Lake Mead, Sedona and Flagstaff… Oh My

Hello friends!

Yes, it has been an incredibly busy month of October and promises to continue to be such for us.  We can’t start this entry without thanking everyone for the positive response to our videos.  We had no idea they would be such a hit!  Look for a video update from us each Sunday and Wednesday.  We will do our best to stick to a post each of those days and already have enough to keep us going for a few weeks.  Please subscribe to our channel on YouTube to stay up to date on the videos.  Sherry and Sean’s YouTube Channel We will try to answer questions that have come our way, especially about cooking and life in general in the RV.  Now, on to the blog:

We left Mesquite, Nevada and drove a few hours to get to a camp sight on Lake Mead.  The drive was pleasantly uneventful other than some rough roads and traffic through Las Vegas.  Yes, there were some shorter routes for us to take, but we decided to stick to interstates and keep it simple.

When we arrived at our spot on Lake Mead, we quickly set up, walked the pups and took off for Hoover Dam.  Sean had last visited the area with his grandparents back in the 70’s.  He commented several times how amazed  he was at the low water level.  We knew how tough the drought conditions were, but the sight of the water line marks on the lakes edge and the actual water line were stunning.

Since we only had a day, we tried to make the most of our time.  We started off by heading to the dam and, after passing through a security checkpoint, we stopped at an area were we could take a foot tour up to the new Tillman Bridge and across the bridge to get a bird’s eye view of the dam.  The bridge and dam are both amazing feats of engineering.  Sean remembered taking a tour of the inside of the dam and learning that so much concrete was poured in such a short time that cooling pipes had to be run through the dam to aid in the curing of the cement.  Otherwise, it would have taken decades to finally set.

We did drive down to the dam and park so we could walk across.  A note here.  Don’t bring your spare tanks of gas with you when visiting the dam.  You can’t park anywhere but the open sites due to security. We didn’t think of that when we left as we were rushing to get on with the site seeing.  OH, another note – Sean made too many dam jokes as we took our walking tour.. pun intended.

The day after our visit to the dam we crossed the Tillman Bridge with our home in tow and our next destination of Williams, AZ where we would stay at Railside RV.  Our original plan had us here only a few days but we upped that to a week so we could see all we wanted to see.  Sherry also had her heart set on riding the train into Grand Canyon National Park… Well, that will be the subject of a new blog AND a video!    : ).

The day after we arrived in Williams, we drove into Sedona.  This was a beautiful drive, winding down the mountains on a road that reminded us of the Going to the Sun Road, only a little wider.  We dropped several thousand feet and gained a few degrees.  It is probably worth mentioning that we went from 90 degree temps to 60 degree temps going from Lake Mead to Williams.  Brrrr.  There are several parks along HWY 89A worth stopping at.  One of them, Slide Rock State Park is the home of one of the top ten swimming holes in the country.. or so we heard.

Sedona was amazing, and we enjoyed wandering the small town and visiting many shops.  Sean even found a coffee mug like one used by his favorite ex-late night talk show host Craig Ferguson.

After Sedona, we holed up in the RV for a little R&R… Well, cleaning and laundry.  The weather had really turned on us and was wet and cold.  Perfect to catch up on chores and edit some videos.  The next day was marginally better so we decided to drive into Flagstaff to see the Lowell Observatory.  This was a religious experience for Sean.  Please don’t ask him why Pluto should still be considered a planet.  We toured the old observatory and heard about the conditions the astronomers faced when it was in use like climbing onto the roof to shovel snow and standing around at night in sub zero temps getting frostbite while waiting for a photographic plate to gather an image of the heavens.   Amazing.  We also had our first (but not last) Tarantula sighting along one of the trails at the observatory.  YIKES!!

In our next several blogs we will cover our trips into the Grand Canyon and a few videos on cooking and baking.  One of the upcoming blogs will cover some of the amazing people we have met through blogging and travel since we started this journey.

Our next entry will be a video blog about cooking.  Sherry made a delicious Butternut squash soup.  Yes, we will share the recipe. : )

Please pass along our links to anyone you think would be interested.

Signing off for now!

