Glacier Nat'l Park Trip Report 2004

by Paul A. Rosales

July 4th Weekend was a 4-day weekend for Victoria and I, and with that in mind, we planned a trip someplace fun that we've never visited. Glacier National Park, near Kalispell, Montana was our destination. Kalispell is located in north- western Montana near the Canadian border. As usual, we put the word out to the SoCAL RV-list for any and all to join us. Sue & Todd Ehlinger and Pam & Chuck Miller from SoCAL would be joining us as would Carolyn & Gary Zilik from Colorado, excellent! The group couldn't depart until Saturday so Victoria & I departed Rosamond on Friday morning towards Spokane (WA) where we could visit and overnight at my sister-in-laws place. We flew along the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevadas up the Owens Valley past Mammoth airport and Mammoth Mountain which still has snow into the summer months.

Not far from Mammoth is beautiful Mono Lake where we saw some very striking cloud reflections on the water. The pictures can't show it but the reflections were 'shimmering' ever so slightly to give a pleasing visual effect...

We continued on to Farias Wheel airport (NV33) in Smith Valley, near Carson City (NV), landing 2 hours after leaving home.

I'd called my retiree friend RV-4 pilot Dick Smith and arranged to pick him up then fly over to nearby Yerington (O43) for lunch and fuel.

After a good lunch and visit, Dick headed home, and we continued on across the desert for another 3 hours landing at Spokane's Felts Field (SFF).

Victoria's sister and my two nieces were there to greet us, and we treated them to dinner at their favorite restaurant. Uncle Paul and Aunt Victoria asked the nieces what they wanted to do now, and together they said SPIDERMAN which had just opened 2 days before. I can't recall the last time we'd seen a first run movie at the movies since we usually return home from flying on weekends after dark. It was fun to see though! Saturday morning, we had breakfast with a friend from my high school days at the airport cafe then continued on 1.5 hours to Glacier Park Int'l Airport (FCA), located just outside Kalispell city limits. The timing was perfect as all four planes arrived within 30 minutes of each other. Todd & Sue had flown in from their second home in Alturas (NorCAL), and the 2-ship Miller/Zilik flight flew in from Colorado. The Millers (RV-8A) were on a flying vacation and happened to be in Steamboat Springs (CO) so they were able to fly in with the Ziliks.

We picked up the two rental cars that I had reserved months in advance. Glacier Nat'l Park is a VERY popular summer tourist attraction so be sure you get your car reservation in ASAP if you are planning a trip there! As you could see in some of the previous pictures, the weather started out fine on Friday and as expected, it but started going downhill fast by Saturday afternoon. We knew all along that rain was in the forecast... Sunday morning (July 4th), we awoke to the sound of rain...oh well, let's make the best of this! We had a fun breakfast at the Huckleberry Patch in the small town of Hungry Horse near the west entrance of Glacier.

So we drove around the park, in the rain, in and out of clouds, and we saw what we could see, and we had a great time, 'Chinese fire drills' and all! Here are some pics that we were able to get between downpours;

In the last picture above, Chuck Miller had us dubbed as the 'bagpeople' :-) Before leaving the park, we stopped at a peaceful lake where we all had an ice cream and stretched our legs for awhile. After leaving the park, we came across a huge Eagle that was made entirely of scrap metal, very cool.

While driving, we kept seeing signs directing us to the 'House of Mystery' so we pulled in to check it out. We sure found some very intersting sights inside...

With it being the 4th of July, we'd be told that the big fireworks show would be at Whitefish Lake but wouldn't start till way after dark. With time to kill, we detoured to nearby Hungry Horse dam where we walked the length of the dam with no guards to 'shoo' us off!

We arrived to the lake around dusk (9pm in the northern latitudes), and it wouldn't you know it, the rain started back up! We had our rain ponchos from Glacier so we waited in the rain, along with the rest of the town, until 11pm-ish when the show finally started. The fireworks are launched from a boat out in the middle of the lake, and there were other boats on the water getting the very best 'seats' in the house to watch. It was fun watching fireworks, in the rain, with friends! Monday morning, it was time to fly home, so after packing up, we departed to the west above a broken layer that got better the more southwest we got.

I had everybody come in so I could take some pictures of them against the clouds;

As the weather got better to the east as well, the Ziliks peeled off for trip back to Front Range (CO), and our 3-ship gaggle continued southwest past the Sawtooth Mountain Range, over Smiley Creek's grass strip, to Jackpot (O6U), NV, a 2.7 hour flight.

After landing, we fueled the planes, parked them then had a nice buffet lunch in Cactus Pete's Casino. When we turned the key to 'fire-up' to leave, start...just 'click' :-( Arghhhh!!! But, no problem, I carry a spare starter solenoid with me! We were all fixed up in less than 30 minutes!

From Jackpot, it was a 3.2 hour flight home to Rosamond. Even though it rained on us at Glacier, we still had a fun time being & flying with friends!

Keep poundin’ them rivets because it's ALL worth it! Paul & Victoria

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