Saturday, April 4, 2009

Savannah, Georgia: Downtown

Ah, the tree-lined streets of downtown Savannah. You just want to sit on a park bench, have a seat and watch the day go by.

The city fathers of Savannah have done a fine job with the waterfront district. Many of the houses look like they did 100 years ago, and the 21 town squares are nicely decorated. Be sure to ask where the "Forrest Gump" bench is located. Part of the movie was filmed here. And the founder of the Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Lowe, has her birthplace commemorated as a museum.

You can take a tour of the area -- a good idea in order to take it all in -- and a stroll along the river also works. If you do take in the river, you'll see a statue of "The Waving Girl." According to local legend, one of the sailors came in to Savannah many years ago, met the girl in question, and promised to return. The young lady believed him, and went out to greet ships as they arrived in the hopes that her beloved was one of them. You can guess the unhappy ending to the story, but at least she got a statue out of it.

Blackfoot, Idaho: Idaho Potato Museum

If you ever find yourself in Blackfoot, Idaho, get off the Interstate and head downtown. Then look for the converted train station. You'll find the Idaho Potato Museum - formerly the World Potato Expo. It's worth it, particularly if you are from out of state.

Most people associated Idaho with potatoes, and this capitalizes on the association. It's a quaint little museum, filled with all sorts of exhibits. There's a tribute to Dan Quayle, who famously couldn't spell potato once upon a time and thus helping to further destroy his image. There's even a burlap tuxedo, perfect for the next dinner-dance.

The treat came at the end when we identified ourselves to the somewhat bored teenager at the front desk that we were from out of state. The rule is, free taters for out-of-staters, so we left with a sack of potatoes. Almost made the whole trip worthwhile.

Blackfoot is fairly close to Yellowstone, so a visit isn't as outrageous as you might think.

Chicago, Illinois: Michael Jordan statue

Why that fellow can fly! It must be Superman!

Almost. It's a statue of Michael Jordan, basketball superstar. Jordan's statue went up in front of the United Center in 1994. Visitors to Chicago often head over to get a picture at all hours of the day, plus before and after games.

No word on who the guy playing defense is.

If you'd like a replica of it, the price was $10,000 each originally.

South Bend, Indiana: College Football Hall of Fame

Let's see -- a goalpost in front of a building. Sounds like a football-connected facility to me. And that's exactly right. It's the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown South Bend, Indiana. There's a grid placed in front of the building, and as you might be able to see everyone like to frolic on it. No tackling on the concrete, though -- it hurts.

Inside, there are the usual tributes to the greats of college football and some special exhibits to schools like Syracuse (below), which happened to be playing Notre Dame the weekend I was there. The facility has a spiraled ramp down to the main exhibit area, and has some interactive items to keep the kids busy. I'm told this place does a big business on football Saturdays, so drop by some other time if you want your run of the place.

Hodgenville, Kentucky: Lincoln's Birthplace

It's not really Lincoln's birthplace. This is the building that holds Lincoln's birthplace. The actual structure is old and about as big as a good-sized living room today -- hard to believe an entire family lived in it. No pictures are allowed inside the building.

Hodgenville went all out on this one. There are 56 steps to the top, one for each year of Lincoln's life. This is in a very nice park setting. By the way, the land adjoins some privately owned land, so there is cheap commercialism on the edge of the park.

Lincoln's water supply is located at the bottom of a hill below the house. That raises the question, why would the Lincolns build a house at the top of the hill, and have to carry the water all the way up? It's been guessed that the house was placed there to afford a better setting, and it sounds right to me. It's still a nice setting, regardless of the authenticity involved.

Hodgenville, Kentucky: Lincoln's Boyhood Home

Modest little place. It's a few miles north of Hodgenville. The Lincolns lived on the main road between Louisville and Nashville -- it's not far from the current Interstate -- and Abe's first memories of a house were about this one. He lived here from 1811 to 1816.

It is a National Historic Site, and rangers do watch the place. The one we saw was very happy to have company. The building is not structurally sound (at least as of 2005), so you can't go inside. It will be interesting to see if efforts to raise money to fix the place up will be successful.

