Going to the Sun

Trip Start May 31, 2010
Trip End Jul 11, 2010

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Where I stayed
Beavertail Hill Campground

Flag of United States  , Montana
Thursday, June 10, 2010

As I sit next to a roaring campfire, a rushing river, and a beautiful Montana mountain range that you may actually have to see to believe, I feel like today was worth it. Worth the rain, the cramped sleeping quarters of the car, and the rushing to meet our next destination.  Allow me to start at the beginning.

This morning came all too soon.  It was the ripe 'ole hour of eight o'clock and it felt like a Russian hit-man took me out back and beat the snot out of me.  Alyssa and I must have gotten a total of two hours of sleep between us.  The car was far too small for the two of us restless sleepers, at one point I’m pretty sure she elbowed me in the rib cage.  Not to mention the temperature - it was cold, so cold that we both woke up and gave each other a look as if to say, "What the hell are we doing here!"  But after we got up, stiff and sore, we decided to hit the free breakfast provided by our KOA.  The food was decent, consisting of fresh scrambled eggs, biscuits n’ gravy, and a nice spread of typical continental cuisine.  After breakfast we got dressed, packed up the car, and made way for what was going to be a fantastic day.

The main reason we came to Montana was to see Glacier Park and drive the “Going-To-The-Sun Road”.  Unfortunately due to construction and/or weather we could only drive 16 miles of it.  That was best 16 miles of my life. The lake was more blue than any body of water I’ve ever seen, the river transitioned from crystal clear blue to snow white gracefully, and the landscape reminded me of one of those inspirational portraits teachers put in there class room to instill serenity.  We were in that portrait and it was serene.  We came to the end of the 16 mile stretch of heaven and parked.  The ranger at the gate entrance encouraged us to make the best of the rainy day and we intended to do just that. 

After getting out of the car and doing the road trip stretch (you know the one), we made our way to the nearby river.  Being the doof that I am, I unsuccessfully showed off my ability to jump over small creeks and we headed for “The trail of the Cedars”.  This is not your typical hiking trail, its made almost entirely of a cedar walkway elevated about 2 feet off the forest floor.  It was along this path we observed small creeks, giant rocks covered in moss with small paths of water trickling down their face, and of course cedars.  The forest was covered in fallen trees which we found out was because the soil is so moist that roots don’t have to grow as far down as other trees, and when they’re at the right size they just plop down for the big lumber slumber.  After the stroll through the forest we went back and stopped every so often to gawk at the wonders of the waterfalls along the way.  We headed out the gate and in search of a new campground to call home for now.

Along the way we stopped at a very small burger joint called Burger World.  The inside was small, fitting only 7 tables inside, and decorated with old school pictures reminiscent of the 1930’s.  Inside was an elderly Jewish rabbi and another man reading his daily news.  This joint proclaimed itself famous for the “Flathead Monster”, Flathead being the name of the lake it was nestled on. Of course I ordered that and Alyssa ordered a cheeseburger, the “monster” ended up being quite similar to the double double at In-N-Out but it had one major thing different -100% Montana beef.  This was important to me because having seen so much cow in this state, I couldn’t leave without eating one.  After that, we noticed they had huckleberry milkshakes. Since that seems to be their thing here too, we had to try one.  The only way I could describe it to you is it was like a strawberry and honey decided to dance the tango in my mouth; needless to say, it was awesome

Back on the road again, it was only a few short hours and countless picturesque views before we came upon hour final stop for the night, Beavertail Hill Campground.  With no exaggeration the campsite we’re in is 10 feet from a rushing river, with horses grazing just upstream, and mountains covered with trees of every shade of green on every side of us.  I fished for a short amount of time trying to catch a little dinner, but proved to be better at drinking my beer. Returning empty handed, both fishless and beer-less, we made a little pasta dinner and sat by the campfire, basking in the glory of our first flawless camping trip.  We’re sitting by the campfire now soaking in as much as we can and as I’m writing this, four all white horses have come directly across the river to eat, we can almost see the whites of their eyes.  This is something I thought was only written in movies.     

Alyssa’s Anecdotes:

Funny observations about Montana:

-       The speed limits are exceptionally high here.  On the average highway its 70mph, but today we hit some at 75mph! Coming from Oregon and Washington where the speed limit on most highways is 50mph, 60mph if you’re lucky, this is quite the change. But a very welcome change at that.  Although its fast, it generally is a very accurate speed for the road it’s on and so people take the speed limit very seriously.  Rarely do you find anyone going over the posted speed limit. Which is also probably why we have only seen one cop in the entire state of Montana.

-       Today as we drove past the beautiful Flathead Lake for the 2nd time (we’ve essentially made a big circle around it, which is fine cause its GORGEOUS), we saw at least 5 signs posting the 10 commandments.  No advertisement involved, just a little reminder of what we’re supposed to be doing I guess.  Toto, we are not in California anymore. 

-       It’s gorgeous. Not funny, but an observation about Montana nonetheless. There hasn’t been a single stretch of highway yet that I don’t literally “oooh” and “aww” at. The people who are willing to live in the middle of no where are beyond lucky to have this view everyday.  It’s like nothing I have ever seen before.  Our campsite tonight is a perfect snapshot of what the whole state of Montana seems to be: covered in trees, surrounded by mountains, separated by rushing rivers and stunning lakes, and overall a picture-perfect mountain landscape.

Additional notes about today:
- We created a little shelter for ourselves, as it is supposed to rain tonight.  We attached Cameron's ginormous tarp to 4 trees to create a canopy to keep us dry and put our tent underneath that.  So far, we have been incredibly lucky and it has stayed dry and beautiful, but just in case, I'm pretty proud of our genius house for the night.
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Erica on

Hopefully adding the tent will keep the early heat and light from the sun at bay so you can sleep in a little :)

Nate, you fish? fly fish? we should all go fishing when you get back! Bry loves fly fishing

your mom on

ok, sounds like you have finally hit the place you both dreamed about as far as camping, and I am very proud of you both.... I finally got to read the last one my computer went down for a bit... Cody was here and who knows what happened...

your mom on

I need to know where your at sweeties I have called and no answer which tells me nothing and getting a bit worried just say hey so I know all is going well ok... a need to know please write.. love you ,,, mom

oaragaintrail on

Erica, i have been known to fish occasionally but i've never fly fished. After watching everyone in yellowstone though i definitely want to learn. The way some of them did it was almost choreographed!

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