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Logan Pass, West Glacier, & Apgar Village

GNP adventures along Going-to-the-sun Road

sunny 76 °F
View Glacier National Park on baecation2016's travel map.

For our last day in Glacier, we planned to visit the most popular part of the park: West Glacier. This meant driving along the scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road, which cuts right across the heart of the park.

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The road itself is around 50 miles long, and its narrow passes and steep drop-offs make it a main attraction for visitors. We left around 7:00
am so we would have plenty of time to pull over and take frequent pictures. Heading from East to West, our first stop was the Logan Pass visitor's center.

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This visitor's center is also the starting point of the park's most iconic trail-- the Highline Trail-- so the parking lot fills up very early. It's not uncommon to see cars pulled to the side of the road waiting for people to leave the lot so they could get in. But, we had other plans, so we didn't bother to park. A few hundred feet up the road is a lookout point, where you can clearly see the crowds of people walking along the Highline trail. And you can definitely see why the trail is so popular. A slim path winds about midway up the mountain before disappearing into the trees.

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We made pretty good time on GTTS, despite stopping many times to take in the views.

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The Weeping Wall

There are over 200 waterfalls withing GNP, but being the bird-loving women we are of course this one was our favorite!

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Apgar Village surrounds the placid Lake McDonald. It is an adorable assortment of shops and lodging with a ranger-led nature center. We had fun learning from the displays and talking to the ranger about local flora.

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Heidi was feeling arthritic after the first two days' activities, so we were going to skip the kayaking. But once we saw how pristine and calm Lake McDonald is, we just had to get out on that water--arthritis be damned!

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The kayak rentals are super affordable. A tandem kayak is only $18.50 for the hour, and the renter generously gave us an extra 20 minutes for free.

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We inquired about birds on the lake, and we were told there were a pair of young golden eagles around, but they hadn't seen them in a couple of weeks, so they thought the birds may have left the nest and moved on to a new territory. We were very surprised when we heard not one but BOTH of them in the trees right along the shore! Luckily, Claudia had her digital camera ready.

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[Lake McDonald video]

If you know anything about us, you know we love drinking beer and visiting breweries. Whitefish, MT is about a 20 minute drive from the West Glacier entrance to the park, and they are known to have some of the best breweries in the state. So, we chose the nearest one (technically in Columbia Falls) and drove there for lunch and a flight.

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The beer and food at Backslope Brewing were fantastic! The bartenders there recommended we also try Bonsai Brewing Project in Whitefish.

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We also stopped at Great Northern Brewing Company

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By the time we reached Sacred Waters Brewing, we were feeling a little wiped out. We played a couple rounds of our favorite bar game Mancala, and struggled to finish one pint of beer each.

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As cute as it was in there, we had a long drive back to Rising Sun campground and we did not want to navigate that narrow mountain road after dark! So we boogied out of there and safely navigated our way back to the park.

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post-brewery happy faces

On the way, we had to stop just one more time to capture these newlyweds getting the most epic wedding shots we've ever seen.

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Tomorrow we have a train to catch at 9:40 am and it's back to Providence for us!

Thanks, Glacier. It's been the trip of a lifetime!

Claudia & Heidi

Posted by baecation2016 05:27 Archived in USA Tagged the village ice cream kayaking sun road to going whitefish montana brewery apgar Comments (0)

Automobiles, planes & trains

Plans in Peril?

rain 70 °F
View Glacier National Park on baecation2016's travel map.

Our game plan seemed solid. Get up early, finish packing, settle the pets, and leave the house by 11 am for the drive to my parents house just north of the airport. Here my mother would take us to Logan Airport where we’d have enough time to catch our flight to Minneapolis/St. Paul (and hopefully a pre-flight beer and lunch). But northbound traffic on I-95 humbled our optimism. . .

As a 90 minute ETA morphed into over a 120 minute one, we quickly grew concerned that our plan to catch our evening connection (the 10p Empire Builder sleepliner roomette to Montana) was about to have some major setbacks.

