This is the Montana page of my northwest vacation. The page starts on September 1, 1999 and covers the 5 days that we were in Montana.

Wednesday September 1, 1999

Most of the day was spent in Waterton Park, Alberta. We had reservations at the Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park, so we left Waterton and headed south on route 6. As we approached the US, we could see a big mountain sticking up above the rest of the area. This was Chief Mountain. The border crossing was uneventful and so we headed into Montana. We stopped at a pullover and noticed a sign saying that it was Chief Mountain. The mountain didn't look as big, because we were looking at it from it's narrow eastern side. Later, we would see it from the south, which is its most impressive view. The road goes east, joining with US 89 a few miles from the pullover. This area of Montana is desolate, and we noticed that we were very low on gas. It was late and there are no gas stations in the park, so we would have to find one somewhere else. We came to the road to Many Glacier, and asked some folks in an old truck where we might find gas. They said to go on about 10 miles down the road to St. Mary and some place would be open. We found the place; right out of the 1950's with few changes since. It was an old roadside place with a grocery store attached. As we got gas, I looked around and saw that they had many Montana microbrews, among other interesting items. A friendly young girl was running the place, and we spoke with her about the different beer and Montana "postcards"(Joke cards; one shows a guy shoveling manure and the title is,"Training for politics in Montana"). We bought some beer and cards and headed back to the park. We turned into the park at the Many Glacier sign and drove to the hotel. Several stops were made for pictures; it was sunset but the scenery looked great. The Many Glacier Hotel is an old property; built for the old railroads to bring people to see the park. It is a cool old place; some say it needs to be totally renovated, but it probably would lose it's charm. It has a big interior lobby which all the floors open to, with a big fireplace at one end. We were staying on the second floor and there are no elevators, so we dragged all of our stuff up the stairs. The rooms are old; heated by the old pipe / hot water system and fairly small. As you walk down a hall you can see that the building has settled, and the walls have sagged as a result. None of this took away from our stay and we would gladly return anytime. We enjoyed a few beers in our rooms before dinner. It was getting late, so we headed down to the Ptarmigan dining room, had a good meal and retired to our rooms for a good night's sleep.

