Friday, August 29, 2014

And the baby flips...

Tonga is a Mecca for whale watching, specifically humpback whales who migrate to these waters from the Antarctic to mate and birth their young. We wanted to be sure to see whales and also we had heard that you could swim with the whales, so we booked a day on a tour boat. Although we had to be at the boat by 7am (and I'm not an early riser), we had a great time.

Early morning view off the back of the boat.

By 8am, we spotted our first whale mamma and baby. They swam up next to the boat and everyone got excited. Sione, our skipper, told us to gear up and get ready. We donned our wetsuits, snorkel, mask and fins. Paula (pronounced pow-o-la), our handsome Tongan guide, slipped into the water first, making sure not to splash and scare the whales away. Then the first four of us tourists followed. (Only four tourists at a time are allowed in the water with each whale to minimize the stress to our water-loving friends.)

Through my mask, I saw the mother whale below and the fat baby a few feet closer to the surface. They were massive, as you'd expect, and so still and beautiful. But then, without any notice, they took off. One of fellow whale watchers was not comfortable in the water and had gotten scared by the sight of the whales. As she freaked out, her legs splashed the water and her arms flapped towards the boat. She had spooked the whales and they weren't coming back, so we all climbed back aboard in search of another set of whales.

The momma humpback whale surfacing close to the boat.

It wasn't hard to find whales that day. What was a little challenging though, was finding whales that stayed put once we got in the water. Eventually we found a mother and her very young baby relaxing in the calm waters on the north side of the island. Our guide estimated that the baby was just 3-4 weeks old as it hadn't plumped up quite yet.

While we swam with the whales, the baby alternated between resting under its momma nursing and doing flips and gracefully turns under the surface. Every few minutes the baby would come to the surface to breathe, spouting a small fountain of water from its blow hole. Typically, the mother would follow showing us her great expanse as she tucked her flippers (fins?) and pointed her head to the surface. Then the two would dive back down towards the sandy bottom and go back to nursing.

Josh (far right) snorkeling with the whales.

The baby rolling and showing us it's fins and white belly.

We spent at least two hours, taking turns in our groups of four, watching the whales. Josh even got to hear the baby singing to its mother during one of his turns. I, meanwhile, was trying to get warm in the boat and didn't hear a thing.

As we were headed back to the wharf, we spotted a large whale in the distance slapping the water with its massive tail.

Slap, slap, slap, slap, slap. Pause for a minute. Slap, slap, slap, slap, slap. Pause.

This pattern repeated for several minutes and then, the whale seemingly satisfied, the ocean turned flat again and the whale was gone.

Clear blue water. Humpbacks lurk below.

Warming up after whale watching at a turquoise blue snorkeling spot. Josh went in; I did not.

Entrance to Swallow's Cave where I swam through jellyfish in my bikini (no stings!) and we saw a black and white striped sea snake.


A Tongan Welcome

Saturday afternoon we arrived in Tonga, the only Polynesian kingdom that escaped colonization. We immediately jumped on a plane to Vava'u, its northern most group of islands.

Sunday in Tonga is the sabbath, closely observed by most if not all residents. Businesses are closed and churches are full with gospel choirs singing the glory of Jesus in their native tongue. Afterward, families feast on roast suckling pig, fritters, whole grilled red snapper and curried chicken dishes. We celebrated the day by sleeping in late and then attending a feast at Tonga's one and only botanical garden.

Fresh coconuts in hand and plates full of delicious food. What's not to smile about?

The owner and originater of the gardens is a smiling Tongan man who turned 68 last Friday. After living in Hawaii where he married and had three daughters, he returned to Tonga some twenty years ago to remarry and now has three young boys with his Tongan wife. His wife and eldest son cooked up quite the spread with a wide variety of local dishes, including kava fritters (like yams), bananas in curry, corned beef wrapped in grape-like leaves, suckling pig, grilled fish, chicken curry and fried fish cakes with papaya chutney. We finished off the delicious meal with two kinds of cake (chocolate and coconut) iced with coconut frosting.

