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..

This was our third Adventures by Disney tour – the first one, Southwest Splendor (2007) was awesome. The second one, Backstage Magic, which gave us backstage views of Hollywood and Disneyland (2008) was OK, and now we were on our way to Glacier National Park in Montana, followed by the Canadian Rockies. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t suck!

We woke up at an ungodly 4:30am, for a 5:30am pickup to the airport. With last-minute “hurricane instructions” to the house/dog sitter (bring the patio furniture into the house please. No, don’t throw it in the pool, LOL!) and some last hugs and kisses to Dobby, we were on our way.

We arrived at the airport at 6ish. My husband, ever the geek, arranged for our boarding passes to be sent directly to our iPhones and amazingly, the system worked well!

After a quick stop at Starbucks (of course), we settled near our gate and waited to board the plane. We still had plenty of time so I wandered for a bit, noticing the new stores that were popping up in the terminal (why is it that airports are starting to look like old-fashioned indoor malls while traditional malls are making way for those ridiculous open-air places that don’t account for, oh, I don’t know…weather?). Anyway, one of the new stores was called Cibo Gourmet Market, to which my comment was, “What’s so ‘gourmet’ about them? They sell Pepsi and Mentos!”

The plane ride from Orlando to Minneapolis was uneventful; I managed to sleep for an hour or so and spent much of the rest of my time discovering the highly addictive game known as Angry Birds, which I had downloaded onto my iPad before we left.

We had a relatively short layover between Minneapolis and our final destination – just enough time to make a pit stop and grab some food to go (Sharon = turkey sandwich, Joe = Cobb salad, both from California Pizza Kitchen).

We boarded the plane and, after some short naps, lunch and a few more levels of Angry Bird later (Level 20 is HARD!), we had arrived at Glacier Park International Airport located in the thriving metropolis known as Kalispell, Montana.

One of our guides, Tiffany, met us (and at least 2 other couples on our plane) on the way to baggage claim. After we got our luggage (yay, it all arrived!), Tiffany introduced us to our other guide for the week, Geraldine.

Geraldine (L) & Tiffany (R)

After the taking of the obligatory geeky picture (see above) we were pretty much on our own for an hour or so, until the last members of our tour arrived on their respective planes. We used the time to talk with some of the other people on our tour – we discovered that several of them were DVC members and/or had been on other Adventures by Disney tours in the past. And one couple was from Leeds, UK! What a small world! Unfortunately, they have never heard of Sing Live. Can you imagine?!?!? Hahaha!

Our bus, er, Motor Coach

By 3pm, everyone had been accounted for and we all loaded onto the bus. Sorry…and we all loaded onto the Motor Coach ;-). While driving through Kalispell, Geraldine took the microphone to formally introduce herself, Tiffany and our Motor Coach driver, Tim. She also explained a bunch of amenities that the Motor Coach – I give up…from now on I’m calling it the bus. It’s shorter and easier to type! – that the bus offered, the amenities that she and Tiffany had available (snacks, bottled water, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, etc) and general bus safety. Once she was done, she gave us a chance to rest and enjoy the view.

Around 3:45 or so, Tiffany took the microphone to let us know we were on our way to entering the East Entrance of Glacier National Park, and then what to expect when we went white water rafting in a few days. Lunch orders for that day were also taken (steak sandwich, grilled chicken sandwich or veggie burger?), as well as an explanation of why we would be seeing them take pictures of us all week (it wasn’t to be scary freaky – it was because we get a CD with all the pictures they take, after we get home).

With some other brief announcements here and there, we arrived at our hotel around 4:30 or so. While Tiffany and Geraldine did whatever they needed to do for us at check-in, they handed us off to Brad, who was an assistant manager at the hotel. Brad gave us a tour of the hotel, including the dining rooms, the flower garden, the various fireplaces (only one is in use anymore) one of the verandas, etc., while explaining the history of this lodge that was opened for business in 1913. It was a nice education about the history and Brad, with a decent sense of humor, did a good job (especially for someone who, as per him, had never done such a tour before).

The Glacier Park Lodge from the Outside

The main lobby. The case on the right side is a stuffed mountain goat. Hotel legend is that snow got so high one winter that the goat fell through the skylights - but 2 other places used the same story, so we're skeptical, not so much at the snow height, but that he fell through.

The hallway in our hotel that showed gorgeous sunrises and sunsets

The hallway on our floor looked like something from out of The Shining

Brad

View near the hotel

While we were on the tour, Tiffany got our keys for us and handed them out. Around 5:30 or so, Brad “released” us to our rooms. We had instructions to meet in our private dining room at 6pm, so we only had time to go to our room and freshen up a little. No need to unpack though – there’s no dresser in the room, LOL! Hotels were apparently VERY simple in the early 20th century.

Our room: One double bed as viewed from the other double bed. One couple had THREE double beds in their room - they used the other 2 beds in lieu of drawer space

OLD desk and mirror in our room

Our windows were roughly 4.5 feet from floor level and I had to use a chair to actually see through them as intended. Yet other couples on our tour had windows that were just inches off the ground.

We made it down to the dining room at 6pm, where Geraldine and Tiffany gave each of us an “Adventures by Disney” pin (the first of many pins we’ll get this vacation. We are SO over the “pin thing”. Put ‘em in a bag and throw ‘em in the storage room, I say! LOL!). Once everyone was assembled (except the British couple – I noticed they weren’t there), T&G gave some brief announcements and then we got up to eat – salad, cornbread (made without sugar. Crap. ;-)), corn on the cob, potatoes, salmon, BBQ chicken breasts, BBQ brisket and an apple cobbler for dessert. It was fine – not gourmet food but no BBQ really is. It filled our bellies and that’s what really counted. Oh, we also had our choice of beer, wine, iced tea, lemonade, water, huckleberry soda or root beer. I got the huckleberry soda – not bad!

We ate way downstairs in a room that used to house the hotel's swimming pool. Apparently some ABD tours ate this meal on the hotel lawn but that wasn't an option for us. Dunno why.

The buffet

My dinner plate

Once the meal was over, we each were asked to stand up, tell our name, where we were from and what we were most looking forward to on the trip. It was a nice way to get to know everyone, who ran the gamut from Hawaii to New England to England (THE England, LOL!), with several anniversaries noted (10th, 35th, etc.). The white water rafting seemed to be what a lot of people were looking forward to the most. I know I am.

One we were all done speaking, we were treated to a local entertainer named Wayne (Murphy, I think?), who played the guitar and sang a bunch of familiar songs.

Our dinner entertainment, Wayne

Couples started meandering out around the time that Wayne was done – it was nearly 8pm and sunset would be happening soon. Joe and I spent our time walking the property and looking at the sites, until it got closer to sunset and we settled on the veranda not far from our room. The sunset wasn’t as spectacular as Key West or Hawaii, but it was still pretty and definitely a nice way to end the night.

Pretty...

Prettier...

Um...yeah...;-)

It’s only the first day but so far the tour seems to be going well. If you read my blog entries of the Southwest Splendors and Backstage Magic tours, you’ll know that we wound up holding the former as “the standard” and the latter really didn’t measure up for us, not because it was a bad tour but just because of a variety of circumstances. So far this tour, from the guides to the guests, seems like it’s much more in tune with Southwest Splendors. And for that I am very, VERY happy!

The alarm is set for 6:30am tomorrow morning (UGH!) so off to sleep I go. More next time…

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