The Gates of the Mountains (Furthur Megavacation Day 2)

We discovered that if you butter bread, put it butter side down, toast it until crisp, and then top it with honey the result tastes shockingly like french toast with maple syrup.  I can't explain it, but it does.  So, we have it for breakfast a lot while camping.  This is also a rare photo in that Matt is eating a plum.  He's not much into fruit outside of apples and bananas, but he keeps trying.
We took a boat tour through The Gates of the Mountains.

On July 19,1805, the Lewis and Clark was struggling to move upriver.  They could not tow from shore because of rock embankments and the channel was so deep that the men had to row rather than pole their boats forward.  Suddenly,  before them rose magnificent, towering rock formations. From both sides of the river, limestone cliffs rose to a impressive height of around 1200 feet. Meriwether Lewis wrote: "In many places the rocks seem ready to tumble on us." At each bend in the river the great stone walls seemed to block passage, only to open like giant gates as the expedition drew closer. In his journal, Lewis wrote: "I shall call this place: "GATES OF THE MOUNTAINS". 

A natural bridge is a geologic phenomenon that I really enjoy.   The time it took to form humbles and amazes me.

I even managed a shot with the blue sky peeking under the arch of the natural bridge.

Rock art (pictographs) from some of Montana's earliest inhabitants.  Remarkably well preserved if you ask me, but they are also probably quite hard to get to up on the side of that cliff.

Matt had taken the boat ride with his family years and years ago, but it was a first for me.  It was absolutely stunning in every direction.

Matt yawned right when I snapped the photo.  I thought it was great!

He liked this "normal" one better though....

Our boat captain had a pretty relaxed "driving" position.  It made me smile.  It seemed like he had a pretty darn good gig here.

See that teeny hole at the top?

You can tell that is where the water punched through and carved a path down to the bottom.  Pretty cool I thought!
An historic, yet working, ranch that has been preserved through conservation easements located within sight of the glorious canyon.  I love it when people have thought ahead enough to safeguard the future of their land and lifestyle.
Cool striated rock formations along the roadside.
We were able to make a stop at Freeze Out Lake.  Granted it wasn't the right time of year to see hundreds of thousands of snow geese, but it was still very much worth our while with waterfowl everywhere.  This is an American Avocet in drab fall plumage.  This was the first time we'd seen them dressed like this.  Usually they are a rather brightly colored orange.  It took some convincing before Matt agreed that they really were avocets....just weird colored.
Here he is estimating their size for comparison with the bird book as part of the growing proof that it wasn't a new bird for us, but a new stage in the breeding cycle.
American White Pelicans against a stunning, wide-open Montana backdrop.
Western Grebe and chick.
Great Blue Heron.
This photo screams "MONTANA" to me.  It makes me think of my grandparent's farm and when I used to work for USDA.  For a lot of folks the only beauty is in the mountain part of Montana, but my breath can be taken away by these larger-than-life eastern landscapes as well.
Driving along the southern border of Glacier National Park.
Lunch in Glacier....
...and a little exploring, but just a little because the Going to the Sun Road was closed for construction preventing us from driving all the way through the park.
Don't we look happy?!  It had started to get stormy and dark earlier than we'd planned.  Not wanting to set our tent up in either the rain or darkness we opted to stop for the night at the West Glacier KOA.  Lucky for us it didn't close for the season for another 5 days.  Though I was initially hesitant about it (I don't like to stay in commercial campgrounds as well as forest service campgrounds) Matt and I both decided it was probably the best idea of the day.  We got to sit in a hot tub and watch the sunset over the mountains.  We got two hot showers each.  The tent was set up before dark or rain hit.  Trains passing through the mountains in the night would let their whistles ring.  The sound waves reverberated and echoed through the still of night causing a surprising warble.  It sounded like music.  So I suppose it goes without saying that the unexpected stay at the KOA was worth every single penny. 


  1. You guys look like you're having the time of your life on your travels! Love the amazing scenery and that picture of the bare yellowed Montana plains looks quite like where we are.

  2. It was far and away our best, most stunning, memorable, and relaxing vacation to date.
    I've always found the scenery in your photos absolutely beautiful. How lucky we both are to live somewhere so splendid!
    Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!


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