I had not ever taken a train, and I have to say that, after having flown many, many, many times, this was better. We had a sleeper car on the trip down and rode coach on the way home. The sleeper car was amazing (duh). The coach seats are very nice, though it's luck of the draw who you sit near (like the lady who sat near us with the apparently never-ending, crinkly bag of chips that she ate from ALL NIGHT LONG), but we all loved the observation car, and it was fun to people watch.
(Watching the sun go down from the train)
We arrived in Glacier, grabbed our rental car and drove to Many Glacier, which was where we stayed the whole time. I think a lot of people jump around, but with small children, that just seemed like a lot of hassle. We very quickly started to see how beautiful Glacier National Park is.
On our second day, the J-bird and I were scheduled to go on a 2.5 hour trail ride on horseback. We all would have gone, but there was an age limit of 8 years. Miss V was delighted to do a pony ride in the corral before the J-bird and I took off with our group though, and then she and James had a fun morning together.
The J-bird rode Alvin, and he was very proud that he got him to trot, "Not once, not twice, but threeeee tiiiiiimes!"
You know, it's really too bad that the views were so ugly.
One of our more memorable hikes was a four mile jaunt (round trip) to Red Rock Falls. There were highs and lows on this hike (for example: if you cannot get along, you get to wear Mom's hoodie. together. until you DO get along. Yes, this worked.), the trail was crowded, and the adults were also tired, but the views were great, the Falls were worth the work, and the kids recall this as one of their favorites.
The National Parks have a program for kids to become Junior Rangers. They have to study a little handbook and fill out pages of activities, then speak with a park ranger. After that, they can be sworn in and get their badge. Our kids were ALL ABOUT THIS. There's also a really neat passport program. You can purchase a "passport" book and take it with you all over the country. All the national parks have stamps, so you can fill up your book. Pretty great.
More hiking. More pretty. There was quite a bit of haze that we could see from the fires burning further off in Glacier. I thought it gave the mountains an interesting, smudgy look, but I tend to be an optimist.
On our fourth day, we went on a boat tour and guided hike. THIS was cool. We rode a boat across the first lake, gazing up at mountains and glaciers and snowfields, listening to a naturalist/guide who actually knew what all those things were called. The boat docked at the other side of the lake, we all got out and hiked up and over a hill through the woods, got on a second boat, went across a second lake, and then we went on a GORGEOUS two mile hike to a waterfall and glacial lake.
(The J-bird took this photo)
(I completely love it)
The boat windows were made in Wichita, KS, where I was born. The kids thought that was awesome.
There are moose over there, which you cannot see in this photo. Just trust me that we hiked over to this lake later to find moose, and we found them, and it was awesome.
So we always look for heart shaped rocks when we go places. We take them back to our friends. We had found a bunch of them, and then we learned that you are not allowed to remove ANYTHING, including rocks from a national park. So we decided to leave them around our hotel as Love Rocks for the other guests on our last morning.
After we checked out of our hotel, we had all day to fill before catching our train home, and the smoke had finally cleared, so we drove up the Going To The Sun Road to Logan Pass. We got to see a lot of fire damage. (Don't worry, Mom. There was no fire.)
We looked around for a while, then drove back down, killed some more time at the Glacier Park Lodge (which had ACTUAL INTERNET!! Oh, internet! I missed you so much!!), called my sweet Dad, because it was his birthday, and then we caught our train home.
And now, we have a week left of summer before the J-bird gets back to school, and Miss V and I start her home Kindergarten program in earnest. What a summer it has been. I'm always so sorry to see it go, but it was wonderful while it stayed, and we'll remember the beauty of this one for many reasons: watching their Aunt Tassi graduate from high school, going to Farm Camp, the summer reading program at the library and all the books they read, Miss V shooting up two pants sizes AND two shoe sizes, the J-bird learning how to ride a two-wheeler, both kids progressing in swimming lessons, working in our garden together, sweet moments of play and rest, and wowee zowee...Glacier.