Thursday September 2, 1999

Today was a full day in Glacier National Park. We would get an early start, drive the Going to the Sun Road, go into Whitefish, and return late via some old wet roads. Our day started with a buffet breakfast in the same dining room as last nights dinner. The Ptarmigan dining room faces the lake and towering peaks beyond. Last night we couldn't see the view out the big picture windows. It was overcast but there wasn't any rain the entire day. We packed the truck with what we would need for the day and headed out. The start of the Going to the Sun Road is right about where we found gas on Monday. We turned onto it and started the drive. The road has many pullovers, features, and trailheads alongside it. We were going east to west, so we would go up to Logan Pass and then descend several thousand feet to the valley floor. Our first pullover was St. Mary Lake. The pullover looks over Wild Goose Island. We took pictures and met a guy who was driving all around the country. He was from Atlanta and was headed to Seattle to see the first show of the band The Pfish. He has several interesting stories to tell about his travels. He also informed us that Jerry Garcia was the best ever, a genius. This statement was a source of many jokes and laughs for the rest of the trip. We headed to the next pullover, just a few miles around the lake. This was a view looking south toward some tall mountains on the other side of the lake. The next stop was at Sunrift Gorge. This was almost unmarked. There is flowing water right by the road and a trail up a hill. Climbing the trail brings you to a flat area where the water flows down. If you position yourself just right, you can see, between two cliffs, the water source above an incline. It was cool and several pictures were taken. As we went back down we noticed that the trail went under the road. We walked that way and found a sign with mileages of trails to various places. Baring Falls was .5 Mile. We decided to go see Baring Falls. It was a nice short walk; the cloudy day also made it cool. We checked out the falls and walked back to the car. The walk down was easy; the walk back was slightly harder as it was up hill. It was worth it as we had it all to ourselves. Our next stop was Jackson Glacier Overlook. This spot was where you could see a glacier from the road. Most of the ice that we saw from the road was just unmelted ice; glaciers are very old and there aren't that many visible from the road. At the stop we saw some new technology in action- the park service's "sweet smelling" toilet. This was one of the non- plumbing types and it actually didn't smell. It wasn't sweet, but compared to others we have seen it was OK. We left and went to Logan Pass. The road up to Logan Pass is a steady incline and has a sharp drop- off on one side. It was now windy and cold. There is a visitor center there and we stopped in. Just walking to the building was chilly and windy. Once inside, there are displays and a few items available for purchase. We looked at the displays about the wildlife and the area in general. They were well laid out and worth the stop. I got a couple of postcards and we headed on. We now began our descent to the valley floor. This is where the road gets narrow and tight. We passed by Triple Arches and the Weeping Wall. By the time we got to The Loop and stopped, the toughest part was done. The Loop is where the road has a hairpin turn and a parking area. As we pulled up, we parked next to a truck just like ours; with Alaska plates also. We never met who was driving but were surprised to see it anyway. We then made the final descent and came out by McDonald Creek. There are many pullovers and trails, but we couldn't stop at them all. We stopped at Trail of the Cedars nature trail, a boardwalk through a cedar forest. These are very old cedars and there aren't many left in the area. One area of the trail has a waterfall with moss- covered rocks all around. We got some great pictures on this trail and it was a nice walk. After a few more stops along McDonald Creek, we were ready for a cold beer and lunch; so we headed into Whitefish. We passed by Lake McDonald and left the park at West Glacier. West Glacier is the closest town to the park; it has all the fast food chains and other stores you see at many exits in America. We passed through and went south and west to Whitefish. The main reason for our visit to Whitefish was to go to Great Northern Brewing to see their operation, and try their beers. As we approached town I realized I didn't have the address of the brewery. I had only seen it on the Internet and had never bothered to write down directions. Whitefish is a small town and I knew what the place looked like, so we drove around and I saw the three story glass tower almost immediately. We parked and went in. As we entered we could see some brewing equipment and smelled yeast. There are official tours given each day; earlier than we were there. However, the tasting room was open and ready for business. It is on the second floor and looks out over part of the town. There is no charge for the beer; they gave us cards with names of each beer on them, and they punch each as you try it. We knew that the tasting room had a live web cam and we wanted to appear on it. The barman told us it updates about every 20 minutes and that we could try to get in the picture then. Meanwhile, they have a computer in the corner that anyone can use for what ever they want; just don't change it's settings. This was the only time on the trip that we had access to one and we each used it to check e-mail and send "postcards". The postcards were of the pictures of us at the bar which were on their web site live while we were there. You call up the site, go to the cam page and look at the tasting room cam. When we saw our picture we could then make them into a e-postcard. You can then send it to anyone you like and he will get a notice, then go to the site's" post office" and retrieve the card. I sent to anyone's e-mail address I could remember. (Not many, unfortunately) Last time I checked, my cards were still there (Dec. '99). The site is at - check it out. We stayed until they closed about 6 o'clock. We each bought some necessary items; T-shirts, caps or pint glasses. As we left, I asked the barman where locals would go for a tasty burger, and he replied "The Bulldog". I got directions (1 block away) and we headed there for a late lunch before we began our return trip. The Bulldog Saloon is a classic old (almost) biker bar. You come in and it is a long narrow room with the bar along the left side. I could smell that the food was going to be great. We sat at the bar and just enjoyed looking around at all the stuff on the walls and ceiling. You name it and it was there. We ordered beer and food was self service, i.e.: you walk over to the prep area and order and pay there. They will bring it to you when it is ready. Most of the beer was the big three; fortunately they also had a local beer "Moose Drool Brown Ale". What a great surprise; we had had it on our last vacation in Montana. The place was great and the burgers were awesome, but we had a 2 or 3 hour drive to get back to the hotel, so we had to get going. I went to the restroom and it too, was also classic biker bar- decorated. The walls were covered with all nude women from various magazines and whatever. I had my camera in my pocket so I got a shot of part of the room; it has provided plenty of humor since. Later, we would learn that the women's room was in the same decor. (Nude men of course!) We left and after a quick stop at a grocery store we headed back. It was getting late and darkness was coming on quickly. We had debated and asked several locals about which way would be quickest back to our hotel, and decided on the road around the southern part of Glacier and up the east side to rejoin the road near the hotel. (SR 89) The debate continues; the first part was smooth and quick, but as we came up the east side it was rough and slow. It also had started to rain. At East Glacier, the road changes to a different surface and there is nothing out there. The road actually is dirt in some places and unmarked in others. The rain didn't help; we were lucky no cars came the other way. This road finally hooks up with SR 89, which was normal the rest of the way back. Art was driving and I was maintaining the beer in the back. It is a ride he will never forget; I'm sure he will want to do it again soon! Finally, we got to the hotel. We went in and checked out the log fire in the lobby, and the gift shop. The shop was about to close, so we decided to return in the morning. We got ice cream at the snack bar; went up to the rooms and turned in for the night. It had been a long day but one of the best, and we all fell asleep almost immediately.

