United States of America · 12 Days · 45 Moments · July 2016

Roger Mentzer

Roger's trip to United States of America

9 August 2016

August 10 Awoke at 4 to get going and avoid Chicago rush hour traffic. Garrett negotiated Chicago beautifully on the first leg of our last leg of 12 hours home. It will serve as a great end to an epic cross country odyssey that has created a lifetime of memories.
Meanwhile land travelers kept going for 11 hours to Madison WI to drop off the rental car and find another La Quinta for a too short night of sleep. We found a nice Panera in Fargo which was a nice city. It is home to ND State University where Carson Wentz rookie quarterback for the Eagles attended school. He is from Bismarck. From there the road went in and on through Minnesota by the twin cities and into Wisconsin. We arrived at the airport at 11:40 and Roger left behind a bug stained Chrysler Town and Country that served us well. Then rest.
Monday August 9. After packing it was about two hours to the Capital city of North Dakota. Bismarck. There is a time change in the Dakotas that made it tricky. There we dropped Cathy, Allie, Tecia, and Ryan as they were traveling by air. They were using Delta which over the weekend had developed serious computer issues that had caused delays and cancellations worldwide. Fortunately it did not impact Bismarck. It did cause s delay in the Twin Cities, but not such that it was a problem getting to Philly in decent time.
It was a very worthwhile drive. As night fell we ran into a number of herds of bison who decided they owned the road. Finally back at camp we got a fire going to cook our supper of hot dogs and s'mores while Eric heated water for a soup mix everyone wanted to try. When everyone was done it was time for our last night of camping. Strong storms were predicted so we buttoned up tight but they never materialized. During the night those who were awake were treated to a serenade of coyote howls Off in the distance. A great finish to a wonderful trip.
August 7. We had agreed to have breakfast, get packed, and be on our way at about 8:30. We were close and so began our journey to Roosevelt National Park. It was a long haul across Big Sky Country and into South Dakota. Famished, we stopped at a Subway in Glendive where Allison would love to live. Theodore Roosevelt NP proved to be a hidden gem of a park. We went in through the Medora entrance. Medora is a nice little town worth exploring with lots of interesting shops and a cowboy museum. After setting up camp some chose To go into town while Eric, Garrett and Roger did a 25 mile loop drive to check out the wildlife scene. We saw bison, pronghorn antelope, many deer, and a massive number of prairie dog towns.
August 6 cont. As we drove the south end of the park we found it borders a huge National Forests. The Flathead NF, Great Bear Wilderness Area, and Lewis and Clark NF. A fascinating stop we had to make was at the Goatlick Overlook. There natural salts seep through the soil drawing dozens of goats to the spot where they obtain their minerals. A phenomenal stop. Then we continued through East Glacier to continue through Browning and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Massive agriculture. As we got closer to Great Falls, the wheat fields were massive. After a stop at Buffalo Wildwings for a late dinner, we arrived at LaQuinta for a well deserved shower and rest.
Continuing August 6. Steve and Joy and kids arrived at the boat dock in ample time and when the boat arrived our happy group of 14 boarded to enjoy the ride. The scenery was beautiful but Waterton was a welcome sight. Off the boat we passed through a very informal customs process and packed our gear into the cars. We all agreed that a pizza was exactly what was called for. We met at 49 degrees Unparalleled Pizza. Everyone agreed that it was the perfect place. We parted ways with Jeff and Joan. Steve and Joy and all as they were headed to Calgary for a Sunday flight home. We needed to be in our way as we were going to drive the Going to the Sun highway to West Glacier and then around the south end of the park to Great Falls. It was worth the time. We did stop at St Mary's first to pick up some items for Steve and ourse passed through a significant shower and did stop at the Lake McDonald Lodge and park facilities. Very nice. Mom got a lovely piece of pottery. Then back on the road.
Arose with the sun to get things in order for the boat ride back to Waterton. Through the night those with their lean to openings were treated to a chorus of owls in the distance. When packed up we carried out packs to the dock to await the boat. There we met a lovely Japanese American couple in their 70s. Both of them are artists in a variety of mediums. He teaches art at a Jr College where they live in Salinas California. They hike a lot and had nice stories to tell. He is the son of a Presbyterian pastor and grandson of a Methofist minister. Nice people. Could have spent much time with them. While waiting some were fishing. Unfortunately we did not know the rules about barbed hooks. The ranger wrote Ryan a warning though everyone fishing had a barbed lure. Out came the pliers to pinch the barbs then back to fishing.

