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Cross Country Trip, Day 7: Helena to Essex

Oh, Montana, how I love thee!


It’s calling to me. Is Montana in need of teachers? Because I know a guy. Of course, it takes a special person to live somewhere so remote, so wild, and with such harsh winters. I am not that person. I am the person who would become stranded on the highway during a snowstorm and end up muttering and stumbling aimlessly in my underpants. Still, a girl can dream.

The drive to Glacier was so spectacular that it was difficult to imagine the park being better. We stopped for gas in Browning, the center of the Blackfeet nation. They were preparing for a pow-wow; the place was packed.

A few miles up the road, we entered the park from the east at St. Mary. Glacier has over a million acres, two huge lakes and a ton of waterfalls. The big attraction is Going-to-the-sun road. Isn’t that a lovely name for a road? The aptly named road runs east and west and crosses the Continental Divide. It is the only place to be named both a National Historic Landmark and a National feat of Civil Engineering. It’s narrow and cuts through mountain passes that are still blanketed with snow in some places. Though it’s impossible to convey the beauty in mere pictures, I’ll post some anyway.










Signage for bears abounded.


Lies! We saw no bears.

For supper we stopped in the town of West Glacier at West Glacier Restaurant. I don’t know how they came up with that name. Clever people. There aren’t many restaurants up here, so we were a little leery of one plopped in the middle of the main drag, but this one was great. The food was good, the portions large, and the prices—though somewhat higher than what we were used to paying—weren’t exorbitant. And they had huckleberry milkshakes!





*A word about huckleberries. Huckleberries are wild berries grown only in the Pacific Northwest. They look like wild blueberries and taste similar. They’ve become iconic of this part of the U.S., and are a big business. There’s huckleberry everything.



150 years ago, if one wanted to go to Montana, she must board a train, land in St. Louis, take a steamboat north to the bottom of the state, and go from horse or on foot from there. (A good reminder when the car gets cramped.) Now the train goes all the way to Glacier. In fact, it goes right to our hotel in Essex.




Staying with that theme, the Izaak Walton Hotel has locomotives and caboose to rent overnight.


We stayed in the main hotel that is more like a dorm, although cute and full of charm.




The one large room is divided into two smaller rooms and a bathroom. I’m bunking with my daughter who thrashes like an addict in withdrawal. Pray.


About vanessagraybartal

Author. Eater. Wife. Mother. Not necessarily in that order.

3 responses to “Cross Country Trip, Day 7: Helena to Essex

  1. Jamie ⋅

    Huckleberries were also made popular by Val “Doc Holiday” Kilmer. Still no updates on whether or not Chris had found any more agates? I do enjoy encouraging him.

  2. Vickie McClurg ⋅

    Did you see any huckleberry tea? If so, pick some up for me, pleeeeease!!

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