Sunday, August 21, 2016

Whitefish, Montana: Days 9-12

We're headed towards home plate with the obnoxious vacation posts... I'll be brief as I just discovered Catastrophe on Amazon Prime plus I have an interview for a position I really, really, really want tomorrow... so the battle between Binge Watching Television and Career Advancement is about to edge out humble-brag-posting. 

Lucky you! 

Tuesday morning followed a very similar schedule as Sunday.  We played at the playground, then took a 3 mile stroll along the walking trails to Whitefish Lake.  Since the high was battling Texas temps, we packed swimsuits and took a dip in the 69 degree waters {a degree warmer than our beloved Barton Springs!}.  B's little teeth were chattering after 30 minutes, but L is truly my child and hung tough the entire time.  I took a little break from water-child-wrangling and paddled out past the buoys -- there's nothing more invigorating than a swim in deep water!   

The kiddos enjoyed the Sweet Peaks stand as we drip dried and power walked back into town. 

After lunch at home and naps, we all headed to Bonsai Brewing Project for craft beers. We'd hoped to dine there as well, but busted fridges put the kibosh on those plans.  The minions played happily in the gravel and "shared" a very kind tiny local's balance bike while we enjoyed our beverages.  We decided to head back to the Craggy Range for dinner.  Sadly, there were no tables available on the patio {where another fabulous live music act was performing} and our food was way subpar compared to our experience a mere 48 hours prior.  Kind of a bummer, but what can you do. 

Wednesday we were up and at 'em early for our last trip into Glacier.  We stopped {again} at Montana Coffee Traders for scones and coffee, then hit the Trail of the Cedars / Avalanche Lake Trail for Round 2. The vistas were equally as beautiful, and the mini monsters were a bit more cooperative when it came to pack-riding / hiking.  B hitched a ride most of the way, and L hiked half of the 6 miles. 

We lunched back at the house once again, and Mom and I hit up a few more shops during rest time. E and I snuck away for a couple more solo beers at Bonsai, and then we reconvened for our last round of cooking + s'mores at the house + gorgeous sunset + stargazing on the roof. 

Thursday found us taking another power walk around town + shop browsing.  We bought many, many beverage containers of various types and sizes, and then brunched at Loula's. I took my parentals to the airport during naptime, and then enjoyed more park-play with the bebes. As the cold front rolled in, we took refuge in Buffalo Cafe before performing our last mountain bedtime and Olympics of the trip. 

Our 4:30 am wake-up came early early, but we're all oh-so-glad for our time together in Montana! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Whitefish, Montana: Days 6-8

I take back everything nice I said about Pescado Blanco, and it shall henceforth be known as Food Poisoning Junction. I was laid up, sick as a dog, from early early Saturday morning until Sunday dawned. No more bison enchiladas for me. 

E took the kiddos to the Huckleberry Festival in town, as well as for a stroll around the Whitefish Walking Trails and to Whitefish Lake while I convalesced. L and B got themselves glitter tattoos, shaved ice, and fried noodles. I mostly moaned softly and cursed both e.coli and the fact that I failed to load any non-kid movies on our iPads.

My parentals arrived Saturday evening, and all the non-pukers ordered {reportedly highly delicious} carry-out Second Street Pizza. B scoped out some vintage wheels with mi padre while they waited on their pie. 

I felt about 80% on Sunday, so we skipped hiking in favor of a second round of WhitefishTrails, Whitefish Lake, and the Hucklberry Festival. I enjoyed the shade with my kindle and a mango madness shaved ice while the rest of the fam meandered around, made a few souvenir purchases, and admired the hula dancers {L asked if they were "real" and has been practicing her "hoo-lula" ever since}. We grabbed sandwiches and salads at The Great Northern Brewing Company before a good long rest time. 

After some horse feeding, we drove back into town for live music on the patio at Craggy Range. Both the food and the music were great, and both kids were well occupied by dancing with a few other wild ones up on the stage / on top of the corn hole ramps. 

Kidlet bedtime = drinks and visiting on the rooftop deck and a gorgeous view of the sunset behind far off storm clouds. 

Monday morning we were back in Glacier  after a Montana Coffee Traders pit stop. I was still not up for carrying a minion-pack for miles so we just brought the Deuter as a last resort and bribed the children with lollipops and walking sticks. 

