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John and Mandi

us --> van --> overland
7 yrs and 6 days - end of the road

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Cold Chillin’ in Glaicer

Jul 4, 2015
by John
in: USA

Moving on is difficult at times. We were nestled quite comfortably at Tower Falls in Yellowstone. It is a wonderful campground (only pit toilets if you are considering it), our camp host the most exceptional. Again, reaching the point of needing a shower, we started to head for Glacier National Park with an expected stop in Bozeman for supplies and to hit up the REI. We had previously ordered a pair of hiking shoes for Mandi and had them shipped to the Bozeman store. Our visit ended with another new pair of shoes and a second dry bag for our day packs. Going into this trip we knew and expected to change out some gear, we didn’t have enough time before leaving Tallahassee and some things needed to be sorted from the road. When we eventually get around to posting our budget recaps we’ll be sure to include several derivatives to help others discern what should be included if they are so inclined to use our information to help plan a trip of their own. We still refer to the budget summaries and expense lists others have posted, a valuable tool and one we hope to pay forward.

We’re starting to formulate a decent balance between traveling and shopping. I still get a bit grumpy if the day drags on for too long, I do prefer to relax a bit before jumping straight into bed. It’s interesting how comfortable our daily routines kept us, moving towards a more “in the moment experience” is proving to be more difficult than anticipated. Anyway, the GPS decided to finally contribute and located a really nice local co-op that actually existed (on more than two occasions it has taken us to nowhere… literally). We have a soft spot for co-ops and for some of the harder comfort foods they carry. We’re not total snobs though, I have a disease I’ve been managing entirely with diet. Eventually I’ll be at the mercy of whatever is at hand, until then we’ll keep looking for little independent grocers for the obscure and delicious. We do believe that as we spend more days engaged in physical activity, instead of behind desks, food choices will begin to become mostly insignificant.

The big day in Bozeman ended with a drive to a Montana State Park that had showers. Unfortunately the State of Montana charges non-residents more for camping and after inspection, a great call by Mandi, we discovered the showers weren’t free. All in it would have been around $35 to camp in a windy field, nope, off to a Wal-Mart. We needed a few things from there anyway, our showers could wait one more day since we don’t mind each other’s stink. Staying in a parking lot is not the best, or quietest, experience. We have never popped up on such an occasion, a European van was so we might sometime, but free is free so who can complain.

On our way to Glacier National Park we had decided to try and get a site at St. Mary’s since they had showers. We found a webpage that lists all of the Glacier campgrounds including the times they filled, if at all. By the time we reached the park St. Mary was full, three hours earlier than what had been listed for the previous day, so we beelined it to Many Glacier and scored a site. There were pay showers at the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn/General Store, $2.60 for 8.5 minutes, so we walked over to clean our sorry asses up. The campground is lovely with a spectacular view, one we figured we’d have for a couple of nights. There were quite a bit of outstanding administrative things we needed to accomplish so we hung out at the pay phones to complete most of it. We love the fact that we can call toll free numbers from pay phones, AT&T cellular service was still a no-show.

Swiftcurrent Lake, Glacier National Park, MT, USA

Sure wind, perfectly ripple the water and ruin the shot... a-hole

Our plan was to hike to Grinnell Glacier then move to the main section of the park, but we’ve been becoming fond of camp days, zero days to thru hikers. The first couple of days were spent just hanging out in camp. We did drive over to the St. Mary’s visitor center after receiving a lead that Verizon service was good there. We had been in need of some rest so we spent the majority of those two days just doing that.

By pure accident we stumbled upon the mapping capability of our DeLorme. We had been told by many people not to bother with the mapping feature in the Earthmate app, what a mistake. To everyone’s defense, it’s not useful for driving but for hiking it’s fabulous. The maps must be downloaded, one for each state or province, so it’s a bit time consuming and not the most intuitive to acquire. Once a map is stored locally the app uses the GPS of the device, iPhone in our case, for navigation. Being a product from DeLorme, topographic information is included so gauging the difficulty of a particular hike is fairly easy. There is always room for improvement, lesser trail names would be a great touch, but making our smartphone a trail capable GPS for free as part of the service we get with our locator beacon is awesome. We wish we would have played with this long ago, oh well.

