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Monday, July 30, 2012

Glacier!

Team Breitmann took the "road less traveled" into Big Sky Country.  We headed North out of Post Falls, ID thru the towns of Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry, where we picked up Hwy 2 and crossed over into Montana, at the lowest point in the State, right near this sign.  Elevation 1,820'.
Here's a scene right out the "West"!  Just before we crossed into Montana, we are greeted by this fellow and his two horses.  Looks like he just walked off the history book circa 1850's!  
The drive along Hwy 2 was simply awe-inspiring!  I'm so glad we chose not to take the interstate!  We were treated with views like this all the way...views of the Kootenai, Bitteroot and  Flathead rivers, along with lakes Thompson, Little Bitterroot, Smith and Hungry Horse.  Most of these had mountain back drops like Snowshoe, Meadow and Blacktail peaks, as we entered the foothills of the Flathead Range of the Eastern Rockies.
Our Montana "homestead".  We camped 2 miles outside of the tiny town of West Glacier at a place with the unoriginal name of Glacier Campground.  It is nestled in between the Flathead National Forest to the northwest and the Great Bear Wilderness to the southeast.  During our stay, the camp hosts told us that a very large black bear was spotted up near the bath house.  So, we took necessary camp clean up precautions to prevent a "Yogi Bear" visit to our homestead. 
Montana school house! Yep, it ain't all fun and games!  Stacey finished out the last school year with both girls and now I've been "hired" as an additional school teacher this year!  This is my new student!  Since we don't do school every day, we essentially have to do school all year.  We had a small break from the past school year but, now it's back at it.  
This is what brought us to this part of Montana.  
We are not unaccustomed to black bears in Florida, however when they mean bear country here.... that means.....Grizzlies!  And wild animals also include mountain lions, elk and moose.  Believe it or not, moose kill more people every year than mountain lion or grizzly bears.  Moose are very temperamental, territorial and did I mention HUGE!  They typically get upwards of 2,000lbs and when they charge at you that don't stop until you are are trampled!   So, special care must be taken not to quietly hike thru the trails and surprise our wild friends.  Make plenty of noise and carry "bear spray".  What is that you ask?  Well, it's a highly concentrated pepper spray in a large pressurized container and is highly effective against not only bears but all other wildlife...including humans:).  I purchased a canister and wear it just like a pistol holster for quick access.  It has an effective range of about 30 feet.  I also have a 9mm side arm but, that is a last resort against such large animals.  It would more than likely just enrage a full grown moose or grizzly, unless I got off an unusually accurate head shot.  Something probably not likely in a high stress situation! 
In the Discovery Cabin near the Apgar Visitor center in Glacier Natl Park, Heidi shows off a Grizzly hide.  You might make out the size of the claws in the left portion of this photo.  Yikes! 
Now there's a pretty long-horn sheep!  Heidi shows of the horn of a long horn mountain sheep.  They are very common in the higher elevations of the mountains in the park.  We ended up seeing two of them with our binoculars, on a mountain near Logan Pass Visitor Center.  Very cool!
The girls said I'm a spitting image of "Elliot" from the animated movie "Open Season".  What I have in my hand is not from a deer but, from an Elk. I quote back with a line from the movie..."Listen, simple!  Let's get going!" 
Near Marias Pass, Heidi shows off a dandelion as big as her face!  "Hey Dad...I don't have enough breath to make a wish!  I gotta shake it to make all the shoots come off!"  
Yes,  they get a ton of snow here!  Many roads in these parts are summer-only accessible and even the ones that are open year round require chains.  Stacey says..."no way" are we moving here!  
At a ranger program, we learn about beavers and river otters.  Did you know that the average human has about 100,000 hairs on their head? By comparison, a beaver has about 75,000 hairs PER SQ. INCH!  And the river otter has upwards of 150,000 hairs per sq. inch!  Wow!  That's some thick hair!  
Hailey and I study the diverse rocks found in the rivers. Here, she brings me a purple colored rock from Snyder Creek near Lake McDonald Lodge. It brought back memories of my childhood trip "out West",  when I was fascinated by all the different rocks and mineral deposits!   Hailey seems to be just as fascinated. 
Hailey earns yet another J.R. Ranger badge at Glacier Natl Park.  
We attended a play at McDonald Lodge Hall. Heidi poses with an actress that portrayed Josephine Doody, who along with her husband, Dan Doody, settled a homestead within Glacier National Park, long before it became a national park.  