Lexington, Kentucky: Kentucky Horse Park

How often do you get to meet a genuine celebrity at a tourist attraction? The Kentucky Horse Park certainly comes through in this department.

Say hello to Cigar, one of the great horses of all time. Cigar came up a little, um, short at breeding time, so he was sent here to live a life of leisure.

This is a great public relations device by the horse industry. The park has several breeds of horses and a number of tours and instructional sessions. A museum also is on the grounds. It's all quite well done and interesting.

Speaking of celebrities, the park is also the setting for the burial site of Man O'War. He's considered one of the greatest horses ever, losing only one race ... to Upset, naturally.

By the way, you can take tours of working horse farms around Lexington. If you do, make a reservation early. A few months wasn't enough time to get us a spot. But the Kentucky Horse Park proved to be a good substitute.

Louisville, Kentucky: Churchill Downs

It was a little surprising how much Kentucky has rallied around horse racing as an attraction and as an industry. The Mecca for that activity, in one sense, is Churchill Downs in Louisville. It's the site of the Kentucky Derby, which has turned into a long celebration in Kentucky.

You can visit the facility year-round, although it might be more fun for a tourist when the track is not running. They have tours of the facility, which includes a walk in the saddling area and up the tunnel to the track (but not to the track itself). The twin spires are still around, but they are slightly dwarfed these days by the stacks of suites built atop the clubhouse and grandstand.

The Kentucky Derby Museum is located here. There's a fine 360-degree film on the Derby, as well as exhibits on past winners and Derby hats. Kids of all ages can ride like jockeys on one exhibit; it will tire your legs out in no time. The people at Churchill Downs have done a fine job here, and it's definitely worth the stop.

Louisville, Kentucky: Louisville Slugger Factory

You have to admit -- this is one odd-looking lobby. You can sit on the bottom inside of the glove.

It's in the back of the Louisville Slugger factory, right by the riverfront in downtown Louisville. It's the most famous name in baseball bats, and more than half of all major league players use their bats.

The factory has a relatively small museum for visitors. The actual factory tour is the best part (no pictures, by the way), as visitors can see major league bats actually being made. At the end, each tourist gets a small souvenir bat. Judging by the line at the personalized regulation-sized bat desk, that wasn't enough for most people.

Louisville, Kentucky: Zachary Taylor's Gravesite

President Taylor's grave is best remember for when scientists opened it up to see if they could determine the cause of his death. After some quick tests, they put him back here. Taylor was president number 12 and hero of the Mexican War, good reasons to name the entire cemetery for him. What's more, he's easy to find once you get into the cemetery, which is located on the east side of town.

There's one main road going into the cemetary. Drive to the end of it, and look for the big statue. Taylor isn't far away.

By the way, the cemetery is right off the Interstate 264. That means it's easy to get to it, but look out for the traffic at rush hour.

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

Mammoth Cave is located in south-central Kentucky, and the caves literally go on for miles and miles. Visitors can spend as little as an hour, or spend much more money for a much longer tour than even involves some crawling.

The obvious problem with caves is that pictures look really odd. Which way is up in the shot? And does it really matter?

Having been to a few caves, they all start to look alike to me after a while. This is a nice, big one that can keep scientists interested for months, but for many the principle of "seen one, seen them all" may apply.

By the way, you can do some hiking and other activities on the land above the caves.

Bar Harbor, Maine: Acadia National Park

Someone will probably send in a correction on this, but I think Acadia National Park is the most eastern park in the United States. The usual trivial fact of the day is associated with Cadillac Mountain, which towers above the park in its location along the Maine coast. The first sunrise of the United States each morning comes to Cadillac Mountain, as its height (1,530 feet) gives it an advantage in such matters.

It wouldn't be Maine without a rocky coast, though, and Acadia has some very nice coastline. The picture above is evidence of that. The water is rather blue, too, although it's always cold. The park also has a lighthouse, museum, and plenty of other recreational opportunities.

Freeport, Maine: The Big Native American

Here's a small bow to political correctness. This is generally called The Big Indian, but we'll stick to this name.

This used to be in front of a store that sold Native items, but it is long gone. It's now in front of Winter People Image Marketing. I guess it was easier to keep the statue. It's certainly easier to find it.

