Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day 3: Colville, WA to Glacier National Park (late post)

June 11th, Day 3 started auspiciously. We managed to be up, packed, and ready to hit the road by 9am. Of course, we didn’t actually start at 9, but we were ready.

After the obligatory stop a Walmart we finally got moving at 930. Our plan was to go north on 95, cut over on 20 East to Bonner’s Ferry, ID, and then pick up 2E to Glacier. So we departed going east on 2 - after about a half hour of the daft leading the ignorant we entered Chewelah - at which point sufficient caffeinated blood was flowing to Sean’s brain that our misstep was identified.
(Note from Liz: Sean WAS leading, I know my limitations. Note from Sean: She made me lead it was her idea.)

Luck was on our side as the shorter, albeit less obviously marked, route past the ski resort intersected with 2 at Chewelah.

We found our little mountain pass road that would get us back on track. The road rose and twisted curling back and forth upon itself as it took us up and over Chawelah Mountain pass at around 4800 feet on a beautiful paved road with lots of fun curves. The temperature plummeted by about 30 degrees as we hit the top of the pass – a combination of adiabatic lapse plus a rainstorm. Going down the pass was interesting in the rain, as we traveled down the obviously less trafficked backside of the mountain, the road surface grew more rural and was interspersed at ~1mile intervals with cattle grates. The combination of gravel and wet had us both significantly more attentive around corners.
We reached the lowerside of the mountain approaching our planned route travelling through mountain farmland finally arriving at route 20. We stopped for a moment to catch our breath before launching toward the remaining 40 miles to Idaho.

Sean: I donned my helmet and gloves and pulled away from the stop. As I turned I looked down to my right where 20ft off the road, in a pond surrounded by cattails, a gorgeous blue heron eyed me warily. Likely affronted by the noise I was adding to an otherwise serene scene.
Liz again: Finally, at around 11am we crossed into Idaho. We went North along 20 almost to the border with Canada before we turned East. We stopped in Bonner’s Ferry for lunch, finding a place that had a Harley Davidson 1200 Softail in the center of the dining room. Sean ordered the “Heart Attack Special” – a cheeseburger with barbecue sauce, Tillamook cheese, bacon, and two onion rings - it came with an appointment card for a local cardiologist.
We crossed into Montana and started to understand the whole “Big Sky” thing. Huge, open vistas of mountains, glacier fed rivers that are an unreal shade of jade green. It was a magical ride towards Kalispell and Glacier. We chased a train along a river that was loaded with a long line of trucks, finally passing the locomotive around a curve that took us back into the mountains. Arriving in Kalispell we could just see the “real mountains”, snow-capped and jagged coming into view.

We were confused by the Montana obsession with huckleberries as we got into Kalispell. There are an amazing number of products you can make from huckleberries apparently (beer, soap, tea, bacon, God knows what else) – all of which were being trumpeted on street signs as we came out of Kalispell.

We finally arrived at Glacier at 730pm Mountain time, and drove up “Going-to-the-Sun” road to along Lake McDonald to the lodge and the cabin where we’re staying. The cabin is tiny, but it is right on the lake. This is an amazingly beautiful place. I watched sunrise over the lake this morning, turning the water from dark purple, to orange, to green as the sun came up. Not a bad place to be.
As a note this blog post is late because of the lack of connectivity at Glacier. We'll post more tonight, when we will hopefully be at Yellowstone.

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