Heidi and Hailey enjoy skipping rocks into Lake McDonald.  
We traveled up Montana Hwy 49 and thru the Blackfeet Indian Reservation to access the southeast Two Medicine entrance to Glacier National park.  In our studies, we learned that Lewis and Clark had split their Corps into two teams before crossing the continental divide, so they could explore the Marias River.  Lewis' group met some men of the Blackfeet nation. During the night, the Blackfeet tried to steal their weapons and in the ensuing struggle, the soldiers killed two Blackfeet.  Fearing the Blackfeet, Lewis' team fled over 100 miles in a single day before camping again.  Lewis took great pains to avoid the Blackfeet.
Running Eagle Falls.  It is named after a Blackfeet tribeswoman, who lived circa 1825.  She was unusual because, unlike most Indian women, she became a great hunter and warrior.  She was instructed to follow what was traditionally a male rite of passage.  She was directed to go on a "vision quest", in order to find her true calling.  It was said that she went on her vision quest near these falls, where she had a vision of herself as a warrior.  She was given the name "Running Eagle" upon her return. She indeed became a great warrior.  She eventually died in battle against the nearby Flatheads near the Sun River.
Me with my two wannabe "Running Eagles"!
View looking downstream from Running Eagle Falls. There were signs all along the Running Eagle trail warning of grizzly bears.
Hailey leads the way along the initial trail head to Avalanche Gorge. She sure is proud of her J.R. Ranger "status".
Heidi at the lower portion of Avalanche Gorge.
Unbelievably clear, rushing waters of the Avalanche Creek, as it surges through Avalanche Gorge! 
Team Breitmann upstream of Avalanche Gorge.
We drove the entire 50-mile-long, Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.  This road is one of the world's most spectacular highways.  It bisects the heart of Glacier National Park, following the shores of the park's two largest lakes and hugs the cliffs just below the Continental Divide near Logan Pass.  The following pictures are just a snippet of what we saw.  Again, pictures can not do the immense scale of this place the justice it deserves!  This place of wonder led us again to worship the Creator of it all!  
Rushing water just beneath this apparently frozen flow of snow, coming right down to the road.  A month previous, a massive rock slide came down on this road crushing cars and injuring park visitors.  There was some delay as crews were fixing the road way, as a result of the slide.  A reminder of the wildness of this place! 
View from the roadway!
More road vistas!
I just rolled down the window of my car and took this picture! 
Another "out the window" of the car photo!
Halfway thru the park we come to Logan Pass.  We remember crossing the Continental Divide on our west bound leg towards California and now, here we are again going east! If I'm reading my map correctly, the peak behind should be Mt. Oberlin at an elevation of 8,180'.  
Logan Pass....Mt Reynolds as the backdrop to the sub-alpine area known as the Garden Wall, due to the numerous wildflowers growing here.  
Looking the opposite direction from Mt. Reynolds.
Hailey gets her toes cold in a snowfield at Logan Pass.  As a fan of animated movies, she quotes from one of her favorites; "Horton Hears A Who!".  She quotes Professor LaRue of Who U:  "Schnow in da Schummer!  Unlessh, Whoville eshtablishezes some sort of equilibrium....Whoville will be deshtroid!"   
Heidi and I decide to take the much longer hike to Hidden Lake, while Stacey and Hailey return to the Logan Pass Visitor Center.  Here Heidi tries to ambush me with a snow ball! 
My red rose in the snow!  While there was snow on the ground, the air temp was quite warm.  Nice.  Good thing I brought some sunscreen along.  Logan Pass gets an amazing average of 100 FEET of snow every winter making this area completely inaccessible during the winter!
A view looking down into Logan Pass, as we ascend towards Hidden Lake.  Whew!  Need air....the altitude and our state of poor condition is taking it's due! 
What a nice surprise along the trail!  We come across mountain goats near a small seasonal pond!  
For our efforts, we are rewarded with spectacular views of Hidden Lake!
Hailey our "heart girl", finds this giant rock shaped like a heart!
At the east end of Glacier NP, is the beautiful and "lonely" Saint Mary Lake at an elevation of 4,484'.  Simply breathtaking lake!
Hailey shows off the "map" on our slide out of the Team Breitmann "Assault Vehicle"!  She had just placed Montana on our map!  Look out Wyoming, here we come!
Speaks for itself, doesn't it?!  We are so blessed to be able to take this "adventure" as a family! We are all gaining an appreciation of how BIG this country is and how BEAUTIFUL!  Driving it is the only way to truly appreciate it!  We are so grateful!  Thank you, Lord!













































