August 13, 2013 Glacier National park

Osprey young testing flight muscles
Osprey young testing flight muscles

 

Just to the side of route 89 where the road to Many Glacier turns off, there is an osprey nest on a nesting platform right alongside the road. I had seen a head or two popping up on other days, but this morning there was a young osprey exercising its flight muscles, probably preparing for its first venture from the nest.

 

Early morning colors on mountainside
Early morning color
Early morning colors on mountainside
Early morning color

 

The early sunlight was producing some great colors on the mountains as well as this partial rainbow.

Rainbow over Many Glacier
Rainbow over Many Glacier

Continued into Many Glacier early morning and soon spotted the blonde grizzly from last night in pretty much the same area as before. Still being before 7 AM, there was only one other vehicle stopped and I had a chance for some great shots as she was no more than 20 feet off the road eating berries, and there were not yet enough other vehicles around, or rangers, to drive her off. This really is a very good looking bear.

Blonde grizzly getting a better look
Blonde grizzly getting a better look

 

Blonde grizzly on the other side of the berry patch
Blonde grizzly on the other side of the berry patch
Blonde grizzly watching people
Blonde grizzly watching people

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did some computer work during the day and then made the mistake of thinking I could venture into the park and up to Logan Pass around 7 PM ( figured the crowds would be gone by then and I might catch some wildlife out ).

Going to the Sun traffic
Going to the Sun traffic

Big mistake. It took 45 minutes to go the first eight miles up Going to the Sun Road. Waited almost 15 minutes at the portion of road construction where they had a pilot vehicle guiding one way traffic through a work area. This of course bunches traffic up in both directions and I ended up in the midst of about a 50 vehicle convoy going up the rest of the way to Logan Pass.

Going to the Sun traffic
Going to the Sun traffic

 

One of the convoys coming down in the opposite direction exceeded 100 vehicles. And this was at 8 o’clock at night!     Madness!   Almost needless to say, I didn’t see anything and really looked forward to getting back to the peace and quiet of the campground.

 

 

Grizzly searching for berries
Grizzly searching for berries
Blonde grizzly standing
Blonde grizzly standing
Checking me out
Checking me out

 

Blonde grizzly crossing the road
Blonde grizzly crossing the road

 

Blonde grizzly crossing the road
Blonde grizzly crossing the road

 

Blonde grizzly crossing the road
Blonde grizzly crossing the road

 

Blonde grizzly crossing the road
Blonde grizzly crossing the road

 

 

 

 

August 10,2013 Glacier National Park

Going to the Sun Road Bighorn Sheep and more

Now that’s more like it!

Entered Glacier NationalPark east entrance just before 7 AM in hopes of avoiding yesterday’s crowds. Had the road all but to myself on the way up, Logan Pass parking lot had only 20 or 30 cars in it and just a small number of people milling about, quite a bit different from yesterday afternoon. That’s it, from now on, before 7AM or after 7 PM only ( just have to remember to get out by 9 PM or the road closes to the east entrance, construction ).

Weather turned out nice also and with the lack of people, the wildlife was out and about.

Sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses
Sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses
Sentry asleep at his post
Sentry asleep at his post

 

 

Got some cute shots of the numerous ground squirrels around the Visitor Center.

 

 

Dueling ground squirrels

Dueling ground squirrels

Had hoped to get dramatic shots of head butting dueling bighorn sheep, but sometimes in life you have to just settle, so how about some dueling ground squirrels?

Logan Pass marmot
Logan Pass marmot

 

 

 

A hoary marmot also was out gathering breakfast greens.

 

 

 

 

Mountain goat and wildflowers
Mountain goat and wildflowers

Since this mountain goat was looking rather haggard, and that is being kind, I decided to go for the wildflower shot instead of a closeup.

And Then I ran into a little bachelor group of four bighorn sheep on the way back down Going to the Sun Road.

Caught with my mouth full
Caught with my mouth full

 

Another Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep
Another Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep
Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep
Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting back to yesterday’s rant, the bighorns are obviously used to people and cars, for they browsed for quite a while by the side of the road and the edge of the parking lot, providing great photo opportunities for myself and several other early risers, and then, the first jackass on a Harley shows up and blasts them off down the slope. Five or six people snapping photos, no problem, a dozen cars stop and go, still ok, one jerk on an illegal noise machine and off they go.

The rangers can stop people for speeding, as they should, and set up check points for DUI, which they should, so how about getting these illegal, eardrum shattering, wildlife spooking, inconsiderate, immature jerks off the park roads so everyone else can have a little better experience.

Got back to camp by 10 AM and worked on the journal and processed photos all the rest of the day and into late at night. Didn’t bother to go back out in the afternoon since a series of rain squalls mixed with hail kept sweeping through all afternoon and into the evening.

Logan Pass wildflower
Logan Pass wildflower
Caught with my mouth full
Caught with my mouth full
Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep
Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep

 

Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep posing for portrait
Glacier N.P. bighorn sheep posing for portrait

 

Bighorn munching
Bighorn munching

 

Bighorn heading down to a stream
Bighorn heading down to a stream

 

A pair of bighorn rams
A pair of bighorn rams

 

August 8, 2013 Arrived at Glacier National Park

Made the final push from Chester to Saint Mary’s this morning.

Sunrise Chester, Montana

Sunrise Chester, Montana

Had a dramatic sunrise over the little town of Chester where I had a great night’s rest at their “city park”.

Wide open spaces of Montana
Wide open spaces of Montana

More pleasant rolling fields and expanses of wide open spaces along Route 2 between Chester and Glacier National Park.

