Workamping and Moving On

What’s Workamping, you say? We didn’t know what it was either until we started this whole adventure.  Workamping is really popular for full time travelers to be able to offset some of the costs of traveling.  We first talked to some people about this when we were in Florida.  We met two very nice couples who were working at the state park.  They told us about their experience, basically a few hours a day greeting people, spreading bug killer (for fire ants) and cleaning the restrooms.  For a few hours a day 5 days a week and in return they had a full hook up site.  Many campgrounds offer workamping jobs to long-term travelers.  The campers agree to work a certain amount of hours for the compensation of a free stay at the campground (they usually offer a FHU site and some have restrictions on what type of rig you can bring to their property).  They want to be sure if something is parked long term that it doesn’t look bad.  Some places even offer hourly wages as well as FHU sites.  You must be willing to stay somewhere for a lengthy amount of time because the minimum for most jobs is two months.  We found the site http://workampingjobs.com/ really helpful to look for campgrounds who were hiring.  After our trip back from Florida we decided to put in our resumes on the site and see what happened.  We had an option of targeting specific regions of the country.  So, we talked about areas of the country we would like to spend a few months exploring and came up with four regions.  If we had a request from one of those regions, we would jump at the opportunity.

Shortly after putting in our information, we received an e-mail from an RV site in Montana near Glacier NTL Park.  This was Sherry’s top region to visit!!

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Our ‘work’ vehicle. The campground is large, so we were grateful to have this baby to get us around!

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Sherry putting out the ‘closed’ sign – even though most people just ignored it and walked on in!

Timber Wolf Resort (http://www.timberwolfresort.com) is a really nice campground with RV sites, tent camping, and cabins.  FTer exchanging e-mails with the owners and a few phone calls we decided this was too perfect an opportunity for us to pass up.  Our ‘duties’ as workampers were to clean and restock bathrooms, housekeeping cabins, and watering flowers.  It was not difficult work, and we enjoyed getting out and having a job to do each day.  The days where the campground was busy and there were a lot of beds to make were not the most fun days, but like we said, the work was never hard or strenuous. IMG_2340 We also had some interesting ‘finds’ in some of the cabins…  Gave us pause to think why people would leave certain things…  We were occasionally thankful for rubber gloves.

The work gave us a chance to be out and about meeting people in the campground and getting a little exercise while we were at it.  But don’t get us wrong, we weren’t hauling stuff around on our backs.  The owners had some sweet toys that allowed us to maneuver around the campground easily.

OH, we also met a bear while on our duties.  At the end of August we saw a black bear moving through the woods near some of the campsites.  We CAREFULLY watched the bear from the doorway of the camp comfort station.  LOL  Wouldn’t you know, we didn’t have our cameras!!

The best part really is having the opportunity to explore an area and to take our time.  Most days, after we finished working, we would run out and hit one of the near trails (we were only 9 miles from West Glacier).  If we didn’t hike, we went in and looked at the sights in Whitefish, Columbia Falls or Kalispell.  It didn’t take us long to fall in love with this area.  We met some wonderful people and enjoyed the genuine friendliness of most of the locals.  If you are in the area, don’t forget to visit the Huckleberry Patch for some pie or other yummy treats.

After being at the campground for 2 1/2 months, it was hard to think about leaving.  It was long enough to feel like we were getting settled into a new home.  Christine and Phil, the owners of Timber Wolf, are really wonderful and treated us very well while we worked for them.  For our first experience in Workamping, we feel that we got really lucky to be able to work for them.  We would highly recommend Timber Wolf to anyone visiting the area.  The RV sites are shaded, and the park itself is very picturesque.

Now it is onward to the next adventure!  See you soon!

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The worst part of the job was putting the linen on the top bunk! Sherry always ended up with bruised knuckles and head!

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Watering the flowers! It was SO dry this season.

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Cleaning up a cabin…you never know what might be lurking under the covers! Beware of the left-behind undies!

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Sherry stripping a bed.

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Breaks are always good!

 

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These pretty babies are also on the property. NO, we did NOT have to clean up after them!

 

Stairway to Heaven????

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Heavens Peak. This was an amazing site with sun glinting off the icy snowfields.

Low Res-0948Our time near Glacier Park is drawing to a close, and we have had to put off a handful of our planned hikes due to the fires on the East side.  Still on our list to do was the Highline Trail and either start from Logan Pass or the Loop.  After looking at maps and listening to a few people, we decided to start from the Loop and walk up to Granite Chalet.  From there, we hoped to climb to the Grinnell Glacier overlook.

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Sherry feeling victorious making it to the Chalet. You can make reservations months in advance to eat here too. We once had to move off the trail on our way up because the pack horses were coming down from dropping off supplies.

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We wanted to do the Highline trail for weeks now.  We have a guide map that has the trails rated, and the highline trail is rated #1.  The guide said that starting at the Loop entrance to the Highline Trail is the steepest, but levels off if you want to get the incline out of the way first.  We thought that was a great idea!  Boy, were we in for a surprise!  Paying more attention to the map and the continuous yellow to red highlights might have made us change our mind.  LOL  The trail from The Loop entrance to the Granite Park Chalet is only 4.2 miles.  We thought it was the best way to get up there.  The Highline Trailhead begins at Logan Pass and goes 7.4 miles to the Chalet.