Finally managing to get our lazy selves out of camp we hiked as close to Grinnell Glacier as recommended, it’s absolutely fantastic. We couldn’t complete the trail due to ice hazards but were rewarded with a grizzly and the antics of her two cubs at the roped off point. It was one of those days that oozed happiness and wonder. Taking a bad photo was incredibly hard. We ran into a couple who travel about three months at a time and spent most of the return hike chatting as we occasionally caught up to each other. They really got us excited about Alaska and gave us some really good leads. Enlightenment on top of a mountain, who’d have thunk it.

Swiftcurrent Creek, Glacier National Park, MT, USA

I think we enraged the spirit of the mountain

Swiftcurrent Creek, Glacier National Park, MT, USA

Where's Brad Pitt, this river runs through it

Grinnell Glacier Trail, Glacier National Park, MT, USA

Mini pan-o ram-o

Grinnell Lake, Glacier National Park, MT, USA

We walked all the way here for this, geesh

Each morning during our stay we walked to the General Store and picked up coffee refills, we almost exclusively use our 21 ounce Hydro Flasks for coffee and tea, for $2.04 ($1 each then some sort of percentage based surcharge for park operation). We also met several great folks and spent many an hour chatting away. Our desire to thru-hike one of America’s great trails was rekindled after hanging out with Cody and Jon, currently finishing the big three by hiking the CDT. Hard core hiking twins we will run into again one day, keep laying down the miles guys!

We ended our time in Glacier with a couple more zero days taking the total time spent there to five, just soaking it all in, exactly what we needed. No rushing about or deadlines a slave to. We slept in and were total van bums. We did cut our hair, shower, and do laundry on our last day, the utmost of accomplishments. Connectivity was bad, we’re starting to not care as much even though we are a bit antsy without it. We fired up our DeLorme InReach and texted my sister who’s been unofficially declared our primary keeper, our phone tree will be expanded with time. We started looking into Banff and realized we were completely unprepared. Eff it, let’s go get another coffee.

MVP: For Love of Bucket(s)

Just before setting off, after realizing the messy state of the space between the front seats during our shakedown trips, we decided to use a bucket we had to help organize things until we could come up with something better. I had been wanting a bucket to hold some of the loose items in the rear storage box but couldn’t find one that would fit next to the propane tank. Re-using what we had to help declutter the cabin was the most fortunate accident. As soon as it was filled and neatly nestled between the two of us it was deemed “Mandi’s Market”. Deep in the recesses of my mind I recalled the valuable mention of having a bucket by Sardine Taco.

Slowly and surely we were needing a vessel to handle basic things like dishwashing, schlepping, and other camp chores. Each time Mandi’s Market was emptied and re-deployed to handle the task at hand. Laundry, shoe rinsing… more and more did its resume grow. The collapsible sink remains unused, the bucket much more convenient. Carrying filled water bottles, no easier than with a bucket. Muddy shoes, wet rain gear… yup, the bucket. The bucket had become such an everyday item we were growing tired of emptying it each day. While shopping we found its sibling, quite possibly its twin.

Stacked while in motion and separated in camp, two buckets more easily carry the load. There will come a time, maybe later today, when both are used simultaneously to perform a more demanding chore. Such a benign object, yet one who’s usage is exemplary. Imagine a sink, washing machine, storage bin, transport container, containment device, feet rinsing station, or simply a holder of snacks and drinks. The hero of undramatic jobs, declared our first MVP.

Double the trouble, double the fun. Potato masher moonlights as a laundry agitator

Double the trouble, double the fun. Potato masher moonlights as a laundry agitator

Say what? (5)
David Elliott
Jul 4, 2015 at 03:17 PM
We have been following your travels since Zion and are having great fun reading the blog. Great story about the bucket(s). Sometime the most mundane items prove to be the most useful.
Jul 5, 2015 at 08:21 PM
Hey David! Zion is still our favorite but Glacier is a close second. We are finding that a few of the fancier items we have brought along have just been shuffled to the back while the mundane are carrying the load, so to speak. Less is more, especially when you live in a vehicle.
Jul 6, 2015 at 01:37 PM
Looks like you are having great fun. Nice Pics. :-)
Jul 6, 2015 at 03:06 PM
Wow. Picturesque!!
Jul 7, 2015 at 11:23 AM
We are Narayana and thanks! Glacier is stunning Sri. Definitely add it to a must visit list. In our opinion starting at Grand Teton and working North is exquisite.
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