Friday September 3, 1999

Today would be our last day in Glacier National Park; we would drive through one more time, get lunch, then head south and east to Missoula. We got a late start as we had slept late. We had our breakfast in the room as we had done several other days. It was Jeff's birthday, (Happy B-Day Jeff). I had found a cool card back in Seattle; Art gave him a T-shirt, and he didn't get the package that was supposed to be at the front desk. Nice job, USPS! As we packed up and loaded the truck we all agreed that we wanted to stop by the gift shop in the lobby. I predicted $200 would be spent between the 3 of us, and A & J said "No way". When it was totaled up later I was off by about $25; not over but under! This total included shirts, mugs, assorted Glacier souvenirs and gifts for others. Glacier National Park is staffed, almost entirely, by college students from all around the country. They all are usually friendly and helpful, and at the time were on the way back to school in 2 weeks. As I checked out, the 2 girls behind the desk were talking excitedly about another guest in the hotel. As it turns out, a rock band guy, Dave Matthews, was staying at the hotel. He had just come by and gone out for a hike. I had never heard of him, and asked about him, and the girls said it was a rock band and I would probably like it. I haven't checked it out yet but several people I know say it is good music, so they were probably right. Shortly after, I went to the gift shop. I got a T-shirt, several small souvenirs and a calendar. I paid for my stuff and waited for A & J to finish. While I waited, I asked the girl if she knew who Dave Matthews was, and she replied that she had been embarrassed not to know who he was when the others told her he was at the hotel. Sasha was from Boston and had worked at the hotel for the last 2 summers. Her first year she had worked with the troupe that put on a show almost every night in the basement. We had missed it Wednesday night and it wasn't put on Thursday. In her second year, she was working the gift shop, a better job I guess; it sounds like as you work more years, you can choose what job you want to do. While waiting, I had found a few more items, so I told A & J to hurry up as I would buy the whole place if we didn't get going. They got their stuff and I got the rest of mine. I wished Sasha good luck in her studies and we left the hotel. We needed gas again so we went to the same place we had gone to on Wednesday. The same pleasant girl was on duty; she was from Virginia but moved to Montana to see if she would like it there. We let Jeff get whatever beer he wanted, and what ever else he wanted. The girl wished us well and told Jeff "Happy Birthday"; we said thanks, paid for the gas and left. We were starting to enjoy the people of Montana and would continue to until we left. We drove back to the entrance to Going to the Sun Road and turned on to it. Today was cloudy and wet in some areas of the park. We were glad that yesterday had been our main day in the park. Today we were just driving through. We only stopped once, at Lake McDonald Lodge, where Art wanted to get a shirt that the Many Glacier Hotel gift shop didn't have in stock. This was supposed to be a quick stop; but it became longer as we met several interesting people. Art got into a conversation with a park ranger about the building and other areas of the park. While I waited, I met Sarah, an Anthropology student from Ohio State, working at Glacier for the summer. She said that she really enjoyed her summers at Glacier; hiking and discovering the history of the area. Her summer was almost over and she sounded ready to get back to school. Art found the shirt he was looking for, paid and we headed on. Shortly, we came to West Glacier; as we drove through, we saw a Canadian pavilion for Alberta. Having just been to Alberta, we decided to stop in. As it turns out, the pavilion was at the world's fair of several years ago. It cost a lot and the Canadian government wanted to find a good use for it. Someone decided on West Glacier, so here it was. It was a really neat place; we were surprised at the quality of the presentation. There aren't many marketing pavilions for Alberta like this one. In the back you walk into a round room and a movie comes on. It is shown in 360 degrees, all around the room. The film was basically a promo for Alberta, which showed us many places to see in the future. As we left, I saw a half-price shirt shop and decided to check it out (totally necessary). I did find one shirt, and it was half the Park's price and better quality. We then headed to the highway to travel south. As we passed through Columbia Falls, we needed lunch and we remembered seeing "Taco Time", yesterday. Taco Time is a northwest chain of about 30 taco stores. A friendly local girl waited on us. We asked how long it would be to Missoula. She