It was smarter to take the shorter distance, right?  We realized when we arrived at the Chalet and saw masses of people walking from the direction of Logan Pass that most people choose to start there.  We understand why.  The incline from the Loop to the Chalet is 2,353 feet in the 4.2 miles with at least four sections considered class 3 steep trail.  The elevation from Logan Pass to the Chalet is relatively nonexistent.  The elevation at Logan Pass is 6,646 and the Chalet is at 6,650 (The Loop trailhead starts at 4,297ft.  We kept wondering why we were essentially alone on the hike up from The Loop!  Most sane people start at Logan Pass and go the 11 mile loop to pick up a bus back to their car.  Flat and longer miles or straight up and shorter miles?  Shoulda, coulda, woulda.  We ended up with about 11 miles total anyway.

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Up, up, and up some more!

From the Chalet you can go another 1.4 miles and see the Grinnell Glacier overlook.

We were told this was worth it, and we were very interested to see it.  However, there’s another 900 or so feet to climb to get to the overlook.  We don’t consider ourselves out of shape, but we were running low on knee and leg strength.  We decided to go for it anyway!  We started our way up to the overlook on the STEEP incline.  It was scary at some points.  There’s really only enough space for one person to walk, but what happens when someone is coming the opposite way?  You climb yourself onto the ledge and let them pass, rocks crumbly beneath your feet and all.  All we kept thinking was about the trip DOWN.

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See the slight -U- shape on the right of the picture? That is the overlook and our destination.

Up was beginning to take a toll on both our joints.  Sean has knee trouble from years of soccer and a few accidents, and Sherry has hip and knee troubles.  We had to stop often and rest our weary legs, and at one point Sherry said she just couldn’t do any more.  Her hip was shooting pain down her leg, and she didn’t think it was a good idea to push it.  We were probably 1/4 mile or less to the summit, but still had a hill to climb to get there.  It wasn’t worth being injured when we knew we still had another 5 miles down to get back to the truck.  We bailed out and started heading back down.  We’re not sure which was worse, up or down.  Both are taxing for different reasons: up is hard on your heart and lungs, but down kills the knees and toes.

We did survive the journey and feel that it was well worth the effort to get up there.  The views are some we haven’t seen while here at the park.

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Heaven’s Peak

We understand why the trail is rated #1.  We are considering doing it again and starting at Logan Pass this time.  We think that if we didn’t abuse our joints going up that we might have more energy to get to the overlook.  There’s another trail called Swiftcurrent that starts in Many Glacier that overlooks Grinnell Glacier as well.  We may try that one instead; however, there’s another 1,700ft. elevation change on that 5 mile one-way hike.  Maybe we are stronger after this one and can manage it better.  Check the blog later to know if we tried it!  Lol.

We still have things we want to do here, but we are ready to move on.  We talked yesterday while driving through the park that with the drought people are not seeing the same park we saw almost two months ago.  Some of the rivers are almost nonexistent and the waterfalls are no longer flowing.  We talk about coming back in early June or late May to see the snow melt and more of the water flowing.

We took MANY amazing photos while we hiked this trail.  Go to our gallery of photos to view the rest:  http://www.loveyphotography.com/Traveling-Photography/The-Loop-TrailGranite-Park-Cha/

Moose, Massage and Fire

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The Spa – Whitefish, MT

We don’t want to turn our posts into advertisements, but we will pass on the names and locations of businesses we find on our travels that we enjoyed.  Basically, we wont say anything bad, but we do want to comment on the good. 🙂  As educators, we so often heard negative comments and cherished the positives when they would come along.  Sean often had parents tell him at the end of the year ceremony, ‘Mrs. ____ is such a wonderful teacher.  We should have said something to her sooner…”  Anyway, we believe in passing on good whenever we can.

We decided to treat ourselves today to a massage.  This is actually our second since arriving in the Glacier area nearly two months ago.  All the hiking, walking and carrying backpacks does take a toll, so it is nice to pamper ourselves every so often.  The place we found is called The Spa at Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish.  It was well worth it and our tired, sore bodies appreciated the hour long session.  Many of you probably heard the long deep sighs around noon.  🙂

Since arriving in Montana, we have found so many great people and businesses.  It has been a real pleasure sitting and talking to people or standing in a line at a store and having a local just strike up a conversation.  This area has quickly moved up our list of places to live… If they only had a beach and good places to dive… that weren’t near freezing.

Since hitting this part of the country, Sherry has wanted to get a wood carved animal and sign for our RV site.  We have passed dozens of places and gone into dozens of places to check on work and prices.  So far, we haven’t found a place that didn’t have incredible pieces of functional art.  We love the carved wood furniture from beds to benches, each unique and beautiful.  Sean has even commented about getting a coffee table for the RV…  Nope, not yet.  On one of our explorations a few weeks ago, we stopped in a place called Log Furniture Chainsaw Carving ‘Anything else is just firewood’.  OK, we love the slogan!  We also enjoyed talking to the owner/artist and ordered a Moose with a sign for our RV lot.  We haven’t stopped with ‘Moose and Squirrel’ comments since ordering Bullwinkle.  If you don’t get the references you are probably too young or have lacked a well balanced education. 🙂

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Fire:  Another fire broke in the park, but this time it was south of the Two Medicine area on the east side of the park.  Driving back to our RV park we could see huge clouds of smoke pouring up over the mountains.  It is fascinating to see.  The fire caused a huge ‘thunderhead’ type cloud to form, white and towering, over the dirty brown smoke.

