Note: The blogging software I had purchased for my iPad turned out to be less than ideal (hanging, crashes, etc.) so I  am re-posting this entry, along with several new and improved pictures that I can now include because I also have the (better) photo editing software that’s on my laptop…

The alarm was set for 6:30am but even after needing to make up for only 5 hours of sleep (tops!) the night before, I was still awake at 6:15am (which would be 8:15am – 15 minutes later than when I usually wake up). Taking a shower was quite an experience – the entire shower stall was exactly 24″ square. Fortunately there was decent water pressure but the shower head was fixed and managed to hit me right on my chin – so when washing my hair, I had a choice of nearly drowning or, if I turned around, rinsing the shampoo out before I was done shampooing! Joe’s experiences were even worse, because his limbs are longer than mine – washing his feet took something of a gymnast’s talents and he still wound up inadvertently shutting the water off because he leaned against the control while getting between his toes. Considering that our room is huge (a good 15′ x 18′, if not more), the bathroom is only 5′ x 5′. Makes for interesting bathroom time, LOL! Oh, and the floors of the entire room are wood. Hundred-year-old floors that squeak if you breathe funny. Plus there’s a good downgrade from the middle of the room to the wall nearest to the bathroom – I’m not sure how many degrees it is but it’s certainly enough to be noticeable that you’re walking downhill to, or uphill from the bathroom. None of these things are horrible, mind you, but it certainly makes for interesting conversation! Other people on the tour have different challenges in their rooms – 7′ ceilings with the sprinkler pipes sticking so far down that the husband (6’3″) runs the risk of hitting his head (our sprinkler pipes show too but our ceiling is 8′ tall. Woo hoo!). Other people apparently have a room on a gable so half of their ceiling slopes so much that even I wouldn’t be able to stand up straight at one end. Good thing this hotel is almost 100 years old – just like with people, at that age you give them a little slack and annoying quirks simply become timeless charm!

Anyway, we made it down to the Great Northern Dining Room for breakfast around 7:30 or so. We had vouchers for the meal (albeit “buffet only”), which included powdered scrambled eggs, powdered “Montana eggs” (looked like eggs and cheese, with some vegetables thrown in for color), fried potatoes, French toast, bacon, sausage, Irish oatmeal and a small variety of fruits and cereals. I had some of the Montana eggs (which weren’t too bad), some bacon and Irish oatmeal, while Joe tried the French toast (he said it was wasn’t good at all), eggs, and some fruit. The coffee was only OK and, “Sharon to the rescue,” my stash of Splenda for me and Equal for him saved us from the fate worse than death known as Sweet & Low.

Breakfast at The Great Northern Dining Room

Fireplace in the dining room (now unused)

We were done eating by 8ish and, after wandering around a little (Joe outside, Sharon inside), we loaded onto the bus at 8:30am. Our destination was the Many Glacier Hotel, a building that, just like our hotel, was built almost a hundred years ago. The trip was a good hour to an hour and half away, so Geraldine and Tiffany fired up the DVD player and put in an episode of Disney’s True Life Adventures, “The Vanishing Prairie,” which was made in this area sometime in the 1950′s. They also gave us a little run-down on what our immediate and longer-term plans were for the day.

The entrance to Many Glacier

We arrived at the entrance to the National Park (our hotel is only on the outskirts of same) and, when nearly at the park, someone suddenly yelled out, “BEAR ON THE LEFT!” There were a bunch of people stopped on the road who were looking down into the ravine and as we got close enough in our bus, sure enough, we could see a mama bear and her 2 cubs! WAY cool!

Mama bear & 2 cubs, smack dab in the middle of the photo

We arrived at the Many Glacier Hotel around 9:30am and, after a quick pit stop, took the opportunity for photos (group and couples as requested) before loading onto the Chief Two Guns water vessel on Swift Current Lake, behind the hotel. Swift Current Lake, we were told, was originally a mining town called Alton (not Brown. No Good Eats there…but more on that later). The mining wasn’t very successful there though, so it was eventually abandoned and flooded. Apparently there are still foundations of the building on the lake bottom, if one so desired to dive down there. Needless to say, we did not so desire, LOL! Anyway, the lake was surrounded by mountains so we took advantage of the photo opportunities.

Back of Many Glacier Hotel

On the bank of the lake

Chief Two Guns at the boat dock of Swift Current Lake

Hey dude, ya wanna play "Chicken?" I guarantee we'll win!

The reason for this (very short) boat ride was simply bring us to a dock on the far side of the lake. From there we hiked an up and down part of a hill/mountain trail that was either 1/10th or 1/5th of a mile, depending on who you asked (our guides said it was 1/10th but our boat driver said it was 1/5th). Anyway, so we walked up and down the mountain hill thingy, which didn’t take very long – maybe 5 to 10 minutes? – but it was HARD WORK, because we were at an elevation of 5000 feet and there’s like NO oxygen up there. So after just a few feet of going uphill, I was totally out of breath. Now, granted, the uphill part of it was a nice grade – probably 15 or 20 degrees or so? But it really wasn’t THAT bad where I normally would have been THAT out of breath. I’m SO out of shape!

Hiking between Swift Current Lake & Lake Josephine

Anyway, so we got up and over the hill and there was our destination, Lake Josephine, which is much larger and has even more mountains. We loaded onto Morning Eagle, which had Captain Mara at the helm. The boat wasn’t anything special, but the views were spectacular! We even saw mountain goats!

Loading onto the Morning Eagle on Lake Josephine

Such pretty views!