The feast, clockwise from top: corned beef wrapped in a leaf, suckling pig, fish cake with papaya chutney, cabbage salad, grilled mussels in coconut cream, banana in coconut cream, kava in coconut cream, kava fritters, grilled snapper, banana curry, and chicken curry.

My cake plate, left to right: fish cake with papaya chutney,, coconut cake with coconut frosting, and chocolate cake with coconut frosting. Just because fish cake isn't for dessert, doesn't mean it shouldn't be on my cake plate!

After the feast, Josh and I wandered the narrow beach protected from the ocean by a shallow reef. We spied black spiny sea stars waving their tentacles in the 3" deep water and found a tiny hermit crab in the sand. It was a beautiful, albeit windy, day and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.


Friday, August 22, 2014

So many mistakes, so little time

They say those who succeed, do so because they learn from their mistakes. If that is true, then I have laid the foundation for a successful future. That is to say, I made quite a few mistakes in the last couple weeks.

Mistake #1: Not consulting a map

Unfortunately for me, this error had serious ripple effects (as you'll see below). Instead of consulting a map to see where the Whitsunday Islands were in relation to my jumping off point (Cairns), I instead logged onto the tourism page for the islands. According to the tourism website, people generally fly from Cairns to Hamilton Island and then take a ferry to Airlie Beach (ground zone for Whitsunday Island adventures). I also learned that there is an airport specifically for the Whitsunday Islands which you can fly to from Brisbane. Since I knew I'd likely be flying from Brisbane to Auckland to Tonga at the end of the week, I figured that'd be the easiest way to get to the Whitsunday Islands for me.

Boy I was wrong. One-and-a-half days later--after two flights (Cairns to Brisbane and Brisbane to Whitsunday Coast), an expensive night stay in Brisbane, two airport shuttle rides and a last-minute car rental--I decided to look at a map. That's when I realized the error of my ways: Airlie Beach is less than an 8-hour drive from Cairns. Yes, I could have been there in 8 hours instead of 36 simply by renting a car for a day, which I did anyway to get to and from my hostel in Brisbane. I'm not willing to calculate how much this little mistake cost me, but suffice to say, it did not come cheaply.

The red was my 1400+ mile, highly inefficient route to Airlie Beach. Too bad I didn't opt for the <400 mile drive instead.

Mistake #2: Booking lodging without figuring out how to get to it

For someone who has traveled as much as I have and considering that I work in the public transit sector, you might expect this to be an obvious step in arranging lodging. Sadly, it completely slipped my mind on the evening when I booked all my lodging for my week of solo travel. I don't know if it was fatigue, too much wine or just plain dumb luck, but I booked stays at 3 highly inconvenient hostels.

The first, in Brisbane, was selected for it's seeming proximity to a highly recommended neighborhood and also the train. (See, I was slightly thinking of transit.) However, I neglected to account for three key things:

  1. The train did not run early enough to bring me back to the airport in time for my 6:30am flight out.
  2. The "oh-so-close" train stop was really a half-mile from my hostel with hills in between.
  3. I would be arriving after sunset and leaving before sunrise, meaning I'd have to walk in the dark alone if I relied on transit.

Ultimately, I decided to rent a car, which cost nearly $60, more than doubling the cost of my stay in Brisbane.

The second place I booked was in Airlie Beach and I picked it because it seemed to have less of a party scene than the others. It also required a ten minute walk to/from town along a quasi-highway, while carrying all my belongings. Oh, and there was a hill on the way.

Auckland was my third booking. After suffering from last-mile anxiety with the first two places, I learned my lesson and looked to see how I would be getting from the airport to the hostel, which again I picked because it is in a desirable neighborhood full of vintage shops and artsy places. One look and I knew it was not a good pick, logistically. I found another place on Airbnb where the host offered to pick me up and drop me off for a small fee. Even though I couldn't get my money back on the first place, I booked the other and that's where I'm staying tonight. It's delightful and completely worth it.

In summary, let's just say, this lesson also wasn't free.

