The winding two lane road that traveled through Glacier National Park had been surprisingly quiet and (because it was so early in the season) more pull-offs were still closed to the public than were open.
As we drove around a bend in the road we were surprised to see a narrow parking lot that overlooked the mountains that was packed with people and vehicles.
Impulsively LC swung the Tahoe over to the left and he squeezed the vehicle into a tight space.
All three people and one sweet dog climbed out and I looked around me, trying to get the lay of the land.
There were mountains in every direction.
Rocky bluffs behind us, and in front of us were endless peaks covered with rock and pines, and patches of snow even in the middle of June.
It was beautiful.
It was stunningly beautiful.................
My frame of reference for western parks was Yellowstone, and we had only been inside Glacier for a very short period of time before I realized that THIS park was a whole different ball game.
The park was more remote and less accessible to the public than Yellowstone was.
It was more rugged. Quieter. And even though winter was brutal in Yellowstone, Glacier-winter was just as brutal (if not more so) and stayed longer due to its northern location.
This was not a park for the masses, and I did not fully realize that until taking this trip.
Even though this parking lot was small and narrow, it was filled with people who seemingly en masse had decided that THIS was the place where they would stop, relax, drink, eat, commune with the mountains that stood proudly and silently before them...................
I didn't realize at the time, but we must have been climbing as we drove further into the park.
Green quickly transitioned to grey rock, and as we pulled into one more small parking area I peered through the window of the Tahoe and admired the frozen waterfall and the snow covered bluffs.
We had begun the day in warmth and endless sunshine.
By the time we were deep in the mountains of Glacier National Park the sky was grey and it was very cold.
As I eagerly climbed out of the truck I wished for the first time that day, that I was wearing long pants instead of shorts.................
There were no parking spots in the too-small parking area, and LC offered to stay with the Tahoe while Chris and I followed a metal walkway leading to..............we had no idea where it led..................
There were lookouts that provided rugged and rustic and endless views of the high mountains that surrounded us.
Yellowstone was beautiful. Very beautiful. But Glacier had a ruggedness to it that Yellowstone did not, and I was in awe of this place.
Chris was walking ahead of me and as he turned a corner on the trail he stopped suddenly.
So suddenly in fact, that I almost bumped right into him.
I looked up at him in surprise but when he turned towards me he was smiling. Silently Chris pointed up ahead of him, and that is when I saw him.................
For all the trails I walked in Juneau I never once got a glimpse of the elusive mountain goats that were said to reside in the cracks and crevices of the rugged mountains that surrounded the city on three sides.
And now - unexpectedly - I was standing on a metal trail in Glacier National Park, overlooking the Highway to the Sun and staring down a mountain goat.
He stood unmoving as I did, and for a few moments I actually wondered if he was real.
Maybe he was simply some stuffed goat placed on the trail as a photo-op for park visitors.
And then he turned his head and looked to his left, and we both stood 50 feet away from each other, both of us unsure what to do next....................
Without closing the distance, Chris and I made the decision to back away and pick up another metal trail..............
Years ago LC had told me about a road in Glacier Park known as Highway to the Sun.
We had been on it for a while on this day, and as Chris and I stood at an overlook we could see not only the mountains, but also the highway that was cut into the mountain and that contained steep drop-offs.
Standing looking at it from this distance I deeply wished that we had more time and that we could explore this highway further.
With regret I knew that we did not have any more time, and that the remainder of the Highway to the Sun would have to wait for another day...............
A sign that we noticed on the way back to the parking lot. We had not seen it going in, and that was why seeing the mountain goat on the trail had been so stunning.
Now that I knew we were actually in a study area, I scanned the terrain as we headed back to the Tahoe..............
And found one more goat sitting in the dirt beside a huge rock bluff...............
A brief stop at Logan Pass.................
Pictures taken while inside the Tahoe and while on the move, as we slowly made our way back the way we had come....................
One last stop just before leaving the park.
We walked, wandered, took pictures, laughed and talked and enjoyed each others' company in one of the most beautiful settings that I had seen in a very long time.
This place SO much reminded me of Alaska.
Beautiful Alaska. Beautiful Montana...............
One of two Forest Service cabins on top of a hill not far from where we had parked the truck.................
After a very long and very good whirlwind day at Glacier National Park we finally made the trek back down to our home-base of Choteau.
With all of us having liked the food at the restaurant where we ate the night before, we again headed down to the same Bikers-Welcome place and ate huge meals.
It had been a tiring day, we were all starving, and we ate and easily talked with each other about nothing in particular, while at the same time remembering to secure a treat in a napkin for our pup who was waiting for us in the Tahoe, that was parked under a tree even though the sun was already beginning to set on the horizon.
It had been a good day - we had traveled far and seen much, and even though we were tired I did not regret one moment of our whirlwind day spent together in a beautiful national park...............
We stopped briefly at a grocery store on the way back to the campground.
Hours later my son stumbled drunkenly around a campfire, burping and farting and taling too loud.
I reminded him to keep the noise down because others in the camp ground were trying to sleep, but the quieter voice lasted only briefly before Chris was again too loud.
He said something that hurt my feelings.
He said something that was insulting to law enforcement.
By l:30 I was tired and LC was even more tired, and we had both had enough.
We went to bed and listened to Chris stumbling around for another 30 minutes before he finally and noisily walked into the cabin, fell into the bed and immediately and noisily fell asleep.
The next morning we had breakfast together, hugged each other and then Chris climbed into his car and headed north.
Back to Canada.
Away from me.
I watched my child drive away. I watched him until he was out of sight.
And then I turned to LC.
"When did my son turn into a burping, farting, loud, inconsiderate, obnoxious prick? When did that happen?"
I thought about my son all the way home to Idaho - a trip spent in deep introspection and worry and sadness.
A few days later I wrote a straight-forward email to Chris telling him some of my thoughts.
I sandwiched the bad in between the good on the front end and the good on the back end, and I was not certain I should write it and say what I did, but if I didn't say those things to him, who would?.
I haven't heard from him since.
But he asked me to do some research on what is involved in getting his dual Canadian-US citizenship.
So............I'll see what I can find out..............