The Beartooth Parkway to Billings

Posted by Van on Friday Aug 19, 2011

July 31st, we took the Beartooth Parkway out of the Rocky Mountains and into the prairies of Montana. The Beartooth is basically a 60-mile two-lane road that winds up and over a mountain ridge. It is steep on both sides, the drop-offs are spectacular, and the views of the surrounding mountains and plateaus are stunning.

Looking down the beartooth parkway

Atop the Beartooth Parkway on the Wyoming/Montana border

We stopped overnight in Billings, where we replaced some well-used front tires on the RV. Those tires covered more than 20,000 miles, traveling over several mountain ranges and riding many miles on dirt and gravel roads.

Hanging out at the campground in Billings, Montana

Having fun on a simple, old swing set

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Leaving the United States

Posted by Ana on Monday Jun 20, 2011

June 15, we went to go to Canada. We saw lots of horses and cows on the way. We went to the drive-through place to see if we have any weapons or anything. We got some Canada flags, with a leaf on them. Then we drove into Canada, where Daddy and Mommy had their honeymoon. It was a country I’ve never been to. A lot of people in Canada speak french. The guy at the border spoke french. In Georgia a lot of people speak english. There’s a lot of RVs in Canada. And dandelions. The gas in Canada is a lot lower. Dad says this is because the price in Canada is per liter, not per gallon. Mama says it is more expensive in Canada. A lot of people are riding their bikes in Canada and a lot of people ride their bikes in Georgia. There’s more pine trees in Canada. And moose.


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Swimming Pool in Montana

Posted by Stella on Monday Jun 20, 2011

June 12th, we arrived at a campground. It was called the Crooked Tree Motel and RV Park. We discovered that there was a playground and an indoor pool. The indoor pool was what got my attention. I asked if we could go to the pool and the parents said yes, but we kept not going. Finally, it was time to eat dinner, so we ate and I wondered if we were ever going to go to the pool. So I asked again. This time, they told us to get our swim-suits on. I already had mine on so I grabbed a towel from the cabinet and pulled my goggles out of the swim-bag. I was ready.

An indoor pool, what a special treat during a cold, rainy week!

Eventually, Dad made it out the door and we all walked over to the pool. We got inside the building and Dad sat down on a bench with his computer. Ellie, Ana, and I went over to the other side of the pool, where the steps were, so that we could get in the water in a different way than just jumping in; a way that went more slowly. I stepped onto the first step, so only my feet were in. It didn’t feel very cold on only my feet, but I stepped down two more times, and it was now a little over my knees, and it was getting colder. I stepped down again, and by then, it was up to my thighs. It was starting to get really cold. I shivered. Meanwhile, Ana was coming in behind me, and I noticed Ellie stepping out of the water. She walked over to the ladder that led into the deep-end, and she was about to jump in. I threw my goggles on and yelled, “I’ll be the first one all the way in!” ,and held my breath and went under.

After I’d gotten used to the temperature, Ellie, Ana, and I swam around for a while. We practiced doing handstands and front-flips and back-flips. Ellie and I did a competition: Who could do flips the fastest? First, we did front-flips, and Ellie won. We did it again and we tied. We tried it one last time and we tied again. Then we did back-flips. I won the first one. Then I won the second one by about two thirds of a second, and won the last. It was really fun.

Then I swam into the center of the deep-end, where it was the deepest. I hovered at the surface of the water, getting ready for my experiment. I had never in my life been able to touch the deepest part of a pool before. Not with my hands, at least. And only, like, once or twice with my feet. But that pool wasn’t very deep. This one was. And I have never been very good at holding my breath for a long time, even though I’m on swim-team and have been for three years. So I took in a deep breath and went under. I pushed with so much force that immediately my ears popped and my feet thudded into the ground. Quickly, so I wouldn’t take in a gallon of water, I shoved off the bottom of the pool, felt my ears unpop, and was back up at the surface. Ellie had been watching me and she smiled at me. She’s always been really good at holding her breath for a long time and being able to do things like swimming all the way across the pool. But even Ellie doesn’t beat Ana. Ana can swim to the bottom of a pool and touch the bottom with her hands in THIRTEEN FEET!! Isn’t that amazing!? Even if you don’t, I think it is.

So anyway, I was grinning ear-to-ear when I came up. And guess what? I had to teach Ellie how to do it until she finally got it! And then guess what? I touched the bottom with my hands, even though I swallowed some water on the way back up!

The next day, we went to the pool again. This time, Greta came. We swam around the pool and had a lot of fun. We played this game where we had to swim around and do fancy things to get letters from Greta. Then, when we’d gotten all the letters we needed, we’d go to her and she’d tell us to unscramble them. We would, and we’d find a word. Then we’d have another activity and we’d get another word. We’d keep doing that until we made a sentence. It was pretty fun. It was really mysterious… and it was called the Quest. Then, sadly, it was time to leave.

