We woke up at a somewhat reasonable hour…8:00 a.m. It was time to leave our favorite little camping spot and head to Columbia Falls, MT just outside the western entrance to Glacier National Park. We planned to do the "Going To The Sun" drive today.
We got everything packed up and felt very proud of ourselves. Then we learned another lesson with the trailer. Make a note of this. When attaching the trailer to your hitch, do not, I repeat, DO NOT remove the chocks until the trailer is on the hitch. We were being very efficient and putting everything away AS I attached the trailer. Suddenly, there was a terrible noise and we found the trailer stabbed into our bumper of the van. My new van! L Fortunately, no one was anywhere near the hitch at the time. We were putting the stabilizers up, and as soon as we got one up, the trailer rolled forward and into the bumper. I have included picture of our new hole in our car. It sucks, but I have definitely learned my lesson!
As we were driving to our new RV site, we read that the free shuttles running along the Going to the Sun Road would not actually start until 7/1. Surely that couldn't be right? This was very important because everyone has told me that I should NOT drive it, as I won't be able to actually look and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. The driver can't take their eyes off the road. I was not going to come all the way here and have to miss the main view! So, we checked into a beautiful, clean, well-maintained campground and asked at the front desk. We have one option: take a guided tour on an antique "bus." We called and they are completely booked. I'm sure! They are the only way to see it!
Plan B: We are now staying at this park for two nights. We made reservations for the guided tour for tomorrow, Monday, at 2:30 p.m. (the only opening they had.) We will get back to the Lake McDonald Lodge at 9:30 p.m. We'll spend the night at our campground and then head out on Tuesday morning. This will be the farthest north and west that we go!
So, now what were we going to do?! We started to head into Glacier just to look around the lodges and things, and saw a little Adventure Park by Hungry Horse, MT. They had a huge wooden maze, bumper boats, go karts and basketball. We made a detour! Decided that we could see the Lodge tomorrow before our tour starts, and thought we'd focus on just fun stuff for the kids today.
They loved the maze! Clark was the first one to finish at thirty-three minutes. Jimmy was second and the girls brought up the rear. They went from the maze to the bumper boats and had a ball. They also got soaked! Fortunately our entire summer wardrobe is in our trunk, so we were able to quickly get dry clothes for Elise who was drenched to the skin. We left the Adventure Park and started looking for somewhere to have lunch. I saw a little "grill" on the side of the road and figured that if we had had such great luck everywhere else in MT, maybe this would be the same way. I was right! What a delicious lunch! I don't know why their food is so good, fresh and homemade here, but there is no denying it…it is.
After lunch we dropped Grandma off at the RV park to do some very necessary laundry! (She probably didn't mind a little quiet time either.) We headed over to a local Water Park. The weather was perfect, and the kids had a fun time going up and down about 5 or 6 different slides they had there. I was not too happy to pay $10 to sit and watch them, but I did it. It also allowed me to catch up on some of the missing blog entries! J I am so happy we are up-to-date!!! Yea!!!
We came back to check on Grandma and decide what to do for dinner. As we were sitting here, up came a neighbor with half of a watermelon and asked us if we would like it! Brenda and Ray Shelley from Alabama joined our list of unbelievably kind people we have met on this trip! It is truly amazing. We chatted for a while about our respective trips, and they headed back to their trailer and friends. Five minutes later, here comes Brenda with five freshly grilled steaks and a salad. She dropped those off, went back to her trailer and brought back bread and salad dressing! They are too much!!! If that wasn't enough, when Grandma took the salad bowl back, they gave us tomorrow night's dinner too: roast beef with gravy and spaghetti. Can you believe it?! So, dinner was fantastic, and I am completely caught up on the blog and photos. It has been a good day.
I have learned some very valuable lessons so far on this trip. 1.) Even the best laid plans have to be flexible. Things CAN go wrong and definitely may. 2.) Even though our pop-up trailer is very small, it truly is more comfortable than your average hotel. Maybe not more comfortable than a Ritz or something like that, but when traveling with kids, you can't beat the ability to set them loose outdoors and meet friends, pets, etc. 3.) REAL, NICE people are out there, and if you want to meet them, RVing (if we can call our pop-up an RV) is the way to do it. We probably would never have met any of these people if we stayed in a hotel. We would have kept to ourselves, had our own little trip and gone home. But at these parks, it is a slice of Americana. The old ways you remember from growing up are still in existence! People look you in the eye, say "Hi!," ask if you need help, lend strangers a hand, a meal or a drink. It is funny that the part I was worried about…being safe in a campground…is the easiest part of the trip. Everyone watches out for each other and you definitely have a sense of "we're all in this together." If you haven't tried this, you should consider it! It takes a little getting used to, but it is awesome.
Time to make the kids write in their journals. They hate it, but too bad! Each kid has to write the same number of sentences that they are old for each day (the girls write 8 sentences/day, etc.) I keep telling them they will treasure this journal when they grow up, but they don't believe me. It is also a great way for them to practice their writing and cursive. Cursive practice is summer homework for each of them, so this is perfect!
BTW, it is now 10:32 p.m. and I can still see blue sky over the tree tops! Amazing!