I had a very pleasant week off two weeks ago. I went on a road trip with my college roommate to Glacier National Park in Montana. As we had been planning it for some time, I was able to get an incredibly cheap ticket to Seattle. It only cost $200, so it wasn't worth it for me to use my copious number of airline miles. The downside was that I had a three-hour layover on the way there in, of all places, Spokane. I eventually made it up to Seattle, though, and Matt picked me up. We spent the evening doing pretty much nothing.
We woke up early the next morning and made our way to our first destination, Mount Rainier. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and I never really got to see the mountain up close, but the weather did make for some interesting driving as we made our way through the park. We then went to see Mount St. Helen's, but unfortunately, the east gate turned out to be closed, despite the web site clearly stating it was open. That made strike two for the trip. Anyway, to take up some time, we stopped at a few wineries in the Yakima Valley before finally heading to Spokane for the night.
Unfortunately, strike three came the following morning, when we discovered that one of the tires Matt's Civic had a bulge in it. He decided that it'd be better to replace it than be stranded somewhere in Montana, so we had it fixed and then left for Kalispell. The drive was fairly uneventful, though I did remark (with pleasure) that Montana seems to have a 70 MPH speed limit anywhere that isn't in a town, even the small two-lane state highways, even in places that such a speed is physically impossible for any passenger vehicle.
The next day, we went up to west side of Glacier National Park. Unfortunately, the road that goes through the park was closed in the middle, so we could only see that side of the park that day, but we did hike up to see Hidden Lake, and took in the truly magnificent scenery.
The following day, we drove from Kalispell all the way to Libby, and then up to Eureka and back to Kalispell. The day trip was about 250 miles, but we got to see more of the beautiful Montana scenery, including one of the stillest lakes I've ever seen, pictures of which are now posted.
On our final full day in Montana, we made the trek around Glacier National Park over to the east side. We did another hike, and of course got to see still more gorgeous scenery. In general, I found the eastern side to be prettier, but I still like Hidden Lake the best.
The next morning we woke up relatively early and started the long and mostly boring trip back to Seattle. Eastern Washington is incredibly flat, boring and desolate, much like most of the midwest. Matt said it reminded him of Kansas, where he's from originally. The scenery improved drastically, however, after we made it to the Cascades. Shortly thereafter, we were back at Matt's townhouse in Kirkland.
As a final hurrah the next day, Matt and I decided to climb Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. To get there, we took a ferry across the Pudget Sound, and then drove for quite a while before finally reaching the park. After a steep drive, we were in for an even steeper climb. Matt had never been there on a clear day before, so we misjudged the amount of water we should take. We had three small waterbottles, but most of it was gone by the time we reached the top. I barely made it, as I had a bit too much camera gear with me, but I did eventually get to the top. The view was amazing; we were just as high as the neighboring peaks, and we could see most of Pudget Sound, Victoria, Seattle and Mount Baker. The climb down was much easier, but we were incredibly dehydrated and had to stop at the visitor's center to pick up some liquid. We then made our way back to Matt's place, went to the theater to see a movie, and then called it a night.
I slept in the following morning, but it was soon time for me to go back home. I had a direct flight on the way back, and I decided to use one of my free upgrades, so I got to sit in first class. Not bad for $200!