We hiked Johns Lake...kinda sorta. The gal at the ranger station told us it was 3 miles round trip with views of waterfalls. The map she gave us said the same thing. The actual trail signage was extremely confusing and listed the hike as 0.9 miles. We'd previously found the trail signs at Avalanche Lake to be out of synch with what is listed in guidebooks and in Glacier's own literature, and we met many hikers on both trails who were equally confused. Sooooo...get it together, Glacier. I think we did the Johns Lake "Loop" and tacked on McDonald Falls as well for a total of 3 miles, but it wasn't an actual loop and we used my Map My Run GPS to track mileage. Leighton hiked at least 2.5 miles, and I bet B did nearly 2! Such good little nature cats.

Long Story Short: This was a beautiful, easy hike with shitty signage. And I'm not sure if how I've described it will help anyone find it for the future, but...time will tell! Says Jan. 

Rest time {Mom and I hit up the grocery store and poked around town a little bit}, then outside play and grilling for supper. T-Pop made some incredible fresh salsa {hauled his own peppers up from Austin and everything} and the mini meatloaves demolished s'mores after their grilled chicken dinner {turns out like juice, olive oil, and "BAM!" spice - whatever that is! - makes an excellent marinade!}. The adults enjoyed turkey burgers, roasted potatoes, and s'mores on the patio after the bambinos retired. 

Ladies' balance beam and men's synchronized diving capped off another amazing day in Montana. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Whitefish, Montana: Day 5

Another fantastic day spent in Glacier! The kiddos were up at 6:30 Friday morning so we decided to pack up quickly and hit the road, grabbing  breakfast at Montana Coffee Traders in Columbia Falls on our way into the Park. As suspected, MCT did not disappoint in the hot breakfast department -- E had the veggie scramble while I enjoyed the wheatless veggie + bacon "quiche" {I failed to recognize "wheatless" = sans crust... ie: a FRITTATA. Friends on Snapchat may know how I feel about frittatas. But this one was exceptional and I didn't have to make it so I'll let it slide.}. We ordered scones for the kiddos, calling them "breakfast cookies" and figuring they'd be ecstatic with pastries... That was a grand ol' FAIL. I demand a DNA test as surely these are not my children! Poor life decisions by my spawn aside, we highly recommend Montana Coffee Traders for a pre-Glacier fuel-up pit stop.

Once inside Glacier {West entrance}, we drove 16 miles around McDonald Lake on Going to the Sun Road to the Trail of the Cedars trailhead. We arrived pretty early and had no problem finding a parking spot, but the two hikes beginning at this trailhead are among the most popular in the park so - be warned - the lot fills up super quickly. 

Trail of the Cedars is a flat, wheelchair accessible trail through a thicket of ginormous, ancient {some upwards of 1,000 years!} hemlocks and red cedar trees. It's an easy and gorgeous 0.9 miles. Half a mile in, the Avalanche Lake Trail breaks off from Trail of the Cedars. These combined moderate 6 miles were among the prettiest we've ever hiked {and I believe we've experienced some incredible hiking!} -- beautiful views of surging waterfalls, strolls along lush carpeting of ferns and mosses, and insane vistas of Little Materhorn and Bearhat Mountian. 

I carried B the 3 miles to the lake, and it was rough going -- that child does not love sitting in the pack nor does he care a lick about independent forward momentum {only very slooooooow rock collecting}. I may have resorted to SANTA THREATS to keep him from screaming and flailing about {too early?} - bikes and "blue candy" {no clue where he got that one} are on the line, child! 

We stopped for snacks and wading at Avalanche Lake {and nature ogling, of course} before heading the 3 miles back to the car. We could have easily spent an hour or more here - taking in the view, splashing in the crystal clear water, picnicking.  But! Naps were on the line! E took B {who was apparently an angel and actually took a 30 min snooze in the pack...ain't that always the way} and practically raced back. L was my hiking buddy and was such an all-star -- she walked 2.5 of the 3 miles back and a total of 4 miles for the day! And she never stopped chattering the entire time -- I think we talked about {her doll} Sparkle's hair for an hour, at least. 

We booked it back for another round of late naps, and then hit up Pescado Blanco {see what they did there?!} for supper. I don't often trust Mexican food outside of a few choice states, but the glowing reviews of this little joint were spot on! The interior ambience leaves a bit to be desired so head outside to the lovely patio. There were about 6 things on the menu I wanted to try, and all of our final-selection dishes were delicious! E had the special -- an ancho rubbed salmon with poblano cream and chimichurri -- and I had the bison mole enchiladas {kids had the chicken tacos}. We topped the day off with more Sweet Peaks and park play {and Olympics and more wine}.