7 August 2016

August 5 continued First of business was to hang all backpacks that contained food and toiletry items up in the bear pole. A few of the folks went fishing again in the lake. We (mainly Jeff) had some success hooking 3 nice size lake trout. As it began to get dark we stretched out on the pebble beach to watch the stars come out. They were spectacular. It amazed us at how long it takes for the night sky to really get dark. By 10:30 the temperature dropped to the point that we were ready to climb into our sleeping bags (With our bear spray close by!).
August 5 continued. We crossed the Canadian American border about half way along the boat ride and arrived at the small marina at goat haunt. It took us a few minutes to scout the place out. We had permits which allowed us four lean-to sites. We set up our tents and then got the group together to walk over to the campsite where Steve and joy and the kids were (Waterton lakes campsite). To get there we had to cross over a Class B border security check point station to show our passports. Their campsite was rather remote with the path leading up to it overgrown with vegetation. We must have been a sight to see as we varied fishing poles, a cooler and 2 bags of food along with us. After a little fishing Ellison and Steve got the campfire going. Dinner that evening included more dehydrated entrees, Kraft Easy Mac and roasted hot dogs. Smores and Jiffy Pop over the hot coals served as dessert. Before it got dark we made the track back to our campsite. First order of business
Friday August 5 After rising and packing our gear we met in the lobby and enjoyed some spectacular views of the South Waterton Lake from the hotel. It made for some beautiful photographs. As a pre breakfast treat we devoured a box of chocolate filled maple cookies. We headed down to the marina and purchased our tickets to get on the 1:00 PM boat to Goat Haunt. Garrett and Jeff headed to the visitors center to secure the backcountry permit for camping that evening. Everyone enjoyed their time walking around Waterton, choosing their spot for breakfast and doing a little shopping. Some enjoyed specialty waffles while others took Steves advice and had a breakfast sausage and egg sandwich at Weiner's. Roger added on a scoop of root beer ice cream at the chocolate shop to top off his breakfast. All 14 of us boarded the boat for the 45 minute narrated ride.
Friday August 5
August 4 continued Grazing very near the trail allowing us to pass within 10 yards of them. One of them decided to walk right down the trail past us. It was a thrill to see them so close! As we arrived back to Logan pass we drove the van back to many glacier to pick up the rest of the gang. It was a relatively short drive from Many Glacier to Waterton national park in Alberta Canada. We had reservations at the prince of Wales hotel. (Write more about the hotel). The ---- style structure was so beautiful in the distance as we approached that, although we were all very tired and hungry from our day of hiking, we took time to stop and take some pictures. After checking in we met Steve at Vimmie's restaurant in downtown Waterton. Everyone was famished and we were fortunate that the menu offered a nice variety of entree options. Everyone seemed to enjoy their meal - especially those who selected the roast beef special of the day.
August 4 continued. Several group pictures were orchestrated by Eric and then we got our packs on for the hike out. It was at that time we discovered Garrett had left his truck keys in the vehicle at Logan pass. We quickly solved that dilemma by having they and Cathy hike back down the Highline trail to Logan pass while the rest of the group hiked the swift current pass trail to many glacier Roger and Cathy we're excited to see the Highline trail on such a beautiful sunny day. The trail was dry and the views absolutely gorgeous. Views that we saw only in the fog were now beautiful vistas for which we could take our time to enjoy and photograph. As we were going out on the trail the hikers coming in On The trail numbered in the hundreds. Most people didn't follow the trail the whole way into the chalet... They took advantage of the nice resting spot at the pass of the Garden Wall. Approximately 3 1/2 miles before the end of the trail there were two big horn sheep Rams
August 4 continued As the fire grew the fear was that it works spread right over the top of the chalet and outbuildings. Four Korean women decided to take their chances and leave by way of the swift current pass while two other people spent the cold night on top of the grinnel glacier overlook. The remaining 45 people took refuge in the chalet as they anxiously waited through the night to see the direction the fire would take. The chalet us made of stone however the roof and window frames are all wood - kept watering. smoke and ash were very thick. Ranger --- found a 7 year old girl outside that had been separated from her mother that was inside the chalet. He was able to reunite then. Fortunately the fire burned in a U shape around the chalet which allowed everyone to reman safe. It was heartwarming to hear that 9 years later the young girl and her mother came back to the chalet to personally thank Ranger --- for his heroic work that evening and in the days that followed.
Thursday August 4 As uncomfortable as the weather was yesterday we arose to a beautiful day. Before breakfast you could see 6 deer grazing in the meadow below and some ground squirrels and birds doing their morning routine. We got our gear packed up then went down for a light breakfast of pop tarts and oatmeal. We took advantage of the presence of a ranger that has worked in the park for 15 years , primarily serving the Granite Chalet region. Joan coaxed him to share the story of the 2003 fire. He had only been a ranger for one year when a lightning strike started a fire that threatened the chalet. With the help of another ranger and 4 volunteer fire fighters that happened to be staying at the chalet that evening, people were rounded up off of the highline trail, the roof was doused with water, propane tanks were moved away from the facilities and wood railings were removed in an effort to minimize damage to the chalet and reduce risk to the 42 people holding there.