Mistake #3: Avoiding tolls by taking the indirect route without the Internet

On my way back to the airport in Brisbane, at 5am mind you, I opted for the more complicated, but toll-free route Google Maps dreamed up for me. This route promised to get me to the airport in nearly the same amount of time as the direct, tolled route, but for free. However, when you take into account the time I spent getting lost and then found again, and the cost of ending up on the tolled route after all, this was almost a total fail. I did, nonetheless, make my flight. And in the future, I will take the easy route when I'm traveling without modern technology.

Mistake #4: Opting for a small tour while traveling solo

It's not that I had an awful time sailing the Whitsunday Islands on a 14-person catamaran. In fact, the views were quite lovely. But it wasn't the best time either. In fact, I'm not quite sure how to describe my lesson here.... Perhaps, don't travel alone if you're an introvert who gets lonely? Or don't travel on boats where everyone else knows each other if you're an introvert? All I can say is, I have more fun traveling with my hubby than traveling solo. Which, I guess, is a good thing since I'm married to the man. :)

Mistake #5: Leaving essential items on shore when departing on a 3-day sailing adventure

I won't go into details, but suffice to say a lady should always travel prepared, especially when she will be on a boat with no access to outside provisions. Luckily, not everyone on the boat was as ill-prepared as I was.

Mistake #6: Getting into an unfamiliar hammock too quickly

After a long day of sailing, walking with all my luggage and then skipping lunch, I decided to relax in a hammock. It decided it would be funny to flip me out onto my face on the concrete. End of story.

So there you have it: six learning opportunities in less than six days. At this rate, I'm bound to be the most successful traveller at the end of this long adventure.



P.S. Mistake #7 struck just as I was typing that conclusion, while standing in the customs queue in Auckland. Balancing your iPad on a luggage cart. I know you are probably laughing at me for being completely silly, but let's just say that 12 hours of travel, followed by an hour in assorted queues trying to exit an airport, will make even the least accident-prone person more likely to do something daft. And, you know by now, that I'm a tad accident-prone. Luckily, the iPad survived and you get to read this post.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Snorkeling School

The day started on the whitest beach I have ever seen...
The entrance to Whitehaven Beach, at high tide. Yes, this beach gets deeper.

The sand was soft and dusty like powdered sugar. Ninety-eight percent (98%) silica, Whitehaven Beach is made of the purest sand to be found--so clean that the Hubble telescope's lens was crafted from it before a ban was put in place to prohibit the pilfering of this beautiful beach. And allegedly 80,000 years old.

The view from the water's edge.


The aquamarine water carves through the sand forming switchbacks that seemingly lead to the sky. And as the tides shift, shallow lagoons dot the beach creating perfect wading pools for small children and those fearful of the jellyfish that await in deeper waters.

My attempt at a panarama from the overlook in shifting sunlight. You can get an idea of the shifting sands.

After a morning spent sunbathing, wading and enjoying the latest Hang gliding and Paragliding magazine, we set off for an afternoon snorkel spot. Our destination was Mantaray Bay sheltered by large black rocks and bearing a tidy tan beach. The water sparkled turquoise and green atop colorful coral.

The view looking out of the bay where I snorkeled.

As I snorkeled between coral heads, I spotted a school of yellowtail fusilier intermixed with black and white striped sissortail sergeant. Next thing I knew the small fish, ranging in size from the palm of my hand to the sole of my foot, we're looking me straight in the eye. With what I can only guess was curiosity, the fish surrounded me on all sides. Swimming in unison, the schooling fish swerved to the left, then the right, then beneath me into the deep blue. A few moments later, I glimpsed them swimming up at me, looking as if they might give me a little kiss or nibble.

Luckily, these were not amorous fish and they eventually let me be.

Alone. Again.

In the wide blue ocean.

But the experience of being subsumed into a school of tropical fish has stuck with me. The grace with which the fish moved, the inquisitiveness in their watery eyes, the way they took turns leading the pack in different directions, the way they amicably schooled with fishes of another design. It all seems to reflect the fluidity which I am seeking in my life. My desire to flow through life with a peaceful contentedness, alternating between being a leader and a follower, accepting all as members of my community--even if it is temporary.

