Monday 7.15.13

Back in the olden days, long before you were Instagramming in a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your life with friends and family… there were film cameras. In those dark times of long ago, some people would take these film cameras with them on vacation and then capture those memories to share – but not so instantly. You had to come home. You had to take your film somewhere to have it processed. In some cases that meant that the place you took your film had to send it out to another place – they did the processing and sent it back to the place you took your film. It may have even been several days of waiting for the results.

You would go and pick up your prints or perhaps you had slides made. Slides were cool because you could load them all into a device called a slide projector and then display your memories on a screen with a room full of people. Kind of like going to the movies only it was probably at your Grandparent’s house in their den. They had taken a trip somewhere and would show you all of the places and people you do not recognize and then tell you about it. There would be an image, some conversation, and then the next image… and then some conversation and on and on.

My family did this. I remember doing the slide show thing many times but only two really stick out in my mind.

First, My Grandparents had gone somewhere and we were going to see the slide show. Everyone was in the room ready to watch. My Granddad had the projector on and situated on a tray or something in the back of the room. We began the show. First slide showed a bunch of people walking through some gateway entrance to somewhere. All of these people were butt naked. Seems Granddad’s slide were switched out for someone who had gone to a nudist camp or something. End of show.

Second, my uncle had started to go on trips around the USA in a camper with his wife. Not to be outdone by HIS Dad, he would put on a slide show with modern (early 70’s) technology. There would be SOUND. He pre-recorded narration for the slide show on a tape recorder. I don’t remember if it was reel to reel or cassette but here’s how he did it: In his finished basement he had a small bar. This bar was a kit that was purchased and finished by my Granddad and given to my Dad and two of my uncles as gifts. Included with the bar were bar tools for making drinks and a thing called a jigger – a measuring device. There was a stand which held all of these tools. My uncle would narrate the slide show and then when it was time to go to the next slide, he would tap the jigger with a spoon to make a little “ding” noise.

Those days are long gone and now most of us have instant cell phone technology. See something and shoot it and share it in a matter of moments. There it is, the world can check it out. With me, I’m still the old timey digital camera guy with exchangeable lenses and more crap than I’ll ever use. I can process the images myself (when I get around to it) and since I don’t have a slide projector or a jigger, you’ll just have to settle for a blog-tastic presentation. It is all here and you can still see it from the convenience of your living room, den, smartphone while you are driving… you name it. Okay, so everyone settle in and settle down, someone get those lights and don’t spill popcorn on the new shag carpeting. It is a bitch getting that cleaned up. Here we go…


I usually do pretty well flying. I can’t take carnival rides but flying is almost usually not a problem. For whatever reason, our seats were not together for the Minneapolis to Bozemen flight. I was seated in a center seat between a woman on the aisle and a 12 or so year old boy at the window. I chatted with the kid a little. He had been visiting his Grandmother in Philadelphia. The flight did not phase this kid at all. When we were almost to Bozeman, the pilot mentioned we were in for some rough air and suggested we all buckle up. It was (for me) a white knuckle flight as I was holding on for dear life while at the same time trying to remain cool next to the 12 year old. We made it. My lunch stayed in place.

Since we got in late, about all we had time to do was drive to Butte. But wait, why not go do something? After all, we ARE on vacation. Okay, we went to a movie theater to see “The Lone Ranger” with Johnny Depp. It did not start until about 10:30pm and the movie is actually about 23 hours long. Somehow they crammed those 23 hours into a grueling 2 hours and 29 minutes. I fought to stay awake and then we hit a Perkin’s after. No idea what time we got back.

Saturday started out with me finding a place to get a haircut. How exciting is that? I certainly did not want to look like some Madison hippie under the big sky. Then it was about a 4 hour or so drive up to Kalispell. Well, we thought we were going to Kalispell but somehow our information was unclear. Along the way, we decided to stop off and visit the old Montana State Prison, because sometimes when you have to go on vacation, you’d rather go to prison. Well, why not go to prison ON vacation?


The good old days of shiv-elry



Not only did they hang you, you got pooped on too.

After the Prison, and since the tour bus for Deer Lodge looked like itbus-0918 was out of commission, we went on to find the ghost town of Garnet. Garnet was a mining town for a few years and then just kind of left there. All of the things that are there were items found and sort of preserved. Getting into Garnet – now that was interesting. How in the hell anyone ever found it in the first place, I’ll never know. To get there, you have to take an unpaved road for several miles. We only bottomed out the car a couple of times. At this 10 mile mark there was another sign to detour us another 8 or 9 miles down (up and down) an even worse single lane-no guard rail-side of the mountain-road.


After the long winding drive, we suddenly discovered a whole bunch of people who had the same idea but must have come from some other direction. I kind of felt like we were people who had ship wrecked and fought to survive only to discover that there was a 5 star hotel on the other side of the trees.

Road to Garnet. There was this detour we had to take... like 15 miles of this one lane road. This was the "good" section of road.

Road to Garnet. There was this detour we had to take… like 15 miles of this one lane road. This was the “good” section of road.

Countryside view from Garnet, looking North.

Countryside view from Garnet, looking North.

Once we hit Kalispell, Max and Jack (Our GPS) told us to keep going another 40 miles or so. Eventually, we wound up in Whitefish:




Using those on-line deal sites can get you a fantastic place just like this. Well, hang on a second… those are interior pictures from that Garnet ghost town. I must have my slides mixed up. We had to actually find the hotel first. We always trust our GPS but probably should not because…


We re-routed and eventually found the place…


There was like nobody around. Summer at a winter ski resort. It kind of felt like The Shining only in reverse, weather-wise. The next morning, Sunday, we grabbed a quick breakfast and picked up some lunch for the trail as we headed to Glacier National Park.

I realize that all of our National Parks are special for some reason or another – or for many reasons at the same time which a lot of us never know about. Let me just say that I found GNP to be pretty damned spectacular. We decided that we would take the “going to the sun road” which takes you across the park for about 50 miles of narrow, edge of the cliff, twisty and turny adventure.


This would be an awesome motorcycle or convertible trip… except for the few places where you have to drive through the waterfalls. You don’t really want to try to get out of your lane – ever. Do that and you’ll be scraping the wall or taking a quick trip down the mountain. We saw one person with a go-pro camera mounted to his motorcycle helmet. Cool idea. This way you can just keep your eyes on the road and watch your trip later.


On the way to Logan Pass…




As a passenger for some of this trip I found myself, while on the cliffside of the car, leaning inwards as if me shifting my weight was going to help prevent us from going over the edge. It was that… me all scared OR me pointing things out as we continued… like this:


There were goats and people looking at goats. Then, we arrived at Logan Pass at the continental divide. It was here that we decided to stop and eat our lunch. While we were sitting there admiring the view, we noticed a whole bunch of people trekking up the side of the mountain and disappearing over the hill. We investigated and discovered that there was a trail which lead to some hidden lake. We discussed taking a hike. Someone accused me of thinking that if someone did not make the trek, I would think that someone was a wimp. Since someone is usually correct, I agreed which started us up the mountain. It was July 7 and probably somewhere in the 80’s… maybe cooler up the hill. There was no cover from the sun and someone did not thoroughly apply sunblock.  There was still snow covering most of the trail. The road we had used to get here was only opened on June 21 for the first time in 2013 due to snow. So, up we went:


That part up there where the trail goes around the hill does not look like a big deal in the picture but it was actually pretty tricky AND scary. We made it around and eventually discovered one smaller lake and then the hidden lake.


Hidden lake after a 1.5 or so mile hike up the still snow covered mountain in Glacier National Park.

Hidden lake after a 1.5 or so mile hike up the still snow covered mountain in Glacier National Park.

We continued on and stopped here and there…


Eventually, we wound up on the East end of the park…

St' Mary's Lake on the East side of GNP.

St’ Mary’s Lake on the East side of GNP.

We turned around and drove back through once more, then headed into Whitefish for supper. Monday, we would head back south to Helena. Along the way, we managed to stop at a National Bison Range…


After, we ate the Bison…


As we ate Bison, we watched a huge storm roll in over the mountains. We were inside a gift shop when it hailed so hard that the ground was white. After about 10 minutes, it was all over.


We were now headed back to Helena. Stopping at a roadside place, I found a cell charging station in the back of the building:


Then, Helena… that’s Helena over on the left.

Countryside over looking Helena.

Countryside over looking Helena.

Countryside over looking Helena.

After a huge salad at a former whore house, we prepared for my flight back at 6am on Tuesday. Someone stayed the rest of the week in Helena to work.

So, there’s the long boring tale of what I considered to be a pretty awesome adventure. I was able to spend time with someone very cool and see things that were very cool. With that, I give my jigger a final “ding.”

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