said about 2 1/2 hours. Part of the ride was on the "highway" and the rest was on the "freeway"(her words). The food was decent; better than any national chain and no little "rat" dogs either! We finished our lunch and headed south to U.S. 93, which was an undivided 2 lane highway. It passed through several small towns and also some open spaces. Flathead Lake was on our left and the Rockies were beyond it. This part had the best scenery; the part closer to I-90 was not as scenic. We arrived at I-90 and headed east. Missoula was only a few miles down the road. A hotel, The C'mon Inn, had been recommended to us by someone at Many Glacier. It was 1 exit west of town, so we got off and decided to check it out. The C'mon Inn was a new property; once inside we could see that it was built similarly to Many Glacier Hotel. All of the rooms looked out onto the enclosed lobby, which was 3 stories high and had a breakfast area, whirlpools and a fireplace area. At the far end, separated by a glass wall, was an enclosed pool area. This all looked great to us, so we proceeded to check in. We had heard that they had some suite rooms and asked if any were available. Several were; one was a whirlpool suite that had never been used. It also had 3 beds. After checking it out we decided on that room and moved in. This was one of our earliest arrivals, so we had time to move in and just relax and enjoy the place. The whirlpool was warmed up and each of us took our turn in it. Several Montana beers were had and we just relaxed and enjoyed the best hotel room of our trip. Eventually, it was time for dinner, and I already had a place I had found on a brew pub page on the 'net. The place was called The Iron Horse Brewpub. We got ready to go, and as we left the hotel, we stopped at the front desk for directions. It was only one or 2 exits up I-90, so we headed out. When the desk clerk heard where we were going, he told us that it was a college bar and we might want to go some place quieter. We were determined to go to the only brewpub in the area, so we went regardless of what anyone said. We arrived at the Iron Horse, parked and went in. The clerk was right; it was a big, loud, college bar. As we came in I saw several people leave the bar, so we took their seats. We were probably lucky to get seats; it was Friday night in a small college town bar. We asked about their beers and the guy said they actually didn't make them there; they were contract brews. It really wasn't a brewpub; technically they aren't legal in Montana, but their beer was good. We had a good time there; it was a college crowd similar to places I went to in college. All of the people were friendly, and it seemed, mostly pretty college aged girls. While we were there several funny things happened. Since we were at the bar and it was crowded, occasionally, someone would want to order something next to us or between us. One girl ordered a pitcher of beer and paid for it with a check. That wouldn't have worked even when I was in college. I asked her what she would write in the "memo" area of the check. She said the place stamped the check with it's restaurant name, so the check wasn't written to a bar, anyway. We saw many of this type of transaction;( all paid for by check.) I guess small town Montana still hasn't been hit by student's bad checks, and still accepts them everywhere. The kids were all in groups, so one would come up and buy for everyone in the group. One girl ordered 7 lemon drops, a vodka drink, and said that was her contribution for the night; the others in the group would buy later. We had appetizers and enjoyed them. We really enjoyed the place, even though we were 15 or 20 years older than most of the people. We were just another 3 guys drinking beer on a Friday night. We had wanted to order dinner but, we missed the deadline of 11:00. The bartender said he didn't know we wanted dinner or he would have let us know about the deadline. Very few were ordering dinner, and the place was very busy, so we understood. He did tell us about a place about 3 blocks away that served until midnight. We paid up and got ready to leave. It was busier than ever and our seats were grabbed immediately. As we left we could see that there was now a line of about 20 people waiting to get in. When we left, 3 more were let in. The Depot was about 3 blocks away; we left the truck and walked. It was a cool place; dark and quieter than The Iron Horse. We found seats and I noticed they also had several Montana beers on tap. I had a Scapegoat Ale, a locally brewed product. We ordered dinner; it was good but not memorable. My prime rib sandwich was good as was the beer. It was getting late, so we paid our tab and walked to the truck. We retraced our route back to the hotel, arrived uneventfully, and called it a night. It had been an interesting day, but we were tired and turned in almost immediately.

