Missoula and Glacier National Park

On a less serious note….

Missoula, Montana

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How we dealt with the week.

The past weekend was absolutely hellish for us. It was the first time since leaving on this trip that we had dealt with a really painfully difficult situation. Our experiences had left us so emotionally drained that we felt like we were running on auto pilot for the next few days. We did what any emotionally distressed person would do in those kinds of trying moments and called our mommies so we could vent about our experiences and get some sort of reassurance after the insanity that we had just witnessed. So, shoutout to KaTrina and Danielle, thanks for not raising us in some crazy cult  in the woods!

Our travel plans for the upcoming weekend were to visit Glacier National Park, so we spent the week working from Missoula for convenience sake. We learned a very important lesson during that week; Missoula sucks. It is off of our list for potential places to live. To be honest though, it wasn’t the worst place in the world, we had just been dealing with so much that every little inconvenience that Missoula had was too much for us to deal with. We were very fortunate for the city’s Walmart, for example. Unlike a lot of other corrupt megastores, this one had an “I don’t give a f*ck” attitude when it came to overnight vehicles. Generally, when we found ourselves camping in a Walmart parking lot, we were met with signs that said “no overnight parking” or “24 hour parking only”. For those of us who are van dwellers, that meant upping the stealth factor and trying to be as sneaky as possible while staying there. The Missoula parking lot, however, didn’t care at all. At any given night there were around 18 other RV’s or camper vans. Some of them were so massive that they could only park across 9 parking spaces. Walmart didn’t give a damn about such things. We spent an entire week in that parking lot and usually we would have been asked to leave but no one batted an eye here. The only problem was that the internet connection was spotty so we had to leave to be able to work and it was also downwind from water processing facility so we had to deal with some very unpleasant odors for a few nights.

We also struggled with showering while we were there. Anytime Fitness has two locations in all of Montana and we were about 40 miles away from the closest one. We did have some alternatives, such as the local YMCA as well as a TA truck stop but those require money. Our solution was to finally attempt our waterless shower system (don’t get excited, it’s just baby wipes and dry shampoo). It was being pretty effective for the most part but we still ended up purchasing a shower every other day. We are weak. We can’t go that long without our modern conveniences.

Other than that, we spent the week working from a Starbucks inside of a Target and did our best to not think about what had transpired over the weekend. We did get a chance to catch up with another old friend of Eli’s from high school, Danny. He took us to a pretty cool bar in Missoula that had a tipsy bingo night that we enjoyed. He also introduced us to some awesome board games that we hadn’t played before so he helped us enjoy our last few nights before we headed out on the road again to the next spot.

Glacier National Park

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I feel like Glacier has a lot more to offer than we were able to experience. Our original plan was to hit some of the really popular sights, like Triple Falls and Grinnell Lake. We are now convinced that Montana has some sort of weird personal vendetta against us. We drove in to Glacier with the intent of driving to the far east side and working our way back west over the course of Saturday and Sunday but as we drove in to the park, we found out that the road closures kept us from having nice things. Due to construction on parts of the Road-to-the-Sun that had been taken out by rockslides and snow, the road was closed. We had the option to drive all the way around but the extra distance would have made things incredibly difficult for us since we had to be in Hamilton by Sunday night. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It seemed like the week was just one bad experience after another and we were at our wits end.

So, due to some less than favorable outcomes, we settled on seeing Lake McDonald and exploring what we could within the 16 miles of park that we were able to drive through. It ended up being a really enjoyable day though. We spent our day wandering around the lake as well as stopping at every lookout point to see what all the other tourists were looking at. At one point we even ended up going on a little adventure to a small rocky island that was only accessible by a fallen tree trunk. A lot of the shorelines around the lakes and beaches are made entirely of colorful rocks in reds and yellows and blues, making for some really awesome rock collecting. It was especially beautiful too because the water was incredibly clear. In a lot of places you could see all of the fallen trees and massive boulders that rested on the bottom. On top of that, the water was generally a beautiful bright blue since it came from the melting of all the nearby glaciers.

Because so many of our plans for Glacier were abruptly murdered, Eli spoiled us with tickets for a boat tour on lake McDonald. We had gone all day wandering around in the sun, not eating much, and having our plans get cancelled so sitting on an our long boat ride was a welcome experience. We got some beautiful views of the mountains that surrounded us while we relaxed on the hour long boat tour. It was the perfect way to unwind after a long day.

On our way out of the park we stopped to photograph some ethereal looking Bear Grass. We noticed it when we first arrived but weren’t sure what it was. At that point, we decided it was some sort of floaty forest spirit that inhabited the forest considering they slightly resembled will-o’-the-wisps. To my dismay, we discovered that they were not, in fact, nature entities of any kind, just some fire resistant flower that only grows once every five to seven years. I guess we came to Glacier at a pretty good time after all?

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We took our leave of Glacier National Park and spent the night in the parking lot of a Super 1 Foods in Columbia Falls. It was a nice little spot that smelled like pine trees and had a cemetery across the street. We even got to be in the parking lot during the arrest of a murderer, which was pretty fun. Once Sunday rolled around, we decided that it would be best for our sanity to just head over to Hamilton, where we knew we would have a safe place to relax and work for the week. So, although we our experience of Montana so far has been hell on wheels, everything is fine once again.

-Brooke

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