Our annual summer road trip took my family and I across the northern intermountain West. We cruised through northern Idaho, Wyoming and Montana as our destinations included Yellowstone and Glacier national parks.
During our 12-day sojourn, some thoughts from our adventures, mixed in with the great memories, kept knocking around my noggin. So I jotted them down, kind of a “Notes from the Road.” They won’t make my travel journal, but I think they are things you can appreciate.
Trip soundtracks: I’ve discovered the best music to play while visiting Glacier National Park is from “The Sound of Music.” It helps that we all know the words. At Yellowstone, the “Circle of Life” from “The Lion King” seems most appropriate, especially if you’re watching the wolves do their thing.
Midwestern kindness: You can always count on Midwesterners to help you out. An unintentional mishap left us with a dead battery during a fishing foray on a hot and buggy afternoon at Yellowstone National Park. We waved down three vehicles, looking for someone with jumper cables. Two of them were from Iowa. We offered the family of four who had jumper cables at the ready some money so they could at least get some ice cream. “No, no. Just pay it forward,” said the mom. I will indeed.
They’re dogs, not kids: Why do people insist on toting their dogs everywhere? I watched a couple react with indignation when they were told by a park ranger they could not bring their dog into the visitor center at Logan Pass at Glacier National Park. Sorry, it’s a pet, not a kid. You might think it’s a kid, but it isn’t. Also, I’m pretty sure it was a dog’s pee track I saw swirled on the sidewalk below the center. Not really what I want to see in such a beautiful mountain setting.
Shameless quest for tips: Gone, it seems, are the days when people were subtle about their quests for tips. When we entered our Glacier motel room, there was a nicely decorated envelope sitting on the desk. I’m sure it was to hold any tip we might have wanted to leave for the cleaning crew. Then, there was the blatant request from the driver of the the tour we took in Helena, Mont. He told us about a “good group of visitors from England. They were real fun, and good tippers, too.” If I want to leave a tip, I will. I take umbrage when people ask for one.
Be grateful for luck: When it comes to wildlife viewing, sometimes you need a little luck. That was the case when we came across a small herd of bighorn sheep, right off the road as we drove over Logan Pass. We didn’t need to make some great trek or peer through binoculars at some tiny specks. Nope, there they were, amid the stunted whitebark pine trees looking for something to eat amid the snow that still covered much of the ground. I do apologize to all the people in the visitor center parking lot who have photos of the sheep – with our minivan in the foreground.
A moment to cherish: When I moved to Great Falls, Mont., in the mid 1990s, I gave up golf clubs and picked up a fly rod for the first time. In the years that followed, I had a a multitude of great fishing trips on the nearby Missouri River, which I came to call my home waters.
But none of those moments will ever compare to watching our son land a trout at one of my favorite fishing spots on the river. It wasn’t a monster brown trout, or a hog of a rainbow. It was a beautiful, hard-fighting 16-inch rainbow neither one of us never forget.
When we got the fish in the net, I’m sure my smile was bigger than my son’s.
I had always hoped to return to the Missouri and fish it with my kids. But it never fit into our itinerary on previous trips to Montana. The wait was worthwhile. That fish, that moment is one we will forever share, a story we’ll always firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8640 blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure