Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Crown of the Continent-- Glacier National Park (part 2)

Dear Internet:

It is apparent that I have been somewhat delinquent in keeping this blog up-to-date.  I'd apologize, but A) I'm not sure who I'm really apologizing to, and B) I'm not sorry.  I've been busy, getting a PhD and all. 

It's not that I haven't been travelling-- far from it.  Since the last voyage mentioned here (to Glacier National Park in 2012), I've been in and around Santiago, Chile; tootling through the French Alps (including Aix-Les-Bains, Annecy, and Chamonix); catching fish (and experimenting on them) in the astoundingly beautiful San Juan Islands of Washington State; and skiing and sciencing in Aspen, Colorado this past January.  Add in a trip to Vancouver, a trip or three to Montreal, and uncountable quick jaunts down to Los Angeles, and I feel like I've spent more time on buses, trains, and planes over the past two years than in the rest of my life combined.  However, there's no burnout in sight, at least not yet.

I'm writing now from a beautiful old library in Liverpool, England, one week into several months of traveling I'll be doing this summer-- covering Oslo, Liverpool, Dublin, Pisa, Cinque Terre, Florence, Rome, Livorno, Corsica, Nice, Panama City, and the Panamanian Pacific coast.  Now seemed as good a time as any to revive Globetrotting to share my impressions and imaginings with whomever might want to tune in.  That said, there's no way I'll be able to write about all the adventures I've had from 2012 up to now!  The next entry will be from Oslo.  However, I did find a draft, unfinished post of the second portion of our journey to GNP, in which you'll hear about Quaker weddings, local trout, and mountain goats.  Read on if you're interested-- otherwise, tune in in a day or two to hear about Oslo!

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Despite a rocky start, our trip to Glacier National Park turned out to be one of the most beautiful and memorable experiences that I've been fortunate enough to have. We attended K and M's wedding in high style with our TJ Maxx ensembles-- in fact, the dress I wore that day is still one of my favorites, a year and a half later.  The Quaker ceremony was beautiful, brief, and simple.  The bride was luminously beautiful, and the joy on the groom's face when he saw her was unforgettable. There was no officiant; instead, guests were invited to share their experiences of the bride and groom and wish them well.  Each guest signed the beautifully hand-calligraphed wedding certificate as a witness to the marriage.  There was a strange and unified emotion among the disparate guests as we watched them watch each other... it's impossible to describe in words, and harder still if you don't know the couple.  If you combine the "oh, of course" you get when someone states the obvious, and combine that with the comfortable feeling of coming home after a long journey, you may be getting close to the mark.

The reception, replete with local beer, local trout, local beef, and local mountain air, was the perfect complement to the heart-stirring ceremony.  From the historic inn's wrap-around porch, we danced and watched the stars come out in the summer sky over the peaks of the park.  The combination of warm air and full bellies soon sent us to bed, excited by the prospect of exploring the park the next day.

And explore we did!  We had gone into the park on the morning of the wedding to Lake McDonald, with its multicolored stone beaches and crystalline water.  However, today's mission was to conquer the famous Going-To-The-Sun Road, which climbs roughly east-west through the park from its south entrance (near our hotel) to its east entrance, near the town of St. Mary.  On the way, there are near-constant views of sculpted stone and open blue sky.  We stopped constantly to take pictures, highlights being Logan's Pass (where we looked down into a beautiful valley, the trail down to which was barred due to recent grizzly sightings) and the completely unperturbed wildlife-- deer, birds, ground squirrels, and mountain goats.

Going-to-the-Sun Road: typical view


GNP also forms half of the Waterton International Peace Park, which goes across the border into Canada!


Stunning mountains


California Ground Squirrel


Beautiful but beware of bears


Mountain goats.  Yes, they were that close to us.  They just didn't care.


Narrow path which we hiked-- to the left is a sheer dropoff


The fast-disappearing glaciers of Glacier National Park


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