Our 25-foot pal is just south of Freeport off U.S. 1. Pay a visit on your way to L.L. Bean.

Freeport, Maine: The Desert of Maine

Here's a cautionary tale about the dangers of not rotating crops.

According to the Desert of Maine's Web site, the Tuttle family took over a 300-acre plot of land that had been a successful farm for years. However, poor farming techniques led to the land becoming a desert. One man's wasteland is another man's tourist attraction, so if you need something to do in Freeport instead of shop, this is an alternative.

If memory serves, the sand gets blown around a bit, so the desert portion of the park shifts slightly from year to year.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Thomaston, Maine: Henry Knox Museum

Henry Knox was one of the more unsung heroes of the American Revolution. George Washington made him his assistant at a very young age, and he helped Washington during the Revolutionary War. Then, when Washington became President, he needed someone he could trust as the nation's first Secretary of War. Knox again was that man.

After serving in that post, Knox retired from public service, went into private business in Maine, and did quite well, thank you. The above mansion, Montpelier, reflects that. It has some of the original furniture.

Author David McCullough helped bring Knox to life with his book, "1776." The contractors working on the place during the visit are doing their share as well, although the truck doesn't do much for the picture.

Yarmouth, Maine: Eartha

For those of you who are searching for information on Eartha Kitt, sorry.

Eartha is the name of the globe at the DeLorme Company, a firm in Yarmouth, Maine. It makes maps, all kinds of maps, more detailed maps than many of us will ever use.

Eartha is 42 feet in diameter and rotates. Visitors can go in and look at Eartha at close range, but it's tough to get a good picture of it inside. So this will have to do.

By the way, there also is a good gift shop inside, if you are in the mood to give someone a map. DeLorme is just down the highway from L.L. Bean in Freeport.

Annapolis, Maryland: Thurgood Marshall Memorial

Annapolis is a pretty city for a walk. Not only is it right along the oceanfront, but the parks are nice too.

Here's an unexpected treat on such a walk -- a tribute to Thurgood Marshall. He's the former distinguished lawyer and Supreme Court Justice. This one isn't even in the AAA books, but it's a fine place to watch the day go by and consider the contributions of this fine man.

Annapolis, Maryland: John Paul Jones' Crypt

While the U.S. Naval Academy is in a beautiful setting and well-maintained, as you'd expect, the number of tourist attractions is a little limited. The Freedom 7 spacecraft from the Mercury program is one; this is another.

John Paul Jones is considered America's first naval hero. He led several different boats for the Revolutionary forces during the war, and did quite well. He also had problems with authority, according to the biographies.

Jones' remains were brought to the Naval Academy chapel in 1913 after spending more than a century in an obscure location in Paris. This is much more appropriate.

Sharpsburg, Maryland: Antietam National Battlefield

I believe there is some phrase about the winners writing the history. The Union forces in the Civil War called it the Battle of Antietam while the Confederacy liked the Battle of Sharpsburg. Although the site is located in Sharpsburg, you can see by the above title who won the war.

The battle took place in Sept. 1862, and about 22,000 soldiers on the two sides combined were killed or wounded. That was the worst day of the Civil War in terms of bloodshed. And when you tour the battleground, you can almost feel the spirits in the air, like you can in Gettysburg.

Shown is a picture of Bloody Lane, where the fighting was particularly intense. The South withdrew after the battle, giving the Union some needed good news and perhaps helped inspired President Lincoln to get to work on the Emancipation Proclamation.

Boston, Massachusetts: Swan Boats at Boston Common

The Boston Common was "common" property to the early residents of the city back in the 1600's. In fact, cattle even grazed there.

Now, the 44-acre park has more leisurely uses. The swan boat rides probably are the most famous example of that; it's a great tradition in the city. The tourists line up and wait for quite a while to take a slow, brief ride on the lake of the grounds. As you'd expect, little kids like it, and parents and adults like it. But the teenagers might find it a little, um, slow.

Boston, Massachusetts: Boston Garden

They don't make arenas like this any more. Boston Garden had plenty of character and charm, even though there weren't that many good seats. In fact, there was one seat tucked under an overhand in which the patron could see about one-third of the hockey ice surface.

