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Friday, August 3, 2012

Yes, We Are in Glacier – But First!


Part l

We are settled in to site A2 in Apgar campground in Glacier National Park and have started our volunteer assignment as camp hosts. Yet, before I tell you all about Glacier, I wanted to write about some of our adventures on our trip from Broomfield to this magnificent park.

We left home on July15 and traveled to Guernsey State Park in Guernsey, WY. Yes, there is more to see in Wyoming than just the Tetons and Yellowstone. While not on the scale of the National Parks, this state park has an interesting history dating back to the CCC days and the completion of the dam in 1927. The town of Guernsey is also home to Register Cliff and Oregon Ruts National Historic Sites. The ruts here are the best-preserved trail ruts anywhere.

However, the big news for us while camping here was the Guernsey fire and fact we had to be evacuated from our original site to a safer location deeper in the park and much further from the fire. Seems as though the Colorado National Guard accidently set the fire while training in WY. Anyone living in Colorado or the West for that matter knows how unbelievably dry it has been this summer and how horrific the fires have been.

Our next stop of note was the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.  We have been here several times but with each visit we come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of not only this battle but of the significance it had in shaping Indian/US history. If you have not been here since 2003 you will find the Indian Memorial particularly interesting. This is most definitely a place of reflection.

On to Billings, MT. This is a city that seems out of place in the wild west of Wyoming. We heard one person describe it at the “Newark of the West” – indeed. We did stay in the very first KOA. It was a nice enough KOA but with all the beautiful national and state parks, BLM land, and natural forests I just can’t get my head around the $50 a night they charge. (I could go on a rant here but will restrain myself).

The best part of our trip to Billings was our “side trip” to Red Lodge, MT and the ride over the spectacular Bear Tooth Highway which took us to the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway, then through Cody, WY and finally to the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Powell, WY. Let me back up a minute. We left our RV in Billings and took our “toad” (Honda Fit) for this daylong trip. Red Lodge is a fun little town which when we got there was getting ready to host their annual Harley Rally. We stopped in at the visitor center where the super friendly staff helped us map out our trip. 

If you are a biker you have most likely heard of the Bear Tooth Highway, which is rated as one of the best rides in the US – and I will assure you it is! The Chief Joseph scenic Highway is also a great drive. Cody has lots to offer but we have visited many times and did not stop but instead headed to the Heart Mountain Relocation Center. This was one of the 10 internment camps used to incarcerate Japanese Americans during WW ll. The national award winning learning center/museum opened in August 2011. 

As wonderful as our trip on the two scenic highways was – it was the visit to Heart Mountain that was the real highlight and the memory that will linger the longest. After an emotional visit we left wondering if we have in fact learned lessons from the past.

Part ll will follow in a few days... But here is a link to more photos.

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