We drove southeast from Bigfork (SE of Kalispell), stopping now and again to cast a fly into the cold clear rivers along the highway. Our destination, Three Forks Montana, 35 miles northwest of Bozeman.
The Lewis & Clark expedition traveled through Three Forks. Sacajawea, a member of the Shoshone Indian tribe, served as an interpreter. She and her son traveled with Lewis & Clark from 1804 until 1806.
Three Forks was an important stopping point for tourists traveling to Yellowstone National Park on the Milwaukee Railroad. In 1910 Railroad Agent J.Q. Adams developed the Sacajawea Hotel at the town’s entrance, directly across the street from the train Depot. Smart guy. In 2010 the hotel was restored to its historic grandeur. It is a beautiful place to stay with an elegant lobby, comfortable bar and very good restaurant. The “Sac,” as it is called by locals, is Montana’s only member of the Historical Hotels of America. Breakfast in bed is provided to all guests.
Three Forks is a tiny town with a museum, theatre, and a second hotel aptly called the Lewis & Clark Hotel. Other choices seemed to include religion, alcohol or activities at the Senior Citizen Center. Or perhaps a combination of all three.
I’ll remember Three Forks as the place little Ari got a HUGE grass seed lodged in his ear next to the ear drum. We went for an early morning photo walk. When we returned to the hotel, Ari started shaking his head, left ear down. I couldn’t find anything but it was clear he was in discomfort. About an hour later he let out a series of ear-splitting small dog shrieks. I was pretty sure security was on the way. An internet search and calls turned up a veterinarian in Bozeman who could see him in a couple of hours. It was settled, we loaded up the car and headed to Bozeman for lunch and a vet bill.
Compared with other parts of Montana visited, Bozeman seemed downright progressive. While awaiting our vet appointment, we found Dave’s Sushi located a few blocks off Main Street. A perfect choice. We then drove to All West Veterinary Hospital. Dr. Karyn Cook was wonderful. Little Ari needed to be sedated to remove the HUGE grass seed from his ear. We had a couple more hours to kill in Bozeman. I distractedly fretted away the time while waiting for Dr. Cook’s “all is good” call.
Cumberland Island taught me a lot about the Carnegie family. In Bozeman I learned Andrew Carnegie donated roughly $41 million for construction of 1,679 public libraries in the US between 1886 – 1917. The Bozeman Classical Revival Carnegie library was built in 1902 and is one of 17 Carnegie libraries in Montana. The revolving golden horse on the Gallatin Lodge No 6 is iconic and somewhat mesmerizing. This Mason Lodge was built in 1883 and is still used for their meetings.
Little Ari survived the medical process with no problems. And, he was really doped-up. I had to curl him up like a rag doll in his backseat bed. We were off to Yellowstone National Park.
We made a last-minute reservation at the National Park System’s Old Faithful Inn. If we had a first-born child it would have been sold to pay for one night in a dorm room style setting. The hotel is facing Old Faithful Geyser. But not our cheap $300 annex room with a parking lot view. First opened in 1904, the Inn is the largest log hotel in the world. The lobby is gorgeous. If you can see past the thousands of human bodies, long lines, shrieking children and tired staff. An after Labor Day experience would have been much better. Next time.
When we checked into the Inn we learned it was not dog friendly as believed. Another place to stay was hours away and would have cost us dearly. Conde’ decided to smuggle Ari into the room. He gathered our sedated limp dog into a tiny neon lime green towel. Ari’s large bushy tail hanging out the side. Conde’ rushed to the Inn’s back door, up three flights of stairs and “secreted” Ari in to our hotel room. Only a million people saw it. Somehow, no one complained.
I barely had time to start settling in when Conde’ burst back in the room,”Old Faithful is erupting, come now! Hurry!” I rushed out behind him to the hotel’s Old Faithful viewing deck. It was only after I noticed people staring at my feet that I realized I had forgotten to put on shoes. The scene reminded me of trying to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre through a mass of humanity. Pretty sure someone captured the back of my head in a photo.
The next morning we started early while the masses were still sleeping. Ari was groggy but happy to be out and about. The Yellowstone geysers are truly phenomenal. A vision into the hot boiling cauldron of middle earth. If you must visit during peak summer season rise early for the quiet morning calm and stay up late for the night stars.
We crossed the Continental Divide on our way to Grand Teton National Park. When I first glimpsed the Grand Teton range, it was love at first sight. A majestic rugged beauty.
We stayed at the Jenny Lake Lodge right in the heart of the park. An idyllic place, perfectly situated for hikes along the river. Our cabin was a quiet oasis with views of the Grand Tetons. Bicycles were included for rides down to Jenny Lake, or wherever one might want to go on two wheels. The restaurant was first class. I could have lived there forever.
They aren’t kidding when they say watch for bears. It is a bit like Southern Oregon where black bears abound. Don’t be deceived by the name “black bear.” They come in many colors, including ginger and brown. Black bears remind me of big goofy dogs. On the other hand, Grizzlies, aka Brown Bears, scare me.
I was sad to leave Grand Teton National Park. It was busy, but not crazy like Yellowstone. Jenny Lake trail was a beautiful. Wildflower were in full bloom. Next time I’m in the area I’ll take time to raft the Snake River. Alas, we had already over-stayed our allotted vacation time. It was on to Jackson Hole Wyoming for a quick look around before heading across Idaho homeward bound to Oregon. The local paper says Jackson Hole has the biggest disparity between high and low-income levels of any city in America. It shows.
The sidewalks in Jackson are raised boardwalks. The shops vary between good value resale to high-end jewelry shops. It is very clean and surrounded by the true American West. Rugged mountain peaks in all directions. Restaurants everywhere.
Sculpture art abounds around town. Lewis & Clark’s presence is rightfully pervasive.
I’ve traveled the world and this is an interesting first. I saw this instructional illustration in the public bathroom at the Jackson Hole bus station … An illumination of some very basic cultural differences around the world, and an unexpected fascinating representation of the diversity in visitors to the area.
Thanks for joining my adventures. See you next time!