Click the link below to see more photos of Sedona, Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, and Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

Travel Photo Link

Zion – Part Duex

We began our planning for a return trip to Zion on our drive back from the first trip (for reference, see a couple of posts back where we went and it was so packed we couldn’t get a parking space). So, the night before our return trip we had packed backpacks, chilled plenty of water and Gatorade and packed several Cliff Bars.  By the way, the Pumpkin Spice Cliff bars are out and quite yummy!  The day of our return to Zion we got up early, walked the pups, ate a good breakfast, and were out the door in the hope of a good parking space.

The drive to Zion wasn’t too long, but we did lose an hour crossing a time zone.  Sherry was frustrated because she has a watch that has decided it won’t always let her set the time when she tries.  It likes to choose whether or not it is going to work.  It did not work this time, so she was stuck looking at a watch that was an hour behind the actual time in Zion.  Annoying, but what can you do with a finicky watch?  When we got to the entrance, we were stuck in a long line of cars waiting to pass through the gates.  No worries, we had planned for this.  If we couldn’t park at the visitor’s center, we would head back a few miles to town and catch the excellent shuttle bus into the park.  The shuttle service at Zion is really very good and consists of two loops.  One circles into the nearby town of Springdale and the many areas for public parking.  The other loops from the visitor’s center along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.  That road is essentially closed to all traffic but shuttle buses.  Fortunately, we got one of the last spots at the visitor’s center and were able to catch the Canyon Loop Shuttle to our first destination: the Temple of Sinawava which is where the trailhead for the Riverside Walk and The Narrows begin.  The ride is about 40 minutes long with stops along the way at various trailheads and scenic views.low res-2380

One of our ‘must do’ hikes on this trip was an area called The Narrows.  We had heard from several fellow RV’rs about how unique this hike was and we were looking forward to it.  The ride on the shuttle was enjoyable. The park service has a good audio presentation that hits some of the highlights along the route.  Our driver was also kind enough to point out several deer as we drove past.

The hike to the narrows begins on the Riverside trail.  This is a paved and moderate trail with one early side excursion off to see the river.

See mom, the flood warning was “not expected” that day. 🙂

Before the trailhead there is a warning sign regarding the dangers of flash flooding.  Tragically, just a day before we arrived in the area in September several hikers were killed in the narrows when they were caught in a flash flood.

It had rained the two days prior to our hike, but we checked the forecast that day and double checked the warning signs at the park and were good to go.  The Riverside section of the trail is lovely. It is easy to forget one is going through a desert.  There is even a small swamp along the trail!

The cliff face overhung the trail in several areas.

The cliff face overhung the trail in several areas.

In several areas ground water is forced through permeable layers of the cliff sides creating ‘weeping’ walls and hanging gardens.

Heading into the narrows.

Heading into the narrows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Riverside Trail abruptly ends where the Virgin River cuts through the Narrows.  The Narrows is a steep sided gorge cut by the river; cliffs rise hundreds of feet on both sides.  The day we arrived was warm, but with the sun blocked by the cliffs and the cold river water running through the gorge, there was a definite chill to the air.

Sherry hiking through the Narrows.

Sherry hiking through the Narrows.

It only got colder when we stepped into the river to begin hiking up the narrows.  BRRRR.  We knew this was coming and had planned on how best to approach our shoe situation.  Many people along the trail had rented water shoes, some went barefoot, others in sandals….  We decided to stick to our Keen hiking shoes.  They had great traction, even in wet conditions and were waterproof (although with water getting knee deep in some areas that didn’t matter).  Sherry also brought along a pair of hiking sandles for after and several pairs of socks (Sean would later borrow a pair of dry socks).  The water was frigid, and we couldn’t imagine how some people had open shoes or no shoes at all!  Too cold!

In the Narrows.

In the Narrows.

The hike was beautiful and surreal.  We were amazed to see so many other hikers with us on the ‘trail’.  Stopping every so often, we would gaze up at the sky overhead, framed by the rock walls.  Small falls occurred in several areas along the trail and always, the constant sound of water over rocks.

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The photos cannot capture the scale of this place.