View from our truck.

View from our truck.

Sherry took a photo using her iPhone from the truck.  The shot from the truck and again from the RV park don’t do it justice.  Hopefully, this 1900 acre fire is contained soon.

From the entrance to our RV park.

From the entrance to our RV park.

We talked about how appreciative we are of the men and women who fight fires.  It is hard to imagine  being one of those brave people facing this massive act of nature.  Keep them in your thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slides and Slidouts

We haven’t been doing too much adventuring the past couple of weeks.  The fire on the east side of Glacier Park closed the main road and caused a lot of smoke cover (the Going-to-the-Sun road is currently open and people are allowed to travel sparingly through the east side of the park).  We avoided the area the last several weeks due to the congestion of tourists and low visibility.  Even though we haven’t ventured into the park, other than to jog the bike trail at Apgar a few times, we still have projects around the R.V. to keep us busy.

-Side note – Before we left on this adventure we had some work done on the R.V. to get it in tip-top shape.  One upgrade was our roof, and the other was the bedroom slideout.  We won’t get into the whole problem we’ve had with the dealership where we bought the R.V. and the “repairs” they said they made before we drove it off the lot.  There is still a bitter taste from that whole experience, so we won’t discuss what was SUPPOSED to be done and what were items we “didn’t need to worry about” when we got the R.V.

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Sean hanging out under the living room slide.

We periodically check the outside of the R.V. for any signs of wear and tear or damage, and we noticed recently that underneath the kitchen slide the material was wearing off where the rollers touched the surface.  This is the same problem we had on the bedroom slide we had repaired before we left.  The outer slide floor is particle board with a thin coating.  We’ve noticed many of the newer RV’s have a sheet of fiberglass over this to protect it from any moisture.  If we left it the way it is, the roller would eventually chew up the particle board under the slide and give us even more trouble.  The bedroom slide was fixed by applying a layer of fiberglass sheeting and reinforcing the edges with corner pieces.  Sean did some research and we decided we could take the project on as a DIY.  After all, he brought along most of his tools, they have to get some use.  We found sheets of fiberglass at Home Depot and Sean made a list of all the materials we would need.  http://www.homedepot.com/p/Unbranded-4-ft-x-8-ft-White-090-FRP-Wall-Board-MFTF12IXA480009600/100389836

We decided to do both the kitchen slide and the living room slide.  After we got all the material, we had to trim the pieces to fit (Sherry’s job).  We wanted the fiberglass to fit under the rubber weather striping, but not too close to where the floor lifted to slide.  That slide lifts up on a long plastic or pvc material.  The wood floor literally slides along the material until it is full in.  So, we wanted to make sure that the mechanism wouldn’t be obstructed when it started its sliding and checked several times to see where the lift actually occurred.  Sean wasn’t too worried as the fiberglass board is very thin and shouldn’t cause an obstruction.  The piece fit perfectly and all we had to do was screw it into the bottom of the slide.  THAT was a lot of work.  The sheet is 8 ft. long, so it wanted to bend and fold.  Sherry did her best using both arms and her head to keep it from dipping and holding it in place, while Sean held the other end with his head and put in screws with a drill attachment.  It was a sight to see!  Nevertheless, we got it all secured!  We were very careful to make sure the piece was even and secured along the edges with self tapping wood screws.  We had to use two pieces of fiberglass to fit the width of the entire slide.  The second piece was cut to 4 ft. and was much easier to hold in place.  We still have to caulk and add trim, but the slide moves beautifully in and out over the rollers.  In fact, it seems to slide easier, with much less friction than before.

Speaking of slides…

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Alpine Slide Whitefish, MT

We also had some fun the last week.  Sherry’s friend from high school came to Glacier to hike with her girlfriend, and we were all able to get together.  We have been wanting to go to Whitefish, MT to the ski resort and do the Alpine Slide they have there.  It is like a giant water slide with sleds and no water.  We had a fun time riding the sleds down the hill and then riding the ski lifts up the hill!

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Wheeee!!!

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Here we go!

We also took them to Glacier Distilling Company to have some refreshments.  IMG_2308

IMG_2305We are in love with some of the whiskeys at this particular distillery.  They are not big enough to ship or market nationwide, but when they do, the products will no doubt be popular!  We were incredibly disappointed that our favorite bourbon, Cabin Fever, was completely sold out.  It will be another year or TWO before they have another batch ready to bottle.  We had made up our minds to get several bottles for Christmas presents this year!  Needless to say, we were bummed and some people on our list are not getting presents.  Lol.  (Luckily for us, we have a little left of our own personal bottle that we will cherish.)

We are looking forward to our final weeks here in the Glacier area.  We have several more hikes planned now that the park has reopened the main road.  Our most exciting hike is going to be the Highline trail near Logan Pass.  It is highly rated, so we are excited to try it out.  We have our next several stops after here planned and are looking forward to moving on to what else this country has to offer.  To adventure!

P.S.  We realized that our post about togetherness and tattoos was missing a shout out to the tattoo artist and owner of Dancing Bones Ink in Columbia Falls, MT.  She was so wonderful to us and made us feel so comfortable.  We meant to give a shout out and realized after re-reading the post that we didn’t mention WHO did the tattoos!  So, Barb, thank you so much for your wonderful spirit and artistry!       http://www.dancingbonesinkinc.com/Home.html

 

Two Months, Togetherness and TATTOOS!