We came back again the next day, and had fun just swimming randomly. We had to leave early, which wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but I was happy when I realized that it meant going to get huckleberry milkshakes. We had a great night, and I slept great, too.

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A Fun Pool

Posted by Ellie on Monday Jun 20, 2011

On June 12 we stayed at a campground in Hungry Horse Montana. We stayed there for two days.

The campground also had a great little playground

Me Stella and Ana got ready after dinner to go to the pool. When we got there we went to the stairs to get in. Stella was the first one to get in the pool, and then Me and Ana came in together. We played tag and we did handstands. We also saw a hair tie at the bottom of the pool and i swam down and got it. We took turns letting the hair tie sink and then going and getting it. The water was cold at first but when you got used to it it is warm. We played for along time until daddy said five more minutes girls. We swam and swam until it was time to go. I shared my towel with Ana because she forgot to bring hers. We walked back wishing we could go back the next day.

And we did go back the next day. We swam, swam, swam the next day. After that we took a shower.

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Alberta Visitor Center

Posted by Ellie on Monday Jun 20, 2011

On June 12, after leaving Glacier National Park we went to the Alberta Visitor Center, just outside of the park. Ana was cleaning her room and Greta was doing math. Me and Stella went with the parents.

When we got inside there was this huge skeleton of a T-rex. We went to fill up Daddy’s waterbottles for him. After that we went and looked around. We were brushing off dinosaur bones and then we went to go and look at some other stuff. We came to this room with a saddle that you could get on. We both took turns on the saddle. There was a wagon that you could sit on. Stella told me to come and sit with her. When I got up I told her that I wanted to go back in the wagon. I tried to but I did not realize that it was just wood so I ran right into it. Me and Stella had a good laugh about it. We played in there for a little while.

When we went out Mommy told us there was lot of horseback riding in Canada. Then Mommy told us it was time to leave. We went and looked at a few other things and then we left.

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Lake McDonald

Posted by Ana on Sunday Jun 19, 2011

June 12 we went back to Glacier. In Glacier we saw lots of animals. We saw two deer, a black bear, mountain goats, a snowshoe hare, and a columbia ground squirrel.

This snowshoe hare was hanging out near a trail

We also heard a bird that sounded like a whistle. Mama said it could have been a flash flood warning. Stella said it could have been a tornado. Mama said it could have been a guy blowing his whistle to his kids because it was time to go home. Or I thought maybe it could be a little kid who just got a new whistle and he’s blowing it for fun.

We went to a visetre center and asked some Qestens. I asked can a moos swim across mc donold lake. And asked a few more Qestens. [Editor’s note: original spelling preserved.]

The answer was yes, people have seen a moose swim across the lake. The ranger said the moose probably swam across because it was scared of a grizzly bear. I asked how much snow does Glacier National Park get per year. I don’t remember the answer. We also asked about the whistle bird. It was a bird. The ranger said it was a thrush.

Hanging out at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park

And then we went to the lake and had lunch. Before we ate lunch me and Ellie played down by the lake. Mama said take a flat rock and throw it into a lake or a creek or a pond or a deep puddle and it will skip. We played a game to see who could find the best rocks. And we played horses. Ellie had a giant stick, and I had my rainboots on. Ellie would throw it out into the lake, not too far, and I would go out and get it. And now I’m sad my story is done.

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Celebrating Jean’s Birthday at the Elkhorn Grill

Posted by Stella on Saturday Jun 18, 2011

June 11th, we drove out of Glacier National Park to look for a place to go out for Jean’s birthday. I was hoping we’d go get a Dairy Queen ice cream-cake after dinner, but no such luck. Instead, we looked out the windows for restaurants to stop at and celebrate. We passed a pizza place that I really wanted to go to, but we drove right past it. The parents said we might go back and check it out, but no luck on that either. Boo.

We just kept on driving and soon after the pizza place, we spotted “The Huckleberry Patch”. There was a restaurant there and the sign didn’t say what they served, but I didn’t care because the sign did say, “Homemade Huckleberry Milkshakes and Ice Cream!” I was lured. I wasn’t too surprised when we pulled into the parking lot, but I was when we drove right back out. Wow! Terrible luck that day! It’s a shame it was on Jean’s birthday. But what happened next turned it around.

We drove a little more and then we saw a restaurant called the Elkhorn Grill. It didn’t look too great to me, and it got even worse when the waitress said they weren’t serving dinner anymore, only burgers and baskets. We looked at the menus and Jean said we’d try it out. So we did. I ordered a cheeseburger. I was going to get an elk burger, but it was more expensive than a regular burger, plus, Jean said it would taste the same as a normal one, and that it was too big for me to eat by myself. That last reason wouldn’t really matter except that if I had to split it with one of my sisters, I thought that half wouldn’t be enough. I still ignored the last part, and was going to split one with Ellie, but Ellie likes tomatoes, and I really don’t like them, I was going to get it with cheese, but Ellie doesn’t like burgers with cheese. So obviously, that didn’t work. I just gave up and got a cheeseburger. It was really good. And the fries that I got with it were delicious!