We were glad to be able to add this very different hike to one of our adventures.  If you visit the park, this hike is a must see.  The total hike is 10 miles round trip and is estimated to take 8 hours.  We only hiked into the first mile of the watery trail, but Sherry keeps saying that we should go back and do the whole thing just to say that we did it.  Who knows, we might write another blog in the next week sharing that we traversed the whole thing.  We wouldn’t bring the good camera this time, and we might rent some water boots and poles this time.  We were not aware ahead of time how deep the water actually got in some spots.  This may have been because of the rain two days earlier though.  In any case, we are still thinking we have several days in the area.  We wouldn’t want to “shoulda, coulda, woulda” the opportunity.  There’s also a hike called Angel’s Landing that is supposed to be spectacular.  It was closed for repair while we were there, but it is supposed to reopen this week.  We may have some items to put back on our list.  Lol.

Zion is a wonderful national park with many sites to see.  We have several other places in this area that we want to see before we move on, so stay tuned for more adventure!

If you would like to see a full gallery of the photos from Zion, click the link below:

Zion National Park Photo Gallery.

Vegas and Sean’s Birthday!

We have been very busy the past few weeks. After we left the Yellowstone area, we travelled to Provo, UT for a couple of days.  They have a really nice Paleontology museum on the campus of BYU and a gorgeous trail to Bridal Veil Falls.  We took the opportunity to visit both of these spots while we were in the area.  The RV park, Lakeside RV, was nice with a dog park and walking trails.  It was also close to the Provo State Park and lake.

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50?!? That can’t be right!

We headed out on September 15, the day before Sean’s BIG birthday – the BIG 5-0!  We made our way to the Arizona/Nevada border and set up at a nice RV resort with a pool and LOTS of luxury amenities.  We spent the day of his birthday lounging by the pool and eating whatever he wanted.  (NORMALLY we eat vegetarian meals, but Sean wanted bacon for breakfast, so bacon we ate!)  Sherry made a cake (if by made you mean bought); Sean’s favorite is German Chocolate.  Sherry also made a favorite for dinner – tofu stuffed pasta shells and asparagus.  Nom Nom!

 

On September 21 we headed to Vegas to celebrate even more!low res-2224  We boarded our furbabies at the Animal Inn in Vegas and we stayed at New York New York.  Sherry had never been to Vegas and Sean had not been there since he was a teenager with his grandparents.  Our room was great and the atmosphere at New York New York was fun.  We joked that for the last several months we have been in quiet, forested, park areas, Vegas was a shock to our senses.  The lights, noise, and sea of humanity was overwhelming at times.  We enjoyed spending time touring the inside of New York New York.  low res-2627They have “streets” indoors that are similar to those in NYC (Greenwich, Times Square, Broadway, etc).  Vegas has the feel of a theme park like Disney – it is designed to be visually appealing and make you spend money.  lol.  This whole trip has been about decompressing and decluttering our lives, so maybe Vegas was not the obvious choice for a getaway.  We felt the whole place was a little anti-climactic.  Sherry wanted to see the Gondolas at the Venetian, but was disappointed that they weren’t as grand as they were on TV and photographs.  We both enjoyed the fountain show at the Bellagio – they played “All That Jazz” from Chicago, one of Sherry’s favorites.    Sean wanted to see some of the old hotels that were there when his grandparents took him there, so we trekked down to Circus Circus (on the monorail that Sherry thought would be a good idea – it wasn’t…) and it was not the fun, bright hotel of yesteryear.  It was a little “house of horror” looking.  It looked run down and tired.  We think the appeal of Las Vegas that is shown on TV did not come across while we visited.  Maybe we just aren’t Vegas people…

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An “old school” selfie – taken with our good camera propped up on the ironing board in the room.

