Thursday, October 23, 2008

Last Weekend, Part 2

Lets see... where was I? Oh yeah, lunch time at Nickle Charlies.....
During our meal, we tried to contact all our contacts in the Kalispell area. Mom and Dad had gone up the day before, but they weren't answering at their motel; Heather wasn't home; and no answer from our friends Stacy and Trudy. We were really looking forward to seeing them because Stacy had been in a very serious motorcycle accident in July and we wanted to see how he was doing.
Since no one was around, and with the advent of Voice Mail so everyone knew we were in town, we decided to go find a few more of the Kalispell area geocaches. There was one in particular I really wanted to check out. It was called "Fairy Steps". Apparently the founder of the city, Charles E. Conrad, is buried in a mausoleum in the city cemetery. Yeah, that is the ordinary part. This cemetery is on a pretty big hill, and his plot is in a prominent place at the rear. Behind this, is a narrow staircase that had been carved out of the bedrock into the steepest part of the hill. Who did this, or why I don't know. My kids had been there, but I had never seen it. It was my kids who told me the place is haunted, and the fairy steps are a magical place. It seems that if you count the steps down, you will not get the same number going back up. I was trying not to fall down the steep, narrow, moss and pine needle covered steps so I did not count going down, but got 99 on the way back up (afterwards, I read on the cache page that some counted 101, 100, or even 105.. but never did get matching numbers for down and up... crazy, huh?).
At the bottom of the steps you find yourself in a whole different place. We found the cache, then explored a little. There is a trail that we followed for a bit. This is what it looked like:

Remember, this is in the middle of Kalispell! Wal Mart is nearby, Highway 2 is close (one of the busiest highways in Montana) and houses are so close, but hidden, to the left that you can hear the people. To the right is the hill with the cemetery on its top. I don't know if this is part of the original cemetery land, but it is a really neat piece of nature hidden away. It was even cooler looking about 30 seconds before I snapped the photo. The sun was shining through the trees lighting up the dust motes and making the yellow leaves almost glow. Very magical looking! The sun would not be coming out from behind the clouds again for quite a while, so I took what I could get.
It was about this time that our friends called and invited us over to their lovely home.
We visited Stacy and Trudy for a few hours, catching them up on the happenings of Rockin' the Rivers and our lives, while they caught us up with Stacy's rehabilitation. When we last saw him, he was in a wheel chair after breaking his ankle (surgery to put it back together), and the opposite leg. This time he was up and about with the use of crutches and occasionally a walker while in the house. At the time of his accident they were in the middle of a remodel of their upstairs. They have been living in the ground floor, apartment style, for over a year now. I'm sure they will be glad once the house is finished, and once Stacy is back to 100% mobility. The answer to everyones question "will he ever ride again?" is "Of Course!". He already has a brand new motorcycle, and it is a beauty!

The evening concluded with my mothers 65th birthday dinner at Capers Restaurant. We all met at Heather's house, and after playing with Lucas and Talia a bit, we headed to eat. Capers is a VERY nice place, the food was excellent, and the wait staff very good. The only downfall was it is not a place to take a 6 year old, and a 1 1/2 year old. They did good, considering. Talia was a bit bored, but really enjoyed her dinner of marinara with penne pasta. She had never had fresh snap pea pods and she ate them by breaking them open and eating the peas from the shells. She thought they were the coolest food she had ever had. Lucas was, well, one and a half! Banging anything he could reach on the table, crying if said noise maker was taken out of his reach, and doing his best to show his mama what she was headed for when he reaches the "terrible twos". His best performance of the evening was reaching for, then spilling a full glass of soda and ice all over Heather not more than 10 minutes after we sat. She was cold, wet, and sticky for the rest of the evening, but hid her discomfort well.
Mom had a good time, and really enjoyed her dinner of gourmet steak and potatoes. Joe had the same, dad ordered scallops, Mike (my son in law) chose buffalo sausage lasagna, while Heather and I shared a meal of Dungoness crab stuffed trout. Dessert for mom, Heather, and me was a very rich brownie served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream with a raspberry liquor sauce that was lit at the table. SO COOL! It was awesome! Dad had a creme brule', Talia a scoop of ice cream with caramel sauce, while Joe an Mike passed on dessert. All the adults had coffee to end the meal. It was not normal restaurant coffee, either. It was, like everything else, very good, and served with a pitcher of real cream.
I didn't realize until later that no one took a single photo of the evening.

Sunday morning broke with clear blue skies and bright sunshine. Joe and I were itching to go to Glacier Park, if even for only a little while. We met my ex-husband, Harry, for breakfast at a place "where the locals eat" named Cislo's. They have really good, but cheap, breakfasts there. My ex and I get along these days. We caught up a bit, shared some funny stories of our past with Joe and before we knew it, an hour had passed. There was only one more thing to do before we dropped Harry off at his place.... he had to help us grab a geocache! We had "found" it the afternoon before, but neither Joe or I are nimble enough to climb trees, and that is exactly where this cache was. Harry had fun pretending to be 14 instead of 41, and got some first hand knowledge of what Geocaching is all about.

Leaving Harry at his place, we crossed town to say good-bye to Heather and her family. By the time we left there, it was after 1:00pm. We were finally done with the visiting and able to do our own thing.... GLACIER! Yippie!
Before even heading into the park we took a side trip back to the Old Belton Bridge. It was sunny, so a little nicer for photos. I took this one right outside of the truck door:

Then I crossed the bridge and took this one (below). Right around the far bend of the river is the town of West Glacier and the new bridge where you enter the park.

Now, all this time we were thinking the park service had closed most of the road that goes through the park. That road is commonly known as Going To The Sun Highway. At the check-in station the ranger told us that the road was open all the way to the top of Logan Pass. Oh Joy! We hadn't expected that! This was to be the last day the road would be open that far, with the winter closings to be in affect Monday. Our original plans were to find a quiet place along Lake McDonald to relax while taking in the beautiful scenery and clean, cedar scented mountain air. With just a look at each other, plans changed and we headed to the pass. We did pass McDonald Lake on the way, so we stopped and took a few fall photos. Here is one of my favorites:
I will post other photos of this trip. They are too gorgeous not to share. The drive was beautiful, but relatively uneventful. We always enjoy any time in the park, no matter where we are. The views change with the weather and the seasons. I have taken photos of the same mountain peaks many times and each time they have a different character.
The skies were still bright and sunny, with little popcorn clouds gathering on the peaks. After the rain the day before, the air was clear and visibility was at least 10 miles. As we neared Logan Pass, a low cloud was cresting the saddle from the East. It was pretty cool to watch as it first backed up against the mountains, then overflowed over the pass's low point. At one point, the peak of Mount Oberlin was above the clouds. Quite striking, and I had never seen it quite this way before. When we got to the top we were in this low cloud (now fog-- LOL) and it was quite obvious that this cloud was much colder than all the air surrounding it. The temperature dropped about 10 degrees from what it was only an eighth of a mile down the road. It had moved in fast, but there was no wind. In the clouds wake, it left a strange fairy land like landscape. All the trees, plants, light poles, etc were decorated with hoar frost on their eastern-facing side. Here is a flower stalk in the visitors center's garden covered with it:

All the crystals point to the east, while there are no crystals on the western facing side. Isn't mother nature neat?
We spent more time in Glacier Park than we intended, and ended up driving to Helena in the dark along the Seeley-Swan highway. At least the deer weren't out in force that evening. We got to my house at about 11:30pm. Quickly crashed and left the house early to be back to the daily grind of employment in Great Falls.

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