Wide open spaces of Montana
Wide open spaces of Montana

In spots the view seems to go on forever. Forgive the quality of most of these shots, they are taken through the window of the motorhome as I zip along the highway, very hard to find a place to pull off when I see something interesting!

 

Wind farm along Route 2 Montana
Wind farm along Route 2 Montana

 

A new wrinkle on the wheat fields
A new wrinkle on the wheat fields

 

A fairly large wind farm appears on the south side of the highway after Cut Bank, I should imagine that it is quite productive.

 

 

up
Train heading to pick up oil in the Bakken

 

There is pretty steady stream of railroad traffic on the tracks that parallel Route 2 through Montana. This one is most likely heading east to the Bakken to pick up oil.

 

The weather continues to be in and out, a little sun, a little rain, but tending more to the latter than the former. Stopped in Cut Bank at an Albertsons to stock up on groceries for my stay in Glacier national Park. Took Route 464 north out of Browning ( a depressing looking town where I had a VERY scary experience one night several years ago with some young methed out natives at a gas station on the edge of town) to 89 south down to the Johnsons of St. Mary Campground, where I have stayed before.

Site #16 at Johnson's of St. Marys
Site #16 at Johnson’s of St. Marys

Too expensive for my budget, around $40/night, but the people are nice and the view from your campsite is hard to beat, and it is all but impossible to get a site inside the park. Unfortunately today the view consists of only clouds, fog, and mist, can’t even see the mountains across the valley.

 

 

Got set up and headed up to Many Glacier around 4 Pm to look for bears.

 

Blonde grizzly in flowers
Blonde grizzly in flowers

Didn’t take long to encounter the first bearjam, watching a small blonde grizzly and and single dark cub in a field above the road.

Blonde Grizzly in the flowers
Blonde Grizzly in the flowers

Only a hundred yards up the road, another blonde, almost white small griz munching through the shrubbery, not 100 feet from the road. After joining the crowd and attempting some not so great shots here, the grass and shrubs were a little too high to get any good unobstructed shots here, I headed up the road to a point just past the intersection to the Lodge where an even bigger bearjam had the road blocked.

A huge Grizzly fortunately at a great distance
A huge Grizzly fortunately at a great distance

 

On big bruiser bruin
On big bruiser bruin

Here the people were watching a very large grizzly graze his way up the mountainside. He was a long way from the road, but he was BIG, a nice looking brute. Sure would make me hesitate to want to hike in the area.

It was starting to get dark to be able to shoot, so I turned around and headed back home through two more bear jams on my way out of the park. A much more successful little venture into the park than I had anticipated, can’t wait til tomorrow, only wish the weather would improve.

A shaggy looking grizzly
A shaggy looking grizzly
Grizzly headed for the lake
Grizzly headed for the lake

 

 

August 7, 2013 On the Road

Williston, North Dakota to Chester, Montana

I did manage to get some sleep in the parking lot at Love’s last night. Got started out early for the home stretch through Montana.

Apparently Williston is the hub for the Bakken activity, sure seems like a typical boomtown, lots of construction, motel room monthly rates of $3000, LOTS of modular housing up and going up, lots of “Lodges” for the workers, and everywhere one can be squeezed in, 5th wheels and travel trailers, some not in very good shape. A lot of the worker housing simply looks desperate and depressing, but I am sure the money is good. There seems to be a definite “Wild West “attitude on the roads ( that I am sure also applies to the many bars, clubs, and casinos that have sprung up everywhere ) so I don’t think I would want to be in law enforcement in these here parts.

About 20 miles west of Williston, the oil field craziness starts to peter out and you enter Montana, still oil pads here and there, but the traffic ceases and the road drops back to a two lane highway. Not too far into Montana there is a short 2 mile stretch of serious road construction, widening from two to four lanes a short stretch of Route 2. It is completely torn up, and after the rains, a quagmire of black soup and potholes, slick mud for a couple of miles. Great, I now have a coat of black glaze over my red clay base on my poor Prius.

N. Dakota Pronghorns
N. Dakota Pronghorn

Ain’t no deer and the antelope playing hereabouts

After that nasty bit of construction, Route 2 through Montana is a flat, some would say boring landscape of farmland, pastureland and small, somewhat depressing forgotten towns. I happen to enjoy the trip, constantly scanning for pronghorn antelope. This 900 mile trip on Route 2 through North Dakota and Montana did not yield even one sighting of deer or antelope. Guess I can figure how the oil rush would drive out any wildlife through North Dakota, but I am curious about the absence here in Montana, as this is the first time ever I have travelled these states without a sighting.

Foggy going on Route 2
Foggy going on Route 2

 

Hay rolls along Route 2 Montana
Hay rolls along Route 2 Montana

 

Hit a nasty stretch of pea soup thick fog that had me clutching the steering wheel for 10 miles

 

 

 

but finally the fog lifted, the sun came out and the Route 2 I remembered from years ago reappeared.

 

 

Word of warning, fellow RV’ers, you will encounter very few welcoming (meaning appealing) campgrounds or other places to overnight on this long stretch of Montana Route 2. I was growing desperate for a place to stay as I passed through Harve, having already spent a long day on the road. There is a “Rest Area” in Chester, about half way between Harve and Shelby, that is a paved parking lot dead in the center of town, not a terribly welcoming spot.

There happened to be a nice lady mowing the grass around the area on her John Deere, so I asked if people were allowed to overnight there, she said some do, but then nicely directed me to the city park, “city” being her term. Turns out it was a nice quiet gravel parking lot next to the school football field adjacent to the wheat fields at the edge of town, where I managed to spend a pleasant, quiet evening and get some much needed sleep.