Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Road Trip, Part 8: Montana

*Just a quick note - as the formatting on this blog keeps some of the photographs pretty small. You can click on any of the pictures to enter a slide show, which will allow you to see larger format photographs*

Day 34:

Grand Junction, CO to Butte, MT. 698 Miles, 10 Hours 7 Minutes. 

Approaching the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana
We noticed that the weather was clearing up a bit from the North to the South and then getting crappy again, so we made a plan to essentially flip our itinerary around and head straight to Glacier National Park, then back south through Yellowstone, The Tetons, and then to Salt Lake City. This required that we make a nice marathon drive from Grand Junction to Glacier, which we broke up into two days. Our destination for the night was a Walmart in Butte, Montana. It was a the coldest night yet.

Day 35: 
Butte, MT to Glacier National Park West Glacier, MT. 295 Miles, 5 hours, 14 minutes. 

We left Butte as early as possible, as we wanted to get to Glacier with some time to see some of the park before dark. We took a bit of a round about way to get there because we wanted to see Flathead Lake on the way, and I did not realize that the route we were taking would by-pass it. This added about a hour to the trip. We weren't sure of what would be available at or just outside of the park because it was the very end of the season there - so we made a pit stop at a Safeway in Missoula, which seemed like kind of a neat town. 

As we got to Glacier we decided we would drive as much of Going-The-Sun-Road as possible, knowing that it was closed somewhere along the way because of avalanche danger. The first stop was on the shore of Lake McDonald, which was the first of many breath-taking, dramatic landscapes we saw in the Park.
On the shore of Lake McDonald
The absolutely crystal clear water in Lake McDonald
The drive slowly ramps up, quite literally, starting through some dense forest, with Lake McDonald to one side. But quickly it begins to open up and suddenly you are switchbacking up the side of a mountain and peering down into glacial valleys below.

Notice the road in down the center of the valley
We drove about 33 miles to Logan's Pass, where there was a visitors center. The road was closed heading further east, so we stopped here for a minute to look around. There was a storm moving in and Rangers were asking people to head back down at this point.

At Logans Pass
It began to snow while we were at Logan's Pass - the first we experienced on the trip. We headed back into West Glacier, where we grabbed a nice dinner at the Belton Chalet. After dinner, rather than pay for a camp site in Glacier, we drove an hour west to Kalispell, MT where we spent the night in a Walmart parking lot. Before we went to sleep we thumbed through our Parks of the West book to figure out a list of things we wanted to do while in Glacier the next day.

One of the stunning views from Going-The-Sun-Road
Day 36:
I loved how different the forest here felt compared to what we were used to further south in the Rockies and in the Northeast. 
When we got up there was a dusting of snow on the ground, and we realized that our plans high in the mountains may change. As we got into the park there were signs up saying the road was closed only a few miles from the entrance. We were very lucky to have seen as much of the park as we did the night before, but now we had to reassess our plans for the day. We decided to make the 4.5 mile hike up to Avalanche Lake, as there wasn't really any snow at this elevation and the weather was actually quite nice considering a few miles up the road there was a foot of snow.

The start of the trail to Avalanche Lake.

We enjoyed the trail as we made our way up. It was pretty uncrowded, probably because of the weather. We encountered a few flurries on the way up, but didn't mind too much because we were sweating from the hike anyway.
Jill in front of a log jam at one end of Avalanche Lake.

Once we were done with the hike we ate some lunch in the car and, because so much of the park was closed, we decided to start heading to our next stop - Bozeman, MT.

West Glacier, MT to Bozeman, MT. 314 Miles, 5 Hours 29 Minutes.

It was after dark by the time we arrived in Bozeman, so we quickly found a Walmart and posted up for the night. It was very cold - just 19 degrees - and difficult to sleep soundly.

Day 37:

 We started the day off getting ready in the bathroom at Walmart. Once we were done we headed to the Fish Technology Center, which was a complete bust. As far as we could tell it was closed, maybe for the season. We walked around a bit on the trail surrounding the area, and then headed back into town. We liked the funky, modern, green-building looking neighborhood we drove through to get here.

Our next stop was the Emerson Center for the Arts. This is an arts community center that is housed in a former elementary school. Here we found many studios, shops, a cafe, and a performance space. We loved this concept, this place, and everything about it. 

Inside the Emerson, we found an Art-O-Mat - the first one either of us had seen - but not the last one we would see on the trip. This is where we bought our first piece of art on the trip. From the placard on the machine;

"Founded in 1997, Artists In Cellophane is an arts group that converts retired cigarette machines into fine art vending machines. Inside of this machine are original works of art, music, writings, conceptual thoughts and unique ideas"

After the Emerson, we were pretty hungry so we decided to check out the Co-Op. We were very impressed with their selection, cheap wine, and high quality hot prepared food & salad bar. We decided that rather than buying groceries and making lunch we would just get something from the hot bar. I noticed they were selling one of my favorites too!

Chicken Marbella!
We ate our lunch on the ground level, in the lovely court yard. It was fall, so the foliage was changing color and beautiful leaves were blowing around. There was a very active community board in the court yard - another plus about Bozeman. 

Notice the community board in the background. 
After lunch we headed a bit out of town to Neptune's Brewery, where we had a Groupon for a tasting. Neptune is in Livingston, MT - which is a pretty small town. We weren't really sure what to expect as we were driving into the area, but we were pleasantly surprised that we liked virtually all of the beers (and mead) we had there. This is one of those lucky, kind of rare Groupon's where you don't expect much and are really happy with what you get. 

