Four Seasons

by Bob Sparrow

Well with a title like this we could go anywhere – the luxury, five-star hotel chain who has Bill Gates as one of its majority owners; Jersey Boys backup group to Frankie Valli; the classical violin concerti by Vivaldi, or simply the four seasons.

All weighty subjects to be sure, but the oppressive heat in our part of the country over the last several days, begs the question, “Isn’t summer over?”

Unofficially, Yes; officially, No.

You see when I don’t travel I have to write about stuff like Mayberry, Margaritaville and the weather. Unfortunately, for you, I haven’t been anywhere exciting in the last couple of weeks (OK, I was in Vegas last weekend, but I was reminded that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas – I know my money stayed there!), so now you get to read about the changing of the seasons. I can sense the anticipation building already!

I thought the subject appropriate since we’re just sobering up from the Labor Day holiday, which is the ‘unofficial’ end of a summer, which ‘unofficially’ started on Memorial Day. Officially summer begins with the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year in terms of light in the Northern Hemisphere. Summer officially ends with the Autumnal Equinox, when days and nights are equal (almost) with 12 hours of sun and 12 hours of no sun; equinox actually means equal nights. Am I going too fast for those taking notes?

If you’re wondering, like me, whether we get more ‘official’ or ‘unofficial’ days of summer, here’s the math:

Summer officially started on Wednesday, June 21th this year and ends on Thursday, Sept 21nd (at 1:02 PDT to be precise) – that’s 93 days. ‘Unofficially’ summer started this year on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend (perhaps some cheated and started early on Friday night), May 27th and ended on Labor Day, Monday, Sept 4th – that’s 101 days. So we took eight ‘unofficial’ days of summer this year that I suppose we’re going to have to give back at some point, aren’t we?

One would think that because we declared these ‘unofficial’ starts and stops of summer, borrowing several days from the end of spring and giving a few back during the dog days of summer, that summer would be the season that people like the most – that all depends.

A recent survey by YouGov was conducted on this very subject (are you on the edge of your seat yet?), and depending on your age group and the particular region of the country in which you live, the results vary. But if we’re looking at all age groups across the entire country, the results are as follows:

  1. 29% favor Fall
  2. 27% favor Spring
  3. 25% favor Summer
  4.  7% favor Winter

Favorite season by age group:

55+                Spring

35 – 54           Fall

18 – 34           Summer

While Winter didn’t score high enough to even rate a place on the chart, we all know that winter in Scottsdale, Arizona is slightly different from winter in Bemidji, Minnesota, so let’s look at favorite seasons by region. Isn’t this fun?!

In answer to the question, “I like the weather where I live” the results by region are as follows:

  1. West 66%
  2. South 59%

3.  Northeast 59%

  1. Midwest 47%

The ‘West’ is probably skewed by Alaska at 33% and Hawaii at 100% (my figures, not theirs)

But, those who DON’T like living in the:

West say it is too rainy (26%) or too dry (36%)

South say it is too hot (70%)

Northeast say it is too cold (68%)

Midwest say it is too cold (62%) or too hot (26%)

Ok, maybe what happens in a YouGov survey should stay in a YouGov survey.  Hope you’re enjoying these last ‘official’ days of summer.

 

Glacier National Park and The ‘Unhappy Camper’

by Bob Sparrow

Linda motorcycle

Linda in route from Minnesota to California in 1972

Depending on your perspective, this is the ‘natural’ part of our trip or the ‘natural disaster’ part of our trip; Linda shares the latter perspective. To help frame this, you need to know that Linda was raised on a dairy farm in rural southern Minnesota; there was no indoor bathroom facilities for the first 5-6 years of her life, so she used an outhouse, which was about fifty yards from the house; which in the winter was fifty yards too far and in the summer, fifty yards too near. Pheeeew. Linda left the farm for California immediately after graduating from college . . . on a motorcycle. No, she wasn’t a passenger, she was driving. Linda plays golf and walks the course. I say all this to establish the fact that she is not a wussy, but she is also not a lover of the great outdoors. Wilderness to her is the rough along the 4th fairway at Yorba Linda Country Club.   ‘Roughing it’ is a Marriott without valet parking. She believes that people who had no cars invented hiking. So over the last three days of our trip, we are operating on two totally different wavelengths, sounding something like the following:

Linda

The ‘Unhappy Camper’

Lake McDonald in Glacier Nat’l Park

Four mile hike to Avalanche Lake:

2014-07-30 13.58.59

Avalanche Lake

One perspective: “The trailhead starts at a waterfall where the Avalanche Creek cascades magnificently into Lake McDonald and weaves back through the majestic pines to Avalanche Lake, a serene, crystal clear lake set in a glacial valley surrounded by 7-8,000 foot mountains.

Another perspective: “The waterfall’s pretty and the lake is nice, but there are too many trees between them and I can’t get any phone reception here; apparently there is no Big Cell or Big Wifi in this Big Sky state.”

We check into the Lake McDonald Lodge

One perspective: “What a quaint room, rustic wood beam ceilings, step-saver bathroom and a view of the forest.”

Another perspective: “This is the worst room I’ve ever stayed in, no TV and where’s the mini bar?”