The perfect end to a lovely day.


Humpback Sightings

Seeing Humpback Whales in Australia was one of the most moving experiences of my life. While sailing in the Whitsunday Islands, our skipper spotted a mother with her calf. We watched them for nearly ten minutes from the deck of the catamaran as the mother nursed her young, floating almost motionless in the cerulean blue ocean. From time to time the mother would spout, followed by a miniature blow from her babe. It was like two fountains going off in a sequence, first the big one, then it's mini-me.

Eventually, nursing time was up and the calf swam alongside her mother, still spouting in near unison if not in profusion. And then, as suddenly as it all started, the show was over. The mom flipped her tail and dove deep, taking her young with her.

Sorry, no luck getting a picture of the whales, so here's a shot of our "tender" dragging along behind the sail boat.

I sighed in awe and wonder. These great creatures swim thousands of miles each year, from their summer home of Antartica where they gorge on krill to warmer waters in the north where they mate and give birth. I saw them once or twice as a kid growing up in California and feel blessed to witness them again as an adult adventuring in Australia.

Here's to hoping that Humpback Whales will continue to roam the waters of this world, undisturbed and exuberant in their displays of joyous acrobatics!


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Scuba diving as couples therapy

Getting ready to take the plunge!

If you think it is hard to communicate with your partner on land, imagine what it's like underwater. Basic communication techniques such as speaking aloud are out. And what's left is a makeshift sign language consisting of a few predetermined signs (how much air do you have? Go up. Go down. I'm okay. I'm not great. Turtle. Shark. Boat.) and then a bunch of impromptu signs that both people may or may not be understood.

Me giving my patented all-is-swell "okay" sign in front of some lovely corals

It's those impromptu signs that indicate how well you, as a couple, communicate. Its part mind-reading, part knowing each other really well. For example, when I squeeze my fingers together and move them in a horizontal line, Josh knows that I'm pointing to a long skinny fish (one of my favorites). He nods with approval. When Josh moves his hand in a particular direction, I know he's mimicking a path he'd like us to take. When I give him the okay sign, he starts to swim in that direction.

The long skinny fish in question

Over the last dozen dives, we've done a good job of consistently using our individual sets of signs and re-learning each other's. All of this good work, though, goes out the window when we stumble on an unusual situation.

Earlier today I was having trouble with my ears mid-dive. (Normally my ears hurt at the start of the dive only.) Josh gave me the okay sign, to which I gave him the "I'm not great" sign and then pointed to my right ear. "Okay?" he signed back. "No," I shook my head, repeating the series of signs for my ear is not good. "Boat?" he asked. Hmmm. I didn't need to go back to the boat, I just needed to stay about 6 meters deep so my ear would stop freaking out. How to communicate that? Eventually I thought I got my message across, but it was hard to tell underwater.

Here fishy fishy!

A short time later during one of our many check-ins, I thought Josh said that his ear was hurting and he wanted to go to the boat. Well, "okay" I said, deferring to his discomfort over my desire to continue inspecting the coral and fish-gazing. On our way back to the boat, I asked about his air. He had plenty. I suggested taking a longer way back. "Okay," he responded. Apparently his ear had either worked itself out or we'd once again misunderstood each other underwater.

A Saddled Butterflyfish

The best thing about trying to communicate with a loved one underwater is that miscommunications are expected. There are no hurt feelings when one person misinterprets the other or just cannot figure out at all what the other is so excitedly pointing out. Like this conversation earlier today:

"Look at the awesome blue and black fish!" I try to say while pointing toward the fish
"What? I don't see anything of interest," Josh glances back at me with a confused look
"Look at the blue and black fish!!" I point with increasing animation
"I give up," Josh says with a shrug, turning away

In the land-based world, this interaction would have made me frustrated, and maybe Josh too. But underwater it's just another example of the difficulty of communicating through body language. We trust that the other person would love the blue and black fish if they had seen it and we know that the other person cares about us, even if they can't smile back. Spending time with my hubby underwater reminds me how much I trust him and how much we care about each other... even if he can't read my mind in the ocean or on land.

