got there, at around 11:00 at night, the place seemed fine – but the two women at the front desk said they had no idea were were all coming. Uh oh. They kept saying stuff like “i don’t know if we have enough rooms,” which seemed a little odd because it was a huge hotel out in the middle of nowhere and i couldn’t imagine they were going to suddenly get an influx of guests.

I called the Union Station Amtrak number on the voucher and the Amtrak guy on the phone said that of course they’d set it up, and then he called the hotel and there was lots of back and forth as the hotel people waited for an Amtrak credit card number and all kinds of nonsense like that.

Meanwhile, the natives were getting restless. We were, of course, the first people in line at the hotel, but some of those in line were older folks who had been traveling on long tours and they started getting irritated. Eventually a handful of them ended up going to the front of the line and saying they’d pay for their rooms.

this seemed a little bit silly to me, but these folks seemed like they were entitled and didn’t care about forking over their own money for rooms.

and like i said, we were all a little bit crazed and overly-tired.

But by midnight kevin and i were in our very nice room, whew! You can’t always believe what they write on TripAdvisor.

the shuttle was going to pick us up at 9:30…no free breakfast at the hotel, but we got twenty bucks of fruit and toast to go.

we boarded our bus and got back to Union Station and here’s a short video of the nice new Metropolitan Lounge. The train was on time, the ride home was uneventful, and we were back to our kitties, just one day late!

gee, i can’t believe i’ve come to the end of the photos and videos.

ok then,

the end (of this adventure),

grace hughes

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Heading out – Sunday, Sept. 22nd

by grace on November 6, 2019

First, as I mentioned, we’d been given the terrific map which detailed all 88 “day hikes” in Glacier – all 734 miles of trails.

We hiked on about eleven of them, which isn’t bad for our first trip. However, ten of the 88 day hikes are 15+ miles long. we will never hike that far in a day. Also, in reading about some of them it appears that some of these long distances are one way, so after a very very long hike you’d have to find a shuttle to get you back to where you started. Another 26 of them are 10-15 miles; one of these is the Grinnell Glacier hike which was the first one we did, but we cut a couple of miles off it by taking a boat.

But i think these 10-15 mile hikes are certainly doable if/when we go back to Glacier because we did manage to hike 11 miles when we went to Wales. But since that was four years ago, we’d better think about trying them sooner rather than later. but then again there are other wonderful places in the world to explore…

anyway, we woke up bright and early on sunday morning and this is how stunning the view from our balcony was. it’s be great to spend more than one night in this lodge but it’s not worth the huge cost. but awesome to spend one night!

Kevin dropped me off at the train station after driving out of the parking lot and across the road. i had plenty of time to look around…here’s the view of the lodge from the station.

when kevin walked back from the car rental place i started wandering around the cute station. there were a few displays and i started taking pictures of them.

i wish there had been a reproduction of this funny old map for sale.

I know you can’t read the writing on the bottom of the map – it reads “Glacier Park Station (lower left) is a busy place in this recreational map of Glacier National Park done by Joe Scheuerle of Chicago. The piece is undated but is thought to have been done in the late 1920’s.

I hope you can read this next one, about flowers on the Great Northern trains – if not, the most interesting bit of info IMO is that in 1927 “each lady traveling on the Pullman cars on our lines was presented with a corsage bouquet of sweet peas and ferns.” It also talks about the huge amount of flowers grown which supplied the dining tables on the trains.

The blurb below reads “The 36 seat diner, with fine linens and tableware, matched with first class food and service. To complete the atmosphere, GN provided daily fresh flowers as wall vases shipped, usually by the Fast Mail Train, from GN greenhouses at Monroe, Washington. In this 1940’s photo, the greenhouse provided a mixture of Gladiolus and Salal.

No more fresh flowers on the trains! no fancy china and silverware either, and certainly no cloth tablecloths. But i wonder if the sleeping compartments were bigger than they are now? Surely they must have been, because i can’t imagine somebody back then being able to squeeze all their finery including hats and suits, into the tiny space where we slept.

This is a photo of the Glacier Hotel Lobby long ago. The blurb reads “”Two views of the fountain in Many Glacier Hotel Lobby, probably from the late 1930’s. Hanging baskets with ferns (Asparagus Springeraii) surround the lobby, the fountain is covered with Asparagus Plumosa. These were all provided by the Monroe Greenhouse. The lower level fountain has native ferns that were dug on a yearly basis from around Skykomish, Washington.”

this reads “A 1960’s post card view of Glacier Park Hotel. The flower beds were very well cared for during the time Great Northern operated the hotels. Walter Richards was gardener at Glacier Park Hotel for many years. Mr. Richards was a full time employee at the Monroe greenhouse during the winter, he was then given a ‘leave of abscence’ to supervise the garden crew at the hotel during the ‘Park Season.'”

one final photo…this is Arie (Andy) De Rooy, who came from Holland and started working for the railroad in 1926. He became the Supervisor of Parks in 1934 and did this until his death of a heart attack in 1951. I know you can’t read this poem, but it is so lovely that i have to copy it out for you here. It’s called “My Hobby,” and was published in 1949:

My Hobby

I have a little hobby,and am jotting/ down this line/ To tell you how I love it, it takes up/ all my time.

