Kristina: “Get the 30′ RV, not the 25′ one… it’ll be more comfortable for all of us to sleep in.”
Joe: “Whoa… hang on a second… we’re not really gonna sleep in the RV, are we!? I thought you were pushing for an RV just so we’d have a toilet … (because you said you’re concerned about a full bladder while every gas station and restaurant in Wyoming might be shut-tight) … NOT to actually sleep in!?
Cut to Friday morning, June 19. At 6:20am, I unplug the 30′ RV from our KOA power-tether, plant myself behind the wheel, and start driving for an hour while everyone else sleeps. It’s the only way to guarantee we’ll get our monster-vehicle all the way to the farthest-in parking lot along the Going to the Sun Highway… so we can hike Avalanche Lake. (see map below…)
This is what we’re doing for (to?) our kids now that school is out. Think they LIKE it?
Hmm…. read on…
Glacier National Park.. partly open
A few weeks ago when planning this trip, we asked a good friend who’s from Montana about visting partially-opened Glacier. She said “if the Going to the Sun road is closed at the end of Lake McDonald… it’d be like visiting Seattle and only being allowed to go as far north as the stadiums.”
Still – we’d never been here before and it seemed a crime to miss out on what many people call the most beautiful of our National Parks.
Avalanche Lake Hike
Our mobile hotel-room / breakfast-restaurant turned out to be a big blessing. By 7:30 am we had a parking spot in the not-yet-open Avalance Campground.. in a thicket of trees with a picnic table. Arriving that early was a near-miracle for us! The kids woke up to the smell of oatmeal and coffee .. and to a few deer running by the RV windows.
After a leisurely breakfast, we headed up the trail, tracking along the river and its many rapids and falls. The day started out cloudy, but as we progressed the sun warmed us up more and more. This was the first time we’d been warned about bear – so we THOUGHT we were being vigilant in watching for wild things.. but we were still totally surprised at one point by a deer that was just 10 feet away,
As the miles went on, seeing chipmunks and stopping for frequent snacks kept the girls in good spirits… though after 4-miles up the mountain they got nervous and reluctant when the sign reported “Trail End” and dad responded with “let’s keep going—the snow fields are probably just another 20 minutes away!”
Avalanche lake gave us a gorgeous introduction to Glacier! And having the RV parked right at the end of the trail – with a fridge full of sandwich food—gave us a great way to rest when the hike was over.
Learning to Camp
Sure, we Belfiores are adventurous .. but we are NOT experienced campers. Our second night in the KOA was our “camp dinner” night ..which involved building a fire and cooking out over it. After a solid 3 or 4 tries (we swear, the wood was wet 😊) we finally had enough flame and embers to cook hot dogs and s’mores. Talk about living the dream!
Our second day gave us a flatter, shorter hike crossing over and along the riverbank .. and then the kids got to choose an afternoon activity in the rain: ropes course! Kristina and I sat in the observation area doing work and trip-planning, while we proudly watched our three Seattl-ite kids outlast everyone else on the ropes when the rain came. Soaked, but happy, we all retreated to the RV before making a last visit for authentic Montanan huckleberry pie. Yum!
We went to bed in the rain that Saturday night … with Joe planning to wake up super-early on Father’s Day to begin the ~6 hour drive southwards towards Yellowstone and our next stop! And we have just one word to whet your appetite for that post…