Saturday September 4, 1999

Today, we would spend part of the day exploring around Missoula and then drive to Bozeman for the night. This was our last full day in Montana, so we wanted to make the most of it. We awoke a little late and tried to get ready to get on the road. This proved to be easier said than done. We were moving slowly and we were in one of the best hotel rooms that we would see on this trip. Breakfast was downstairs surrounded by big rocks,waterfalls and trees. The open, airy lobby was a good place for breakfast. Finally, we loaded up and left about 11 o'clock. We had decided to drive into Missoula and look around the U of M campus and try to go to Big Sky Brewing's tasting room. As we got near the campus, it looked like a lot of traffic for a Saturday morning. We then realized that the Montana Grizzlies were playing their first home football game. Being a smaller school, U M's football Saturdays are nice low key affairs. The stadium probably only holds ten or twelve thousand people and is in a small valley, intimate and compact. This is probably what it was like to go to football games thirty or forty years ago at all the big schools that now have stadiums that hold more people than Missoula itself. It was a perfect day; sixty degrees and clear weather. If we had known, we would have probably gone to the game just to be part of the event. It looked like a good day for it and it was alumni weekend. Instead, we walked around the campus, went to the bookstore for highly necessary U of M souvenirs, and just checked out the campus in general. We had found out that the tasting room opened at 12:30 on Saturdays so we headed there. We arrived at Big Sky, a long blue metal warehouse - like building. It looked quiet, but we knew it was open, having checked earlier. The brewing areas were closed but the tasting room was open. I have not seen a place like this in all my brewpub travels. It was basically a small gift shop with a big wooden bar on one side. The bar probably was fifty years old and was stand - up only. Our "brewers" were two local girls; Cathy and Katie. Saturdays are only half days and each week the employees change on Saturday. Cathy was the bartender, friendly and informative about the local area, and Katie was there packing up a bunch of boxes of the company's shirts and other stuff for shipping. They probably make more on their souvenir sales than beer sales. Katie was a native girl who had gone to the University of Maine and returned to Missoula to live. She was content with where she was and what she was doing; very down to earth. Unlike most of the college girls we had seen the last few days, she knew who she was and what she wanted to do. Most of the others still didn't. The place really was a cool place to hang out for a while and just see who came in. They fill growlers there and it was a September Saturday and all types of characters came by. A couple of guys came by and got several growlers, more than usual as they had friends in town and the place closed at five. Another guy heard where we were going (Yellowstone) and showed us a great scenic way to go. We didn't use all of his instructions this time but they are written down and one day that route will be taken. When a local says the interstate is straight and boring and tries to show a better way, he's probably right. We had never been there so the route that we took was all right but it will be good to know the better way for another trip. All kinds of characters came in. Most were known by someone else (it's a small town) and were friendly cool people. I can just imagine going to college and having a place like this to go stock up on beer for the weekend. Good beer at that. We had to get going, so we took one last drive through Missoula and hit the interstate for Bozeman. The interstate was a scenic route to us; big mountains were right by the road, in some places, and away in the distance in others. I had read about a scenic road, called the Pintler Scenic Highway, and the guy at the tasting room had also recommended it. We found it and basically it was just a way to skip part of the interstate and have a slower more scenic view. It started out a dirt road, as they were widening and repaving it, and then became a decent two lane highway. It led right through some big mountains and had a cool water fall about half way through the route. At the other end it came out in a small town, Anaconda, where we got back on the interstate. On the way we would pass through Three Forks, a place mentioned in a book I had read on the Lewis and Clark expeditions. The book, Undaunted Courage, said that there were several areas that still looked like they did almost two hundred years ago. We got off and tried to find them, asked around, went on a wild goose chase and finally gave up on it. Next time I will get exact directions and allow more time. The anniversary of the expeditions is coming up and I will be there. After a short ride we arrived in Bozeman. We found our hotel; The Western Heritage Inn, a clean, older property. We got a 2 room apartment, complete with kitchen and barcca lounger. We arrived about six o'clock and settled in. I sat in the lounger and turned on the TV. The east coast college ball games were finishing. This was the first week of games and we had South Carolina ("Lou's Cocks") vs North Carolina State. It was great to be lounging on a Saturday in Montana with a good cold beer and the ball games going. The final was NCSU 9 Lou's Cocks 0; nice job, Lou. Good to have him back to kick around again, we really missed him when he quit ND. We had a great dinner and good beers at Spanish Peaks Brewing. Spanish Peaks contract brews in several locations in the country, so they can distribute all over. We wondered if they made any beer locally. They brew at this location for local consumption only; they make a very tasty Nut Brown Ale and a solid Porter. Neither brew is bottled; too bad, as both were excellent. It was a big restaurant & bar, very busy, but we found a good spot at the bar. Dinner was excellent and we enjoyed the place, and would return anytime. It had been a full day, so we headed back to the hotel for a good night's sleep.

Sunday September 5, 1999

Today we would leave Bozeman and drive to Yellowstone National Park. From Bozeman we would head east to Livingston and then south to the park. Most of the park is in Wyoming so the Montana part of our trip would be over. Once in the park we would drive down the western side; going to Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin and ending the day at Old Faithful. We would spend the night at the Old Faithful Inn with the Geyser visible just outside our windows.







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