Salamander Glacier, as seen from the lake

See those teeny tiny white dots in the picture? Those are mountain goats.

The one bad part of the boat ride? It started snowing. OK, it was just flurries but even so, it was snow. SNOW. I hate snow. NOT a happy camper for that, let me tell you! Oh, and there’s predictions for more snow tomorrow – the day we’re going white water rafting. That should be fun…

Snow. Why did it have to be snow?

Waiting for the boat to dock

Far-off view of Many Glacier Hotel from across the lake

So we got off that boat, walked back up and down the hill mountain thingy (huff puff, huff puff), waited for Capt. Two Guns to return, went back across Swift Current Lake, and gathered to have lunch at the Many Glaciers Hotel’s dining room, the Ptarmigan (the P is silent). We sat in parties of 4 or 6 and Joe and I sat with Bonnie and Rob, from NH. Anyway, thank god the company was good because the service and the food both pretty much sucked. Our server was nice and took our orders pretty quickly – and the 3 of us who were getting salads (as appetizers or side dishes) even got them in a decent amount of time. The 2 orders of pot stickers took forever though (they were deep-fried. Who deep fries pot stickers???) and not more than 3 minutes after they arrived, we were served our main courses. OK, then. I got the buffalo burger which actually wasn’t bad. Joe got the potato soup (which he liked) and the veggie wrap, which was composed of raw vegetables and melted cheese in a wrap. He didn’t like it and ate my pot stickers (which I didn’t eat much of because they were deep-fried). Dessert was a “Lemoncello Tart” for me (I was expecting lemon bars…I was wrong. I took one bite of the dry, tasteless thing and then just ate the small scoop of lemon sherbet that came with it) and chocolate cake for Joe, parts of which were OK and parts of which were dry. Bonnie and Rob didn’t have much more luck with their meal, but they were equally “more amused than annoyed” and helped to make an unfortunate situation a whole lot more fun. So yeah, thank god for the company. And for the old man at the table next to ours, who was wearing the camo jacket that still had the anti-theft tag attached to it – I wondered if he had stolen the jacket, if they just forgot to remove it at the store or if he was merely trying to make a fashion statement 😉 I was very proud of myself, though – I did not take a surreptitious picture of him.

Lobby of Many Glacier Hotel

Inside the restaurant

Lunch with Bob & Bonnie

Although we had gotten our food relatively quickly, it took them forever for the server to take our dessert order (it wasn’t the server’s fault – the hostess was seating people server by server, instead of “spreading the wealth” between the servers – so whereas we were her only table when we arrived, we were now one of MANY full tables for her) so by the time we were done with our dessert, it was only 10 minutes until 1:30, which was the time Tiffany and Geraldine had told us to be in the main lobby to go “home.”

The ride back was uneventful, save for the announcement of “BEAR ON THE RIGHT!” And yep, we saw a lone bear walking along in the stream in the ravine. I took pictures but you can barely see him/her. It’s interesting to note though, that Tiffany and Geraldine said the record for this tour this year was 5 bear sightings…and we’ve already seen 4 by Day 2!

We got back to our hotel around 3pm. Joe decided to take a nap (I had fallen asleep on the bus) so I went down to the lobby to blog. At 4pm our group was scheduled to have a private visit by Kenneth Eagle Story, a storyteller from the Blackfeet Tribe, which is part of the Blackfoot Nation. He was a nice man who I would guess was somewhere in his 60′s. He spent about an hour or so telling us traditional stories of his ancestors (my favorite was the one of why dogs sniff each other’s butts, LOL!), intermixed with answering questions from us, and telling us the details about his upcoming foot and knee surgery ;-).  I suppose it was an interesting way to spend an hour or so, although I have a feeling that Native Americans might have appreciated (and, I dare say, understood!) the stories better than we did.

Posing with Kenneth Eagle Story

I spent an hour or so by their HUGE fireplace (which was lovely – I can’t believe I never took a picture of it. I kept meaning to but it just never happened) writing this blog. Joe woke up and found me around 6pm. We decided to go wandering into town, which was just at the end of the hotel’s property, under the train tracks and across the street – maybe a 10-minute walk. We went to the East Glacier Trading Company, which was a 97-year-old company that was the equivalent of a small neighborhood grocery store, with some touristy things thrown in. Nothing very exciting. The rest of the stores (all 3 of them, maybe?) on “the strip” didn’t look very exciting either so, after a quick stop to look at the little house near the train tracks that looked abandoned but actually was unlocked and had working electricity (it had photos of when the town and hotel were being built), there wasn’t a whole lot to see, so we went back to the hotel.

The street was a whole lot of "not much" 😉

By this point is was close to 8pm so we decided to go have dinner at the hotel. Bonnie and Bob, our table mates from lunch, happened to be directly ahead of us, so we ate with them again. In general this meal was much, MUCH better than breakfast or lunch and, in my opinion, was the best meal we had eaten so far. I started with a salad that had greens, strawberries, pears and candied pecans, followed by prime rib, garlic mashed potatoes and bacon-kissed green beans. My dessert was a peanut butter and chocolate brownies…it was dry on the edges, which was something of a disappointment but it was probably just as well that I didn’t eat nearly as much of it ;-). Joe’s appetizer was a Caesar salad, New Zealand lamb chops with a huckleberry glaze, garlic mashed potatoes and carrots and carrot cake for dessert.

Service was a little on the slow side so we didn’t get out of the meal until nearly 10pm. With a 7am alarm, we called it a night.