Sunday, July 22, 2012

Two Nights in Idaho

Another State for Team Breitmann.  Nothing special in this blog.  Sorry to disappoint, if you are looking for spectacular views or tales of daring rafting adventures....nope! We all took a break on this stop, no pictures, no plans, just relaxing at an RV Resort  in Post Falls, Idaho (just West of Couer 'D Alene) that has a pool and a hot tub.  The hot tub made Stacey VERY happy!!!  The pool made the kids happy!  Soooo...happy kids and happy wife leaves Todd with a happy life!  Sunday morning we had a great worship at Lake City Community Church.  It was a great reminder that nothing has significance without the context of a relationship with the Saviour, the author of it all!  You can check out Lake City Community Church at this link:  Lake City Church
We plan to set up our next "home" near Glacier National Park in Montana!  Here we come "Big Sky Country!" 



Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thru the Cascades and into Eastern Washington!

How true!  As we are exploring our great country, we are continually reading about areas  to visit and, at times, we are surprised by what we find, while researching our next stop.  We've found that we've end up with "...more places to go!"  Enjoy the photo essay of our trip up and thru the North Cascades!  God's creation continually amazes us!
Our girls say good-bye to a furry friend they made while staying just outside Marblemount, WA.  His name is Sampson, one of the most gentle, loving German shepherds that I've ever seen!  He belongs to one of the camp hosts, Eva & Eric at Alpine RV Park.  We loved visiting with Eva & Eric, during our stay!  We are sort of kindred spirits with them.  I am kicking myself for not getting a picture with Eva and Eric!  
On our way along Hwy 20, thru the Cascades, we stop at one of the North Cascades National Park Visitor Centers and learn about all the edible plants resident within the park.  We also learned that it is perfectly legal to harvest the wild berries here!  So, naturally, the gals do just that!  Here you see Stacey picking berries.  Also, Hailey completed yet another Jr. Ranger program, adding to her ever growing collection.  One interesting fact that we learned is that there are 316 glaciers within the North Cascades National Park!  Wow! 
The bounty of the North Cascades!  The girls show off the wild red currants and blueberries that they collected.  We ate them with our lunch! 
The drive along Hwy 20 thru the Cascades is one of the most scenic drives found anywhere in the world and is ironically not well know because it is so "off the beaten path".  It is well worth the extra time to get here.  The vistas are breathtaking!
Stacey took this picture of Gorge Dam from her side of the motor home as we drove along Hwy 20.  Amazing!
Diablo lake along Hwy 20.  The color of the water was so vividly emerald green that it did not look real!  The color is from minerals that are picked up as the glacial ice melts and flows down into the lake.
Another awesome view of Diablo Lake!
A friendly passerby offered to take this picture of Team Breitmann above Diablo Lake Overlook.  The lake was formed as a result of the construction of Diablo Dam, which serves as flood control, hydro-electricity power generation and irrigation. 
As we traverse the Cascades and begin our descent into the Methow Valley on the Eastern side of the Cascades, the scenery changes into a more arid climate with an associated increase in temperatures.  It was a good 10 degrees warmer on this side and we actually started to get hot...something we haven't felt for a looong time! 
Hwy 20 dumped us into the rural and agricultural based Methow Valley.  We decided to stop in the little town of Winthrop.  It sure had a feel of an old, western movie town.  We enjoyed our day and a half here.
