We woke up at 7am for an 8:30am meeting time to get on the bus. We were behind “Kathy and Bill from outside Philly” on line for breakfast so we decided to eat as a foursome (Kari and Chris from San Diego were a few people behind us but didn’t want to jump the line to make us a table of six). We were a little smarter for breakfast and didn’t load up – Joe got pancakes and Irish oatmeal, while I had Irish oatmeal and a banana.

We loaded onto the bus at 8:30am and were on our way. After 30 minutes or so, we arrived at the Glacier Raft Company on the Flathead River. We had the option to wear a wet suit or not – I chose to because the temperature was only in the 50’s and I figured it would keep me a little warmer. However I had never worn a wet suit before and I discovered that getting into one was quite the challenge, especially if you’re a little fluffy down below – they gave me an extra small (for the length) and of, course, the thing was skin-tight. My hands weren’t strong enough to pull it up over my lower half so I eventually called Joe into the dressing room to help me πŸ˜‰ Yeah, that wasn’t embarrassing at all. They also supplied us with raincoats, booties (again, hopefully warmer than my water shoes – and yes, they did have them to fit my teeny tiny feet), life vests and helmets (the latter two were requirements). Joe chose not to get the wetsuit – but he paid for that decision as the adventure wore on.

The school bus that brought us to the Flathead River

We loaded onto a school bus (35 people wearing helmets in a school bus admittedly made for a politically incorrect joke or two) and while we were driven to the drop off, were divided into 4 rafts – ours was the Murderous Mountain Goats or some such, led by a raft guide named Brian.

Brian

We arrived at the drop off and congregated into groups. Brian introduced himself and invited us to load onto the raft. I got one leg over and was ready to get the other leg in when the raft, already floating, shifted towards me. That caused my center of gravity to go too far backwards and down I went, falling into the shallow water. I’m sure it was quite a site! And MAN, was that water cold!

Once the 8 of us were loaded onto the raft, we started floating on the water and Brian gave us instructions of “how to row”: how to hold the paddle, and what he meant when he said “all stroke forward,” “all stroke back,” “2 strokes forward,” “left forward and right back” (that was if we wanted to turn around), “rest,” etc. Brian acted as our rudder and, I assume, was some of the power of our forward movement but the 8 of us were each responsible for rowing. We rarely rowed enough to make us truly tired, but sure felt it a little bit in my left shoulder the next day!

Two of the other rafts.

I was having SOOO much fun!

Our path would be a total of 8 miles of water – 4 miles that were pretty simple and gentle water and 4 miles than included nine Class II and III rapids (except they weren’t really II’s and III’s this time of year – they were closer to I’s and II’s). Our group was a nice mix of people and we went back and forth between talking, joking around and silence. On the last rapid, I asked Brian for permission to “not row,” so I could videotape the going over the rapid. He said it was fine and to hand him my oar so nothing happened to it. So as we approached the rapid, I got a lot of teasing about being “Cleopatra” as they all “rowed me down the river.” LOL!

Joe, in his bathing suit, continually insisted that he was NOT COLD (as his goose bumps got goosebumps). Another member of our group eventually had to pee so badly that he was at the point of pain – Brian told him he was more than welcome to jump out of the raft to do what he needed to do…eventually he got so desperate that he did and the look on his face went from shock (the water temperature was in the 50’s) to relief, LOL! Our Adventure Guides were on different rafts, not ours, so they didn’t know why he had jumped into the water…so she took a picture of him. Let’s see if that winds up on the picture DVD they send us, LOLOL!

He said he was NOT cold!!! Yeah, right...

THIS guy, however, WAS cold. And wet. But he didn't have to pee anymore!

Anyway, all told, just as last time (the white water rafting we did on our “Southwest Splendor” Adventures by Disney tour), the white water rafting was a LOT of fun! And since I still haven’t experienced official Cat III’s, I want to go again!

We were done around 1:30pm and as we changed clothes (it was only slightly easier to take the wet suit off than it was to put it on) in the changing rooms, porta-pottys and the potty on the bus, the rafting staff proceeded to make us a barbecue lunch. We had a choice of grilled chicken, beef or veggie burgers, plus macaroni salad, bacon salad, crudite vegetables, tortilla chips with salsa, and even PBJ or (are you sitting down?) PB&Nutella sandwiches (I had half of one – it ROCKED). Drinks included hot coca, tea, lemonade or water. Good stuff!

Once we were all filled up, we made a quick stop at the raft shop to have the opportunity make a pit stop and/or buy pictures that the rafting company’s photographer had taken while we were on one of the rapids. After that it was a 20-minute drive to a lodge where we loaded onto 3 Red Buses, 10 to 14 people per bus, for a tour of Glacier National Park.

This lady made me laugh. She was in the parking lot when it started to rain really hard. So she put a paper napkin on top of her head. Yeah, cuz that will surely keep her dry!

The Red Buses, affectionately known as “Jammer Buses,” were made to be topless (no, not THAT kind of topless. Think convertible) tourists buses so guests could have unobstructed views of the park (although with the cold temps and the on-and-off rain, the tops were up for us). They were built by the White Motor Company in 1937 to 1939 and have been used to transport tourists around Glacier National Park ever since, with a refurbishment paid for (but not actually done by) by the Ford Motor Company (yes, *that* Ford) from 1999 to 2002. They are painted to match a certain flower that grows in the park and thanks to some modifications of the years, currently run on gasoline or propane (to help the environment).

Joe and I in front of a Red Bus

I couldn’t tell you much about the first part of the trip because I fell asleep. However a few minutes before a bear cub was spotted on “my side” of the bus, I was once again bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

The views on the trip were gorgeous and the snow they had gotten the night before only made for even more contrast. We drove all the way up to the top of the road and stopped at a rest/gift shop in an area called Logan’s Pass. The views from here were incredible and we got to see (I think) a prairie dog (or maybe a groundhog? Or something else?), as well. It started to snow as we were getting ready to leave…oh joy.







Our Jammer Bus driver

We arrived back down towards the bottom of the mountains around 5pm, where Tim the bus driver was waiting for us. It was another hour or so until we got “home.”

After some quick showers, we met Suzie and her husband for dinner at our hotel’s restaurant. Joe and I switched entrees…this time he got the prime rib and I got the lamb – with a salad before and a small dish of huckleberry ice cream for dessert. Considering that the breakfasts are fair at best, the dinners here are darn good! Once again the meal was slow so by the time we were done eating, it was bedtime.

With plans to leave the hotel tomorrow at 8am, we set the alarm for 6am. Bleh.

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