However, the big excitement was the show that we booked!  We saw Zumanity, a Cirque Du Soleil show at the New York New York.  It was a sensual, funny, heart-stopping type of show.  There was a little person who did a stunning aerial silk act that we couldn’t believe!  It is only for 18+ though, so don’t think about going with kiddos – or if you tend to be offended by sexuality and language.  We had a great time.  😉  Sherry was disappointed, however, that people didn’t seem to dress up as much as she thought they would in Vegas.  Being involved in theater, she always follows the rule that you dress for a show.  Sherry wore a nice dress and heels and Sean wore a suit.  low res-2659The ticket person at the door commented that he loved to see attractive people dressed up for the show, and no offense to Sherry, but he prefers a nice looking man in a suit (wink wink).  Sherry felt pretty lucky to have such attractive arm candy.  It was odd to see many people show up in what they probably wore all day – shorts, tees, and athletic shoes.  Maybe a different show or hotel draws a different crowd.  It was also disappointing to see not many people dressing to go out at all.  low res-2652We spent two nights visiting the dueling piano bar in the hotel and other restaurants around town, and people were dressed casual or less than casual.  Sherry assumed Vegas would have more pizazz and stylish people roaming around in the evenings – it understandable during the day because of the heat and amount of walking, but at night it’s supposed to be glamorous and sexy time! Lol.  We guessed we just weren’t visiting the right places.  We sure didn’t want to spend the money for that kind of style either.  We did have a little luxury by the pool one day when we rented two cabana chairs.  They came with cushions, iced drinks, and a pool raft.  Even though we weren’t gambling at the tables or shopping at overpriced stores, we still had fun eating, drinking, and people watching.  Sherry thought the food was the best part of the whole Vegas experience.  We didn’t have one bad meal!  We also visited the aquarium at Mandalay Bay.  We realized as we were visiting hotels that many of them have selfie booths that take your picture and send it to you through email.  Sherry decided that it was a mission to find as many as possible and get a picture.  These are from all the ones we could find (minus the one from Linq because their machine had a window directly behind us that whited out the picture…):

All in all, Sean had a fun birthday and we added another experience to our adventure.  We still think that we prefer what mother nature has to offer over the man made stuff.  We are still considering going back to Vegas one more time before we leave the area to see another show.  We would both really like to see Book of Mormon while it is there.

Many (but not ALL) of our pictures from this trip were taken with our phones.  We really didn’t want to lug the good camera around while we trekked the streets of Vegas, so if you would like to see what we got, visit the gallery on our website:

Las Vegas and Sean’s Birthday Photo Gallery

 

Three Months on the Road

Since starting our journey, we have done a monthly update on the things we have learned about living in an RV.  We are a little late on our third month installment, but better late than never, right?

Our summer workamping kept us jacks down for two months, but we did a lot of planning and preparation before leaving and then a few things since hitting the road again.  Here are a few of those things:

