01 Aug

Bruno Gets Punched In The Gut, Enjoys Rockies All The Same

As with any travel adventure, you often see the best and the worst of people. We heard strangers giving words of encouragement on a difficult hike in the snow. People picking up litter out of the goodness of their hearts (this was usually Travis) or giving a jump to someone on the side of the road. On the flip side, we witnessed road rage (sometimes Amanda’s) and pure unkindness towards fellow man (to which Travis left a note asking to “help make America great again” by not stealing other people’s parking spots). Bruno had an unfortunate run-in with a bozo, but remains optimistic about the future.

Upon leaving Wyoming, we headed straight for Missoula with a short stop in Butte, Montana.

Butte is an old mining town with historic buildings and abandoned mine shafts blending right into the landscape. We found it so picturesque and none of our own shots did it justice.

We found Missoula, Montana to be a funky mountain town. Happily celebrating their warm summer weather, we enjoyed live music in the park with local Missoulans and a hike up “the M” on the University of Montana campus (literally, the letter M on the side of a mountain).

We camped one night outside the entrance to Montana’s Glacier National Park (not to be confused with the one of same name in British Columbia, Canada). We spent a relaxing night making burgers on the fire and were visited by a friendly doe who never stayed still long enough for a picture. The Hungry Horse Dam & Reservoir have many beautiful campgrounds with water access for boating and refreshing dips.

We entered Glacier National Park on the west side early the next morning and set out to find a first-come, first-serve campsite at Apgar Campground. Being old pros at this now, we found one without much trouble.

The Going-To-The-Sun road cuts right through the park and is an event unto itself. There are waterfalls, wildflowers, and hairpin turns along cliff sides. Some visitors choose to take the free park shuttle from July to September – easier to snap pictures and enjoy the  views instead of watching the road. We took our time and pulled over at the turnouts.

Notes on visiting Glacier in June: our desired hike (the popular Highline Trail) was closed due to too much snow. We were too early in the season. So the rangers recommended another popular hike to Hidden Lake behind the visitor’s center. You can see it had much less snow.

Scattered tourists, unprepared and trying to keep to the “trail”. Seeing pictures of this hike in the summertime (i.e. not snow-covered) is laughable; it has a wooden boardwalk leading right to the lake overlook and you probably exert 10% of the effort we did. Hard to get lost when there are hundreds of other people going in the same direction, though.

After our previous snow hike in the Tetons, where Travis had cold, wet feet in his FiveFinger Vibrams, he got himself a pair of sturdy hiking boots from a sporting consignment store in Missoula. The weather was not what we were expecting in June, but it sure was pretty…

We decided to stick to the lower elevations after that.

 

Throughout our trip this summer, we have been incredibly lucky when it comes to seeing wild animals. We saw pronghorns and bison, mule deer and white-tailed deer, moose and elk, hoary marmots and fuzzy mountain goats. This little ol’ lady crossed right in front of us:

Followed quickly by a cuddly baby one right behind her!

No encounters with bears or big cats, which is always a good thing. This was as close as we got to a grizzly bear on the road in East Glacier:

Glacier National Park in Montana is part of an International Peace Park with Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. The first such park in the world, it crosses an international border and promotes peace and goodwill between nations, but also emphasizes that wilderness knows no country borders and that co-operation is required in its protection. The Canadian side of the park at the town of Waterton is equally as stunning.

We mostly lived outdoors for 29 days. We were dirty and tired of eating the same foods over and over. We were happy to have reached Calgary! Be indoors! Showered and bug-free!

Within a few weeks, family descended upon us from all over for the impending nuptials – Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal. With this came big family meals. The true way to have polenta in an Italian household is to pour out the cooked cornmeal onto a wooden polenta board (basically a slab that has been passed down for generations). Spicy oils and sausages top the polenta and then you all go at it with forks and pretend to play Risk.

The wedding was elegant, my sister was a gorgeous bride, and we had perfect weather! She has now joined a family with a boatload of brothers she never knew she always wanted.

The newlyweds were sent off on a mini-honeymoon for some R&R and in the meantime, somebody crushed Bruno’s driver side while he was napping (parked) on a quiet residential street! His sweet, tender dreams were violently disrupted.

This is exactly why we don’t buy new cars. Shit happens. And when it does, it’s a hell of a lot easier to swallow with old faithful Bruno (worth less than $5,000) than on a $44,000 newly minted 4Runner. Ugh, I can’t watch.

After the truck detached himself, it was clear that it was only cosmetic. Bruno’s a little embarrassed to be driving around in his condition, but Travis lovingly washed the black markings off and now he’s just dented. We’ll work on making him as presentable as possible, once he’s back in our own driveway. What else have we got to do with our time?

  • Those are some incredible shots! Love the mountain views, and mountain goats! We’re going to have to make it out to that part of the states to check it out ourselves.

    Too bad about Bruno. At least he still drives fine, and it wasn’t a hit and run. That’s one of the best thing about used cars, I won’t be losing any sleep over dents on our $3k Prius 🙂

    • Travis

      Hey Crazy! Of all the places we’ve visited I think Southern Utah is the best. Additionally, I’ve grown to truly appreciate how amazing the Canadian Rockies are. When we lived in Calgary, we took them for granted – but now I recognize their splendor more fully. Check out Banff sometime if you haven’t already!

  • Amazing pics! Was it hot most of those places or pretty decent? I’m sure the snowy areas were mild.

    As for that crazy car damage, hopefully you get a big fat check from the trucker’s insurance company and you can keep it and use it toward Bruno v 2.0 down the road. I’m kind of hoping a truck backs into our minivan at some point, doing minimal damage and earning us a several thousand dollar paycheck.

    • Travis

      Hey Justin! I just signed the documents with the insurance company… drumroll… we’re getting $4000 in cash for the damage! Not exactly like hitting the lottery, but close enough! Now I just need to see if I can make Bruno look less ugly from the damage.

      Only a few days in Utah were “hot”. I would not recommend Utah in July or August, as I think it would be quite uncomfortable!

  • Sorry to hear about Bruno getting smashed up!

    Those are some wonderful photos of Montana! No forest fire haze in the sky either. I was traveling in eastern washington this week, and the haze from the BC forest fires was extremely thick in the sky. None of my landscape shots turned out very good. Yours turned out great — not a whiff of smoke in the sky!

    • Travis

      Yeah, the BC wildfires have been extremely bad this summer and got worse in July. Smoke was routinely blowing all the way into Calgary. Unfortunately, they are projected to get worse with climate change. It’s a major bummer!

  • Janice Liwanag

    Nooooo!!! Not Bruno!! Can’t believe it happened in Calgary. Good that you weren’t in it at the time. Sorry to hear about this 🙁

    • Travis

      Thanks Janice! I’m positive nothing like this would ever happen to Lucky, so don’t worry.

  • Michael Keel

    Great Post…Sorry for Bruno! ouch,

    • Travis

      Thanks Michael – Bruno will survive, and it’s only cosmetic. We just signed papers with the insurance company to get a $4000 cash payout, which is essentially the Kelly Blue Book value of Bruno. Not bad!

  • Hrothgar

    Fun to read !

    • Amanda

      Glad you enjoyed it!