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Home Sweet traveling Home.

Two months?  Where does the time go?  We have already been on the road a couple of months and have acclimated to the lifestyle quite well.  It is hard to imagine that our educator friends head back to school this week.  Sean has been retired for a couple of years and doesn’t feel the back to school rush anymore.  This is Sherry’s first year not working, and we know, “boo-hoo”, but she’s feeling a little anxiety about not getting ready for another school year, or any job for that matter.  89c45d5c84a946a757d6f9067d911c8aWe do feel guilty about having a LONG ‘break’ away from the daily grind of work.  But, then we look around and stop feeling guilty and start feeling lucky!  🙂  Truly though, we wish the best to our friends in education starting back on the amazing path of enlightening youth and changing lives!  Good luck to you all this year!  You’ll surely need it!!  🙂

Now, back to the headline…

Ah, togethernesslow res-8469-2We still love it (no kidding – we would say that even if we weren’t writing this post together).  It is funny to wonder about people’s perceptions when we get the question if we are tired of each other, or ones who are aghast at the thought of spending 24/7 with their significant other.  If you truly love someone and he/she is your best friend, why is it hard to think about spending this much time together?  We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, so we do as much as we can today.  Be a human DOING, not a human BEING.  We have not spent more than 15-20 minutes apart at a time for 60 consecutive days.   This has been the greatest part about the trip.  Our goal was to spend more time together, and we’ve definitely achieved that goal so far.  Our toughest times are when we talk about what we do after our year long adventure.  We may actually spend time apart!  Say it isn’t so!  It helps that we collaborate so well together.   For example, Sherry is the primary cook while Sean does the dishes… Most of the time.  We do occasionally switch that up, especially when Sean is baking!  This last week he made biscuits, and Sherry made vegan gravy for a nice country breakfast (the secret is using al dente lentils as the “sausage” bits in the gravy).  We cook vegetarian or vegan most of the time, but we have the occasional fish dinner (Sherry makes a killer fish taco with tequila lime sauce!).  Also out of the oven this week were some delicious blueberry scones – mostly vegan (we use real butter – no margarine or fake butter substitutes).   Despite a small galley, we have been able to coordinate cooking and cleaning.  Sherry often has to improvise while chopping vegetables or preparing food items – counter space is sparse in our little home on wheels.

Hi Res-9112-2Hi Res-8711We have also continued to do our photography business as we travel.  The magnetic signs on the truck help pass along the word.  Sean is usually the one behind the camera while Sherry directs people or edits photos.  We just completed engagement photos for a very happy and absolutely adorable couple who got engaged in Whitefish, MT.  We had so much fun with them and being together as we did that shoot.

 

 

When we aren’t out exploring, we have been playing with the dogs, reading, binge watching TV, and enjoying each other’s company.  What is the point of the first few paragraphs?  If you are going to spend a year (or more) in a 37′ RV, make sure the other person is someone you like being around.  😉  Oh, and don’t forget the other ones you love – like two furballs we call Maggie and Bates.

Maggie finding a freshly made bed and the best ray of sun on a chilly morning.

Maggie finding a freshly made bed and the best ray of sun on a chilly morning.

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Bates loves the dog park in Whitefish!

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Bates fetches (sort of) at the dog park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tattoos – One of the bucket list items was to get matching tattoos to commemorate our adventure and life together.  While in MT we found a lovely shop where the owner made us feel very comfortable.  She reminded Sherry of a Shaman she knew in Illinois named Sandy Little Lizard.  She had a very comforting aura.  We knew after an hour talking to her that she would have to be the one that helped us create our little forever piece of body artwork.  Sherry researched a design, and we both discussed the words before we met with the tattoo artist.  The sailboat represents Tadaima, our sailboat where we were married, and the words are from a song we consider ours and that sums up this adventure perfectly…”…and then when we get to the ocean, we’re gonna take a boat to the end of the world…all the way to the end of the world.”  Feel free to let loose a few “Awwww’s” and “How adorable”.

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We have also tried to explore more of the west side of the park while the Going to the Sun road is still closed at Logan Pass.  Several days ago we went into the park to Apgar and ran the bike trail with Bates.  He loved it, but we were saddened to see the signs telling us there was an up to three hour delay just to get to the Pass.  We are still hopeful that the fire will be contained and we will be able to hike the Highline Trail – supposedly one of the best in the park.

Since we couldn’t explore more of Glacier, we decided to look into Hungry Horse Reservoir.  We had seen signs along HWY 2 about the reservoir and dam, but despite staying nearby, we had just overlooked it.  We finally decided it was time to drive back and see what we could see.  One of the main roads, paved, led back to the dam, a 600′ monstrosity holding back a beautiful lake.  The views are incredible and it is only a few miles from where we were staying!  After spending about a half an hour driving, we decided to make a dedicated trip back to the lake.  We had seen some wonderful hiking and swimming areas, and with the weather being so hot and dry, we thought it would be a perfect excursion.

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Not being bird watchers… We think this is a peregrine falcon. Any thoughts?

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The lake wasn’t as cold as others we’d been in but it was very refreshing on a hot day. There were several campers enjoying the water up and down the shore.

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Falcon???