  1. Hitch Height.IMG_23582 Ideally, you want your rig to have an even ride.  That is, it should be level when hitched up to your tow vehicle.  Sean had noticed that our RV had a decidedly nose down appearance when hitched up.  There are two ways to adjust how the 5th wheel will ride when hitched.  On our rig, we can take out four bolts on the kingpin and raise or lower it OR take out four bolts on the hitch to raise or lower that setting.  Sean removed the bolts from the hitch and raised it one setting (about an inch or so).  That gave us a level look and ride (we checked with our levels).  Since the adjustment we have gone about 600 miles and all seems great.  Sean thinks it tows easier but….
  2. Cleaning the RV:  7992AF34-9025-4709-9F52-F11A82DD76C1We have gotten in the habit of doing a weekly deep clean inside the RV.  We do daily maintenance but once a week we scrub down the inside.  This probably isn’t ‘big news’ to anyone but it is an important point.  We both hate clutter and in a large house it is easy for even a small amount of clutter to spread out and not be noticeable.  In an RV, even a small amount is quickly noticeable.   The only issue with the weekly cleans is Sherry has to work to keep Sean from shoving everything into the ‘shit’ drawer or cabinet.  You know, the place where all the little odds and ends go that don’t have a permanent home.  Sean swears the cabinet makes a perfect ‘new’ home. 🙂  We also took the opportunity to scrub down the outside of the RV and apply wax to the front.  We had collected a bug lovers dream on the front of the Big Horn and had to spend a few days scrubbing and applying bug and tar remover.  Sean felt a layer of wax would at least help after our next encounter with the bugs.  We will let you know.
  3. Staying fit and healthy:  Despite all the hiking, we quickly realized that we were using some muscles and not others.  At home we stuck to a fairly regular routine of running, yoga and some weight training.  We didn’t want to bring weights with us in the RV so we got a set of weight bands instead.  This last month we have been especially conscious of doing some cardio work as well as stretching and Yoga.  We have a set of workout DVD’s we like to use for workouts -P90X.  Good stuff, especially the 30 minute workouts.  Sticking to a routine has been the toughest, but we have balanced ‘cardio’ hike days with yoga days.  Sherry has also done more healthy cooking.  The first two months of our trip we fell off the vegan and healthy food wagon (many times).   Since getting back into a healthier routine, we have both noticed a difference in how we feel.  OH, but there is always room for Huckleberry Pie!  (If you’re interested in any recipes, let us know and Sherry will give you details!)
  4. General RV maintenance:  We are very conscious of little things around the RV that could go wrong.  Sean will periodically walk the RV inside and out to check for loose fittings or other potential problems.  It is amazing the number of bolts and screws that loosen up after a day or two on the road.  Before leaving Montana, Sherry went through and checked caulk around seams, it had been months since we had the seams caulked and some areas were showing minor splits.
  5. IMG_23592Heating the RV and Propane use:  Amazing how fast we have gone from summer weather to mid fall… Well, we are also usually in areas 5,000 feet or higher now too.  Anyway, we thought about ways to conserve our propane long before we started traveling.  Both of us enjoy sleeping in a cool to cold room but it isn’t fun typing while trying to wear gloves.  To warm the inside we brought along a radiator we have had for several years.  It is a Honeywell electric/oil radiator.  Relatively economical to run and what we used at home to keep our bedroom at a comfortable temperature.  We have used it several times when the temps have dropped into the low 40’s and upper 30’s and have found it does a nice job maintaining a comfortable temp in both rooms of the RV.  We did fill our propane tanks up once, about a month ago, but that is the first time we have done that since October of last year.  Admittedly, we only had the RV out a few times before starting our adventure.  For the last two months we have used our shower (hot water) and have done a lot of cooking and some baking.  That said, it does seem like we have done well in propane use.  Any comments from fellow RV’rs?  What is normal propane use?
  6. Driving in windy conditions: A few months ago we did drive through some crazy storms in Western Missouri and again in South Dakota.  Maybe we didn’t notice the wind as much because of the rain and other issues.  We did notice it a lot when we hit Idaho and were driving down HWY 15.  Steady winds at 20 MPH and gusting over 30 MPH.  Question for everyone: When do you decide the winds are too high and call it a day?  In these conditions, we noticed very minor trailer sway.  Sean could see (in the rear view mirror) the bubble on the trailer level move from side to side.  We just kept our speed down and drove through.  Sean did say it was a bit unnerving from time to time. 🙂

IMG_2357In a previous post we had mentioned our slideout ‘preventative’ repair work.  So far all has been great.  We completed adding the fiberglass panels to the slides and after multiple uses everything is looking good.  Since that post, we have met one couple working through similar issues with their RV slideouts.  They stopped by our site a few weeks ago to compare notes and look at what we had done.  Their RV slideouts use small sleds and they were noticing wear on the wood the sleds slid on.  Their plan for a fix was to place a thin sheet of metal on the area the sled would use to help distribute the weight.  Since then, we have heard from several others with similar problems.  Which brings us to the next topic, the RV community.

Over the summer we met many full-time RV couples or those who were on the verge of going full time. In our last week at Timber Wolf, we also met several full-time RV families.  We have truly enjoyed sharing experiences with the people we have met.  One family (three children) shared several RV groups with us and were the encouragement we need to jump onto Instagram with our blog and photos.  Our screen name is Sean_and_Sherry

Final thought – Have fun:  Not a lesson we needed to learn but one to share.  We continue to love our time together as a family and the opportunity to explore together.  Now that we are back on the road, we are re-energized, if that is even possible, and excited to see the next stop. 🙂

In our next post – Yellowstone!!

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!

 

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/

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/

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.