Celebrating Jean's birthday at the Elkhorn Grill

Then, when we’d finished, we ordered a piece of huckleberry pie with ice cream, a piece of strawberry cheesecake, and some nice, moist carrot cake for dessert. The waitress even gave us candles and lit them for us. We sang Happy Birthday and Jean blew out the candle. We had a great time on Jean’s birthday.

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Where are the Mountain Goats?

Posted by Ellie on Thursday Jun 16, 2011

After the long hike we came to a large clearing and saw Avalanche Lake. The lake was big and the water was green and blue. It was surrounded by mountains. At the bottom of the lake, where we were, was a log jam. There were logs piled up every were. Daddy and Greta went and took pictures of the log jam and of the mountains. We touched the lake. It was freezing!

Logs pile up at the bottom of Avalanche Lake

We were eating some trail mix when a lady said, “there are mountain goats up there.” We all looked at were she was pointing. I could’t tell where she was pointing. Then I saw them. They were tiny white dots way up on the mountain side, but we could see them move. Two of them jumped across a gap. We wached them for a long time. Then I saw that there was a mountain goat with something following it. I realized that it was a baby. I told every one about it.

You can't make out the mountain goats way up on the mountain side, but they are up there and we saw them!

We all loved seeing mountain goats for the first time. I hope we can see mountain goats again!

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Glacier National Park

Posted by Greta on Thursday Jun 16, 2011

On June 11th, Jean’s birthday, we finally went to Glacier National Park.

We arrived there in the mid-afternoon, around two or three. Dad checked out the visitor center, and then we drove to the trailhead of the hike we would be doing, the Avalanche Lake hike. Well, before I tell you about the hike, I should probably explain exactly what a glacier is.

*Speaks in teacher voice* Well, a glacier is a mass of ice that is frozen all year long. Glaciers move just inches each year. The neat thing is that a glacier can produce massive amounts of runoff/snowmelt constantly without completely melting away. As the mountain shelves where the glaciers are slowly fill up with snow, the snow and ice overflows and moves verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry slowly down the mountain. As it goes down, it grinds up the mountain with it, creating the glacial dust that makes the water in the lakes and streams a beautiful light blue-green color. So eventually the overflow reaches areas of warmer temperatures and it melts, creating streams and filling lakes with the snowmelt.

So, we left on the Avalanche Lake hike. It was fairly long, 4.6 miles, but it was beautiful. The stream we were walking next to, Avalanche Creek, was thundering down the valley, cutting through the rock walls, and roaring over huge boulders. In some places the creek was moving so fast and splashing so hard against the rocks, it looked like there water fountains shooting up from the stream. The creek was that pretty blue-green color, and it was filled with multicolored rocks. The rocks were green, purple, yellow, red, blue, pink- and they were everywhere. In the rapidly-moving stream, on the path, in the forest…

Along a relatively calm stretch of Avalanche Creek

We walked along the path, going slightly uphill for most of the way to the lake. We saw lots of cool stuff, including bear scat but unfortunately no bears. After a long uphill walk, we got to Avalanche Lake, which filled a large U-shaped shelf in the valley and was surrounded on all sides by mountain walls and waterfalls. We could see the edge of the glaciers between the surrounding mountain peaks.

Me, Dad, and incredible mountains at Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park

There was another surprise waiting for us at the Lake, but Ellie will tell you about that in another post.

We ate our bag of trail mix at the lake, and then walked back. After our hike, we left Glacier National Park and went to find a restaurant where we could celebrate Jean’s birthday. It was a beautiful park and a great day! 😀

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The World’s Most Fun Swinging Bridge

Posted by Ellie on Wednesday Jun 15, 2011

On June 10, we drove from Bayview, ID into Montana. We were heading for Glacier National Park.

This state border is not the farthest from home, but it sure took us a long time to get here

Along the way, we passed a small county park in the Kootenai river valley in Montana. We decided to check it out. We went to Kootenai falls. We hiked though the forest. We walked for a long time until we came to a bridge across a railroad. We walked on it and down these steps. Greta told me to look down. I looked down and I got real mad because I realized we were up really high. She made me scared. I walked down the stairs until we came to the bottom.

We walked and we walked and then we heard the roaring river. We walked until we came to the swinging bridge. It was made out of all wood. When I got on I loved it already. We walked on it and then it started to shake. Greta was shaking it. I told her that it was scary when she did that so she stopped doing it. We went back and forth and back and forth and back and forth across the bridge. I really did not want to leave but we had to.

Approaching the swinging bridge

Walking across the Kootenai river on the swinging bridge

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