I’ve done it for a lifetime and don/e it all day long. And always will enjoy it, I think it/ keeps me young.

Who cares for gold and silver? These things are dead and cold/ But looking at our flowers, what/ beauty we behold.

Just see the little snowdrop, the/ flower girl of Spring/ Her basket full of Pansies, like but-/terflies awing.

Heralding spring is coming e’en that/…is here/ Soon Dasies, Daffs and Violets are/ showing everywhere.

We see the Bride of Springtime bedeck herself with bloom/To await the joyous coming, oh/beloved Summer Groom.

It can’t begin to tell you what all this/means to me/Just see how I am perspiring and/busy as a bee.

I do not count the hours, the time I/work and plan/My Summer, Fall and Winter, and/Spring merge all in one.

I love to dig or muddle, to/weed or plant or sow/ I love to see them coming in yellow,/red or blue.

In white or pink or crimson, and I/am telling you/That everything is beauty and peace/and harmony.

No disagreeing colors reveal them-/selves to me/If i could only tell you, how glorious/it feels

To really be a gardener, with dirt on/head and heels/ With dirt in all our pockets and/rough and calloused hands

Your mind is full of shapes and colors,/ of flowers, seeds and plants.

I ask God every morning to bless the work I do/That i may able do it, and see the/beauty too.

I thank Him every evening for what/the day has been/The joy that He has given, the/glory I have seen.

And when my back is straightened, / my tools been put away/My work continues onward, no/matter where I stray.

Thus when the day is ended, and I/enjoy a rest/I think “of all the hobbies: My/hobby is the best.”

such a darling poem!

but wait, the train is coming! all aboard!

Here’s a quick video of the spectacular morning view from our balcony, and then the train pulling in.

one more posting to go!

ok then,

mrs. early november hughes.

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Last night in Glacier

by grace on November 4, 2019

After leaving the park (and our exciting bear sighting!) we drove down the road to the tiny town of East Glacier. I had to take a picture of this motel because i grew up only two blocks from the Sears department store, so Sears always has a place in my heart.

I actually just looked up the Sears Motel on Tripadvisor and they’re rated number 6 out of 6 hotels in East Glacier. But the pictures inside looked rustic and kind of cute. The reviews, pretty terrible.

We stopped at a tiny store with a big sign that said something about spoons…i just looked it up and it’s called the Spiral Spoon. The website looks pretty slick, but when we were in the store it was about ten minutes before they were about to close for the season so they didn’t have a lot of merchandise left.

Plus, we weren’t in the mood for shopping. We were eager to get to our hotel – for our last night we’d booked a room at the Glacier Park Lodge.

I’d booked a room with two queen beds and a “shared balcony.” Now, this lodge gets some pretty terrible reviews on Trip Advisor, but the room seemed good to us. I think the negative reviews were because people wanted something more fancy and updated. The lodge is very quaint, which we thought was terrific.

I also booked this place because it’s literally across the street from the Amtrak station and we were going to head out the next morning on the train.

Here’s the view from our balcony. I think there was one other room that could have shared it, but i don’t think the room was in use. there was another room on the other side, but they only had a window instead of a screened door opening out to this view.

The bathroom was old with a claw foot tub and the floors did creak quite a bit, but it was all good.

The enormous lobby had giant tree trunks lining it, and i know it had to have been spectacular back in the day. the lobby could have used a little sprucing up, but it was great to be there.

we had a delicious dinner in the lodge dining room, starting with some brie en croute.

the restaurant was too over-lit. you can just see the tree trunks in the lobby there over kevin’s shoulder.

Ha ha, this is one of my favorite photos of kevin – i can’t remember why he made this funny face, but to me it looks just like Calvin from Calvin & Hobbs.

We both had scrumptious bison burgers and i had an apple cider. mmm.

Here’s the lobby. very cool, and the doors to the rooms are original; i wish i’d taken a picture of one. The hotel was going to close for the season after one more night, so we got there in the nick of time. even though it doesn’t look crowded, there were lots of people, mostly tour groups, milling about.

After dinner we walked out to the end of the parking lot, and there’s the train station! We didn’t linger long outside because it was chilly with a terrific wind blowing.

I did sit outside on the balcony for a little bit to watch the beautiful sunset. a perfect last night.

Here’s a short video – in it i say that maybe it’ll be loud at night, and it sure was. it sounded like most of the hotel guests were whooping it up in the lobby, but luckily i had my earplugs so it wasn’t bad.

ok then,

mrs. hughes.

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Hiking in Two Medicine, plus a BEAR!

by grace on November 3, 2019

After packing up our stuff and heading over to East Glacier, we went into the Two Medicine entrance of the park and had a little snack lunch in our car. it was chilly and windy.

We hiked on the Running Eagle Falls nature trail and quickly arrived at the falls. beautiful! It was an accessible walk, only a half mile, which means that there were many people on the path who were just out for a stroll. it’s nice that people who can’t/don’t want to do hiking can still see something so lovely. But also funny to see people not dressed at all for hiking.

