Montana means mountain, which is perplexing when you are driving across endless miles of great plains in this state; that is until you begin to see the shadows of the Rocky Mountains appear on the western horizon. Then, WOW, suddenly you are twisting through the jaw-dropping peaks in Glacier National Park. It is impossible to adequately describe the grandeur. This is a must do. Put it on your bucket list.
I did mention ‘twisting’ through these roads, with their high ridges and curvy cliffs. This corkscrew-style driving is something that is more comfortably done in a Jeep than in a 36-foot RV with tow vehicle. I wanted to creep along at 30 MPH and gawk at the glaciers and the gorges. The drivers behind me had other ideas. It’s a good thing that there are numerous scenic overlook areas on the roadside. I could pull off and let the impatient motorists fly by me, while saying unkind things about me and giving me the one-finger-salute.
We were able to do some hiking in the backcountry but I confess that the warnings about Grizzly Bear were slightly off putting.
The experts say to make noise when you are hiking. Apparently, you do not want to surprise a bear. They are shy and will hide if they know you are coming. I was tempted to sing a first soprano aria with a shrieking, vibrato voice, but I was not sure if this would scare a bear or give him ample reason to stick around and kill me. So, I made noise with my hiking poles instead. I clapped them together, and coughed and cleared my throat. Not very intimidating but it must have worked because we did not get eaten by bears.
The campsite was wooded and pleasant, but it was small and had no hookups (water, sewer or electricity.) We were ready for the boondocking experience. We had camped without these amenities before, but had never done so in Big Bertha. In the past, our RVs had refrigerators that were run by propane. Not Bertha. Her refrigerator/freezer runs off of the battery, and it did not take long to discover that cooling our food supplies in 100F heat soon depletes the battery. In fact, we could not even start the generator unless we started it from the truck battery. Sadly, I knew that this would make our stay at Glacier shorter than originally anticipated.
We had to make the most of the next day, so we rented a small motor boat and trolled along Lake McDonald, which parallels the Road to the Sun. There is an absolutely arresting allure to this area.
I did not want to leave this awe-inspiring place, but off we went to the Spokane, Washington area.
Washington, the Evergreen State, surprisingly has miles and miles of stuff that is not green. The Columbia plateau boasts low elevation, plains and basins and is covered with ‘amber waves of grain’. Yet, when you cross the Columbia River, you begin an ascent into the Cascades that is astonishing. The views simply take your breath away.
We pulled into Riverside State Park for two nights and were sorry that we could not extend the stay. The campsite was situated right on the Spokane tributary of the Columbia River. It was spacious and our camping neighbors were outgoing, fun and friendly.
The hiking around the ‘Bowl and Pitcher’ rock formations was fantastic. The trails were well marked and only slightly challenging.
I hated to leave Riverside but had something of enormous importance on my agenda. My parents were foster parents when I was a youngster. I had a teenaged foster sister that I idolized. I saw her as worldly and glamorous and ever-so-grown-up. She was so kind to us and treated us like sweet, little sisters instead of the little brats that we most assuredly were. I had not seen her for 40(+) years, but Black Diamond Washington was on our way to our next stop, South of Olympia. So, we took a little side trip, down memory lane and I am SO GLAD that we did.
Mary was just as I remembered her, kind and generous and loving. She even tolerated Gypsy, who was behaving in an intolerable fashion, jumping on everyone and begging for food, and eating charcoal….
We were joined by Mary’s sister, husband, and brother-in-law. The company was delightful. The food was scrumptious, and the wine selection was top notch. The only complaint is that there was not enough time. We did not even scratch the surface as far as being able to catch up. So many years have gone by, and there are so many stories that we still need to share. Gypsy’s antics were a detriment. Thank God these wonderful people are true dog lovers. I will find a way to spend more time with them in the future.
“I blinked my eyes
and in an instant,
decades had passed.”
― John Mark Green, Taste the Wild Wonder: Poems
We proceeded on to Twin Harbors State Park following our nostalgic lunch stop. Initially, we were unimpressed because the site was quite small. Yet, after exploring the park, we came to love it. Twin Harbors has miles of unpopulated, Pacific shore line. Gypsy ran, leash-free, in pursuit of gulls. She tumbled through waves and swam through tidal pools. She was in heaven.
We also stumbled upon the Westport Winery while at Twin Harbors. We went in search of lunch and found a bistro-winery-distillery-art gallery-topiary garden-mermaid museum with a miniature golf course. We spent hours at this place, walking through the gardens and admiring the landscaping and three-dimensional artwork.
We have reached the halfway point in our journey, and, unbelievably, it is time to do a U-turn and head back East.
Next stop: Wildhorse Casino & RV Park in Pendleton, OR