St Louis/Bozeman to Billings to East Glacier to Beyond!

We are just a few hours from our shuttle up to the Canadian border after a 6 1/2 hour drive up to East Glacier, MT from Billings, MT yesterday. We’re sitting at the two computers tucked into a corners of the trading post store. I’m typing this entry and April is working on wedding cake arrangements (for her friend, people, relax!) on the other computer, muttering “oh good grief” from time to time as she scans photos.

Glacier NP from rental car
On the road to Glacier

When we were deciding how to get up here, we had to decide between the Amtrak from Spokane or renting a car either from Spokane or Billings. We decided on Billings and I’m glad that we did. If you’ve never driven in Montana, it’s really quite wonderful, and not just because the speed limit is 70 on the state highways. The landscape is long, rolling plains fenced in by sharp, occasionally snowcapped mountain ranges. The road sometimes winds and snakes though low hill country and at other times shoots straight ahead to the horizon where all you need to do is hold the wheel straight and keep it under 80. It was on such latter roads that April, after a 10-year hiatus, got to drive. I guess when you live in Queens there’s no need for a car. The first thing she said when she climbed behind the wheel was “By the way, when I used to have my license I had a restriction for glasses,” and then nearly plowed into a poor man holding a STOP sign in a construction site.

We arrived with bodies and rental car intact at East Glacier in the late afternoon with dark clouds and some lightning hanging over the plains behind us. After picking up our permit, we checked in at our motel, the East Glacier Motel and “Cabins” (my quotes–the cabins are really tiny wooden shacks with a soft bed and a bathroom.” For the remaining part of the day we walked around the village. We peeked into the massive Glacier Lodge, blessed with heated pool, Glacier from the roadshuffleboard, and maybe 9 holes of pitch and putt. We did our shopping and settled on snacks of tricuits and hummus (Sabbra!) for Wednesday’s big hike over Ptarmigan Pass. We met up with a couple of Israeli thru hikers who will be going back to CO to hike after Glacier Park. They told us of huge snowdrifts in Yellowstone, but that was two months ago. They left the Mexican border in April. They were staying at the $12/night backpackers hostel. We might try that when we come back through here in a week. Bedtime was after a plate of nachos and decaf at Serranos Mexican (!) restaurant.

We’re all packed up and ready to go this morning. Our shuttle takes us up to the Chief Mountain border crossing at 11AM and then it’s southbound to Mexico!  We have lots of warm clothes and food.

Here we go!


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