August 3 continued Tea was enjoyed. While it was very pleasant we could hardly keep our eyes open. Shortly after the concert we headed up to bed and settled in quickly. The chalet had an adequate large kitchen running off of gas. There was no electric so only light provided was by gas lamps. Well maintained outhouse. Everyone seemed to have a good nights rest but we awoke early for once folks began chatting in the dining area the sounds carried throughout the chalet. (About 30 guests on site )
August 3 continued stream to relieve some of its burning effects. Garrett can personally vouch for the potency of the spray! Everyone say around and talked late I to the afternoon. When it was time for us to prepare dinner Eric boiled up some water and he and Garrett prepared the dehydrated meal packets to bring to life our dinner entrees. We had a significant smorgasbord of pepper steak, pad Thai, macaroni and cheese, chicken and rice, black beans and rice and teriyaki chicken. We shared then all - and everyone seemed to find their favorite. For dessert we had dehydrated cream brûlée. Cooking in dehydrated pouches is easy at clean up! Following dinner we sat around and played games of 500 rummy and Settlers of Catan. Some enjoyed leafing through some of the many photo books of glacier on the chalet bookshelves. Jack provided entertainment again that evening. One of the guests at the chalet brought his harmonica and accompanied jack on a few songs as hot chocolate and
Wednesday August 3 continued To take a glorious and well deserved nap on their cot even though the walls were paper thin and sounds from throughout the chalet carried. Once everyone was rested and thawed out we were offered an orientation of the kitchen and instructions on retrieving fresh drinking water. Getting close to dinner time Garrett and Tecia made the first run for water, which was about 1/4 mile from the chalet. While there a mule deer approached them. The deer didn't seem to mind Garrett and Tecia for a time but all of a sudden the deer became very nervous and skittish, darting off quickly. It's behavior alerted Garrett into thinking a bear may be close. As a precaution he removed the safety clip on his bottle of bear spray. The nozzle, however, was pointed towards him. The spray released onto the side of his face and chest. Fortunately he had 3 layers of clothing on, but wane of the spray still burned his skin. He quickly dunked his face into a cold
August 3 continued And enjoyed sandwiches and snacks we had packed. While we were not soaked you could easily tell we were walking through rainy weather. Some places were far more foggy than others as we walked through the clouds. But finally, in the distance the chalet became visible high on a hill. The sight lifted our spirits and our pace became more brisk we were glad to learn when we arrived at the Chalet that they were ready for us with a warm fire and some pleasant provisions. Joan and Jeff also greater is as the foul weather had cancelled their scheduled hike. However the presenter of their workshop ,jack, the Troubadour of Glacier, began a presentation shorty after our arrival. He was a musician, songwriter, storyteller, who was half Blackfoot Native American. The stories featured many Indian legends and takes from Glacier. It was fun to listen to even though we were not part of the workshop. It wasn't long before everyone in our group headed up to their room to take a
Wednesday August 3 Everyone arise early, aye a quick breakfast and prepared to depart to Logan pass. It was a brisk morning with the threat of rain. Sure enough as we arrived at Logan pass a mist of snow flurries promised a cool hike through cloudy weather. It quickly became obvious that we would need to put on our heavy jackets, rain gear, hats and gloves for the hike. After a few photos (name all 7 people )set off on the 7.6 mile journey to overnight at the Granite park chalet. Occasionally patches of sunlight would break through the clouds revealing spectacular scenery which is what the Highline Trail is noted for. But the specks of sunlight were short lived. Most of the hike was spent in rain and even some sleet, with heavy cloud cover. Features of the trail included the Garden Wall and some ledges that became treacherous from the rain. A lengthy switchback led up to the pass. At the top of the switchbacks we stopped for a well needed break and
August 2 continued It was almost perfect timing as the rest of the gang caught up to them within about 5 minutes. (Packed peanut butter lunches) (hike was ___ miles long) Following the hike we drive to St Mary's Campground and set up camp. Roger grilled hamburgers while everyone was putting up their tents. Following dinner everyone went about the task of packing their backpacks for the next days hike to the Chalet. It was quite a task. Roger and Garrett shuttled a car to Many Glacier while the rest of the gang showered. After a bit of star gazing everyone went to bed. The wind picked up again through the night but the tents held strong
August 2 continued Upon arriving at Logan Pass we happened to see Joan and Jeff as they were beginning their backpack to the granite park chalet. We began our hike to Hidden Lake. It wasn't long until we ran into a number of goats that frequent the area after a steep climb on the trail boardwalk and steps we arrived at the hidden lake lookout where most people stop. It was a good place to catch our breath for it was very hot before hiking down to the lake. The descent was a fairly steep set of switchbacks and was very well worn as this is a popular hike. The water was crystal clear and provided a great opportunity to relieve our hot feet by dipping them into the icy cold water. A couple of the guys tried their hand at fishing, but with no luck. Eric spent time in his hammock while the girls relaxed and waded in the lake. When it was time to go Roger and Cathy took a head start for the steep climb back to the overlook and down to the Logan pass visitors center. It was almost perfect

