We got stuck in a herd of Moose - and more about Montana in the fall
We had the single most incredible wildlife experience I've ever had. And on top of that, Glacier Country, Montana is so beautiful in fall. LOTS OF PICTURES!
I never know were to begin when we’ve had a great trip. Do I start by sharing the personal side of things or the travel side that other people can plan for themselves? When it comes to this week’s trip to western Montana I think I have to start with the wild story and then I’ll share the parenting side of traveling with just one kiddo.
And before I forget, be sure to check out our UnCruise Adventures page on the blog. We’ve got all the info about our upcoming Hawaii and Alaska small ship sailings. Kids in Nature is the program we’re doing and it’s all about experiencing wildlife, culture and geology up close.
Thank you for tuning into what’s happening in our world. With all that’s happening around the globe right now, I’m thankful to be able to share about the peace we have in our lives, as I know that’s not the case with everyone.
Our Montana Moose-capade: Unexpected Nature
Elliott (our 8 year old) and I got to take a trip to western Montana’s Glacier Country last week. It was a really special time for us we formed some amazing, unique memories. The highlight though really was all around one day, Monday, in Glacier National Park. We’ve been here many times and always love it, but this day was something different.
Hiking at Two Medicine in Glacier National Park, we headed out on our trail and it was a beautiful day. All of the sudden we saw a bull moose, and then another one head into the woods. The bend of the trail seemed safe and like it would take us away from the two moose. Suddenly some new friends showed up in front of us and asked us to join them because there was safety in numbers.
We soon discovered that there were four more moose and then the other two moose came back out of the woods, surrounding us. We stayed as a cluster and maintained our distance as best as possible, keeping trees between us and the animals. After about a half an hour of being cornered, we were able to make it out safely... just to encounter two more bull moose and a cow and calf moose. It was wild!!
Yes, we were as safe as possible keeping as much distance as possible, but when you have moose on four sides it’s difficult to know what to do. By the end of this hike (Aster Falls in Two Medicine) we were on such a wildlife high. On our way out of this part of Glacier and heading to Many Glacier, we saw a herd of bighorn sheep and a black bear. Pretty amazing. But wait!!! There’s more!!!
Many Glacier has long been my favorite part of Glacier National Park and this next part of the day reminded me why. As Elliott and I headed out on our next hike, we were joking about seeing more more. On our way to Bullhead Lake on the Swiftcurrent Pass trail, we ended up coming across three more moose: a bull moose, then a young bull and then a cow moose.
I’ve never had a wildlife day like this, and this up close ever. I used to work at Denali National Park and have seen my share of moose and bear up close, but nothing like this day. What really took my breath away was getting to end our moose hiking with a beautiful cow moose wading and eating her way across Fishercap Lake. She was so calm and HUGE, the light was magical, and we were so privileged to get to hang out with her.
Ten moose on one hike, three more on another for a total of 13 moose. It was the most incredible nature day we've ever had. On the drive back to our hotel (I’ll share all the details this week on the blog) we then saw another black bear, saw a grizzly bear, and then finished off with two mountain goats just after sunset. Phenomenal experience!
All of this is coming to the blog, so stay tuned.
More Glacier Country Adventures
We didn’t just stalk moose in Montana. Elliott and I were doing all sorts of things in Missoula and the rest of Glacier Country. I’ll make our full itinerary available on the blog, but here are the highlights:
Missoula on foot - the most incredible kids-first public library, walking along the Clark Fork River, the fastest carousel I’ve ever seen and lots of great food
Hiking in the Rattlesnake Wilderness and several other National Forest areas around Missoula
Drifting the Clark Fork River - it’s just like it sounds, relaxing on a drift boat floating down the river watchin eagles and fall colors
Designing our own cowboy hats and wandering through a ghost town
National Bison Range and Swan River National Wildlife Refuge - this trip was absolutely filled with wildlife
and then LOTS of Glacier National Park.
This was our fifth trip through Glacier Country (my 20th or more) and it was different than we’ve ever experienced. Missoula, Big Fork and Columbia Falls have really changed since my first visits as a kid. We’re always here in fall, so I think the next trip we’ll aim for late spring to get the full scope of Montana in different seasons.