Still, this was an intimidating place to play as a visitor, particularly in basketball. You could always look up and see the banners that detailed all of the world championships won by the Celtics. The ghosts of Russell, Havlicek and Bird were never far away.

The new building, constructed next door and having a different name every few weeks it seems, has great sightlines and all of the usual bells and whistles. But intimidating it's not.

Plymouth, Massachusetts: Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rock is one of the most charming stories in early American history. Supposedly, the people on the Mayflower landed on the beach at Plymouth, set foot on the rock and marched into the New World.

Is is true? No one is saying. The story was more or less handed down by generations over the years, and at some point the local residents decided the rock needed its own shelter. Therefore, you can see the four-ton rock in something of a pit along the shoreline.

It's funny how some might think the first settlement came here, thanks to all the publicity the rock and the Mayflower get. Of course, The landing came more than a decade after Jamestown. And the Vikings certainly dropped by at some point. Then, there's the fact that the Native Americans were already here.

It's still a nice piece of history, though. And as I said when I was about 12 (I was joking for the record then, and now), how did the pilgrims do such a good job of carving the date of arrival on the rock?

Quincy, Massachusetts: John Adams' Gravesite

Historian David McCullough accomplished the remarkable feat of bringing John Adams back into the public eye when McCullough wrote a biography of the statesman. It led to an explosion of curiosity about this remarkable man; that included the HBO mini-series, which caused all sorts of hits for this page on the old Web site.

That probably meant that the United First Parish Church in Quincy has been pretty crowded since the book came out. Adams, his wife, Adams' son John Quincy, and his wife are all buried in the basement of the church. Before seeing them all, tour guides will be happy to show you around the church and tell you a bit about Adams. The pews were something of assigned seating in those days, so visitors can sit where John and Abigal sat. That's a surprisingly neat feeling.

John Adams is shown, and the rest of the family is in similar "surroundings."

Quincy, Massachusetts: The Old House

For those wishing to learn about all things John Adams, the second President of the United States, the Adams National Historical Park is the place to go. The Old House was in the Adams Family for well over a century, and it's been restored to look like it did when John and Abigail lived there. John's office is shown above. By the way, there is a fine garden outside.

Visitors take a shuttle bus to the site, and guided tours are given. For a place that was built in 1731, it's holding up pretty darn well.

Quincy, Massachusetts: John Adams' Birthplace

It's a do-it-yourselfer's special. Slap some wood stain on this baby and it will look as good as new ... by 1735 standards.

Here's a picture of John Adams' birthplace in Quincy, Massachusetts, restored to look like it did when the second U.S. President lived here. It's quite a modest facility. What you see in terms of space is what you got -- a hallway and stairs in the middle, with rooms upstairs and down on either side. According to the AAA TourBook (source of some of the information on this site), Adams first wrote Abigail Smith letters from the saltbox house on the property.

Springfield, Massachusetts: Basketball Hall of Fame

It's Basketball Hall of Fame number 3, and you'd have to say they are getting the hang of it. Number one was at Springfield College, where the game was actually invented. Number two was placed in downtown Springfield, right off the Interstate. That proved too small, so number three went up a couple of years ago.

The building is shaped like a basketball. The inside is broken up into three rings. The top honors the greats of the game, complete with short biographies. The middle section has tributes to players, coaches, media, strategies, etc. The bottom is an actual court, where you can shoot to your heart's delight on regulation baskets or a special peach basket. The floor is also where the induction ceremony is held each year. There is a ton of interactive features, and it's all very well done. Even if your interest in basketball is lukewarm, this definitely is worth a visit.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Springfield, Massachusetts: Dr. Seuss Sculpture Garden

Cute, cute, cute.

That's one was to describe the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden. It's located right in the middle of downtown Springfield, a few blocks from the Basketball Hall of Fame.

There are a handful of sculptures in the garden, a fitting tribute to the Springfield native who became one of America's most beloved children's book authors. Some of the characters are shown here.

The visitors center nearby sells post cards, by the way. You can write things like, "Would you read this postal card? Would you read it in the yard? Would you read it in the day? Would you read it by the bay?" and come off as incredibly clever to your friends.