The happy couple under the sea


Friday, August 15, 2014

Aloft again

It had been nearly four months since I broke both my feet paragliding when I got an irrestible offer to fly tandem with a friend who is an excellent pilot. I'm talking competes-internationally-and-holds-the-Washington-State-paragliding-record-for-longest-flight, excellent. And in breathtaking Pemberton, Canada nonetheless. So, of course, I jumped at the opportunity to fly again. And it was a flight to remember!

Josh waiting for a good cycle to launch.
I expected to be really nervous on launch, what with my feet almost healed and it being one of those getting-back-on-the-horse-that-bucked-you-off sort of experiences. But I was pleasantly surprised to find myself more excited than nervous. And as a pilot, I knew what to expect. First we'd get strapped in, then Matty would inflate the glider into the wind, we'd take a few steps uphill, then turn and run off the mountain. Easy-peesy, lemon squeezy. And for once, it truly was. I didn't stumble. I didn't trip. I just calmly ran off the mountain into the open air with Matty at my back and a solid glider overhead.
And the view? Stunning! We found lift, got above the mountain and flew down the ridge. We made some turns, checked out the glaciers and tiny mountain lakes from afar and then made our way to a lush green field.
Looking south towards Mt. Currie
Looking west across the valley at the glaciers
Yes, glaciers!

A beautiful valley with lots of green fields.

Time to pick our landing zone!

As we were making our final turns, setting up to land, Matty told me to stick my legs out straight. Sorta like I was trying to touch my toes, something I cannot do. Still, it worked and Matty landed me gently on my rear, feet completely protected. I was exhilarated, giddy like a kid in a candy shop. I love flying and it felt so good to be back aloft. It also was wonderful to discover that I'm not nervous about flying despite my accident and subsequent time away from the sport.

Coming into land with my feet out straight

Woohoo! We made it and I can still walk!!

Me and Matty rejoicing in our splendid flight, all smiles

Now I just have to get back to flying solo again. Perhaps in a couple months, after we are done exploring the oceans.


Diving with sharks

I am afraid of sharks. Let me repeat: I am afraid of sharks. Always have been. I grew up in Great White country and was raised with a very healthy dose of fear when it comes to sharing water with sharks. I remember reading stories in the newspaper of surfers who'd been attacked by Great Whites. And seeing photos of said surfers and their mangled bodies. I watched Jaws as an impressionable kid. I am afraid of sharks.

I saw my first shark while diving in Puerto Rico in 2008. It had been a while since my last dive and I was nervous. So nervous that I was holding hands with the dive master, a older fellow who lacked any real fear of sharks. As we came around a coral head, he spotted a 6-foot Norse Shark resting on an incline of coral. I didn't see it until he tightened his grip on my hand and started swimming towards it. When I spotted the shark, I freaked out. Imagine me flailing wildly, kicking my legs in all directions and trying to swim in reverse like a mad woman. Only thing is, the dive master had me by the hand with a strong grip and kept pulling me towards the shark. Eventually my wild flailing won out and I got loose from the dive master and swam to safety. In the meantime, my crazy display of fear had scared the shark off. Phew, I let out a heavy sigh of relief and allowed my heart rate return to normal. Needless to say, my fear of sharks had only grown. Now I was especially terrified of seeing sharks while scuba diving.

Fast forward to last night. I am aboard a dive boat in the Great Barrier Reef getting ready for my first night dive. Yes, as if diving wasn't unnerving enough, we were slated to dive at night with the aid of a flash light and a glow stick. Wonderful. I get all my gear on and head to the back of the boat. As I'm waiting in the queue to dive in, the dive master spots a 8-foot grey shark less than 15 feet off the boat, swimming near the surface. I spot it too and think to myself, "I'm not going diving with that thing!" And then the dive master says it's my turn to jump in.

I think for a minute and then I step...


into the dark waters where there are sharks.

