This post is quite late, as work has been very busy since I got back. But better late than never
Montana. Just the name brings up quintessential mages of the American NorthWest. Wide open prairies, Densely wooded snow covered mountains. Deep valleys with rushing clear cold streams.
Montana has to be one of my all time favorite places in the world. I’ve been fortunate visit the region numerous times and we always see something different. It is one of the larger states in the US, as well as being one of the least populated. The scenery varies dramatically from wide open plains in the east to the Rocky mountains and continental divide in the west.
The first time we went there was for our wedding, when we stayed at Yellowstone National Park (most of which is actually in Wyoming). It was to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Six months later, Diane took a job with a company whose North American head office is headquartered in Bozeman, MT, which is in the southwestern part of the state about an hour north of Yellowstone. As a result, Diane visits head office several times a year. Sometimes, she gets delayed in returning and I’ve been able to join her out there for a weekend (gotta love frequent flyer points!). As a result, we know Yellowstone well.
This year, for our summer break, (in September) we wanted to do something different. This time we wanted to go to Glacier National Park, which is located in the northern part of the state, abutting the Canadian Border. As Diane had some business at HQ, we flew into Bozeman on the Thursday afternoon, rented a car and stopped by the office. One of the things about a small company in the middle of nowhere is that coworkers lend you things, like a cooler, bear spray (pepper spray used as a defense against marauding bears – I’m serious here), and lots of advice on where to visit whilst at the park. We were self-catering much of the trip, so a quick trip to the supermarket was in order for supplies, which went in the cooler,along with ice. We had a quiet dinner in town and then slept for the night before leaving for the north the following day.
Bozeman to Glacier is about 400+ miles. You are going from the south west to the Northwest of the state. Fridays schedule called for us to travel partway to Glacier and stop overnight at a small place called Seeley Lake, where we stayed in a cabin in the woods by the lake shore. During this part of the trip, we traveled west from Bozeman along the Madison River and through the prairies, before turning north towards Helena (State capital), crossing the continental Divide at Mullens Pass and up to Seeley. Along the way, we passed through small towns and stopped where things looked interesting. I also spotted two series Land Rovers (one an S2a and one an S3) in the front of someones house in Helena. Unfortunately, I was driving so couldn’t get a picture, but as there was also had a Range Rover classic present, I would say the owner was a Land Rover Enthusiast. Some of the small towns looked deserted, whilst others were thriving. One of the big shocks for many people exposed the northwest for the first time is how big and empty the landscape is in parts. You can literally drive for miles without seeing a house, a car or another human. Some may find it threatening, though I love it.
Passing through the town of Three forks, a very quiet sort of town, we stopped at a traditional saddlery, where they make saddles by hand in the traditional manner. The place had this gorgeous smell of leather and glue, and we were given the run of the place and encouraged to visit the back workshops to see how they were made. Many of the tools, such as the sewing machines, were obviously old and well used, but still doing the job for which they were designed. We could have done some serious financial damage in that place. One thing that occurred to me was that the smell of glue was so strong, I’m sure everyone would have been high after a day working there……
Anyhow, after arriving at Seeley, we went for a walk and had dinner in town where we were able to observe beavers swimming in the river out back. Then back to the cabin and to bed with the gentle lapping of the water on the shore. The only disturbance was about 2 am, when I had to remove a mouse that had gotten trapped in the trash can. It didn’t appreciate being ejected into the cold night, but it was better than ending up in trap!