Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 17 - Glacier National Park

This is a little bit out of order; we were in Glacier the day before Yellowstone. Both national parks are in Montana but are very different in climate, elevation, and foliage.

Getting ready for the day at Glacier, I felt tragically unprepared clothing-wise. Around 8 am I opened the hatch, licked my finger, and tested the weather as I do every day before going “downstairs” to get fresh clothing out of the luggage bay under the bus. A crisp, 47-degree wind swept by, turning my finger into an icicle in a matter of seconds. I flashed back to the night before the trip when I hastily threw a pile of short-sleeve tees and tank tops into my suitcase along with a couple sweatshirts; I limited my bottoms to several pairs of shorts and skirts, bringing only one pair of jeans and some lightweight cords. I mean, it’s summer right? Thinking I had only a chance of rain to fear, I quickly threw in a trench coat as I shoved a few bags into my car. In retrospect, this stylish yet exceedingly un-waterproof blazer was not the best choice for my one and only piece of outerwear.

After pulling the grey cords on over my sweatpants, I layered sweatshirt over tee shirt over long sleeve henley over tank top over microfiber tank top, secured my hoodie with two scarves, shoved my feet into light and breezy New Balances, and hoped for the best.

Unfortunately I was especially nauseas and carsick that day, so I opted for staying at the camp while a few of the others ventured out for a 29-mile scenic (read “windy”) drive around the park. Despite my best intentions, I spent most of the afternoon curled up in the car, keeping my head on the horizontal and trying, in all earnestness, to produce a much needed blog. It drizzled and then rained. The group’s whiffleball game was interrupted by a grumpy next-door camper and then the rangers, who kindly ushered us out of the camping area.

When the scenic drive group returned from the mountain they were ecstatic; I could feel that they had experienced something breathtaking and awe-inspiring. They assured me they had. Any place that can maintain a glacier through the summer is impressive in my book. I can’t wait to take that drive for myself someday.

But, before my next visit to Glacier I’m going to read up on the history of how it came to be recognized as a national park and research which areas of the park are best suited to the purpose of my trip. One thing I’ve learned during our visits to various national parks is that they tend to be grandiose and multi-faceted. A short scenic loop and accommodating campsite are great for families with young children and those prone to carsickness. A longer, windier, steeper road might require more endurance, but I’m sure the views of the glacier and surrounding landscape are more than worth it.

P.S. - This post really deserves some pictures. Unfortunately I haven't been able to upload photos from my camera since I misplaced the cord (along with my iPod charger and a variety of other items that seem to disappear easily). For now, check out Chris' photos -- he is our official trip photographer and has been sponsored by Canon USA with over $10,000 of great cameras and lenses.


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