Thursday, June 12, 2014

Our Lewis & Clark Adventure: Missoula, Montana (There is NO sex or naked women in this blog)

We had been to Missoula once before. That was six years ago on a crisp football Saturday in mid-September 2008. The farmers market was underway, tailgate parties all around. We did not see the game but we did get to watch as both marching bands paraded, playing their school songs. We rented bicycles and rode up and down the riverfront bike paths. 

So when we planned this Lewis and Clark adventure we were sure to include a return visit to Missoula. There is much to love about Missoula. it is a university town with all of the sophistication that that brings.. It is relatively flat but surrounded by mountains, some snow peaked. There  is a walkable lively downtown with bookshops, restaurants, cafes, and art galleries.

The "M" is visible from much of downtown. You can see a trail leading up to it. We didn't take it.

Saturday mornings feature two farmers markets, one at either end of Higgans Street, about six blocks from each other. This one has mostly food and some clothes and jewelry. The other one is mostly crafts, but some food as well.

The Cat-in-the-Hat is selling morel mushrooms

There is a parking problem in downtown Missoula, a bicycle parking problem, that is.
I need to write a rant.. It is at the end of the blog, if you are interested. Or you can skip it.

The First Friday celebration. Most of the shops and galleries are open and seemed to be rather full.

First Friday. I told you there would not be any naked women in this blog so don't look so hard.

This part of Higgans Street reminded us of West Asheville, NC

I think this business is some kind of bible store.

A River Runs Through It. Norman Maclean grew up in Missoula. He wrote his great novel after he retired.  Hmmmm!

The Lolo Pass is where the Corps of Discovery went over the Rockies into what is now Idaho.
Rosie is not too sure about this white stuff up at Lolo Pass.

But Rosie did want to climb into these holes to catch those upstart Prairie Dogs that were all over the place.

Snow still on the ground at Lolo Pass

I was one of the millions who felt that Undaunted Courage brought the Lewis & Clark expedition to life. I have been obsessed with this journey ever since reading it about 10 years ago.
This 3-D map of the Bitterroot Valley helps to show what Lewis & Clark faced in this section of their trip. It is about 150 miles from the bottom to the top. Dillon, Montana is off the map, bottom right. The blue dot at the top is Travelers' Rest. L&C camped here both heading to the Pacific and returning. To the left of the blue dot is the Lolo Pass. After L&C returned to Travelers' Rest they split up, Lewis leading 9 men to explore the Marias River and the area near where Galcier national Park is now. He found that Great Falls was a great deal closer this way than they way they took on the outward journey. Clark went south then east to explore the Yellowstone River. They met up again near the confluence of the Yellowstone and the Missouri Rivers.

Several American Indian tribes, including the Salish, Koutenai, and Nez Perce used this peaceful area to meet and trade

Travelers' Rest. Archeologists have uncovered signs of Lewis & Clarks campsite in this field. They found that the Corps of Discovery set up its' campsites in line with military protocol as written by Gen. Van Steuben during the American Revolutionary War.. L&C maintained strict military discipline throughout the entire expedition.

This is a photo of Missoula, Montana in the mid 19th Century.

Missoula is the home of the Missoula Smokejumpers

So you want to be a smokejumper?

A small tent that a smoke jumper can set up and get into in 30 seconds. It protects from fire for a short while.

Diva at a rest stop.

They don't call it "Big Sky" for nothing.

View from the passenger seat.

What a pleasant drive from Missoula to Dillon
The black and white for this blog is of a navigation marker on the Macatawa River near Holland, Michigan.

Ciao, Frank

RANT: Everywhere we have gone on this trip, every small town and city, has had wonderful bicycle and walking trails that for the most part keep you out of traffic. Missoula has bike lanes on almost every major street. Great Falls, MT and Sioux City, IA had bike trails that allowed commuting by bicycle. From St. Charles, Missouri the Katy Trail is a bike/hike trail that goes 200 miles up the Miissouri River. Hilton Head Island has trails in almost every neighborhood. 

Debbie and I lived in Aiken, South Carolina, for 30 years. We love Aiken, the beautiful streets, the culture, the history, great downtown shopping and eating, the arts, the highly educated people, and our great friends, and we would still be there if it wasn't that all of our family has moved away, most to Asheville, NC. Ten years ago, maybe more, Aiken had an opportunity to add miles of bike trails AT ALMOST NO COST TO THE CITY. City council turned it down because some vocal citizens objected, probably for racial reasons. They said they didn't want "undesirables" biking through their neighborhoods. I stood up and volunteered that the bike path could go in front of my house. Aiken should be ashamed of itself for failing to do what so many towns and cities have done. So there!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Our Lewis & Clark Adventure: Glacier National Park

Okay, Glacier National Park has nothing to do with the Lewis & Clark Expedition. They never set foot in the park. On the return trip from Oregon, Meriwether Lewis and several of his men came close to the park. They ran into a group of Blackfeet Indians. When the Indians tried to steal their horses, a fight broke out and two of the Blackfeet were killed. These two plus Sgt. Floyd, who died of a ruptured appendix near Sioux City, Iowa, were the only three humans to die during the 2 1/2 year expedition.

We came here because we wanted to see the beauty of the park. The park's season really doesn't get going until late June. We were here in early June. Our campground has 5 loops and only one was open and looked to be only half full. The Going to the Sun Road was closed except for 16 miles from the western entrance and eight miles form the eastern entrance. 

There were bear warnings everywhere. The campground had special bear-proof trash containers. Debbie bought bells to wear on us to warn the bears that humans were present. We also bought a large canister of bear spray. We never saw a bear.

Lake McDonald. This shot is about 100 yards from our campsite.

Another view of Lake McDonald

Some visitors to our campsite

One of the major attractions of Glacier National Park is the "Going to the Sun Road" which is the only road that cuts across the park. The road is 50 miles long and goes over Logan Pass at 6,600 feet elevation. The road was open from the Apgar Campground for only 16 miles. The entire road is expected to be open mid June. The problem is the amount of snow that falls especially near Logan Pass.  Here are some pictures from the internet.

Apgar Campground is at the lower end of Lake McDonald. At the upper end of the lake is Lake McDonald Lodge. This is an elegant resort hotel and restaurant. The lodge was built before there was a road to it. Guest had to take a boat from the campground.

A view from the Lodge to Lake McDonald

The lobby

The back porch.

The National Park Service runs tours of the Park using a dozen of these specially built vans.

Debbie and Rosie enjoy a stroll. The boat is for tours of the lake.

Lodge from the lake.

This is Dan. He is from Columbia, Missouri (blog). He is riding his bicycle from Columbia, Missouri to Fairbanks, Alaska. He sleeps in campgrounds, laundramats, bathrooms, under trucks, anywhere he can. He has a lightweight titanium bike but carries about 80 pounds of gear and provisions. He is retired, 65 years old. He travels alone but his positive outgoing nature allows him to strike up a conversation easily. "Life is good!" he says. In this shot he is cooking his breakfast and using his smartphone.

We expected to stay three or four nights in Glacier but only stayed two. Much of the park was effectively closed. But the main problem was energy. The campground has no hookups.  No water connections. No sewer. No electric connections. We have solar panels to charge up our batteries but the campground is so densely shaded and the skies were overcast so our batteries could not be charged up. So we left this beautiful place sooner than we would have liked. We may come back sometime but will aim for a July-August visit.

Ciao, Frank