At Craters of the Moon there were tons of tiny, colorful little flowers growing out of volcanic ash. In a land that seems inhospitable to almost all life, this made us smile.
To be honest, our Sawtooth Lake hike was a mix of lows and highs, though ultimately the lows made the highs that much more worthwhile. It was really hot at around 102º F with the sun beating down on us for seven hours and I was feeling some altitude sickness, not helped by Barley pulling hard almost the entire ten miles (how??) and my shoes soaked from hobbling across streams. But there’s a certain feeling of bliss you get—part endorphins, part exhaustion, and part accomplishment—when you push through physical and even mental discomfort to literally summit a mountain. We drank snow melt (through a filter), passed out on the grass, and I was so tired I wanted to camp the night instead of hiking down. This has never happened.
A lot of National Parks have scenic drives you can take and we often use these on day one somewhere new to get a lay of the land and figure out which trails we want to hike. Glacier has a drive called Going to the Sun Road that hugs the sides of huge mountains with tiny stone walls separating the road from sheer cliffs. It’s terrifying in places and thrilling the whole way through. We especially loved stopping at McDonald Lake, where when the water was still, it perfectly reflected the blue and purple-tinted mountains around it. When the water was choppy, it almost felt like the ocean and a small taste of home.
We arrived at our hotel in Ketchum in the Sawtooth Mountains to a weird vibe and smelly room that someone had tried to cover up with an economy-sized can of Lysol. We were able to switch rooms the next day, but it was a stinky night and we drank green juice at every opportunity in an attempt to detox the chemicals. Also, there was no fridge, so every meal required a trip to the (pricey) grocery store.
I don’t want to get into a political debate, but anyone who doubts climate change should really drive across the U.S. Every single place we’ve visited, people have told us “it’s not usually like this” in one form or another with regard to cold temperatures, daily thunderstorms, drought, or intense heat. The weather feels extreme and in relation to our road trip, it’s definitely made time spent outdoors harder to navigate. It shouldn’t consistently be 105º in Glacier National Park.
I still don’t want to get into a political debate, but the casinos, guns, and going back to pre-women’s rights…I’ve had enough of that. Casinos and guns are rampant, and the sexism (sadly) seems to be part of daily life in quite a few places. When we were switching our cell phones to Verizon, the sales woman asked Aaron if I was “allowed to be on the account”. She said many men don’t allow their wives to have access, if they allow them to have phones at all. Another time, when Aaron was looking for me in a sporting goods store, someone joked to him that “you don’t want to lose your wife in a department store with a credit card!” To which Aaron wanted to respond, “Ha! You think I let my wife have a credit card?!” (The sarcasm would have been totally lost.)
We’re pretty sure we received a ticket leaving Idaho for being from Massachusetts. We got pulled over for driving 47 in a 45 zone, except it somehow turned into a “warning” and a $130 fee for not having physical proof of our just-renewed car insurance. This officer didn’t consider pulling up our policy on our phones as adequate proof. He did tell us, however, that we could mail the local police department a print out of our new insurance policy to have the ticket waived. I expect we’ll get a typewritten letter from him hand-delivered in three months as confirmation that we’re all set.