We have now gotten our money’s worth out of the National Park Pass this year. The pass cost us $80 for just a year but we have already visited 4 National Parks so far this year. We are planning to visit a couple more before the end of the year yet. If we were 62 then it would have just cost $10 for a lifetime pass. The pass will really go up this year to, I believe $80. It’s OK for us because by the time we can get the lifetime pass we won’t need it. We will have been to most of the National Parks we will want to go to. We may purchase it anyway even at $80, we may find parks we have not even thought about yet.
We just finished visiting the Glacier National Park in North Central Montana. We left Yellowstone on Tuesday the 8th of August and traveled north up to Montana’s capital city of Helena MT for just one night. Helena is a city of just around 35,000 people. All of Montana only has just over 1 million people, the lowest populated state in the country.
|Just a nice picture of our rig when we stopped |
to stretch and take a bathroom break.
|Our RV Park in Helena Montana|
|Our site here in Helena|
We arrived there around 1 pm, early for us. We wanted to get some stuff done while we were in a non-tourist type area. For the next couple of weeks we will be mostly in National Parks, Canada and the USA. We went shopping for just a few essentials, couldn’t get much refrigerated stuff as we are going to store the rig while we are on the Alaskan cruise. Yup, we are now in the get ready phase for the cruise! I also got a haircut so I wouldn’t need one while on the cruise.
One other thing we did while here in Helena was to cancel our DirecTV service. We have had DirecTV for the entire 5 years that we have been traveling so it was a little sad. Well sad until I called to cancel the service. After 30 minutes of being transferred a couple of times I was finally with a cancellation specialist, really, a cancellation specialist! Long story short here, we need to send back the 2 receivers we have in the RV. Yes, the ones we paid a couple of hundred dollars for and rent of $10 a month for 5 years for receivers! If I really owned them it would have cost $7-800 still with rent each month, what a rip off!
OK, back to sending the units back to them. They are sending us a postage paid (how nice of them) box to return them in within 7 days. At that time we have 7 days to send the receivers back to them. If we don’t send them back within the next 14 days we will be billed $300 for them. Ah crap, we are out of the country for the next month and DirecTV can’t send their return box to a Canadian address. Another 20 minutes goes by while my cancellation specialist asks her supervisor about what to do since we will be in Canada. After all of the time on hold I was told again that if I don’t send the units back in 14 days I will be billed for them. There was nothing they can do for me! So after that, we sent a certified letter to the service complaint office of DirecTV saying that we will return the receivers in November. We may do it before that but that would be the latest. We are not holding our breath on this one!
The reason we canceled DirecTV is that we are now using the Fire Stick with great success. The stick was just $39 and we now have unlimited data on Verizon. We also are Prime members so we can get all of those shows too. We added to our Fire Stick the Add-on KODI. KODI lets us watch just about anything on TV for free. Anyway, we were paying DirecTV $138 a month and with using the Fire Stick we are paying $0 extra as we already pay for the unlimited data and for Amazon Prime. We got the stick before we left Texas in April and have not used the satellite TV since so we thought it was time to cancel.
On Wednesday the 9th we were off to Glacier National Park. The park is about 190 miles from Helena and about 360 miles north of Yellowstone. We had a reservation at the Y Lazy R campground in the town of East Glacier Park MT. Good thing we had a reservation, this park as well as all of the others around were full. This is a nice little park with just about 30 or so sites. It’s close to town so you can walk to the store and to a couple of very small restaurants. And the town is just about 500 people and it is located on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
|A blackfeet trading post on our way to East Glacier Park|
We arrived at the start of a major Indian Pow Wow that was being held in the town Heart Butte a few miles away. It didn’t look like something we wanted to see but it did impact us some. When this Pow Wow is going on alcohol cannot be sold. That means no alcohol sales in liquor stores or even served in restaurants. We didn’t need any alcohol but we would have liked a cocktail with dinner so we just didn’t go out to eat while here.
As for the National Park, the town of Glacier Park is sitting right next to it. We had 2 days in the area and the first was a cloudy and rainy day so we did laundry and just puttered around and took a nap in the afternoon. Sometimes we just need to do nothing.
|Our RV Park while in East Glacier Park|
|Site pictures in East Glacier Park|
|We are taking a walk around town and to visit |
the Post Office to mail the DirecTV letter.
|Loads of these small motels.|
|Indian monument in downtown East Glacier Park|
|A big thing for me was the arrival of the Amtrak Monument Builder train. This one was coming from Oregon heading for Chicago. There are 2 trains a day, one in each direction.|
|I snapped this picture from our RV dining room table |
of the Amtrak train going toward Oregon.
Our second and last day we took the Going To The Sun Road scenic drive through the park. If you have just a day here the drive on the Going To The Sun Road is the thing to do. Actually, unless you want to hike here, Going To The Sun Road is THE thing to do here.
We took US 2 about 50 miles west to West Glacier Park and got on Going To The Sun Road there. First, we had lunch in West Glacier Park before hitting the 55 mile Going To The Sun Road. After lunch we spent about 4 hours driving the 55 miles of the scenic road which ends in St. Mary’s and then another 1.5 hours getting back to our site.
|The train station in West Glacier Park.|
The road is very narrow with steep climbs and sharp hairpin turns, in other words it was fun to drive! However, our truck is 22 feet long and the road is just for vehicles 21 foot long. Our truck is also wide at 8 foot and the road is good for just 8 foot. What this all meant is that it was very nerve racking going around the sharp curves with someone else coming the other way. A few times our rear outside tire rode up a little on the rock protective wall while I was sure my mirror was going to hit the other guys mirror in a few turns. The speed limit was never over 35 so there was just enough adrenalin to make it mostly fun.
|You can just see the road we are going to be on |
on the mountainside after the tunnel.
|A few kids were sliding down the leftover glacier snow. It was around 80 here!|
|This was at the welcome center about half way on Going To The Sun Road.|
|Great hiking trails, paved this one!|
|Another Indian memorial. This one tells about the land the Indians lost. The Blackfeet tribe had control of the territory from Colorado to South Dakota and back here. Now they have this little postage stamp area.|
|Besides seeing a couple bears that I couldn't photograph, |
I did get this cow blocking the road!
That was it for Glacier National Park. This park for us was sort of an afterthought. We weren’t going to go here originally but all of the reviews of this area said we just had to see it. Now after seeing it we wouldn’t come up here just to see this park. If you had to make a choice of either going to Glacier or going south and seeing the parks in Utah (Arches, Canyon Land, Bryce, Grand Canyon), Utah wins hands down no question. Glacier was actually along our travel route so it really was a no brainer to stop and to take a look. We are glad we did.
Now we are off to Banff and Jasper National Parks in Canada before our Alaska Cruise at the end of the month.