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Sunday, September 6, 2009

GLACIAL PARADISE

Dick loves to watch for the Empire Builder (Amtrak from Chicago to Seattle) as we cross the prairie. He has ridden that out to Glacier in the fall a couple times.  I think his fascination with trains started when his Dad woke up the whole family one night to watch the Zephyr (Amtrak Chicago to LA) go past their Airstream on one of their western trips when he was a kid. He’s always talking about jumping a train. I think he must have been a hobo in one of his past lives. The tracks follow Hwy. 2 almost the whole trip and we did see the Empire Builder pass us a few times.
After a couple long days on the road, through the breadbasket of America, passing through the geographical center of North America, and then under the big sky of Montana, we finally made it to paradise. Glacier National Park is incredible. We hiked around Two Medicine Lake that began at our campground. The 8 mile trail went through beautiful spruce forests and fields of wildflowers. We even ate a few raspberries and thimble berries along the way. We visited with several other hikers so it took a few hours more than it should have. It’s always fun meeting people as we travel. This morning as we walked up to the ranger station we were greeted by a woman carrying her mug of coffee and walking her little poodle at the end of a leash. She says, “Where are the bears? That’s what I wanna know. I came all this way so I want a picture of a bear.” Dick says, “Just keep trolling with that dog and you might just find one.”
One interesting couple we met on the trail were from Switzerland and had traveled to the U.S. on a container ship. They landed in Jacksonville, FL., bought a small motorhome and have been traveling across the country. Next they go to LA, sell the motorhome and take another container ship to Australia. They said it wasn’t cheap, but like a floating hotel with great food. 
We did meet up with my parents here and there along Hwy 2 and have connected again with them here at Glacier. They know where all the “FREE” campgrounds and dump stations are. They will be with us until Tuesday when we head west to Washington and they’ll head for California to visit my sister and brother. 
**I’m reading a book The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin, the author of Devil in the White City. While traveling through North Dakota where you see nothing for miles and miles it is hard to believe what took place in this region in the 1880’s. For those of you who like reading historical books, I recommend this one.


Dick’s Comments
Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes but North Dakota is the land of a billion pot holes. I mean that in a good way. They dot the farmland across the state and this time of the year as well as spring they are loaded with migrating ducks. There’s a thousand miles of  wheat between Minnesota and the Rockies. It must have been amazing to travel this stretch of the globe in a covered wagon through tall grass that would hide an Indian on a paint pony. 
Traveling in the Electronic Age. I spent a month before we left trying to figure out the best way to stay connected and able to run our book business on the road. I discovered what I pretty much already knew--the cell phone company plans are the next best thing to bank robbery. I finally decided on the lesser of several evils. It used to be, “The customer is always right.” The new motto for many corporations is “The customer is always stupid.” That’s probably why so many of them are going bankrupt. Our cell service is Altell which was bought out by Verizon. We ended up with an internet data card from Altell which turned out to be faster than the Charter Cable we HAD at home. Yes, we fired Charter. Now Gaila is chatting online with her sister in California while I’m driving across the plains of Montana. I can see from horizon to horizon and can’t pick out a single tower, yet she has big pipe internet service flowing through the laptop. Amazing. We grandfathered into Altell before the switch this fall to Verizon. Much better and cheaper data plans. I thought we would be going back to the old dial-up speed so this has been a pleasant surprise. We can use it on our home computer--IF WE COME HOME! 

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