Having put a new engine in the van, we figured it was only fitting to rechristen it with a new name. We’d previously owned a car whilst living in Canada in 2009, nicknamed Sandy V by our mate Kyle from our Vancouver blog. He again came up trumps declaring that we must name this one Porkchop. So without further ado, we present to you by video stream the one and only, fresh off the slaughter floor and back in for round two, the mighty, tasty POOOOORKCHOP! (video link).
That out of the way we hit the road with the GPS set for Glacier National Park West Entrance. Parking at the trail head of a short walk to the stunning Avalanche Lake, we arrived to piercingly clear waters that invite you to swim. A great location for an afternoon picnic with lush scenery laid out before you as though you were watching it on IMAX.
One’s trip to Glacier is not complete without traversing the steep and narrow 50 mile ‘Going to the Sun’ Road. You can choose to drive it yourself or take one of the Xanterra tours on an old red bus, either way every corner presents a new vista expanding out in all directions. This is one of the best drives we’ve both ever done. If you drive it, do obey the park rules by not stopping in the middle of the road to get out of your car to look at the wildlife like some idiots did on this occasion. Coming around a bend up a hill there were about five cars doing exactly that, and we all know who was going to come off second best in that one (would you want to take on a Dodge Ram van in a Prius?).
Summiting Logan Pass at 6,646 ft and reaching the Visitor Centre on top, and with the sun beginning it’s final decent to the western horizon, the surrounding peaks become dressed in the warmth of the late summers sun. Noticing yet another leak under the car we were thankful that this time it was only a loose radiator hose which Matt was able to tighten.
Exiting out the East Entrance scouting for a place to park and a craving to eat our huckleberry pie, we pulled into Two Sisters Cafe for a couple of scoops of ice cream, noticing that the restaurant sold ‘I survived Babb Stickers’. So gangster. There’s not really a lot out this way but this place was packed for dinner and the food looked outstanding. Ending up at the car park of the Glacier Park Lodge, an easy one to find for the night, we arranged the tool set and ‘broken down’ signs on the front seats (just in case we were hassled), put heads to pillows and drifted off.
Venturing out early the next morning to the Many Glacier region of the park, we came across a mother black bear and her two cubs. ‘Never intentionally get close to a bear’, one of the major warnings on the park pamphlets given to every visitor, is lost on some of our brain cell deprived homosapiens. We watched as a couple of older ladies promptly parked (yep, in the middle of the road), got out and chased the bears down the road. Just once can the bear turn around and eat them?
Stopping momentarily at Swiftcurrent Lake to take some morning shots of Mt Grinnell as the sun kissed its peak good morning, it was off to take another small hike to Red Rock Falls via a small lake. Having already seen bears this morning, and after reading posted warnings about a grizzly in the area, Matt sent Sarah out leading the way (she talks, A LOT). With extra vigilance and a high awareness, Matt saw a huge brown animal through the trees. Calling to Sarah that it may have been a grizzly bear we turned and hoofed it sharpish (another thing you’re not supposed to do if you see a bear) with Sarah’s body moving faster than her feet causing her to fall on her face. Matt just hopped over her leaving her for dead (shit bloke really). We could only presume, which was subsequently confirmed, that it was actually a moose, by the thunderous noise it made when it got scarred shitless of us and legged it in the other direction. Making it to Red Rock falls we took some shots and made it back to the car in one piece. If you have the time, the full Iceberg Lake hike came highly recommended as you can view icebergs in the lake. Obviously.
Following two super slow RVs down the twisting and turning road 49 out of the park, we took one of the bends a little fast and stuff (pretty much everything) went flying across the van.
‘Sh*t, the eggs!’
We looked a little apprehensively at each other, only to realise seconds later that thankfully the whole dozen of them had been boiled that morning. We still spent some time picking eggshell out of the car. Not having the courtesy to pull over for us, we had to endure a pot holed winding road at RV snail’s pace and even the view couldn’t make up for it, as the landscape had been devastated by fire in 2003, leaving nothing more than a forest full of burnt matchsticks. These were the largest fires in the parks recorded history and affected roughly 13% of the total park area. There’s an interesting article on the fires here.