07 July 2013

Getting there and setting up camp


The drive from eastern Wisconsin to western Montana is not a short one. We took Highway 2 practically all the way there, driving up through Duluth, MN to catch it out of Wisconsin, and then it was straight on 'til morning. All in all, it took us about 24 hours with stops. We drove through much of western Minnesota and North Dakota overnight, catching a red sunset in the northern Minnesota forests. We passed through a bit of North Dakota oil country (interesting) before crossing into Montana where it was suddenly clean, green, and gorgeous on the plains.

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We stopped for a very quick last break before getting near the park, in a little wayside in Chester, MT. Across the street was an old diner, the Sugar Shack, which was closed, but looked like it had been in use somewhat recently. We watched the Empire Builder speed by on the railroad, brushed our teeth, had a quick snack, and got back on the road.

And finally, mountains! After stopping in Shelby, MT for groceries (and ice!) to fill the cooler, we were set to go. We wound our way through the Blackfeet Reservation and Browning, the last small city before entering the park. We turned into Highway 89, which would have led us up to St. Mary, but having been super prepared, none of us knew where the best entrance was. So we turned around, got back on Highway 2, and headed down toward East Glacier at the Two Medicine area of Glacier National Park. It turns out that St. Mary is the main eastern entrance to the park, but in the end, it turned out well that we saved that for another day.

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We drove to the end of the road and found ourselves at Two Medicine Campground, which sits on Two Medicine Lake. There is a large general and camp store there, with boat rentals and scenic tours along the water departing from there, but it was Sunday evening and the crowds were tame. We checked out the souvenirs, got ourselves some firewood, and headed to the campground to set up camp.

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The water was clear as glass and cold as ice, so we didn't get to properly swim or anything. But we made the best of it, and often rinsed our hair and went ankle-wading.

Our campsite was set back a bit, bordered on both sides by other sites, one for RVs and one for a tent, which was often not occupied. Behind us the hill swept up, so we were aware of wildlife, but it was also nice and quiet. 

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Each night the sun set behind a mountain around 8pm. It stayed light out until well after 10pm every night, and we were so exhausted that not on not one day did we stay awake long enough to see a true night sky. We did peek some stars through the tent window screen one night, though -- the night the wind picked up and a book I had in a tent pocket swung and whapped me in the head. So I woke up and looked at the stars. ;)

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Plant life was kind of scrubby. There wasn't a lot of grass and everything was very dry, at least on the east side, where it tends to be windy. 

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Evening was gorgeous each and every day. The first night was calm and cool, and we simply took it all in. We planned for a hike the next day, which I'll post about next time.

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Days to Edinburgh move-in: 62


  1. Beautiful!! It looks picture-perfect. Can't wait to hear more.

  2. Holy Cow! Such beautiful photos! I've always wanted to travel to Montana.

    xo Lisa
    Making Life's Lemons

    1. I never knew it was so beeeautiful! I say you should go. :)