As we talked to several rangers on the west side of Glacier NP they all said that it was very much worth it to make the long drive around to see the east side of the park. Of course, there are a few months of the year you can get there in 50 miles on Going to the Sun road, but that was closed so we had to go around. While it was a long way to drive around we figured since we’ve come this far we might as well check out the other side. We packed a lunch, piled in the truck (even Sheba got to come along) and we headed off.
When in Glacier National Park you HAVE to drive Going to the Sun road between the east and west sides of the park. Unless, of course, its closed. Apparently we are still too early in the season and the road is still being cleared of snow. While our timing was poor for that aspect of the park we showed up on a year of mass bear grass blooms! Bear grass (xerophyllum tenax) is a common wildflower in the park but massive blooms like they are having this summer are said to occur only every 5-10 years!
It is Father’s Day today and I realized something. We are currently traveling and are at the headwaters of the Missouri river, a key location in Lewis and Clark’s expedition. Last year at this exact time we were at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis which is a memorial for those who made possible the western expansion of the United States including Lewis and Clark! So, it seems as though our new family tradition is to spend each Father’s Day doing something related to Lewis and Clark. Ok, maybe that’s a silly tradition, but I think its pretty interesting how we ended up on Meriwether and Williams’ path 2 Father’s Days in a row.
The day started early with the furnace not working. Although I was pretty groggy I quickly figured out that it was a fuse related problem. When I went to pull the fuse the furnace kicked on and the fuse fault light went out. Apparently it had just come a bit lose. Whew! Next up on the docket is me driving into the little town of Three Forks MT to the CarQuest shop to borrow their scan tool (which they keep behind the counter in a Crown Royal bag) to see why the check engine light was on in the Beast. A P2599. That means that the turbo vane sensor showed a more open position that the ECM thought it was at. I cleared the code and am praying that it was just a fluke due to some really long and heavy driving yesterday through the mountains at 75MPH with a huge headwind.
Devil’s Tower came very highly rated by my sister and her family and since it was on our way we decided to stop over for a day. And boy am I glad we did. Again, I was expecting Wyoming to be flat, brown and desolate and Devil’s Tower to be a mass of rock in the middle of the barren wasteland. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was hilly and beautiful and green. We pulled in to Devil’s Tower View campground a little after lunch and filled our bellies before we headed off to the tower. It was just 5-10 minutes down the road from our campground. We got in for free with our annual park pass and went straight to the visitor’s center to get Jr Ranger booklets, get passport stamps and buy a postcards for the kids’ collections.
It was a long but pleasant drive from Longmont to the Black Hills of South Dakota. I had not been looking forward to the drive through Wyoming because I had it pictured as a barren wasteland. But I was pleasantly surprised by the interesting landscape of rolling hills, peculiar rock outcroppings and the green green grass. Everything was so green!! We stopped at a dusty Wyoming truck stop for fuel, restroom breaks and lunch before heading on through a little squall towards South Dakota.
We used to make trips to Kansas every so often to visit Steph’s grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins and one thing you could always count on was Grandpa Merl to walk into the living room full of his kids, his grandkids and great grandkids and sing a little bit of Buck Owens’ Together Again. Well, when I got Ava hitched up to the Beast and we began to pull away from the Ryplewski’s shop I rolled down the windows and belted out a bit of the song myself…together again!! But it isn’t just the togetherness of Ava and the Beast that brings me joy…it is the family togetherness. We’re together a lot at home too but its nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of our routines to spend more focused and intentional time together. And that is what we are about to embark upon. An adventure to…well, before I get there let me back up a bit.