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Dearborn, Michigan: The Henry Ford Museum

Rosa Parks was tired when she got on the above bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. So when the African-American woman was told she had to move to the back of the bus for a white person, she refused. Parks was arrested at the end of her ride, the Montgomery bus boycott soon followed, and another spark for the civil rights revolution was lit.

Visitors to the Henry Ford Museum can get on this bus and sit in the very seat that Parks had that fateful day. Hopefully they'll remember her courage and dignity when they do.

Visitors also can see a large quantity of other exhibits in this large hall. You can see the actual limo used when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Most people didn't know that the limo was altered and put back in service through the Carter Administration.

The Ford Museum used to have a reputation for being on the stuffy side. Yes, there were plenty of old cars and locomotives in it, but it was rather dry. The efforts to improve matters are working, happily, even if seeing a vial with Thomas Edison's last breath is still a little creepy.

Dearborn, Michigan: Greenfield Village

Henry Ford tried to re-create some of the important moments in his life and the lives of some of his friends when he created Greenfield Village. The result is a unique attraction.

Actors portray such inventors as Thomas Edison and interact with visitors. Artisians do creative work right in front of you. It only takes minutes to walk from the workshop of the Wright Brothers to that of Luther Burbank. Pictured is the Ferris Windmill.

It's all exceedingly clean and well presented, although a little difficult to accurately describe. It's easy to guess that kids of all ages might find this all a little slow, but that's OK -- you can't have roller-coasters everywhere.

Dearborn, Michigan: Ford Rouge Factory Tour

Holy mackerel.

This is one big factory.

The Ford Rouge Factory Tour takes a look at the assembly plant for the Ford F-150 truck. The building is something like six football fields in size, all under one roof. Visitors (who aren't allowed to take pictures) walk the observation desk and watch the trucks go through the various steps. About a truck a minute comes off the end of the line.

The bus to the visitors center goes through the complex, which is so huge it used to host 100,000 workers per day. Once the visitors go past the statue of Henry Ford at left, they see films on the plant, get an overview of the complex, and then visit the plant itself.

By the way, the plant is on the Rouge River. One of the tour guides didn't know how the place got its name, which shocked us.

Your guide probably will know more. If you like this stuff, and you should, it's worth buying a ticket in advance.

Port Huron, Michigan: Thomas Edison Depot Museum

One of the claims to fame of Port Huron, Michigan, is that Thomas Edison spent part of his boyhood there. As the story goes, Edison used to sell newspapers on the trains that went through Port Huron to make money for his early scientific experiments. In fact, he was so good at the newspaper sales business, he hired a few friends to work for him. No wonder got along with Henry Ford later.

Port Huron has a tribute to Tom on Edison Parkway, which runs right along the waterfront. There's a museum there, which has a replica of his first lab. The statue at left shows Edison with newspaper at the ready.

Port Huron, Michigan: Blue Water International Bridge

The good folks of Port Huron, Michigan, and Sarnia, Ontario, got this one right. The Blue Water International Bridge really does go over blue water. That's Lake Huron in the distance, and the water flows into the St. Clair River on its way to the rest of the Great Lakes and eventually the Atlantic Ocean.

Part of the waterfront of Port Huron has been cleared out to create some attractive parkland. Good thinking, city fathers. There's a fine view of the Sarnia casino from the shore, too. A small area near the bridge (far side) with American and Canadian flags has been set up to honor those involved in the 9-1-1 phone emergency system. We weren't the only ones who saw 9-1-1 and thought 9/11/01.

It's not a bad tip to cross into the United States here instead of Detroit. There's less traffic, and the scenery is better. Those coming from Toronto or Buffalo should try it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Independence, Missouri: Truman Home

When Harry Truman finished up as President in 1953, he simply moved back to Independence, Missouri, and settled in this house. If you wanted to see Harry mow his lawn like the rest of us, well, Harry was out there once a week in the summer, ready to chat. Political considerations aside, it's difficult to picture Richard Nixon doing that.

The house is a nice, modest place, right on a corner in a residential section. Tours are available.

They don't make them like Harry any more.

Independence, Missouri: Truman Library

Harry Truman has had an interesting relationship with historians over the years. When he left office in 1953, he wasn't particularly well-regarded. But as the years have past and the times have come under scrutiny, those same historians have come to realize that Truman navigated the country through some terribly difficult waters in that post-war period.

