Saturday, July 20, 2013

All-American 4th!

Our original 4th of July plan included a trip to Mt. Rushmore, but once I learned that we'd miss the fireworks behind the heads (they are done the 3rd for some reason) we decided we'd stick a little closer to home.  As James had already taken off the 5th of July we figured it was as good a time as any to head to Glacier.  Now Glacier isn't that much closer than Mt. Rushmore, but logistically it was an easier trip to plan as there is practically a Forest Service or National Rec Area campground every 20 miles between here and there.   Now, even though there are tons of campgrounds around, Montana is a camping state and the 4th is a pretty big camping holiday.  With two little ones we try and stick to campgrounds where we have reservations, especially if we are arriving late in the evening.  The night of the 3rd we camped about an hour south of Glacier near Swan Lake.  We actually had reserved the site for 2 nights thinking we'd take in a small town 4th of July celebration nearby, however, I was eager to get to Glacier and figured one parade and giant container of candy was plenty for the 4th so we just ended up there one night.  This guy stopped by to visit during breakfast:
 So our resident entomologist checked it out:
 And decided to keep him for observation (until we left 20 minutes later of course!)
 We then headed to Glacier where we found a great spot for us in a rapidly filling campsite.  The kids loved climbing the "big rock":
 We decided to take it easy with a picnic on the shore of Lake McDonald with lots of water play and rock tossing:
 We had packed nutella and strawberry wraps which Catherine (code name: bear magnet) thoroughly enjoyed:
 The first of many pictures where Matthew is holding a random stick.  He is going through a "hiking stick" phase:
 With two kids running on a sleep deficit and a long afternoon on the beach it was definitely nap time.  James and I took it as an opportunity to go scope out Going to the Sun Road which is by far the most amazing nap drive I've ever taken.  I drove over the first time and I must admit there were portions of the road that made me nauseous and I was probably white-knuckled the whole time.  The road is exceptionally narrow and the drop offs incredibly steep.  However, it is absolutely amazing.  So amazing in fact that we drove it again two days later with the kids mostly awake so I could stop and take pictures.  I did, however, have my first wildlife sighting!  I was super close to this guy as I drove by but my first thought was that it was someone's dog pooping on the side of the road.  When I later realized that it didn't belong to either of the parked cars and it was a coyote I was too late for a good picture as he finished up his business and trotted along:
 The kids woke up just about at St. Mary's (which was the other side of the road from where we were staying) so we took a gas and potty break and then headed back, making a few stops along the way:


 Jackson Glacier:
 And a stop to play in the snow at Logan Pass.  We were clearly still dressed for a day at the beach but the kids only minded a small bit:
 Unfortunately, all the snow meant that both hikes I had hoped to do were closed due to snow hazards :(  However, we were able to enjoy a lot of small walks, including through these fields of glacier lilies:

 And coming back down we stopped so Matthew could walk through the tunnel with the windows where we stopped for a picture:
 And Matthew was super excited about the rainbow:
 It really is a stunning park and it was super green when we went:
 Back at camp we got dinner ready and played a letter game with sticks while we waited.  Essentially Matthew or I would make a letter and Catherine would mess it up while the other tried to guess.  It was almost what I was going for!
 After dinner, we loaded the kids up in their comfy clothes and headed out of the park to Whitefish to watch fireworks over the lake.  Here were some of my favorite shots:


 The kiddos conked out in the car on the way back to the park and let us sleep in a bit the next morning, at least until they crawled over to our side demanding cuddles:
One of the great things about being in the National Park for the 4th was that it was dead silent.  Once we left the fireworks in town there were no more explosions throughout the night, just peace and quiet which is quite helpful with two little monkeys.

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