So far 2023 has been an awesome travel year for us. It started with a trip to Costa Rica in February for my birthday. That was followed in April with a trip to Paris for Jane’s birthday. June found us in Newfoundland and Ontario Canada. Then, in August, we were off to Iguazu Falls and the Pantanal in Brazil. Wow!
We finished our travel year in a more relaxed mode with a September trip to our timeshare cabin in the woods of the Flathead National Forest near the west entrance to Glacier National Park. We have been going to the cabin at Glacier Wilderness Resort for nearly twenty years, not every year, but often enough to call it “our place in Montana”. We own the last two weeks of September and had specifically chosen that time so we could enjoy the seasonal foliage color change. With a full two weeks it is possible to just kick back and relax. Late September is also when the weather becomes more unsettled and this year we had more clouds and rain than in the past.
Jane and I don’t do long ten hour drives anymore. So we broke up the 1,275 mile one-way trip to Glacier Wilderness Resort with a couple of overnight stops. Our first stop was along Interstate 15 in Utah Valley just north of Provo. It was a very advantageous stop. Traffic on I-15 along the Provo – Salt Lake City corridor was horrendous. Our second en-route overnight was at the Ninepipes Lodge in Charlo, Montana, only a couple of hours from the cabin. We spent the next morning searching for wildlife at the National Bison Range located on the Flathead Indian Reservation. The Bison Range is now managed by the Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the bison on the range are descendants of a pure-blooded herd of bison from the 18oo’s. In the past, we have photographed many bison, pronghorn and elk on the Range, but this year, no such luck.
We thoroughly enjoyed our two weeks in and around Glacier National Park. Fall colors were spectacular, especially on the east side of the Park, along the foothills of the Lewis Range. This year we ventured as far as Chief Mountain, but mainly we spent our time exploring familiar haunts like the Avalanche Lake trail, Hidden Lake trail, and sights along the Going-To-The-Sun Road. We searched for wildlife at Logan Pass and Many Glaciers but this year, for some unknown reason, there was not much wildlife to photograph. We did manage to stumble upon a big, burly black bear foraging for berries and roots near the Many Glaciers Hotel parking lot. This wooly bear, most certainly, was ready for its hibernation. And, after several fruitless visits and many boring hours of waiting, a cow moose finally did emerge from the tall willows at Fishcap Lake, trailed by a bull. While idling away my time waiting for moose, I did manage to get some shots of common mergansers fishing in the lake.
We extended this last trip of the year with a four night stay at the Snow Lodge in Yellowstone National Park. Photographically, the objective was to obtain some panoramic landscape images of the hydrothermal features of the Park, primarily the vividly colored hot pools scattered throughout the geyser basins. As they say, “the best laid plans often go awry”. I did not consider that the cold ambient air temperature would create so much steam, coming from the hot springs, that the photogenic pool surface would be mostly obscured. C’est la vie!
A couple of mornings, we started our day trip around Yellowstone with breakfast at the Running Bear Pancake House in the bustling town of West Yellowstone. The Running Bear menu included box lunches that we availed ourselves of for a “dinner” in the room topped with a bottle of wine. Our day-trip destinations included Lower Yellowstone River Falls at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Tower Falls, Gibbon Falls, Firehole Falls, Mammoth Hot Springs (where we encountered bull elk gathering their harems), and Lamar Valley where we searched for but found little wildlife within camera range.
After our journey into Yellowstone National Park, we headed south for home, traveling through Teton National Park and Jackson Hole, Wyoming’s picturesque Star Valley and Utah’s colorful Logan Canyon. In Logan, Jane and I had dinner with my nephew Bryan, his spouse Margaret and my 96 year old sister Neli. My sister now resides in an assisted living facility, but she absolutely doesn’t require any assistance. She’s a 96 year old livewire! Reminiscing and sharing family stories with my sister was a most wonderful way to close out our 2023 travel year.