Winding Down

Beginning to wind down from our trip to the Canadian Rockies and Glacier NP, we stayed overnight in the town of Hungry Horse, MT, not far from the western entrance of Glacier NP.  I just love the little touches that this hotel/RV campground had.  It was the perfect way for us to begin our last day in the park.

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As I said, this place had an RV park, but it also had several other accommodation options … that being soft sided tents (complete with queen bed, table, lamp, chair) or the very appropriate for the area teepee (also very nice on the inside).

photo 3On my first trip to this area, when my daughter was much younger, we opted for one of those teepee units (of course, in another city).  It was so much fun for her, but could have been a problem for my mom, as she began to change into her PJs at night…. let’s just say that you should check them to be sure they’re not “see through” at night with a light on.  LOL.  So much for the reminiscing.

Hungry Horse, MT was named for a moment in history when 2 horses, that had wandered away from their sleigh during the harsh winter of 1900-1901, were found about a month later, severely weak and suffering from starvation.  They were able to be cared for and eventually recovered their health and so a town and other things were named after that occurrence, including a dam.  Of course, as most men do, Tom wanted to explore the dam, so off we went.  The Hungry Horse Dam Project was for the production of hydroelectric power and also flood control.  Its concrete dam stands at 564 feet, which at the time made it the 2nd largest dam in the US, though it now stands as the 10th highest.

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(Sorry for the harsh lighting)

As all dams do, to provide flood control, there’s some sort of relief for the water and this dam uses a bell-mouth spillway.  It’s known as a glory hole and this one is actually the highest one in the world!

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It really was quite impressive to see in person and imagine how it must be to see the water entering the spillway from its perimeter as the needs demand.  A nice Visitor Center was open during our visit which was like pulling teeth to get Tom to leave … he’s so into that kind of stuff.  🙂  Then on top of it, I asked how often they call upon that glory hole and she said that it should be happening in “not too long”.  I would imagine she meant several days, so “NO, Tom, we’re not waiting for it!”  LOL

What we didn’t realize was that the dam was just the beginning of the offerings of the area.  It was part of the Hungry Horse Reservoir Recreation Area – a 31-mile long road, surrounded by over 25 mountain peaks, encompassed 23,800 acres, including 170 miles of shoreline.  Fishing, boating, waterskiing, and swimming were just some of the area activities which it provided for.

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Of course, for me, it offered amazing views of the south fork of the Flathead River, birding, wildlife photography, etc.

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We both wished we had more time to explore all 31 miles, but as I said, vacation time was winding down and I had a plane to catch in the morning.  😦

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Our final destination for the evening was Helena, MT, where I would board an early morning flight.  But not before 2 more important stops along the way.  The first was to explore a now lesser traveled area of Glacier NP, known as Two Medicine.

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Before the Going to the Sun Road opened in 1932, Two Medicine was once most popular for the visitors arriving by train.  The area, one which I had never visited, offers the guest amazing vista, adventurous trails to hike, waterfalls, and of course, lakes.

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The native Blackfeet Indians consider Chief Mountain and Medicine Mountain to be the two most sacred places with Glacier NP boundaries.  Other cool things to note are that the Two Medicine Store there is designated a National Historic Landmark.  For those dinosaur history fans, they’ve also found fossils there of Late Cretaceous Dinosaurs and their eggs.  Pretty cool in my book.

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Eventually, we had to leave the beauty of not just Two Medicine area behind, but also of Glacier NP.

Onward we drove through some pretty beautiful landscapes of rural Montana, on our way towards Great Falls, MT.  Synchronizing our schedules to perfection, we met up with our friends again, Donna & Buck, for some dinner.  To our surprise, they showed up on Buck’s brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle.  Though I kept calling it beautiful, I was quickly notified that you don’t call it “beautiful”, but rather you say it’s “sick!”.  Haha.  Don’t they just look awesome on it?  The question remains as to where in the world he would fit their camera gear!