Once we were back in Bozeman we went to the American Computer & Robotics Museum - mostly at my request. It was pretty much what it sounds like, and a fun place to waste an hour if you're at all interested in this kind of crap. 
This is what my basement looked like growing up. Without the iPad, of course. 
We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening walking around main street and peaking out heads into some shops. We saw an ad for bingo in the local paper and decided that we would check it out. 

This was the first time I had played since I was a child. There was a lot of 20-somethings there, a lot of cheap booze - and the whole thing was a lot of fun. If we lived in Bozeman, this would be a regular thing for us.

After bingo we grabbed a late dinner at a restaurant called, 'Over the Tapas'. I think we grabbed a Living Social or Groupon for this place - and while I was pretty skeptical because of the stupid name, we both really enjoyed our meal here. 

Day 38:
We spent most of the day checking out little things here and there. We drove out to the Bridger Bowl Ski Resort for the Bridger Raptor Fest, which wound up being a pretty...kiddy thing. We checked out the Museum of the Rockies - it was a free day. I liked the museum a lot. We used another Groupon to goto a place called Grizzly Bear Encounters, which is a facility that rescues grizzly bears. Our last stop for the night was at Bozeman Hot Springs, which was a nice place to relax a bit and more importantly somewhere to use a shower! Once we were cleaned up we watched some TV on the iPad in the car and turned in for the night. We were leaving early the next day, on our way to Yellowstone National Park. 

From our book:
Pine Creek Falls MT - accessible from pine creek recreation area/pine creek campground. reduced services 9/1. campground closes 9/16. Not sure if there is trail access, may have to call or just visit (not far off our driving route)

  • Groupon
  • Montana Ale Works – Brew Pub, 4-11. 40 taps, extensive local & regional microbrew selection. Fair to average prices on food. Happy hour 4-6 & 9-11 . Daily specials.
    o 611 E Main St/Bozeman MT/59715
  • Watanabe Japanese – Chef from Japan, kinda expensive sushi, reasonable
    everything else. Mon-Sat 11-2:30 & 4:30-8:30 o 1234 W Main St/Bozeman MT/59715
  • Starkys Authentic Americana – Best happy hour in Bozeman (4-6). Lunch 11- 4, Dinner Tue-Sat 4-close.
    o 24 N Tracy Ave/Bozeman MT/59715
  • Pho Real Restaurant. 242 E Main St/Bozeman MT/59715

Free to do:
  • Altitude Gallery – Contemporary art gallery. Mon-Sat 10-5
    o 134 E Main St/Bozeman MT/59715
  • Emerson Center for the Arts – Exhibits, Galleries, Classes, Shops. Various

    hours, best time 11-5.
    o 111 S Grand Ave/Bozeman MT/59715

  • American Computer & Robotics Museum – Tue-Sun 12-4. Looks silly & fun. Evolution of the information age, from abacus to microchips
    o 2023 Stadium Dr #1A/Bozeman MT/59715
  • Bozeman Fish Technology Center – See people working on research of fish
    cultural techniques, fish disease, fish fed development & test, broodstock diet testing, and fishery management. Restoration of Pallid Sturgeon, Arctic Gralying, Cutthroat Trout. 1⁄2 mile nature loop along creek. 8-4.
    o 4050 Bridger Canyon Rd/Bozeman MT/59715
  • Bridger Raptor Festival – Oct 3-5, Free, Centered around largest Golden Eagle
    Migration in US. Bridgerraptorfest.org/current_events for schedule/info.
  • Palisades Falls – South on 19th st 5 miles to Haylite Canyon Rd, South of
    Hyalite Canyon Rd 20 miles to Forest Rd, Go west one mile to Palisades falls picnic area & trailhead. 1⁄2 mile trail, 80 foot waterfall. Volcanic cliffs. Hexagonal basalt columns.
  • Museum of the Rockies – Has a planetarium, living history farm, discovery
    center, dinosaur complex, history hall, etc. Mon-Sat 9-5, Sun 12-5. Adult $14 (good for 2 days).
    o 600 W Kagy Blvd/Bozeman MT/59717
  • Sacks of Bozeman – ‘best’ thrift store.
    o 138 W Mendenhall St/Bozeman MT/59715

  • Montana Grizzly Encounter – Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, see grizzly bears. 10-6, $7.
    o 80 Bozeman Hill Rd/Bozeman MT/59715
  • Gallatin History Museum – Tue-Sat 11-4. $5. Looks kinda dull.
    o 317 W Main St/Bozeman MT/59715
  • Bozeman Hot Springs Spa & Fitness – Hot Pools, check hours but generally

    6a-11p. $8.50
    o 81123 Gallatin Rd/Bozeman MT/59718

  • Chico Hot Springs – 8-11, $7.50
    o 163 Chico Rd/Pray MT/59065

  • Madison Buffalo Jump State Park - $5. Daylight hours. o 6990 Buffalo Jump Rd/Three Forks MT/59752
  • Norris Hot Springs – Food, beer, music Fri-Sun, Hot springs. Thu, Fri, Mon – 4-10, Sat-Sun, 12-10. $7 , $9 if music. All food sourced locally or grown in house. Affordable. Cool place.
    o Montana 84/Norris MT/59745

GLACIER NP. St Mary will be closed so enter from West Glacier. From Bozeman go 90W to 200Nto 93N to 35 N – to this allows to go along Flathead Lake. NO GAS IN PARK. 

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