On our return, we drove through the small town of Martin City to see the north end of the lake.  We had noticed several boat ramps and primitive campsites on that side of the lake as well as a few trails.  The road turned to a wide, but rough, dirt road a few miles outside of town.  Traveling along the road, we took the first road to the lake.  That turned out to be a very narrow and even rougher dirt road, but the view at the end was amazing.  We hiked along the lake shore for a mile then sat and enjoyed a quick snack and watched the birds in the area fish.

Sean took several photos of the lake and fishing birds.  He joked that this crazy supermodel kept popping into his shots.  LOL  He was actually frustrated that he hadn’t brought along one of his telephoto lenses to catch the birds fishing.  We saw one dive into the lake, but too far away to see if it caught a fish.

We still have time here in this beautiful part of the country and hope to explore more of the gems hidden here!  We will be heading south soon and have already begun making our plans for stops along the way.  So many of our fellow RV’rs have offered advice and suggestions.  This morning, a neighbor talked to us about several spots in Southern Utah and Arizona.  Since they are along our ‘planned’ course, we will try to add them into our stops.

More later!  Enjoy the last of the summer.

Hiking to Iceberg Lake

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Spectacular views!

While we were on the boat ride touring St. Mary lake, the guide was asked about where the places to hike were in the park.  He mentioned that Iceberg Lake was a must-see in Many Glacier.  We already heard about Iceberg Lake, but that moment confirmed we had to go.  low res-8410We spent the night before the hike packing our backpacks and getting supplies.  The trail is only 5 miles in and the same 5 miles back, but we always try to hike prepared.  We actually had the conversation during the hike about how many people we see with one plastic water bottle and flip-flops walking some of these trails.  Do we over prepare?

The weather here has been unseasonably warm and dry, so hiking without proper hydration and preparation seems unwise to us.  Regardless of what other people bring on their hike, we always have an extra set of clothes, socks, rain jacket, plenty of water, and some food.  Most trails that we’ve done have been well populated and moderately easy, but we’d rather be over-prepared than run into a problem and not have proper supplies.  Especially after seeing how fast the weather can change here in the park.

Perfect example – Sherry carries a first aid tote in her hiking bag.  It has essentials like bandages, Neosporin, pain meds, burn creams, bug bite creams, etc.  While doing the iceberg hike, Sherry’s boot wore a blister on the back of her ankle.  She thinks something was in her sock like a rock or twig and that’s what rubbed the blister.  Nevertheless, she needed the first aid kit.  We got to the lake and she soaked her feet in the ice cold water for a few seconds (any longer and she wouldn’t have been able to feel her toes – hence the name, Iceberg Lake).  Sean helped her wrap a piece of gauze and tape around her ankle so the boot wouldn’t rub any worse (all those years as a soccer coach wrapping sprained ankles was really paying off!).  She also put on her fresh pair of socks from her pack.  If we didn’t carry our backpacks, we would not have been able to take care of a small blister that by the end of the second 5 miles could have been a huge blister.  What does Sean carry?  Well, he had fig newton’s, Gatorade… LOL   Lesson for the day – bring a backpack and be prepared.  We also recommend wristbands.  We wear a band called a Road ID.

It has our names, emergency contacts, and any medical information the paramedics might need if we were unconscious.  For example, Sherry’s says that she’s allergic to penicillin, and both our IDs say that we are full-time RV travelers.  You could add your blood type, allergies, medical conditions, etc.  It is like wearing a medical ID bracelet.  We have noticed that almost every park ranger we have seen has one on.  We would recommend them for anyone who runs, hikes, bikes, etc.  We like the idea that we have emergency information on our wrists in case we have trouble and can’t communicate.  You can also purchase ones that have a link to an online database with all your medical information.  We don’t have that much in either of our medical histories, so it didn’t make sense for us to upgrade to a fancy schmancy wristband.  However, the ones we have do add a little bit of peace of mind while doing outdoor activities.  After our hike we had a chance to talk to some locals about ‘tourists’ and novice hikers not going prepared on these longer ‘Day Hikes’  Consensus was they were taking too many risks not preparing.  We agree. 🙂

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Sherry stopped to take off her hiking boot to see what was causing the irritation on her ankle

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We always hike prepared! Backpack, extra water, food, extra clothes, Road ID, sunglasses, bug spray, sunscreen, etc.

The park is seeing record numbers of people this year, and we can really notice at smaller locations like Many Glacier.  There are two hotels located within Many Glacier and one campground.  The parking situation is minimal, and we ended up parking off the side of the main road with many other cars (on gravel of course, we are very careful with the dry weather to stay off dry grass with the truck).  We were probably a half mile from the actual trailhead, which is fine since we were there to hike in the first place.  Once we got the trailhead, the first 1/4 to 1/2 mile is straight uphill, a good section of this part of the trail has rough stairs.  It then levels out to a gradual rolling incline, but it wasn’t rigorous climbing.

Alpine Meadow

Alpine Meadow

The trail leading down to Iceberg Lake.

The trail leading down to Iceberg Lake.

There are other places on the trail where the incline increases, but there’s enough flat to balance the occasional upward battle.  The trail is winding and beautiful.  It passes through alpine meadows, forested areas, waterfalls, streams, and sharp drop-offs.  We even got to see a MOOSE!