I try not to flail and attract the shark's attention. Instead I focus on getting my ears to clear, descending into the deep, dark ocean. I turn to face every direction in turn. No sharks to be seen. Although that's not saying much as I can only see about 10-20 feet in each direction. I take another deep breathe and leave my fear of sharks at the surface along with the bubbles from my exhale.


Note to Readers

I am behind in my blog posts. (Aren't we all?) So rather than postpone writing about what I'm doing now, I'm just going to write about things out of order. Yes, that's right. Me not being orderly. Crazier things have happened, I promise.

This next post is about our current adventures in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Sometime soon(ish) I will blog about our adventures in Pemberton, Canada; Washington's San Juan Islands and other sights in Australia.



Thursday, August 7, 2014

This I believe...

I believe that all adults should try before they buy

.... having kids, that is.


WARNING: If you believe that everyone should have children, then you might want to skip this post. If, on the other hand, you are curious about my thoughts on child-rearing or my love of being an auntie or my delight at learning how awesome my hubby is, then keep reading!


I am 33 years old. I am married. And I don't have any kids.

Actually, I don't want kids of my own. Ever.

Just loaner kids.... nieces and nephews and friends' kids, that is.


"Why?" you ask. Well, here's a short list.

  • Kids need attention all the time. There are no breaks. You cannot just tell them you need a time out and expect them to leave you alone. And if you do walk away or ignore them, they are certain to hurt themselves.
  • When kids cry for seemingly no reason you cannot tell them they have 5 minutes to cry it out and then they must stop. This does not work. I know, I tried it.
  • Kids chew with their mouths open. It is "see food" for every meal. No matter how many times you remind them to eat with their mouths closed. Seeing chewed food makes me want to vomit. No matter how many times I've seen it. It's just gross....
  • Kids whine. It's not their fault, it's just their little voices. Still, it is terribly annoying. Especially when you cannot make it stop. Ever.
  • Kids need less sleep than I do. I thought they were supposed to sleep a lot, but that's a lie. Or perhaps, I just sleep a lot. Either way, when I'm taking care of other people's kids my sleep suffers. And these aren't even babies I'm talking about. How people survive months and years of insufficient sleep, I'll never know. I'm not signing up for that adventure.
  • Kids try their hardest to turn you against your partner. They lie. They claim the other adult said it okay. Even if they haven't talked to said adult. Or even if the other adult said no. You must always confer with your partner. Luckily, my hubby and I made a pact before we borrowed our niece and nephew: whichever of us came up with the strictest ruling on an issue was the ruling that stuck. This may seem evil, but really it is genius because it completely undermines the kids' ability to play you off each other. Plus, when the kid is caught lying (which they inevitably will be) we gave them an extra time-out.
  • No matter how frustrating kids are, you can't spank them. At least in our way of parenting. This means that taking away privileges (like eating ice cream) and giving time-outs are our only ways to punish them. And both of these take extra patience and sometimes inflict the crappy consequences on you too. (You mean no one gets ice cream, me included? Crap!)

Still, none of this is say that I don't like kids. In fact, I love kids! I love watching them experience something new. I love their joy at the little things. I love teaching them things and delight in learning new things from them. My nephew for instance is incredibly knowledgable about tent caterpillars and other creatures. My niece is always on the hunt for good fairy habitat. And playing with rocks and sticks and splashing in frigid water is so much fun with two little kids. Oh! And beany weenies are delicious. Who knew?


And last, but perhaps most importantly, I learned how incredible my hubby is and what a good partnership we make. Each day when we were taking care of the kids, we made sure to give the other a break. Be it taking the kids to an evening ranger program while the other drank wine in the hammock in peace. Or sailing alone with the kids so one of us could catch up on sleep. Or watching a children's movie cuddled up in the tent with the wiggle worms while the other enjoyed the stars. Taking turns and sharing are quite helpful skills to have as adults and frankly essential tricks for maintaining your sanity and love while caring for someone else's children--and probably your own children too, although clearly that is not my wheelhouse.


