Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Butenhoff Summer Road Trip... Week 1

In August, we set out on a 3 week road trip.  We were gone 24 days, traveled 5436 miles & spent over 110 hrs in the car driving.  We went through 6 states & caught Badlands National Park in South Dakota, Glacier National Park in Montana, Portland & the Oregon Coast, Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho & rounded it out with Yellowstone/Tetons in Wyoming.  It was an AWESOME trip!

We left Sat, Aug.13 & had reservations at the KOA in the Badlands for night 1.  We got there in time to do a little exploring/hiking around. 

The kids LOVE staying in the Kamper Kambins for our "on the road" overnights & it is much easier than setting up our tent for just one night.  The KOA was very near the campground in the park, so we were able to catch the "Night Sky" program that evening.  They had a nice presentation & had 3 telescopes set up where we got to see the surface of the moon & a nebula... and then it was off to bed. 

We had a long day driving on Sunday (over 12 hours in he car) with our next stop for the night in Missoula, MT.  After getting into that KOA for the night, we quickly headed out to find a late dinner...
 ... & as luck would have it, we are in microbrew country so we found a great brew pub for dinner called the Iron Horse.

Melanie was excited to get her turn on the top bunk this time!  She was finally old enough to notice who got top bunk & wanted her fair share!  After a good night's sleep, we only had a 2-3 hr drive before getting to Glacier!

The next day, we got to Glacier by about noon & got our camp set up, ate a quick lunch & then headed out to do a little exploring in the afternoon. 

First we headed to the visitor's center to get some information & pick up the Jr Ranger books for the kids.  Then we went up to the Avalanche Creek area & first had to go down & check out the river.
The kids had fun skipping rocks & throwing them too! 

It felt good to NOT be in the car, smell the fresh air & stretch our legs in such beautiful country.  With that said, we headed out on a small little hike/walk. 
The big trees are pretty cool... nothing like the Redwoods, but cool none-the-less.  The kids had never seen trees so big! 

That evening, the kids started working on their JR Ranger booklets... they love those things & it keeps them busy around the fire, allowing us a little time to sit & relax!

The next day, we headed back to the Avalanche Trailhead but this time to do the hike to Avalanche Lake...
It was 2 miles to get back to the lake with a 500ft elevation change, so quite do-able for the kids & they did well! 
What a beautiful view! 
We hiked all the way to the backside of the lake before turning to head back down. Our total hike was about 5.5 miles.

 After that hike, we drove the road up to Logan's Pass.  The kids had finished their Jr Ranger books & wanted to get their badges... and Brandon had been hoping to see snow & have a snowball fight.  He got his wish!
We took a hike from the visitor's center to Overlook Lake.  The first part of it was through a lot of slippery snow. 

 Along the way, we ran into some mountain goats.  They weren't too skittish of us but also didn't beg or come too close. 

We passed some other hikers who told us there were some big horn sheep just further up the path from where we were going to turn back... so we HAD to continue on!
And about 1/2 mile further, we found them... hanging out on a rocky hill side (just above Mike in the picture below on the left)... 
 ... there were at least 12-15 of them.

We had a great hike... about 4.5 miles in all with another 600ft elevation change! It was getting late (almost 7pm), so Melanie got a piggy-back for some of the way back to help us go a little faster & as long  as she has done a good job hiking for most of the hike, I'll give her piggy-backs on down hill areas.

For our last full day in Glacier, we thought we check out the more western side... so we headed over to Bowman Lake to do a hike to Lower Quartz Lake.
 It was a much different look from the other side as the mountains here weren't as tall or rocky...
 & we were in/out of burn areas from a fire a few years ago.  It was a warm day too, so once we got to the lake, we had a snack break & cooled our feet in the water!  We did about 6 miles this time with an 1600 ft elevation change, but since it went up & down a hill, we actually got to do it twice!

On our drive back from the one side to the main area, we passed through a nothing town (literally 2 buildings) of Polebridge.  We had to stop into the mercantile & got a few fresh baked items for breaksfast the next morning. 
As luck would have it, right next door was the Northern Lights Saloon! It was this tiny cabin (below) but they had a 3-person group playing music outside, a nice area to sit & some local microbrews on tap.  They even had a pretty good menu, since it was getting late, we ordered the kids dinner as we figured they'd fall asleep before getting back to camp. We opted to just have an appetizer with our beers & have a late dinner back at camp after the kids were in bed.
It was a great way to end our Glacier experience... the next day we'd head out bright & early for a long drive to Portland!

(Up next... Portland & Oregon)

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