“Moose and squirrel” say this in a Russian accent and think Bullwinkle. LOL

Sherry has been whining (her words)  about not seeing any moose yet, so this was a real treat!  It was a female grazing in a meadow below a part of the trail that followed a cliff face.  We were able to look down on her and take pictures.Once we got to the lake, it didn’t disappoint!

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Tiny icebergs – straight ahead.

The view is spectacular.  Information about this area says that depending on the temperatures, icebergs may or may not be present.  There were tiny pieces of ice still floating in the water, but we were kicking ourselves for not coming sooner to maybe see bigger icebergs.  Of course, Sean still made the Titanic joke – no matter the size of the icebergs in the lake, they are apparently still “dead ahead”.  Lol.

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Sherry had no shoes on because we had just wrapped her foot to take care of the oncoming blister.

We stayed for about 30 minutes at the lake.  We met a young guy traveling alone from California and talked to him for most of the time that we were there.  People are always curious about our adventure once we tell them that we are traveling for a year around the country.  It is fun to share our experience and talk to people about enjoying life.  We go back to the same saying over and over: experiences, not things.  We are trying to share that motto with as many people we meet.  We admit that we were part of the culture that valued things and having material items.  We even bought into the idea that more things make you happy.  We think there is a societal pull to have more stuff than your neighbor, or that somehow your personal value is calculated by how big, nice, expensive your ‘stuff’ is. After living for almost 2 months now in our 37 foot ‘house’, we don’t miss much ‘stuff’ from our house in St. Louis.  If we had kids, maybe.  BUT, we met a girl at a Farmer’s Market a few weeks ago who is living in an R.V. with her husband and two small kids.  They are having a house built, and they moved into the R.V. temporarily.  She said it is less space to clean, and they don’t mind it at all.  It’s all a matter of perspective we guess.  Maybe more ‘living space’ makes some people happier.  Right now, we are perfectly content in our tiny living space because we actually have a whole country of living space yet to be discovered.  We’ll gladly take that for now.

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The water is SO clear and blue!

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Sherry felt like her face was gritty from sweat, so she stopped at this little water feature for a quick rinse.

As we said in our post about the East Glacier Fire, we started seeing smoke rising up over the mountains as we were hiking back to the trailhead.  What a scary site, even from many miles away.  As of today, we have heard that the fire has burned well over a thousand acres.  Some of the premier firefighting crews in the country have been called in to try and contain the blaze.  Hopefully, the weather will change but for now it isn’t cooperating,  High winds and dry conditions are making for a very dangerous job for those men and women.  Please keep them in your thoughts as they work their very dangerous job!

Here is a link for park information:  http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/conditions.htm

For more photos: http://www.loveyphotography.com/Traveling-Photography/Iceberg-Lake/

East Glacier Fire!

We just did a post this morning, but we are behind on what we’ve been doing lately.  We wanted to share an update about what we saw yesterday.  We went hiking in Many Glacier (a post coming about Iceberg Lake soon), and when we had about 1.5 miles of the hike, we started seeing smoke billowing up over the mountain.  You better believe we started hiking much faster when we saw that!!  We took a bunch of pictures from our perspective at Many Glacier.  As we headed out of the park, Lake Sherburne was on the right and the smoke was coming over the mountain across the lake.  Our first thought was that the area around St. Mary was on fire.  The smoke was horrendous.  We ended up detouring our route back to West Glacier 30 miles farther than we would normally go to stay out of the direct line of smoke.  We ended up taking some beautiful photos of the smoke (if devastating smoke from a devastating fire can be beautiful).  We finally learned that we were correct in that an area near St. Mary was indeed on fire.  800-1000 acres at the last report.  Here is a news report on the incident.

http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/local/2015/07/22/fire-burning-east-side-going-sun-road/30488241/

The Going to the Sun road is closed until further notice as well.  We are hoping that it is contained and no damage to life or property happens.

Here are some photos we took of the smoke over the mountains.

Two Medicine and St. Mary Lake

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We heard a lot about Two Medicine, and after driving past Lake St. Mary several times, we decided to make a day of it and visit both areas.

Two Medicine

Two Medicine

Two Medicine was a very pretty area with a few nice trails.  We hit the area early in the morning and took a short leisurely hike along the lake.

low res-8357We couldn’t stay long because we wanted to get to St. Mary Lake in time for one of the boat rides along the lake.

Two Medicine is another easy location to get to by car.  The trails, especially along the lake, are a great, easy hikes.

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Storms a brewin’!

Lake St. Mary has a gorgeous blue color, almost turquoise when the sun hits it right.  We arrived at the boat dock in time for a locally heavy shower.   Getting used to the weather in this area has been fun.  One section of the park can be sunny and warm while another just a few miles away might be much cooler and raining.  We have enjoyed watching clouds swirl around the mountains on many occasions since arriving at the park.  We also learned that the weather usually doesn’t last long.  When we boarded the boat for our tour, the rain had all but stopped, and we could already see the clouds breaking up.

One of the tour boats.  This one is at Two Medicine but is very similar to the rest of the lake boats at Glacier.

One of the tour boats. This one is at Two Medicine but is very similar to the rest of the lake boats at Glacier.