The library has plenty of exhibits about Truman's life, as you'd expect. Harry and Bess are buried in the courtyard in the middle of the complex (shown here), which is a nice, peaceful area. You can see Harry's office from there. Harry worked out of the complex after leaving the Presidency. If you wanted to know why he dropped the atomic bomb in 1945, Harry would sit down in that office and write you a letter with an explanation.

Drop by the next time you are in Kansas City.

St. Louis, Missouri: Gateway Arch

Trivia question: Name an historic landmark that is exactly as tall as it is wide.

We have a winner. The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is 630 feet in both directions. It's on some parkland right by the Mississippi River, and a fine symbol for St. Louis as a jumping off point for the Westward expansion of the nation.

Besides, it's a fun ride as well. Visitors hope in a claustrophobia-creating tram, which bounces around a bit as it goes to the top. There you look out as the city and river below. The bottom also has a short museum, which shows a movie on Lewis and Clark.

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St. Louis, Missouri: International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame

Every sport seems to have a hall of fame, and bowling is no exception. This one is located right in downtown St. Louis, perfect if you are in town for a sporting event and have some extra time.

This has the usual displays of bowling history, which in this country is closely tied to immigration, and honors the best bowlers in history. The car shaped like a bowling pin is a particular favorite. But the best thing to do here is ... bowl. The lanes (pictured) are set up so that you can try a variety of different games and equipment from different eras.

Any kegler should come here.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Coram, Montana: Great Bear Adventure

Admit it. This is the best picture you've ever seen of a bear ... taken through a car window.

That's part of the fun of the Great Bear Adventure, just west of the west entrance to Glacier National Park. You're guaranteed to see some bears in this area. The owners have taken a few bears out of captivity, and put them in more natural surroundings. The customers drive around the area on dirt roads, yielding the right of way to bears. They (the bears, not the tourists) are still dangerous, so staff members patrol the area and visitors keep their windows up and doors locked. The bears do know how to open the doors, by the way. I believe there are about five or so bears on the grounds.

All these bears, and no picnic baskets. Or, if you prefer, pic-a-nic baskets.

Choteau, Montana

The residents of Choteau (SHOW-toe), Montana, have such cute pets.

Well, maybe some did many thousand years ago. Some dinosaur bones were found relatively close to the town near the Rockies, and this model reminds people of the connection. It's right on the main road through town, so it's tough to miss. Just don't be scared.

There's a small museum up in the top right of the picture, and a very helpful visitors center is located off the same parking lot. One of the natives even told us how to pronounce the town's name. We won't forget now. And neither will David Letterman, who was married here in 2009. Honest.

Cut Bank, Montana

I could go on and on about the characteristics of Cut Bank, Montana, here. It's located about 45 minutes east of Glacier National Park, and is near all sorts of recreational facilities. The Blackfeet Indian Reservation takes up much of the land between the town line and the park.

Still, most probably want to hear about the penguin. It greets visitors come in from the east on U.S. Route 2. The penguin checks in at 27 feet and weighs 10,000 pounds. Cut Bank apparently was the "winner" of a study that tried to find the coldest winter spot in the United States, although we have to assume Alaska wasn't part of the study.

East Glacier, Montana: East Glacier Lodge

They don't make lobbies like this any more. Too bad.

Here's the lobby of the East Glacier Lodge, taken from the second floor. It was constructed between the wars, and it's right off a railroad stop. You can see the wood supports that surround the main meeting area.

There is a 9-hole golf course and a swimming pool on the grounds, but it's tough to leave the building. By the way, the dining room has a great view of the Rockies when the weather cooperates.

By the way, see the teepee at the end of the room on the second floor? That is not the budget level of accommodation.

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East Glacier, Montana: World's Largest Purple Spoon

Is East Glacier really the home of the world's largest purple spoon?

Well, that's what the sign says, and who are we to disagree? But, if you find a bigger one, let us know and we'll change the name of this page.

It's a fine way to attract the attention of utensil-buying tourists who pass through the area. We even stopped to look through the place, although we didn't buy anything.