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After dinner, it was time to say our goodbyes and head on down for some final packing and rest (if that’s what you call 3-4 hrs) before the flight home…. always the worst part of vacation for me.  🙂

We hope that you have enjoyed our journey through the Canadian Rockies and Glacier NP with us.  By the time that you read this, we’ll be already home from our 2014 trip to Alaska, so stay tuned for more about that!

© 2014  Debbie Tubridy / http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Back In The USA

Finally, our time spent in Canada was coming to a close.  We woke up on this, another gorgeous day, and began our drive back into the U.S.A.  We were headed to Glacier NP in Montana … the other half (and bigger half) of the Wateron-Glacier International Peace Park,  shared between Canada and the US.

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Once we successfully crossed the border back in to the US, of course, the gorgeous landscapes just kept coming.  Northern Montana is such an amazing place to visit.

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We had a special day of fun planned for today, for we were meeting up with some long-time friends that we hadn’t seen in well … too long!  More on that in just a few.  🙂

We were a bit nervous about how the weekend would turn out, since we still didn’t have a place to stay and the rooms around Glacier NP had been booked for quite some time.  The road itself – The Going To The Sun Road – hadn’t even opened up for travel due to the heavy recent snowfalls and local avalanches, until the day before we arrived.  But as they say, things have a way of working themselves out.

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We drove on up to the summit of Logan Pass (on the Going to the Sun Road) and it was quite apparent why the road had just opened up … there was quite a bit of snow up there.

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You know … you think that you’re prepared for anything, then nature throws this at you.  Haha.  Where did you pack the snowshoes, snowboards, and skis Tom?  What?  You didn’t think that we would need them?  Think again baby!

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It was such a glorious day to spend in the great outdoors.  Views of mountains, blue skies, wispy clouds, and green forested landscapes were pretty much everywhere!  We even saw some bighorn sheep walking the mountain ledges and some mountain goats on the landscape covered with snow – all TOO far away for a quality shot.  I’m talking “micro dots” even through the binoculars!

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It’s OK about the distant wildlife sightings.  We were enjoying another sighting, which we appreciated even more!  Our friends, Buck and Donna Shreck drove on up from Great Falls, MT to spend some time with us.  As many of you might know, we’ve known them for many years and photographed with them in Alaska, Montana, Wyoming … it was wonderful to catch up with Buck (he’s looking great and feeling awesome) and Donna (just as sweet as always), as well as finally meet their dog, Abby, who was a bundle of energy and fun!  What a fun day reminiscing about the past and a bit of planning for the future.  Let’s not take so long next time.  🙂

DSC_6918We even got to photograph a moose together as we spotted it making its way through the brush.  Of course, there was that magnificent looking bald eagle too that decided a fly-by was all that we were going to get.  🙂
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Tom and I stayed at Glacier for another day and just focused on having fun and exploring the area.  Found these circa 1930’s Glacier NP Red Bus collection, which features a canvas roll-down top that can be pulled back to allow visitors to see the beauty of Glacier, from just about every angle!  Didn’t venture into one, but I thought it was fun looking.

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Our second day in the park was beautiful as well.  Whether it be the mountain peaks against the landscape, sky, and clouds or one of the many waterfalls who call Glacier NP home, it was all so magnificent.

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At Glacier NP, they have strict guidelines as to who can safely travel on the park roads … and as you can see below, it’s for good reason.  The roads are quite narrow, have no excess shoulder in areas, and have a low clearance as well.  We made it through safely in Tom’s truck.

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Once again, at the summit of Logan Pass, I was a bit drooling about not having our snowshoes with us.  Yes, we’re from Florida but have snowshoes … actually an anniversary gift to each other one year, if I recall correctly!  🙂

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We did venture up the Hidden Lake Trail, which on this day, had a “hidden trail” as well.  Eventually, we turned around when we realized that though it was cool enough temperature outside, we failed to bring any food or water with us, nor sunscreen.  Mental note to self … don’t do that again!