5 August 2016

August 2. We rose early to begin our day. We had a good breakfast at the restaurant and headed out as soon as Garrett And Eric arrived. Our destination was Logan Pass and a hike to Hidden Lake.
The lodge where we stayed is massive. It was built along the line of the Old Faithful Lodge of Yellowstone. It is also built right on a major rail line which allows it to be an Amtrak stop which apparently many people use. All14 of us are there at one table. It was fun. The food was not worth the price but we didn't care for this is the first time we were all together. When we hit the sack there were 6 in our lodge room so we were all on our best behavior. This was the first real night of sleep for Roger, Garrett, and Eric since the road trip began.

4 August 2016

The lodge was interesting.
With the exception of Garrett and Eric we all stayed at the Glacier Lodge. First we enjoyed a meal together and then everyone did their own thing. Roger beat Anson in a hard fought game of checkers as others walked the grounds to see what was around. Some even took a short swim but said the water was too cold.
August 1. Cathy and I arose easily to go to Albertsons for groceries, ice and coffees. Back at the hotel everyone was finishing up breakfast. Then off we went for a rendezvous with Glacier National Park. We drove through much of the Blackfoot Native American Reservation. We entered the park through East Glacier and headed for a campsite for Garrett and Eric and a boat ride across Two Medicine Lake for a hike. We were supposed to meet Jeff and Joan and Steve and Joy and the kids, but they arrived too late and we waved to them standing on the dock. The hiking destination was Upper Two Medicine Lake. On the way we took a little detour to Twin Falls which was a beautiful spot. We were not given the opportunity to see any animals on this hike but the vistas were amazing (we will use that word a lot). Up and back we did about 6.5 miles. It was a good start to our regimen of hikes. Everyone did well. We met the others as they had caught the next boat. We had a lovely ride back to the marina
We had a long ride after a very long day arriving at La Quinta in Great Falls at about 2 am. We didn't get a lot of sleep, but what we got was a great blessing.