Glacier National Park, Montana: Running Eagle Falls

Couldn't you go for a nice cold beer about now?

Oops. Advertising is difficult to forget.

Running Eagle Falls features a short, paved walk in the Two Medicine area of Glacier National Park. At certain times of the year, the water here is a trickle. This is not one of them; it was roaring in June. One plume of water comes over the top of the other one, although it's difficult to see here because of the volume of water.

Two Medicine Lake is just down the road from this. It's not a particularly accessible part of the park, but it's still pretty.

Glacier National Park, Montana: St. Mary Lake

I f you do a little research on Glacier National Park, and look at some books, you almost certainly will come across a photo that resembles this one. Everyone takes it from some angle close to this. That's the distinctive Goose Island sitting in the middle of the lake.

The difference, of course, is that the professional photographers can afford to wait a week to get just the right day to take just the right picture. It was a little cloudy when we were there, at least at the higher altitudes. It does add a little drama to the shot, in one sense.

The Continental Divide is above the end of the lake.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Glacier National Park, Montana: Logan Pass

There's nothing like a summer vacation in Montana. It's like having a touch of winter.

Park workers had cleared off the snow from Going-to-the-Sun Road on the eastern approach to Logan Pass when we were there in mid-June. The area at the Pass still had plenty of snow left, and the visitor center wasn't open.

This place gets very crowded in the prime season, as the parking lot fills up quickly, so plan accordingly if you want to see the views in person.

Glacier National Park, Montana: Sunrift Gorge

This is located just off Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park -- literally a few steps. The water has carved out a very narrow gorge as it travels down the mountains toward St. Mary Lake. I'm not sure what this would look like in, say, September, but the melting water makes it impressive in June.

Glacier National Park, Montana: Sun Point

The picture doesn't do this part of Glacier National Park justice; it's one of the best places on earth. That's in part because it's something of a surprise -- visitors park their cars, walk several yards up a hill ... and St. Mary Lake and the surrounding mountain envelop the viewer. The lake goes a few miles to the east and west from this viewpoint, and it has that blue-green color associated with snowfall runoff.

Glacier National Park, Montana: Many Glacier Hotel

The idea is for the hotel to blend in with the countryside. I'd say the builders of the Many Glacier Hotel, located in the northeastern portion of Glacier National Park, have succeeded. You'd have to admit it's a heck of a nice view from a parking lot.

One warning: that's not Many Glacier in the background. Visitors take a boat and then hike to that particular glacier, although it doesn't take too long. The Hotel is located right on Swiftcurrent Lake, which has an easy walking trail along its edge that takes about an hour to hike.

Glacier National Park, Montana: Goat Lick

Consider this an eye test. As in, find the goats.

The goats of Glacier National Park in the summer go under U.S. Route 2 to the walls of the Flathead River. There they seek minerals in the rocks. When they find them, and they have to do some steep walking to do so, they lick them.

And that's how you get "Goat Lick."

There are a couple in the picture as I recall. My guess would be in the middle, just to the right of the trees that's the dead center of the photo. But since from this distance the goats are dots, don't strain your eyes.

By the way, this part of the park has no admission charge; it's just down the road from Marias Pass.

Glacier National Park, Montana: Avalanche Lake

As easy hikes go, this is a pretty tough one. Leave the parking lot by Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, walk for an hour, going up more than 500 feet in altitude in the process.

Then you arrive at Avalanche Lake -- particularly in the late spring -- and say, "That wasn't so bad." This is a bathtub-shaped area. One end (shown) contains the Continental Divide, and the melting snow feeds the waterfalls that look like white ribbons. The other end feeds into a creek that goes into the massive Lake McDonald.

It might be worth a visit to the park all by itself. You won't want to leave.

Glacier National Park, Montana: Trail of the Cedars

Sometimes you need a little help to see the unusual.

The Trail of the Cedars is a nice little path around Avalanche Creek. Upon glancing at the creek, I saw the above. Then I looked somewhere else.

A gentleman by the bridge told me to take a good look at what was over the water. He told me to notice that there was a dead tree hanging over the water ... and that there were live trees growing out of the dead material. There's probably a joke to be made about being in Phoenix, but I was too surprised to make it.

I wonder how long this one will last.