Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's WHERE?! (Busy weekend pt.1)

The Old Belton Bridge; West Glacier, MT

This past weekend, I got to do just about all my favorite things. I went geocaching, went to Glacier Park, visited with our friends Stacy and Trudy, saw my daughter and her family, and had a wonderful dinner with my parents, Heather, her husband Mike, my grandson Lucas, step-granddaughter Talia, and my best friend Joe. All this was packed into just a normal two-day weekend! *whew!*

I normally get to take Saturdays off, but Joe has to work 10-3. Usually our fun part of the weekend starts after he drives from Great Falls to Helena to my house. I use Saturday mornings to 1) sleep in, and 2) laundry. Anyone who knows me, knows I DO NOT do mornings very well at all. Some would say that is an understatement...! Keep that in mind for later.

My mother's 65th birthday was on Friday. One of the things she wanted was for the family to get together for a nice dinner at a nice restaurant. She knows Heather, Mike, and their young family cannot afford to travel to Helena so she and dad took a road trip to Kalispell. Mom also asked if Joe and I could head north, too. Krystle was the only one who couldn't take the time off from work (she is a manager at a local pizza place). Joe received clearance to close the shop for a day, so the plans were finalized.

I stayed in Great Falls on Friday night so Joe and I could get an early start. Too Early! 6AM early! The only consolation to me was we had plans to try and find some of the newer geocaches that had been placed along our way. The small town of Valier seems to always have at least one cache hidden, but we have always been on such a time schedule that we have not been able to stop. On Saturday we arrived in Valier just as the sun was rising. The cache was an easy find and we were back on the road not more than 10 minutes later. The day broke with quite a few clouds, but not much wind and the temps were awesome for mid-October. Our next stop was in East Glacier. This was another easy cache to find, but we were distracted by this cute little friendly dog who came to play in the park with us. He was SO adorable! I was petting and talking to him while Joe found the cache... signed the log, re-hid it, and moved on about a mile down the road. Right outside of East Glacier is a sculpture of two Indians sitting on their horses made out of automobile parts. Yeah, sounds tacky and trashy, but it is actually pretty cool. This particular geocache has just been placed, but had not been found yet. Joe was looking in one area while I looked in another. I ran my hand into a hidden area and there it was! In goecaching "speak" I was the "FTF" of this cache. That means First to Find. Some cachers strive to be the FTF-ers of all the new hides in an area while others don't really care but get a smile if it happens. I fall into the later group, said "Yeah! First to Find!" and then we went on our way to the next.

The next two were at the top of Marias Pass. One was really easy, and only a few feet from the truck door. The other one was at the top of a mountain. We had to hike up, huffing and puffing, along a pretty steep trail that was made worse by being very muddy. It had snowed the previous weekend, then warmed up just enough to melt. Some places the mud was thick and sticky enough to suck at the shoes--- YUCK! The joy of adding another cache find to our list kept us going. Joe made the find on that one. We sat on a nearby log, caught our breath and enjoyed the cool mountain air while sifting through the cache contents and signing the log. Nothing I couldn't live without (meaning no rubber duckies) so we put everything back, re-hid the cache, and headed back down the mountain to continue on to Kalispell.

Our next stop was in West Glacier. It was there that we looked for, but did not find, our only bum-cache of the weekend. I have to say that searching through wet, prickly juniper bushes is not my idea of a good time, so we only half-heartedly looked.

Since we were already off the highway, I asked Joe if he would mind taking a slight detour to the old Belton Bridge for a few photos. He likes scenic areas as much as I do, so off we went. I had only a few photos left on my film 35mm SLR camera, so decided to finish those off. As soon as we got out of the truck, it began to sprinkle. While we were snapping photos of the river, the old bridge, and fall foliage the rain really began to come down. I clicked off my last two photos and we headed back on our way.

We picked up a couple more geocaches along the Flathead river between Columbia Falls and Kalispell along the Columbia Falls Stage road. It had been quite a number of years since I had been on this particular road. I really enjoyed the change of scenery!

Once in Kalispell, we claimed our hotel room and headed to lunch. Yep, over 200 miles, and caching along the way...still made it to town at 12:30. Maybe there is something good to getting up early! Notice I said "Maybe".... LOL

Lunch was at Nickle Charlies. Very good sandwiches! While we were there, we caught part of the Montana Griz whooping the pants off of Sacramento State. All in all, a very good morning. Stay tuned... the afternoon and evening in my next post.

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