Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Glacier Experience - Day 6

Day 6 – Thursday, June 28 – Whitefish MT to Choteau MT
We began the day by packing the bikes up once again and heading out to find some breakfast.  The night before, a suggestion to try Swift Creek Café in the downtown area was offered by the motel clerk.  So, we rode on up there and walked on in.  Each couple split a breakfast burrito, which was hand prepared with lots of good stuff in them.  The service was ok, but there were quite a few people in there for a one-person wait staff.  The breakfast burrito is highly suggested!

Lake McDonald Lodge
Lake McDonald
Lake McDonald
We left Whitefish to travel through Columbia Falls in order to get to West Glacier, which is the western entrance to Glacier National Park. We approached the entrance to the park and used the ‘America the Beautiful’ park pass once again... That turned out to be a great investment.  On our Glacier trek, we happened upon the Lake McDonald lodge area.  Holy moly this place is wonderful.  We hadn’t been on the road long at this time, but we did stay for a while, snapping photos and just taking it all in.  Lake McDonald is 10 miles long and over a mile wide.  It also sits at an elevation of 3,153 feet, which is great for greenery and crystal clear water.

We proceeded onward through the curves and wonderful views of Going to the Sun Road, taking turn offs for photo opportunities.  There were some road construction signs up throughout the road warning of 20-30 minute delays in one particular part.  Right before we got the area that was under construction, we pulled off and made some friends that were snapping photos.  Once we got the photos we wanted, we began to part ways when we noticed a marmot under the couple’s vehicle.  We took a couple of photos of it licking the axle area of the vehicle and it didn’t appear to be bothered. However, once the couple left, the marmot scampered across the parking lot towards me as I attempted to get a clean shot on it in the parking lot.  That thing was way too quick for me, and coupled up with running at me, I got out of the way and didn’t bother with taking a photo…

Logans Pass Area
We rode through the construction a ways, which isn’t as easy as it sounds.  You see, on a motorcycle, navigating uneven roads, some gravel, with a full load on the bike, isn’t easy at idle speeds.  We managed and made our next stop at the Logan’s Pass Visitors Center for a break and to check out the paths cut through the snow.  That snow had to be over 8 ft tall in places, and that is at the end of June.

We migrated downward and stopped at Saint Mary Lake next.  It was there where we met Jim Kinny from Columbia Missouri.  He was driving a Goldwing, so Jim and Ronnie hit it off.  Jim didn’t seem to know a stranger either.  He talked to us for quite a while, snapped our photo with my camera as I did the same for him with his camera.  Once we parted, we decided to at least go check out Canada while we were near.

Going to the Sun Road - Glacier National Park
St Mary Lake - Glacier National Park
Rob Kathy Theresa Ronnie at St Mary Lake

We left Glacier and headed north to the Canadian border.  I was leading the two-bike group and ended up going past the point of no return in to Canada, but only to do a U-turn.  Turns out, U-turns are not allowed in Canada, or at least not at the border entrance… oops.  The RCMP quickly came out and asked us to check in the border entrance or leave the country immediately. It was harsh, but we quickly chose USA and proceeded back in to the states.  We couldn’t just skate through either, since we had to be repatriated by having our passports scanned and questioned by the US Customs agent.  We got back in, thankfully, and headed down the road for a lunch stop.

Two Sisters Café was the choice for lunch, which was housed in a light purple building that matched nicely with Ronnie’s ‘illusion blue’ Goldwing.  We met a couple of nice women who were riding motorcycles from Pennsylvania to Alaska and back.  They were on their way back home.  Wow, and we only went from KC to Glacier and back…  Lunch was good here, but a little pricey for what was served.

We traveled down the eastern portion of Glacier National Park, through twisty roads and wonderful views.  It had been a while since we had a stop, so upon hitting Bynum Montana, we located a watering hole named JD's Wildlife Sanctuary. We were met in the gravel parking lot by a mixed breed dog with a tennis ball – who obviously wanted to play ball with us.  Kathy picked up the ball and threw it across the parking lot in to the street and the dog quickly returned apparently ready to play again. However, the dog would not give up the ball this time.   What a hoot! 

We entered the establishment and ordered a frosty cold one from the owner/bartender and sat and chatted some.  We were the only ones in the bar at the time, but soon enough, there were a couple ladies that entered and then a young man.  The ladies had been drinking for a while, we think.  Heck, they even brought in their own red solo cups to get filled.  The gentleman that walked in spoke of his 2,000-acre farm that was just zeroed out by the insurance company due to hail damage the week prior.  Sounds like we timed the trip just right.  Sorry for that young man’s loss.  27 years old and farming a 2,000-acre farm…  Wow.  Impressive!

I took it upon myself to locate some hotel options via phone.  The next town, Choteau Montana, was only 13 miles away and that worked just perfect.  It wasn’t late at all, but we needed to do laundry again, since it had been a few days and we were all running out of clean clothes.  I called a few places but didn’t reserve any until we did a drive by to judge the places by the upkeep.  Turns out, you can judge a book by its cover when applying that theory to motels.  We landed at the Gunther Motel for the night, where we unpacked, gathered the dirty clothes, and headed to town to get them started in the washing machine.  Don’t let the reviews fool you, it was a decent place to stay, and they gave us rags to wash our motorcycles with. Another bonus!  As the clothing was being laundered, we walked across the street to John Henry's family restaurant for dinner.  It was wonderful, but they close at 9:00 PM, so get there at normal dinnertime.

Other highlights:
·      National/State Parks: Glacier National Park
·      Miles: ~ 230

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