So many of my posts are about races and training. Most races are a quick, long weekend: down and back.
Ironman is a big event. And in my mind (if possible) deserves a big vacation. And we were in a part of the world that begs to go and see. So, after IMCdA, Carlos, my parents and I did. I also look at it this way – Carlos is a fabulous supporter. So a trip after that he gets to plan and do what he wants is my way of thanking him and spending a few days with him after all he has done for me.
Monday we stayed put – letting me relax and savor the post event celebrations. We hung out in the breakfast area, chatted with teammates coming in and out, and lounged. And after 4 nights of 3-5 hours of sleep each, I crashed about 3, fell asleep about 5 and took a two-hour nap. We went to dinner and then I went back to bed and slept the best sleep I had in 4 days. Staying put one day was a terrific move, and I would do that again.
Tuesday we packed up. Carlos and my dad took Sarah to the Spokane airport, and Mom and I hung out in the breakfast area chatting with teammates. Then the four of us headed to Whitefish, MT. White Fish was chosen for the fact that it is near Glacier National Park. None of us ski, and when we made the reservations we had no clue it was a ski resort – it was well priced and convenient to Glacier National. That was 100% how we made our choice. But…it turned out to be a terrific choice for many reasons I will get to later.
Montana was a place I have wanted to go since high school. Think about it – it is a HUGE state. And yet only 1 person in the house of representatives. That means WIDE OPEN SPACES. And that thought has captured my imagination and interest since high school. So I was excited to be going there.
As we drove towards White Fish the thing that struck me, even with clouds, was how blue the sky was (when the blue appeared). Absolutely amazing. Daily I was just in awe of the sky, and could have spent many hours just taking in the view. As it was I took a number of pictures as we drove in.
We stayed at the Morning Eagle up on Big Mountain. It was an easy drive up and down the mountain, and a perfect location. Having our own condo with kitchen was terrific as we could prepare breakfast and dinner as we wanted. It made things very nice after a long day. I feel pretty safe in saying that during the summer it is a very laid back and relaxing place to be. I am sure in the winter it is a hub of activity.
We didn’t have any plans. Glacier National Park was the only thing on our agenda. And even that I was learning about (such as the Going-to-the-Sun Road) from my
dad and others. We had spoken with a woman at check in and she said to make the full loop around the Going to the Sun Road; exiting at St. Mary, and not turn back and return down from Logan’s pass to the west entrance (the most common route). We were playing this by ear, so to speak.
As we drove in we stopped and took pictures. I loved the sound of the rushing water…and could have stood there listening to it for ages. We were in no rush but after a few pictures moved on.
Construction is everywhere in the summer, and Glacier National is no exception this year! There was a portion of the road before climbing the mountains that was down to one lane for construction. But, we were early enough it was not a bad delay. As we drove up the weather got worse, and by the time we got to Logan’s Pass it was raining and cold. There was still snow pile high and densely packed at Logan’s Pass. With the rain and bad conditions we didn’t hike up there that day. But, as we drove up and down we were treated to an amazing show of how powerful the mountains can appear when wrapped in grey clouds. Again the only word I can think of is “Wow!”. I wish I had thought to take a picture at the top but, as Carlos’ and my norm….we forgot.
Day two we
decided to hike up the Danny-on trail just outside our lodge, meet my parents at the top (they took the gondola up), and then all four of us hike down. It is more than 2,000 feet of elevation change in a 3-4 mile hike (or over 5 depending on the paths you chose). We hiked over 4 miles up (adding in, without realizing it, the rim trail). Along the way Carlos and I lost the trail in the snow for a bit, but soon caught it up again. It is a frequently traveled trail and so it was easy to follow. Along the way we were treated with some amazing views. This may sound repetitive but it is par for the course in this little part of the world.
We got to the top, had lunch with my parents, tried to convince them that it was a rough trail (snow and steep) but
they wanted to go down so down the four of us we went. We took our time and avoided the Rim trail this time so hiked less than 4 miles going down. I was kind of glad for that! That pretty much took most of the day and wiped us out! I slept well, yet again, that night. The next day was time to go. My parents were starting their drive home early, but Carlos and I had plenty of time before we had to head to Spokane.
While there a friend in Atlanta who goes to White Fish regularly was giving me suggestions of what to do and what is in the area. Another teammate was in the area and they had gone white water rafting. My family just never took “adventure” vacations, nor did we sit on the beach. really – I was the youngest of three and by the time I was in 4th grade my sister was in college so, as far as I recall, outside of a couple of years where we went to Manitoulin Island as a family, we didn’t take many family vacations. Trips were normally to visit family or friends. Carlos and I usually take in museums when going on vacation. And so, as Mark was suggesting, and Heather was doing, I started thinking about the idea of a little “adventure” and that it would be fun and different. On the last day, before heading to
Spokane, I called to see if there were spots available on the zip line tour at the resort. Carlos didn’t want to go, but was fine waiting for me while I went. And I had a spectacular time! I raced a 14-year-old boy on several of the zip lines. I was pretty good at getting in to a streamlined position. However, he had more weight than me so it wasn’t until we started to slow at the bottom of a run that I could beat him!
And soon our short vacation was nearing and end. We drove to Spokane, and I enjoyed our last views of Big Sky! The next day was Saturday and we were flying home. It had been a terrific adventure all around: an amazing team to share a terrific race which is fully supported by the town; my parents, Carlos and Sarah were there; and time with my parents and Carlos after. I won’t say I was ready to go home, but knew I had packed my days pretty well and loved our adventure together!