Glacier National Park & Bison Creek Ranch


Well, despite the attempt of this portion of Montana to make itself into the next Sundance or Sedona, they still haven’t caught up with the Internet quite yet. That’s cool, I just can’t post as often as I want.  Today we made our way into the west entrance of Glacier National Park, taking the Road to the Sun past Lake McDonald and St. Mary’s Lake to the eastern portion. We climbed to a height of about 8000 ft. on a tiny Ice Road Truckers kind of road. Sadly, mom was not happy because there was construction going on that delayed traffic up the switchbacks for about an hour. The sky was hazy due to either fire smoke or natural mountain haze, so the vistas were in short supply. I’m sad to report that the glaciers here are small and not very common. After flying to Alaska and seeing the Portage Glacier, these pale by comparison. Our Tom-Tom GPS unit has the sadistic knack of sending us via the most direct route possible between two destinations and so we found ourselves on Highway 49, more of a paved logging road than a real route for everyday traffic. The twists, turns and rough patches were very akin to Lombard Street of San Francisco, only think 16 miles of it! This kind of angered my mother as well, not to mention the free-range cattle that came traipsing across the street whenever they felt like it.  Hit one and you can assume a minimum of $1000 in damages to the local, native people.

So we get to our two-day bivouac of the Bison Creek Ranch (don’t let the early 1980’s website fool you, it’s a good place), which I have deemed to be “rustic”. We’re staying in cabins which used to be the lodgings of “Gandy Dancers” (railroad repair employees, I’ll look the term up when I get back to civilization). The first thing that stands out is the chestnut mare named “Cypress” who basically invites herself right into the car as a form of greeting. Hell, I should’ve put some luggage on her back and told her to take it to cabin 5. She’s a hoot, just appears from behind the cabins at odd moments or over in this field or in the middle circle ~ just comes and goes as she pleases. Don’t be between her and feeding time though, her fat butt can pick up and move to get across the ranch to get some food! I’ve included some pictures of my cabin, it feels like you stepped back to the 1930’s, at your great aunt’s house in the country. The desk in my room was probably used by Laura Engel in Little House on the Prairie and I have a big, gas heater, the kind my great, grandparents had when I was growing up in Tennessee.

{Sep 10} This morning, I wanted to take a shower after I got up. The little scrap of note on the bathroom mirror says to let the water run for several minutes before the hot water will arrive, okay, I’m game. The water’s running and soon I notice the Flathead River is now running from near my toilet to the sink. Apparently the stand-up shower’s drain has backed up and overflowed the water barrier and now is snaking its way to the rug in my room. Used every single towel to dam the flow. The owner’s adult children run the place and are super nice folks. Everyone here in Montana seems to be down-to-earth and honest, not necessarily gushing out-going, but hey, neither am I sometimes. If it wasn’t a Republican state, I could see myself spending some time here. Don’t know what I’d do exactly, but it speaks to my ancestor’s life of “cowboy’ing” and ranging in Texas.

I’m still not sure how much I believe in genetic memory (the idea that memories and talents are passed down through the genes than via experience), but I have to believe that some of my success at the Bar W Ranch and the love of the mountainous country may just come from them.

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Before I can let Bison Creek go, I have to tell you of my greatest faux-pas, my mom had gone off into the wilderness on some sort of self-discovery in the rain sort of thing and after a fair bit, Chantel says I better take the car and go find her.  I get almost to the service road and mom comes sauntering out in her “footy” pajamas and expensive camera.  Okay, you’ve all seen the picture from the Bar W where the car is packed to the rafters with baggage, I’ll admit that I had a bit to drink as well, but I backed straight up into an electrical light pole!!!!  I did a good bit of damage to the pole and to the back of the car, I would swear to you that mom said, “oh sugar”, but she said she said something else a little more emphatic. 

It’s a vacation, but it’s sprint from A to B and the maybe B might or might not have Internet, sorry, that’s just the way it is.  It’s frustrating to me as well, not to mention having to pull mom’s pictures from her camera card and somehow getting them all to play nice with size and quality.  Doug, you fully have my understanding and admiration now for Europe and Scotland.  It seems the cameraman is always dragging up the rear trying to tell the story in pictures…  I’m having a good time, but I want to make sure it’s all documented for posterity.


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