31 July 2016

July 31: begun in 1923 the monument took 17 years to complete. The skills of those who worked there were remarkable. 90% of the monument was completed with carefully placed explosives. The rest was pretty much completed by hand by workers dangling over the edge on a harness. We viewed a film about the construction of the monument, had some delicious ice cream, and headed off on a 9 hour drive to Great Falls, SD. These states are huge. We passes me tons of cattle farms and saw many antelopes along the way. We were amused by allies commentary on how she could never ever ever live in Montana.
July 31: As we arrived at Wind Cave National Park we did our customary sign photo and continued in to the park. We were soon surprised to see many buffalo for which the park is famous. We also saw a huge prairie dog town full of very busy and fascinating animals. After a visit to the visitors center, we took a long loop drive through the park hoping to see more wildlife. There were numerous prairie dog towns along the way. We were surprised not to see more buffalo but we did see pronghorn antelope. The drive emptied out at Custer state park (largest state park in SD). We saw many more buffalo and antelope here. We continued our journey through the black hills national forest and finally arrived at mt Rushmore. Cathy did a masterful job driving over numerous hairpin turns and got us there safely. Once we arrived, we had a tailgate lunch in the parking lot Before viewing the monument.
July 31: we awoke today at 6am to the challenge of breaking a very wet campsite. Thank goodness the day began sunny and warm. Eric hung two clothes lines and everyone who needed to dry something out hung their stuff. The tents and flys also needed dried. The wind tested Garretts tent so violently that he had to bend a number of poles in order to get them back in shape. Then they set up the tent to dry it out. Everyone began to pack things away while roger grilled chicken in preparation for meals ahead. We were all dried out and on the road headed for our next destination by 830. We were on our way to Wind Caves National Park.
July 30: Then it happened. Heavy rain, 70mph winds, and lots of lightening reeked havoc on the whole campground. Almost everyone in a tent got soaked. Many in the campground had their tents blow over forcing many into their cars. Unfortunately Garrett and tecias beautiful tent failed the high wind test...despite tecias best efforts (and an epic face plant) and everything was soaked. Roger and Cathy weathered the entire storm in their tent which held up well. Eric stayed dry in his tent after helping he rest of the gang try to save their tent. Garrett, Tecia, and Allie ended up sleeping in the van. It is a night none of us will forget, in fact no one in the entire campground will ever forget hat experience. (Attach Garretts weather service pic)
July 30: Then it happened. Heavy rain, 70mph winds, and lots of lightening reeked havoc on the whole campground. Almost everyone in a tent got soaked. Many in the campground had their tents blow over forcing many into their cars. Unfortunately Garrett and tecias beautiful tent failed the high wind test...despite tecias best efforts (and an epic face plant) and everything was soaked. Roger and Cathy weathered the entire storm in their tent which held up well. Eric stayed dry in his tent after helping he rest of the gang try to save their tent. Garrett, Tecia, and Allie ended up sleeping in the van. It is a night none of us will forget, in fact no one in the entire campground will ever forget hat experience. (Attach Garretts weather service pic)
July 30: After entering the Badlands Natiknal Park we proceeded to the campground and set up our tents in 90 degree weather in preparation for a night to remember...more on that later. Then we went for our first hike on the notch trail. The hike was about 1.5 miles round trip and included a rather long climb up a cable ladder, a walk along some narrow ledges and some rather steep climbs. The hike afforded wonderful views of the white river valley. After our hike, we began a drive on the major scenic loop through the park. In addition to the views, we were able to see some wildlife. We enjoyed seeing mule deer, prong horn antelope, big horn sheep (Tecia made an amazing spot of those), prairie dogs, and coyote. Upon our return to the campground we walked to he nearby amphitheater to view a ranger presentation on the geological formation of the badlands. Then we went back to camp and settled down for what we hoped would be a quiet night full of stars and sleep.
July 30: Back on I90 we continued west and headed to Badlands National Park. Before entering the park, there is a historical Monument acknowledging the importance of the intercontinental ballistic missle system. At one time, there were 100s of ICBM silos across the great planes of the Unoted States. Particularly the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana, and Nebraska. During the Cold War they served as a deterrent in balancing the Soviet Union nuclear arsenal.
On our long journey out west on Route 90 we decided to stop at the world-famous corn Palace in Mitchell South Dakota. We were blown away by the corn mosaics on the outside of the building and the amazing interior that has multipurpose uses. Everyone was impressed. And remarks were made in amazement that Rogr had been there before in 1979 while visiting Dakota Wesleyan. It was a fun first stop on our adventure.
July 30th: Woke up early on Saturday, July 30, and discovered hat the ladies had not yet arisen. So the guys went down town Sioux Falls and visited the Falls park.

30 July 2016

29 July 2016

Got real ambitious and went on to Souix Falls SD after picking up the rental car in Madison WI. We arrived at 10:20 central time (11:20 eastern time). We've been up and traveling for over 20 hours. But now we can get a good nights sleep.
Strange little item at a gas station outside of Madison. Quite a landmark when you think of it.
Found this unusual pork and rib place before arrival at Madison. Tasted very good after 12 hours on the road.
Chicago arrival@ 1:00 pm eastern time. 12 central.
Eric suggested that when traveling through Ohio one should find the nearest exit and go there.
Left mom and dad's place in Mechanicsburg at 3 am as per orders from Captain Garrett. Great to get around Pittsburgh to the Ohio line at 6:30. Making good time. A smile of disdain will be on my lips as we cross this state. Pleased to be a traveling companion with Garrett and the Dom. amazing Eric Dice. Eric absolutely receives the award for packing. He should write a book to share his philosophy, strategy, and wisdom.