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Bang, bang, bang, bang. Bang, bang, bang, bang. The clanging banging rousted me from the rocking sleep of the train. The train was stopped somewhere out west. Opening the curtain of thew window I saw the shadow of our train on the tracks. I looked down and saw an engineer banging away at something between the cars. Then in the blink of an eye the last car was rolling away from the rest of the train. Moments later we were rolling forward without the last car. I got up and went out into the corridor, walked back to the back window of our car and watched the train roll away from the last car of the train – we were the last car now.
This has the makings of a good mystery. The germ of the idea has been planted – we’ll see if it ever gets written.

Good mornin’, good mornin’!
And it’s a wake up call somewhere in North Dakota. Breakfast is being served in the dining car. Woohoo! A new day, new sites to see out the window. The plains, the rolling hills, the abandoned homesteads, the piles of old cars, old trucks, old water heaters. The dosie-do of getting ready in the morning began. A shower in the tiny toilet/shower room – good heat! Cramped quarters. I love my family but the intimacy of the quarters did push the limits. Thank goodness for a place to stretch your legs and eat a hearty breakfast. AEB, ever the trooper, was cranky and ornery as usual about waking up and getting ready – whew! We’d learned our lessons about waiting at the door to be seated and were seated with a new fellow traveller.

Again, Amtrak provided Trails and Rails (this link talks about the Knife River Indian Villages of North Dakota) in the observation car. There was a table of women talking about what we were passing by and a bunch of artifacts about the First Nation Peoples that lived there in days gone by and the few that stay on in the reservation areas. AEB got to handle a bison horn turned into a scoop, touch buckskin that would have been turned into clothing, and feel the fur of the bison. She also saw the kernels of corn, which she told the women more about than they had told her – that’s my farmer girl! She’s learned it all from her Grammy who grew up on a farm in western Oklahoma.
We would make stops along the way, some were short and some were “smoking” stops. I thought it would be a good idea to stretch our legs and get off and run around since we wouldn’t be getting into Glacier until about 6 p.m. so the wiggles would be building up if we didn’t. My favorite stop? Well, that would be unfair to the other stops, but Haver, MT was memorable if only for the story behind the name and the beautiful stained glass at the stop. See the picture for the story behind the name.

I could regale all with tales of miles and miles of repeat, sticker books, fairy queen games and dvd watching until East Glacier, but I won’t. I’ll cut to the chase and get us to Glacier faster than we did. The excitement of arriving was building as we collected all our things and waited for the call to get out and step onto the station platform. Pictures never can fully capture the grander, the sheer scale of these amazing glacial formations – they can’t. There isn’t a man-made device that’s up to the challenge. You can “oooh” and “aaah” over pictures and imagine that you’re there, but when you finally ARE there – you realize how inadequate your imagination really is in comparison to the “hands” that created these. Getting off and working our way over to the East Glacier Lodge
our girl got to enjoy the great expanse of lawn. To run free is a wonderful thing! There are few places left where a parent can feel truly comfortable about their child/ren running free and wild. The realities of today’s world keep a healthy fear up front keeping small ones (hopefully) safe from harm. So to be in a place where that is possible was so so so so W-o-n-derful!

The lodge is huge! The timbers brought in from Washington and Oregon to build the place are as massive as any you’ll see in the great forests still under protection around the world. It’s everything you imagine it’s supposed to be from its pictures, but it’s been re-done in places and, as far as I can tell, not to any true advantage to the guest. We had a room with a balcony – lovely. We had a room with a double bed and a twin bed – fine. The room was basic – fine. We weren’t planning on spending all our time in the room so we didn’t need it to be a suit at the Ritz. The bathroom was basic, but the shower was even smaller than the one on the train – really?!? I’m an average built woman, but for those of a larger build, and there were some staying at the lodge, I wondered how they would manage to get clean if the fit was so snug. Supper was nice, especially since we didn’t have to worry about jolting about on the tracks and having to save the coffee from flying off the table. But there was the sensation of continual movement coming off the train – we had to get our land legs readjusted.

It was good to be settled for a few days. It was good to know that the next day would have us meeting up with Heath for a new day’s adventure. It would be good to have the opportunity to have a student teacher relationship move into friendship. That’s not an easy transition for some to make. Even parents and children have a hard time of allowing their relationship to shift and grow over time into adult child and parent friendship. I’m so fortunate that my mum and I have been able to do that.
Exhaustion won out over excitement for us all. Day three was done.