So, thank you to my wonderful brother- and sister-in-law for lending us two adorable and sweet kids for two weeks so I could discover these things. It is truly a blessing to know that I do not want kids. Instead, I will continue to borrow other people's kids (yours if you let me). And then give them back when I can't take it anymore.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Exploring Glacier with Limits

For years, hubby and I have wanted to visit Glacier National Park. Twice we even attempted to visit. Once we diverted due to thunderstorms and bad weather. The second time a raging fire was sweeping through the park making the air hardly breathable. So when we thrice again planned our visit Glacier we were determined to make it stick. And we succeeded!

However, our previous plans had always imagined us backpacking through the wilderness and taking in Glacier's stunning scenery in peaceful solitude far from the masses of tourists and the crying of small children. But, as you already know if you've been reading this blog, that vision was not to be realized -- at least not this time around.

Instead, we opted to invite our niece (age 6) and nephew (age 8) along for some quality Auntie/Uncle time in the good ole out-of-doors. With me recovering from two broken feet, having two smallish kids along expunged my guilt over not being able to hike far or fast. That is, the kids provided a handy limiting factor for distance and speed.... Although, truth be told, sometimes I held up the crew.

So, in anticipation that you too may be interested in exploring Glacier at a somewhat less challenging pace, I'm sharing here our itinerary in hopes that it might inspire others to take their kids (or someone else's kids--with proper permission of course!) to visit the majestic landscape that is Glacier National Park.

Our basic trip outline, in map form above and list form below. Your welcome :)

Day 1: Arrive in Glacier National Park via West Glacier!
Camp at Fish Creek (last spot available!)
Swim in and Sail on Lake McDonald

Day 2: Hike to Avalanche Lake
Drive Going-to-the-Sun Road to Logan Pass
Build snowman and play in snow at Logan Pass
Play in hammocks and camp at Avalanche Creek

Day 3: Drive Going-to-the-Sun Road to St. Mary Lake
View Jackson Glacier from the road
Camp at Rising Sun
Sail on St. Mary Lake

Day 4: Hike to St. Mary & Virginia Falls
Attend Ranger-led programs for kids and laugh
Camp again at Rising Sun

Day 5: Drive to Many Glacier and check out lodge
Sail on Sherbourne Lake
View wildlife through spotting scope
Camp at Many Glacier

Day 6: Hike to Redrock Falls
Play in Redrock Lake
Drive to and ogle Two Medicine Lake
Exit via East Glacier and call it a successful adventure!


If you haven't been to Glacier yet, I encourage you to give it a go! And in case you suck at making reservations like we do, no need to stress.... most of the campgrounds are first-come anyway.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Raw beauty meets wild beasts

View from the car (sailing kayak on roof) as we prepare to pass the weeping wall on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Epic beauty. Super loud kids.

Driving that winding road I couldn't help but marvel at the raw beauty that lay before me. Vista after breathtaking vista. A new sight more enchanting than the last around every bend. Glacier National Park--stunning in its landscapes, even as its peacefulness was drowned out by the loud singing of two cute, cuddly wild beasts--my niece and nephew.

It has been more than a month (sorry for the delay) since we left the wonderland that is Glacier National Park, taking our wild beasts with us. And yet, the vistas that we viewed, the waters that we walked in and the skies that shined above us are still stirring my soul. If you haven't experience Glacier, you should go. And if you, like us, don't have any kids of your own, borrow some and bring them along... as there is nothing quite like exploring a new and magical world with children.

Swimming and playing in Lake McDonald.

Sailing on Lake McDonald
Annabelle on Avalanche Lake
The raging rapids of Avalanche Creek; a perfect place to ice my cranky healing feet!
Glorious views along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
So pretty!
Making snow friends at Logan Pass.
Mountain goats! Hooray!
St. Mary Lake with strange clouds. Any know what those are?
Quiet (at last!) contemplation at St. Mary Falls.
On the way back from St. Mary Falls.
Hiking along the other side of St. Mary Lake.
St. Mary Lake showing its pebble floor.
Post-fire purple mountain.
Mountains across the wetland near St. Mary Lake.
Sailing on Sherbourne Lake.
So many wildflowers! So many reasons to take a break from hiking :)
More wildflowers!