Bear

“No I don’t have bear spray, I thought you said hair spray!”

Flora and Fauna

One perspective: “Did you know that in Glacier National Park there are nearly 1,132 species of plants including 20 varieties of trees, over 200 species of birds, nearly 60 species of mammals and 24 species of fish, including 18 native?”

Another perspective: “No, but if these damn mosquitos don’t leave me alone, I’m going to eradicate one entire species myself.”

Going to the Sun Road

One Perspective: “This is one of the most spectacular roads I’ve ever driven on, look at the water falls and rock formations here on the Continental Divide.”

Another Perspective: “Keep your eyes on the road!  Couldn’t they have just blown a tunnel through the mountain instead of creating this road along these cliffs?  Who wants to go to the sun anyway?”

View from Many Glacier Lodge

View from Many Glacier Lodge

Many Glacier – Hike to Johns Lake

One Perspective: “I know it’s early, but do you want to take a quick 3 mile hike before breakfast to John’s Lake, the walk along the river is beautiful?”

Another Perspective: “Zzzzzzzzzzz”

Five mile hike to St. Mary’s Falls

One Perspective: “These are spectacular falls”

St. Mary Falls

St. Mary Falls

Another Perspective: “If they’re so spectacular, why didn’t they build the road closer to them? Oh crap, I broke a nail.”

Into Canada and to The Prince of Wales hotel.

One Perspective: Great old railroad hotel with spectacular views

Another Perspective: No elevator and we’re on the 5th floor? No cell, no wifi, no Starbucks and I’ve seen this view on the Internet. When do we check out?

For someone who wonders why people would want to walk through a forest without any real purpose, she did pretty well particularly in light of the emotions she was going through with her father’s health. She did enjoy the scenery and the company of Moose (Pat), Rocky (Pam), Glacier (Bob P), Current (Jeanne), Digger (John) and Dug (Lisa), Slot (Linda) and Akeem (me) – it’s a unpublished rule that you have to have a mountain/hiking name.

Prince of Wales Hotel

Prince of Wales Hotel

 

View from PofW Hotel

View from Prince of Wales Hotel

Now that I’m home and have the luxury of wifi, I’ve attached the pictures to the 3 previous posts – Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Flathead Lake that you can revisit in the archives, including the video of the buffalo walking next to our car.  (Yes, I learned how to insert a video into the blog!).  All the pictures, including the ones here, are mine, except the one of Linda on the motorcycle in 1972.

Luxury on Flathead Lake

by Bob Sparrow

Wild Horse

Flathead Lake’s Wild Horse Island

We were all feeling a little puny the next morning, but breakfast at the ‘Running Bear Pancake House’, (Drinking in the buff, eating running bare, what’s next, a game of naked Twister?) sustained us for the scenic drive through Butte and Missoula into Polson, Montana on the south shore of Flathead Lake, where there are plenty of taxidermy shops, but by the time we got there the only animal I wanted stuffed was me. With Linda’s father on the mend, she flew out of Minnesota into Missoula and we picked her up on our way through.

Nelson's

Nelson’s lakefront home

Mike & Tanis, neighbors and owners of a beautiful home on the lake where we were staying, were terrific hosts; they had cocktails waiting for us when we arrived and then prepared a delicious barbecued rib dinner that we enjoyed while sitting on their deck watching the sun set over the lake. After dinner we stepped down to their lakeside fire pit where Mike put on a fireworks show from their dock. We then just enjoyed the billions of stars and movement of satellites in a pitch-black sky on a perfect evening – amazing.

Warning

Sign I read before the wild horse approached me

After breakfast the next morning the eight of us headed out in the ‘Nelson Navy’, a speedboat and two Seadoos, to Wild Horse Island on Flathead Lake. Driving a Seadoo is as close as I get to riding a motorcycle – it was a blast! Mike had lowered our expectation for Wild Horse Island as he told us that in all the years he’s been going there he’s never seen a wild horse, but he did affirm that it actually was an island. We arrived, docked the watercraft and took a hike in-land around the island. There in a meadow we saw six wild horses. Mike was in disbelief. I got fairly close to try and take a picture and one of the horses, a paint, started walking over to me. I stood there a bit frightened, as I’d never been around a wild horse, much less have one coming directly at me, so I didn’t know if she was going to break into a charge, raise up on her hind legs and clobber me or start counting by scraping her hoof on the ground. Where is my bear spray I thought, and does it work on horses? As a good reporter, I kept videoing as she got within three feet of me. It turns out these horses were more ‘beggars’ then they were wild, as she stood there face to face with me looking up with those big brown eyes that seemed to ask, “Got anything to eat?” I didn’t, so I backed away hoping not to piss her off for not offering her an carrot or something. Further down the trail we saw a herd of long-horned sheep grazing on

I think I'm on a motorcycle

I think I’m on a motorcycle

the hillside and eagles nesting in the trees.

This place was a real natural wonderland. The ride back on the Seadoo was even better than the ride over as the lake was now calm and smooth as glass, so I was able to get that Seadoo up to 40 miles an hour. Wheeeee!

We left the Nelsons the next morning and headed for Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park.