When we’d gone to dinner Thursday night our new friend Elizabeth gave us a great map that included every single one of glacier’s day hikes. A guy named Jake Bramante hiked all 734 miles of trails in 2011 and created an awesome map which also included lists of hikes broken down by how long they are and how much he liked them. Of the 88 hikes he rated this one #23.

We didn’t spend a lot of time at the falls, and continued down the road to Two Medicine Lake. There we started along the trail to Aster Park Overlook.

We first passed meadows and a pond and saw this interestingly-twisted tree.

Here’s one of the ponds with the mountains in the distance.

Aster Falls, yet another great waterfall.

We reached the top in about an hour; the total hike was a little over four miles and it didn’t feel like much of a strain at all. The elevation gain was 837 feet, not bad. see the snow on top of the mountain? According to my map, this could be Rising Wolf Mountain. Or maybe Sinopah mountain? Studying the map on google maps, i can’t figure it out. whatever mountain it was, it was quite spectacular. And that’s Two Medicine lake down below, where we’d started.

This hike is rated #59 on our day hike map, although i think it should have been rated higher. Mountains, maybe a glacier, lake, lots of scenery…

Two older couples were up there on the mountain and one of the guys came and talked to us. He was friendly, and i think they were celebrating an anniversary? They left after a while and we had the peak to ourselves for a little bit.

I commented on how quickly we’d made it up the mountain and kevin said that’s because i was going at a much faster pace. he said i’d been setting the pace all this time, and had clearly improved. So i guess that means that if he’d hiked by himself he’d have gone faster. but then again, it wouldn’t have been as fun for him…

As we started back down we came across this lovely sight. I really need to start printing out some of these photos but i’m not sure where i’ll find room to hang any of them.

I talk about this spot in the video below; can you see how the trees have been chewed away at the bases? beavers!

On the video i speculated about where the beaver house might be, but when we walked a little bit i spotted it.

We got back to the car and were driving out of the park and for some reason i was yammering on about how people were always reporting on bear sightings, or hoping to see a bear, or whatever bear bear bear blah blah blah. i said “who cares if we see a bear?” and then i said that at least we’d seen cows; there had been a cow crossing sign on another road, and i pointed to the cow crossing sign up ahead and then said “and there’s a cow now!”

BUT IT WAS A BEAR! ambling across the road, minding his own business.

it was maybe 200 feet in front of us? i don’t know how many feet…but kevin stopped the car and i thrust my phone into his hands because the bear had wandered off into the shrubbery on his side of the road.

this is the first photo he took.

Yeah, i know, the bear wasn’t exactly visible. That little bit of black on the left edge of the clump of bushes is mr. bear.

But this picture isn’t bad!

If you watch the video you’ll get a brief glimpse of the bear as it saunters off into the woods.

It’s so funny to me because i had just been blathering on about how I didn’t care about seeing a bear, and then when we saw it i was so excited.

I was pleased we saw it from the car instead of running into it as we were hiking on a trail.

And it was a great way to end our hiking adventures in Glacier.

We had a lovely evening on Saturday, pictures to follow…

ok then,

Mrs. h.

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Farewell to the Hungry Horse Hideout…

November 1, 2019

Saturday morning, Sept. 21st, It took us a while to load up all our stuff. And i had to run around and take some last photos of some of the cute outside stuff…can you spot the metal bicycle to the left of the aspen tree? I wish i’d taken a picture of the ingenious watering […]

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Sept. 20th part 2 – Boat Ride on Lake McDonald

October 31, 2019

It was a short drive down the road from where we’d been hiking on the Johns Loop Trail over to the Lake McDonald Lodge. The parking lot was kind of full and we had to park a little far away but since we hadn’t hiked very long earlier in the day it was all good. […]

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Friday, Sept. 20th, part one

October 30, 2019

This was our last day on the West side of Glacier. As we drove down our street, there was the white bunny to greet us. We decided to try the Johns Lake Trail. I really wanted to go on the boat ride from McDonald Lodge in the afternoon, and we’d bought online tickets for the […]

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Hike to Avalanche Lake

October 28, 2019

Whew, I felt pretty good on Thursday , and we decided to hike to Avalanche Lake. It was Thursday Sept. 19th, and first we stopped off at the West entrance to get our pictures taken. We’d seen people stopped here most times we entered the park and decided now was a good time. Avalanche Lake […]

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Trip, Interrupted

October 26, 2019

We’d gone on an eight-mile hike on Tuesday, had a nice evening…but when i woke up on Wednesday morning, sept. 18th, something was terribly wrong. I was lying on my side and felt dizzy and weird. when i rolled over to my back, still dizzy, still weird. I was lying there thinking “what’s going on? […]

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And yet another great hike…

October 24, 2019

On Tuesday, Sept. 17th we decided to hike along the shore of Lake McDonald. It’s a total of seven miles one way so we decided we’d hike as far as we felt like. we didn’t leave our place til midday, though, because i suddenly got worried about our small data package and how we might […]

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