Rainier National Park, WA – Winthrop, WA – Sand Point, ID – Glacier National Park, MT
Miles Driven: 1607 miles (2586 km)
States Visited: 4
Campfires enjoyed: 6
After an amazing few days at Mt, Rainier, it was off to visit our second national park but, along the way, we had a few friends to catch up with first. Stop #1 was to visit a friend we worked with in Warsaw, who later became Indi’s totally awesome 5th grade teacher. Catie is now living the dream in the funky western town of Winthrop, WA, loving cabin life and teaching at a local school. We visited earlier this summer and couldn’t wait to get back. Was this our last bit of summer weather for a while? If so, we wanted to take advantage of it with a swim in the nearby lake, sipping cold ones, while we watched firefighting helicopters scoop up buckets of water to put out hot spots from a recent fire– which forced Catie to evacuate her home (for the second year in a row) a few weeks ago. We even gave Catie’s husband and son–Scott & Brodi–a call in Warsaw where they will be for a bit longer before joining Catie in Winthrop.
Our next stop was catching up with some of Wendy’s old friends from her days attending college in Seattle, Nicole and Eric in Sandpoint, Idaho. On our way, we were able to stop by and visit the Grand Coulee Dam, one of the biggest dams in the world and an impressive structure with a great visitor center; highly recommended by all three Windusts (http://www.usbr.gov/pn/index.html) .
Our hosts in Sandpoint could not have been more gracious and kind and we had a great evening getting to know Nicole & Eric’s amazing kids (Mitchell and adorable toddler MJ–we missed meeting Courtney, who was in Nicaragua), reminiscing about college experiences with Wendy, and catching up on everything that has happened in the past 20 years or so.
Getting to see family and friends while on this trip is already one of the highlights. If you’re on our route and don’t want visitors, let us know, because otherwise we’re stopping by! Unfortunately, our time went far too quickly and we were off the next day to Glacier National Park.
Before reaching Glacier we noticed a trail head on the side of the road to Kootenai Falls, a great find. A short one mile hike brought us to a very cool suspension bridge, beautiful river, and waterfall. I’m looking forward to all the surprises in store for us over the next several months.
Glacier National Park… just WOW! I find it hard to describe in words so I’ll just let the photos do most of the talking. We stayed at Apgar Campground on Lake McDonald, near where we entered the park. One nice perk of camping near one of the park entrances was being close enough to a bar where I could go and watch my first live Monday Night Football game in 15 years. Other highlights included our four mile hike to Avalanche Lake, driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road (if it’s not the most beautiful road in the world, I’m not sure what is), seeing moose and mountain goats, and our three mile hike from Logan pass to the Hidden Lake Overlook.
And in this world of crazy coincidences, in a park that is 16,000 square miles big and has over 700 miles of trails, over 600 miles from home, I happened to bump into my Mom’s cousin Kathy on one of our hikes when I asked her if she was in line for an outhouse. Luckily, she recognized me which led to a great conversation on the hike back to our cars. Our visit carried over to dinner where her husband Mark prepared us all a delicious steak dinner back at their cabin later that evening, complete with rock skipping and a beaver sighting. Which just so happened to be about three minutes from where we were camping.
We truly just scratched the surface of this amazing park. I can’t wait to come back and do some exploring in the back country with my backpack and some more time.
Next stop: Yellowstone!