On our boat we lucked out and had a great driver and a Park Ranger along for the ride.  Between them, we learned a lot about the park and the region we were in.  For instance, the blues in the lakes are a result of minerals ground to a fine powder by the glaciers and then brought to the lakes in the runoff.  The powder is very fine and goes into suspension in the lakes, reflecting only blues.  Fun stuff!  We also heard there are currently less than 30 glaciers in the park, and at the current rate of melt, they will be gone within the next 15 years.  So, what makes a glacier?  Technically, they have to be a certain size and depth to be called a true glacier.  There are many areas in the park with year round snow fields, but they don’t meet the technical criteria to be called a glacier.

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A view from the boat of an island in the middle of St. Mary Lake

OK, enough of the science lesson.  🙂  At the end of our ride out, we docked at a trailhead to see some of the falls that feed the Lake.  St. Mary Falls is a short, five minute walk from the dock

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St Mary Falls
St Mary Falls

For more photos of this area:  http://www.loveyphotography.com/Traveling-Photography/Polebridge-Bowman-Lake-St-Mary/

Polebridge and Lake Bowman

OK, so another spot we found that is a must re-visit before we leave, Polebridge and Lake Bowman.  We had been hearing this area was a must visit, although a little hard to get to, so we saved it for a day when we had enough travel time.

Getting there was an amazing drive around the West side of Glacier.  You can start in Columbia Falls and hit the Outside North Fork Road or drive along Camas Road from Apgar to the Camas Creek Entrance of the park, and then hit the Outside North Fork Road.  That is the route we took as we wanted to see Lake McDonald from a different angle, and we had been told the scenery was remarkable.  It was!  If you look at this route on a map, you may say, ‘What about the Inside North Fork Road?’  It was closed. 🙂

Fire damage and restoration.

Fire damage and restoration.

Much of this section of the park had been devastated by two fires over the last 15 years.  It did, on first glance, look barren and stark, but as we drove, we could see how nature was recovering.  We stopped at several turnouts to take photos, like the one above, and to learn more about the fire damage and the natural recovery of the region.  In fact, the fire played, and plays, an integral part of the life system in much of the area.  Several varieties of pine trees drop cones that are so thick with waxy sap they can’t germinate.  That is, they can’t until the heat from a fire melts the wax and allows the cones to open and start the creation of a new tree.

Information about the decades previous fires.

Information about the decades previous fires.

Much of the route to Polebridge is unpaved and very washboard!  We were happy to have our big four wheel drive truck and also amazed at the smaller cars and sedans along the route.  Polebridge is an ‘off the grid’ community.  What electricity they have is either solar or by generator. None the less, the Polebridge Mercantile is also the world’s best bakery!

The best bakery around!!!

The best bakery around!!!

Sean is seriously considering ways to find land within walking distance so he can continually sample the baked goods.  We did buy a Huckleberry Bear Claw and a sticky bun!  Yum.

YUM!!!
YUM!!!

Leaving Polebridge, it is a short drive to the Park entrance.  For this trip, we knew we wanted to get into Bowman Lake and explore a bit.  Once through the gate it was a 6+ mile trip along a single lane (maybe lane and a half) dirt road.  We found ourselves scraping bushes more than once to allow a car going in the other direction room to pass. 🙂 low res-8337

Once we arrived at the lake, we could see why it was considered one of the park’s better secrets.  Near the trailhead was a primitive campsite and another very helpful park ranger.

Tree trunks at the bottom of the lake.  Wish we had been there for a better angle on the light.

Tree trunks at the bottom of the lake. Wish we had been there for a better angle on the light.

Bowman Lake

Bowman Lake

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A family of ducks we startled while walking the trail.

After standing at the beach and soaking in the view around the lake, we took a short hike up the trail around the lake.  We highly recommend making this trip if you are ever in the area!

In addition to our hiking, we have also been doing what we can to continue making our home on wheels more homelike. On a trip to town Sherry bought a tomato plant.

Sherry gardening.

Sherry gardening.

We figured it would travel with us when we leave and maybe provide some fresh tomatoes.  I think we both miss the large garden we had at home. Funny thing, when the owner of the RV park saw the plant, she brought two more and gave them to us for our new ‘garden’.

Our pups have adapted well to life on the road.  Bates does miss a big fenced-in yard but we try to make it up to him in other ways.  Here he is ‘learning’ how to swim.

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He loved it.

Maggie has been our little greeter.  While Bates lays around waiting for us to come home, Maggie is always at the door when it opens and then into our arms for some puppy snuggle time.

Our baby girl greeting us when we come home.

Our baby girl greeting us when we come home.

We are all adjusting to this new life and enjoying it!

Here is a link to some higher quality photos from the last few weeks.  We do have some from our trip to St. Mary Lake in here as well.  Ignore those until we post about it.  🙂

http://www.loveyphotography.com/Traveling-Photography/Polebridge-Bowman-Lake-St-Mary/

Hidden Lake — Awesome, Inspiring, Gorgeous….

How many of you have been to Glacier?  Any favorite spots you would recommend as must see areas?

One of our hopes for this extended adventure was to be able to spend time in one area and see as many sites as possible.  Sites that most people on a ‘vacation’ wouldn’t get a chance to see.  The last few weeks in Glacier really have us wondering if we will be able to see and do all we want.  The park is the size of several states and is a true hiker’s paradise.  That is, very few roads and a lot of short (6 to longer mile) hikes to get to something ‘big’.  We’ve joked that we love this area so much we may end up living here, at least that would give us a chance to explore to our heart’s content.  We might also be able to keep up with our Blog posts. 🙂

Right now we are quite a bit behind on our posts.  Over the last few weeks we have visited Two Medicine, Lake Mary, several falls, Polebridge, Whitefish…  We have plans to get into the trails around Bowman Lake and definitely Many Glacier, as well as several other spots in the Park.  Forgive us if we run out of adjectives to describe this area.  Beautiful, awe-inspiring, breathtaking, each is appropriate and will surely be overused by us over the next several posts.