My Parenting Epiphany in Montana
This year has had lots of trips that are either all four of us or just myself and a friend, but visiting Glacier Country last week was just a dad/son trip. Elliott haven’t had one of these in years and it was much needed. I got to see a very different side of him than normal. Kids really do grow quickly, with their personalities changing and evolving. One on one time brought some deep insight into just how much Elliott has changed.
This guy is a talker, and usually he just rolls with whatever everyone else is talking about or interested in. Without others around, he really was just an easy-going fella down for anything and zero complaints. Where he normally would moan about hiking or being on the go a lot, when it was just us I got to see that he actually loves hiking and has lots of energy. I didn’t hear any complaints about being too busy. There was no moaning about NOT getting tablet time during driving or flying portions of our trip. He was a bundle of go-get-em.
The other side of this though is that I really did get to see where his development gaps are in terms of reading, writing and motor skills. Elliott is awesome at so many things, but he also is learning certain skills a bit slower than expected, and that’s okay, because now I can really see where we need to teach him differently… or where we need to NOT do things for him. He’s almost nine and it’s time that we let him learn some basic skills for himself. That means we resist the urge to take care of everything for the littlest Taylor. He is capable and we need to guide him to his capabilities.
I guess that’s more of a note to myself than anything, but sometimes it’s helpful to hear that other parents are going through things like this with their kids too.
Upcoming Everglades National Park Camping
Before our UnCruise adventure in Hawaii next month there’s one more little travel blip on the schedule: Camping in Everglades National Park! We visit the Everglades every year, and we had a great visit earlier this year, but something I always book and it ALWAYS get cancelled is camping. Not this year!
I’ll be driving down to Everglades National Park by myself and camping for two nights in the Flamingo area. This is a quick little hurrah and respite before spending 17 days together traveling in Hawaii. My goals are to experience the parts of the National Park that I’ve either missed or not gotten much time in, and then hopefully to see some awesome wildlife. Maybe there will actually be flamingos in the Flamingo unit of Everglades National Park!
If you have any tips for exploring the Flamingo area or camping in the Everglades, I’m all ears. I know about safety and protection against bugs, but any other tips, including the best walking or paddling trails, I’d love to get some suggestions!
And here’s my top suggestion for a guided tour in the Everglades: Boat Assisted Kayaking in the 10,000 Islands - WOW!
Life Update: Home Projects That Stall Out
I shared many months ago that we are putting in a swimming pool at our new house. We started this process in May, within a week of moving in. Well, we’re still not done with it. The pool is in the ground and there’s a fence up, but there it sits waiting for the next steps. I am a communicator and having an ongoing project where there is no apparent action drives me crazy. All I need is just a communication every week or so to let me know that our project is actually happening.
Yes, pools take time, but having all of our outdoor space unusable and nobody voluntarily sharing updates is just not great. Apparently we are SO CLOSE to being done… but months ago we were also told “once the pool’s in the ground things go so fast…” And yet here we are feeling like we made a mistake. Who knows. I would love to share next week that it’s all done, but I doubt it.
In the meantime, we do indeed have a fence up around our backyard and have gates to it, so that’s something. We also are all done painting inside, we’ve got gutters now, and soon we’ll be done organizing the garage.
So while we’re just living life inside our house and not outside, we’re finding fun ways to enjoy our neighborhood. Of course we go to the beach at every opportunity, but also we’ve conquered biking! This might sound silly or delayed or something, but we haven’t been great about teaching our kids to bike. We are busy and rarely home enough to really get good at biking, but we’re there finally!
Our new neighborhood has a bike path that connects to safe streets with good biking areas. We’re at the point that Oliver can do the bike path loop on his own, and just today we finally took Elliott’s training wheels off. We just needed to be home long enough to really focus on this skill. I’m so proud of them and thrilled. This opens up their world a bit more, and it means that we can finally do biking activities when we travel!
Thank you for following along on our journey. Hopefully we’ll have some fun announcements coming soon about group trips and travel planning tools we’re working on, but I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag too soon.
Have a great autumn, and if you have any questions about travel planning or want to know more about our upcoming adventures, feel free to leave a comment or send us a note!