Hailey does her best Eastern Washington cowboy pose in front of the marshall's office!  
I did mention that it was a lot warmer here, right!?  We spent the night at Pearrygin Lake State Park, where the girls took advantage of the weather and opportunity to get wet!  Don't forget the fool proof formula...Water + Kids = Fun! 
We had a tough time prying the girls out of the water, when it began to get dark!  We had not seen the sun setting from the Eastern side of the mountains since before April 23rd! A beautiful sight to see!  The next morning, we set out for Grand Coulee Dam.  Along the way, thru the valley, we encountered a patch of very rough weather!! As we traveled along Hwy 155 thru the Indian reservation, we experienced severe thunderstorm conditions accompanied by large, pea-sized hail.  The gusty winds and hail forced me to pull off and wait for conditions to improve.  It was an uncomfortable position to be in, to say the least, as we were pretty much out in the open and in the middle of nowhere!  We thank God for his protective hand for our safe arrival in Grand Coulee later that evening! 
The girls and I take a tour of the visitor center just outside the massive Grand Coulee Dam.
Here it is!  The massive Grand Coulee Dam! What a treat for us to see water coming over the spill way.  This is something atypical.  They only let water over the top when the lake is forecast to not be able to contain the Columbia River's influx of snow melt from the Canadian Rockies.  The visitor center folks told us that this year the Canadian Rockies are chock full of snow!  A good thing for us down river in the States, where we have had an unusually low snowfall. The roar of the water coming over the top was awe-inspiring! The amount of water coming over is more than the volume that normally goes over the Niagara Falls. Letting an amount of water over the spillway that equates to a 10 foot drop in the lake behind the dam could generate enough hydro-electricity to power 15,000 homes for an entire year!  Now that's a lot of H20!
Hailey gets a closer look at the dam from the visitor center.  Grand Coulee is larger than the Hoover dam and contains 12 million cubic feet of concrete!  It's construction began in 1933 and was completed in 1942 and it's hydro-electric generators were rushed into service to help provide necessary power for the production of aluminum and electric welding needs that helped contribute to the eventual Allied victory in WWII.  Fun dam facts:  it dwarfs the Great Pyramids of Egypt and is  550 foot high, higher than the Washington Monument in D.C.  It generates more electric power than would a million locomotives and is the largest hydro-electric project in the United States.  It contains enough concrete to build two standard six-foot wide sidewalks around the world at the equator!  
No, Hailey.  I said hand me the "large wrench"!  :)  Hailey demonstrates what it took to bolt down some of the heavy power generation equipment during construction.  Now that is not something you can go get at your local hardware supply!
Hailey waits patiently for the evening laser light show that is nightly projected on the face of the dam.  It is a pretty neat and educational show, lasting about 30 minutes.  You can see the dam in the background.  During the show, a life sized silhouette of a battle ship and the Statue of Liberty are projected on the face of the dam.  The scale of the dam is difficult to wrap your mind around, unless you have something to compare it to! 
Well, ain't that the truth!  My next blog, God-willing, will be from Idaho!  We are reminded, continually, how much God has truly blessed America!  May we all remember that fact! "Roll-on Columbia river, roll on!"