Setting Moon over Mt. Oberlin.

Setting Moon over Mt. Oberlin.

Sean has even begun trying to remember some of the positive adjectives used in his favorite TV show, BBC ‘Top Gear’.    We have often found ourselves at the end of a trail just awestruck by what we are seeing.

Sherry's new favorite photo.

Sherry’s new favorite photo.

On our second trip to Logan’s Pass, we decided to leave much earlier in the hopes of finding a spot in the parking lot or at least in the smaller pull off area about a half mile from the west side of the pass.  We entered the park, from the West Entrance near Apgar at about 8:30 AM.  There was already a fairly long line at the check in station and we were concerned about finding a spot.  Regardless, it was a gorgeous day, a little cooler than the last several and relatively cloud free.  For this trip, we planned pretty well and had our backpacks loaded with some hiking snacks, water and a change of clothes, if needed.  We also planned out two trails we wanted to explore.  The first was the Hidden Lake Trail, the other was the High Line.  Our priority was Hidden Lake, with a thought that we could do a little of the High Line depending on time,  Sean was looking forward to getting some great photos of waterfalls and mountain vistas.  He was bringing along two lenses and a tripod to get really steady photos.  Unfortunately, he forgot the tripod and had to stand very, very still for some shots. : )

Our drive up the Going to the Sun Road was gorgeous.  This time around, we decided to skip the turnoffs and try to make good time to the pass.  We found ourselves in a long line of cars weaving up the road. Many bicyclists made the going rather sporadic and a bit scary as we reached the narrowest parts of the road.  Still, a fun and scenic drive up to the pass.  As we got closer, we realized our chances of finding a parking spot in the lot were going to be very slim, so we did use the lower area and spent some time photographing Bighorn Sheep at the trailhead before hiking to the pass.

Big Horn Sheep near the entrance to Logan Pass

Big Horn Sheep near the entrance to Logan Pass

The park rangers at the Visitors Center were very helpful with all the visitors, answering questions and also giving ranger talks on a variety of topics.  One of the things we both have commented on is how helpful all the rangers have been.  On an earlier hike, we had one walk with us for a stretch, talking about the park, places to see and being very personable.  I wish we had gotten her name so we could have passed on a positive comment to her bosses.  Anyway, the visitors center was very crowded and we only took a short time to look around before hitting the a Hidden Lake Trail.

low res-8289The trail starts behind the visitor center and is another very well traveled trail.  In fact, most of the trail, to the lake overlook, is a wooden board walk.

low res-8282From what we gathered, this helped to protect the delicate ecosystem at the pass from tramping feet.  Periodic signs along the trail asking visitors to stay on the path helped reinforce our thought. : ).  The start of the hike we were greeted with tremendous views of ‘Alpine Flowers’, and wildlife from Marmots to Prarie Dogs and Sherry’s other favorite, Mountain Goats!

Marmot under part of the boardwalk.

Marmot under part of the boardwalk.

We first saw several goats standing on a snow field along the side of the Mountain.

Big Horn on the snow field on Mt. Oberlin.

Big Horn on the snow field on Mt. Oberlin.

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This little one started bleating for mommy just a few seconds after we took the photo.

It was amazing to see them walk along the steep rocky face!  It was even more amazing when we rounded a bend to see one munching on some food just a few feet away.  Fortunately, there was a family between where we were standing and the goat.  They were trying to get their children in close for a great photo opportunity.  OK, yes, that was sarcasm. : ).  It was this hike that gave us some great examples for our future ‘snarky’ post about some of our fellow tourists.  But, later for that.  This hike was just too beautiful.

As I said, most of the trail was a boardwalk.  There were several places where we walked over stoney ground and even some snow!  Crazy, snow on the ground in the middle of July!  Beautiful little ponds created from snow runoff, waterfalls and tremendous views.  low res--14

Small waterfall and snow field along the hike to Hidden Lake.

Small waterfall and snow field along the hike to Hidden Lake.

When we arrived at the lake overlook we learned the rest of the trail was closed.   The Grizzlies were feeding near the lake and doing other bear stuff that made it dangerous to hike near them.  So, we stopped at the overlook for some photos of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

It was well worth the hike.  Our hope is that the Bears settle down enough for us to do the complete hike before we have to leave the area.

Gunsight MTN and Sperry Glacier in the distance.

Gunsight MTN and Sperry Glacier in the distance.

After lingering for a while, and eating a light snack, we headed back for the Visitors station.  Along the way, we decided to check out the first mile or two of the High Line Trail.

Another angle on Hidden Lake

Another angle on Hidden Lake

We didn’t go far this trip.  Just far enough to know we needed to come back prepared for a long day on the 6 mile, one way, hike.  Another must do hike for us.

For more photos from this post, go to the following link:

http://www.loveyphotography.com/Traveling-Photography/Hidden-Lake-and-Logan-Pass/

At the Trailhead for the Highline Trail.

At the Trailhead for the Highline Trail.