Glacier/Waterton 2004:
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Wednesday, August 11, 2004: Our trip from Indiana to Montana took us through the unlikely hub of Phoenix. Lucky for us, the flight from Phoenix to Kalispell took us over some of the prettiest scenery in the country, starting with Sedona and the Grand Canyon, shown here. This view is of the Little Colorado canyon in the far back and Hance Rapids in the center right.

Our flight continued over Bryce National Park, Salt Lake City (shown here, with a portion of the Great Salt Lake), and Grand Teton National Park. Debbie thought to herself, "We really should visit Salt Lake City some day." See Day 5 to see how quickly that wish came true.
We arrived in Kalispell, picked up our rental car, and headed toward the west entrance of Glacier National Park.
Going-to-the-Sun Road starts with a leisurely drive along the lovely banks of Lake McDonald. The water was completely clear.
At one of the many scenic waysides was this lovely waterfall. We saw several fish jumping in the white spray.
We were following along with the Going-to-the-Sun Road commentary in our Glacier Park guide, copyright 1963. These cool swirly things are fossilized algae, and were on the side of the road exactly where the guide said they'd be. The 40-year-old black and white photo in the guide is identical to this one.
Going-to-the-Sun Road slowly climbed up the valley floor and up the mountain side before switching back. In this photo, the road can be seen continuing up the side of the mountain to Logan Pass.
At this bend in the road, construction workers were repairing the road, as they must do every year after a winter's worth of avalanches.
Nearly at the top, we looked back down the valley to the lower part of the road below.
With Logan Pass just around the corner, we stopped to see some mountain goats sauntering along the side of the road.
They took off, but we found ourself next to a clearing full of marmots. They are the cutest little things! Some are overly tame from being fed by park visitors who are unable to follow simple instructions ("Don't feed the wildlife") but they still keep a watchful eye on all nearby humans.
After a stop at the Logan Pass Visitor Center, we continued downward on Going-to-the-Sun Road and encountered a tunnel. We all held our breath for the 10 seconds it took to drive through it.
We took advantage of another of the many roadside turnoffs to look back at the scenery toward Logan Pass.
St. Mary Lake is the large lake on the western part of Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Another view of St. Mary Lake.
After we checked in to our over-priced, tiny, non-soundproof duplex cabin at Rising Sun (which shared a paper-thin wall with a loud family of five), ...
... we grabbed a quick snack at the camp store and then headed down to the lake to take a boat cruise along St. Mary Lake. First, though, Jill and Debbie had to get their feet in the cold glacier water.
We saw this cute little island from the road, and it was nice to see it close up from the boat. It is called Wild Goose Island and it was used in the opening sequence of "The Shining." It's allegedly one of the most photographed locations in Glacier, and here we are adding to its reputation.
Ranger Josh (AKA "Ranger Hottie") narrated the cruise. To help demonstrate the geological forces that created the mountains in Glacier National Park, he recruited Jill and another kid to show how the Lewis Overthrust forced ancient layers of rock on top of newer layers.
After the boat cruise, we headed back to our cabin and prepared for our evening's activity ...

... of watching the Perseid Meteor Shower. It was due to peak after midnight, but we were tired, so we started early. We parked our rental car in a deserted parking lot near Rising Sun at 10:00 PM and watched the night sky. At 11:00, we headed back to the cabin after counting 17 meteors. The photo at right did not turn out, so try to imagine a beautiful, clear night sky, complete with the Milky Way and a shooting star every couple of minutes.

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