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Gorgeous views continued on the eastern side of Logan Pass as well.

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We also spotted some interesting landscape features along the way.  It always amazes me what you find when you just take a few moments to relax and take it all in.

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We settled in for a quick and delicious bite at the restaurant at the Lake McDonald Lodge, which had some amazing views as well, like the one shown above.  The area itself was a bit crowded for my taste, but who could blame it … look at this amazing day!

More to come on the next blog … more Glacier NP and also the Hungry Horse recreation area and dam!  Check it out!

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© 2014  Debbie Tubridy / http://www.tnwaphotography.com

2012 Review: PART 5 – Family Reunion – Yellowstone, Tetons, & Zion NP

Barely unpacked from AK, I had a family reunion to get to out west.  See, we decided to gather up the gang – Kelli & Mitchell, my mom & her husband Murray, and us – to spend some time together out in the great outdoors, appreciating each other’s company, as well as the company of lots of wildlife and beautiful surroundings.  Tom & Kelli took a road trip out west, stopping along the way to get their mountain biking fix, and met us in Salt Lake City.  After a brief stop in SLC, we ventured out to Yellowstone NP & Great Teton NP.  To my surprise, we were a bit late for the explosion of fall colors that we had enjoyed 2 years ago – same time, same place.  Oh well, didn’t matter because the trip more than made up for the lack of fall colors by the abundance of wildlife.  Bears, moose, bison, wolves, coyotes, pronghorn, and elk were plentiful!  The weather was crispy cool, OK maybe even cold at times, but this Florida girl enjoyed it immensely.  Tom & I would get up really early every morning and shoot, while the family took in a bit more sleep.

Family reunion

Family reunion

Bison battling it out for superiority

Bison battling it out for superiority

Bull elk readying for the rut

Bull elk readying for the rut

After spending several days trying to track down the elk in the very early mornings, there’s a few things that I can remember as if it were just a moment ago ….

1.  The sound of the elk when they bugle.  If you haven’t heard that amazing sound, you need to google elk and listen to their call.  It’s one of the most amazing sounds that you will ever hear.  For literally miles and miles you can hear the echo within the vast wilderness of the landscape.  So soothing ….

2.  Another sound ….. see we ran across many sightings of coyotes – hunting in the fields, running to and fro ….. but on 2 occasions, we saw them run back to what I figured out afterwards must have been their den, most likely with a meal, and you could hear the yips of their young.  I’m not talking a yip or 2, I’m talking about 1-3 minutes of continuous calling out.  That is another sound that if you’ve never heard it, you should.  I wanted to tape it on my video in my camera, but I was paralyzed by the beauty of their sound.  Big time smiles after hearing that one!

Three generations

Three generations

Moulton Barn, Grand Tetons NP

Moulton Barn, Grand Tetons NP

Enjoying the view from Signal Mountain, Grand Teton NP

Enjoying the view from Signal Mountain, Grand Teton NP

Yellowstone NP, WY

Yellowstone NP, WY

Several days were also spent in and around Park City also, as Mitchell joined us for an extended weekend or so.  Then off towards AZ and NM we went – taking a few detours along the way – some intended, some not.  What a beautiful country we live in!  One of our unintended detours involved St. George (we won’t go into that one), but things happen for a reason and the detour turned into a visit to Zion NP – so incredibly beautiful and a treat from the summertime visit we did several years ago – much less crowded.

Looking up at the tall stand of aspens kissed by autumn

Looking up at the tall stand of aspens kissed by autumn

Paria, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, UT

Paria, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, UT

Zion NP, UT

Zion NP, UT

Zion NP, UT

Zion NP, UT

While the beauty of the southwest was difficult to leave, we had a more definite destination.

Stay tuned for 2012 Review:  Part 6