Heidi called Mummie and briefed her of our predicament. Once closer to the exit, we asked her to be in the car and ready to take off once we arrived with our luggage.
Our anxiety and relative panic grew after a Google search for later flights yielded a list of delays (due to incoming rain) and ticket prices exceeding $3,000!
Mummie, typically a nervous and cautious driver, assumed the role of Mama Bear (bears are the total spirit animal of this trip) and with a flair of Boston aggression drove her personal best Lynn to Logan run we’ve ever witnessed. She declared, “Girls, you are NOT missing this flight. It’s not going to happen.” And in that moment, we believed her.

At the “kiss and go”, we waved our goodbyes and ran to TSA. Thankfully, the security lines were short and despite an overzealous, newly-hired agent that stopped every bag for screening, we made it just in time for the boarding of our group assignment!
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The 3 hour flight was made a little less painful by in-flight snacks (50% off Jetblue flights with use of a Jetblue card) and views of beautiful fluffy clouds, the Great Lakes, and an introduction to the many lakes of Minnesota.

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Craft brews, good times, and a brief architectural history lesson

Since we still had (thank goodness) 5 hours to kill in the Twin Cities and it was a rainy day, our plan to visit breweries was put into action.

Our first stop was Surly Brewing Company.
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It is a huge campus with several outdoor beer gardens, a massive taproom/restaurant , and an upstairs pizza eatery/bar with Surly craft brews on tap.

For pizzas, Claudia got an amazing pizza with arugula, Manchego, caramelized onions, and a soubise sauce. She had been new to soubise, but is now a forever fan. Thank you French cuisine!
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Heidi got the Disturbance, a pizza with chipotle-tomato sauce queso Oaxaca, pickled onion, lime crema and jalapeno relish.
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Yum!

The beers were amazing, but the winner goes to Grapefruit Supreme, a deliciously crafted grapefruit ale in the style of a Berliner Weiss.

The next stop was a must do for us: Urban Growler Brewing Co, a lesbian couple co-owned microbrewery that doubles as a local live music venue, Sunday morning farmer’s market, and general locale of badassery.
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We were welcomed by friendly servers and then by co-owner Jill Pavlak , who shared her success stories as a brewmaster (first woman owned craft brewery in the STATE) and gave us her well wishes in our journey to Glacier National Park.

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Jill Pavlak, center, co-owner of Urban Growler

The cover band was awesome and a some fans rocked out on the dance floor to their tunes.
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A lady was on site screen printing custom brewery t shirts, so we had to support all of it!

Our last stop was Bad Weather Brewing Co, which was ironic as the terrible rainstorm had finally cleared up by the time we arrived to this St. Paul establishment.

Here were did some half pours and settled on a to-go growler of a Witbier.
We met a semi- retired St Paul research historian named Jim Sazevich who was doing research at a nearby table. He knew a grew deal about the history of his hometown St. Paul (and it's namesake Cathedral of St. Paul) but also of New England towns, such as Newburyport, MA, the subject of one of his books! He was eager to show us his favorite sites around his beloved home town, but unfortunately we had other plans.

In an effort to not be dramatically late to our next and most important leg of the trip, we bid Jim adieu and headed over to the Union Depot with sufficient time to spare.
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The Union Depot is a large, relatively underutilized train station with beautiful high ceilings.

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A very tired Claudia waiting for the Empire Builder.

Our time here was brief as the attendant began early boarding on the platform for sleeper car passengers (early boarding is one of the many perks of this ticket upgrade, more to follow in an upcoming post).
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Heidi in our roomette.

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The view from the sleeper car hallway.

Our very tiring, long, stressful, but super fun day traveling to and away from the Twin Cities ended with a much needed night’s sleep in our beds as prepared by our attendant Susan.

Happy trails, the mountains are calling and we must go!
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Claudia & Heidi

Posted by baecation2016 15:24 Archived in USA Tagged cities airport st pizza twin amtrak union paul brewery depot soubise jetblue Comments (0)

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