We try to plan a vacation as soon as the girls are out of school. Their school year ends just before Memorial Day, which is earlier than most school districts. This gives us a small window to vacation while things are still relatively off-season.
We talked about going to Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park last year. We were doing a little research when we came across a pop-up window saying that reservations for 2018 were available for all in-park hotels. We quickly discovered that all the hotels were booked -- a year in advance. We made reservations at hotels outside the park as soon as we could to make sure we had places to sleep.
After a day in Spokane, we drove to the park's west entrance. We put on our hiking boots and headed into the park. Our first views were very pretty. We couldn't wait to start seeing the wildlife advertised in all the brochures, except the bears. We wanted to see a bear with the same intensity that we were afraid to see a bear.
Our scheduled horseback ride was a disaster. It was pouring rain that morning. I called the stable, and they reminded me that they rode in all weather. When they said "all weather," it didn't occur to me that they would ride in a rainstorm. By the time we were on the horses and heading towards the trail, the rain slowed. It stopped for a few minutes and we thought that the ride might improve. We were wrong. It started hailing. It was loud when the hail hit our helmets. We were soaked to the bone. It was cold. We were scheduled for a two hour ride, but when the guide offered to end the ride at one hour, we jumped at the chance.
We spent the next two days on Glacier's east side. It was stunning at every turn. We took a boat ride at Two Medicine lake and hiked to a few waterfalls. We saw some mountain goats way up on the mountain. We heard interesting stories. We went to St. Mary's Lake for more hiking. It was stunning at every turn. We couldn't believe how beautiful the entire day was more than we imagined.
Our final day found us Many Glacier Lakes. We arrived early to enjoy the gorgeous surroundings. For days we had a running joke about how I wanted to see a moose. Daddy came into the gift store and said, "There's a moose and her baby that hang out near the hotel." I thought he was kidding until we went outside and saw the moose across the lake.
We boarded our boat tour, which was quite different from the previous tour. On this tour, we started on one lake, hiked about 1/2 mile and boarded a boat on a second lake. Knowing that it our last day at Glacier, we savored every moment. The tour guides were terrific story tellers. The scenery was breathtaking at every turn.
As we returned to the first lake to head back at the end of our tour, my moose returned. She swam across the lake, walking out of the water near a camping ground. We didn't see her after that, but I like to imagine she walked through the camp ground shocking and delighting campers. It was a perfect ending to our trip, which shocked and delighted us at every turn.