One evening in very late June, our dad told us that he wanted to go on the new Glacier National Park bus. The next day, the first of July, 07 would be the very first day that free shuttle buses would be heading out and taking people through the park. We may be the very first people besides the drivers to step on the new shuttle buses!
We fell asleep after nine o’clock. Our mom had encouraged us to go to bed at eight, but in Montana summer days are long. At eight o’clock nobody would be able to get to sleep in such bright light. Anyway, there was an engaging movie on, that we watched looking into the living room from our bed. A little after five a.m. we woke up. Drowsily and unwillingly, we got dressed. Upon reading the local news report on Glacier National Park, our mom found out that the shuttle buses were only going to Avalanche until 12 o’clock! Avalanche is a location early on the Going to the Sun highway. We were very discouraged about that because Avalanche is before the Loop, a switchback in the Going to the Sun highway where the real scenery starts. The entire Sun Road was not going to be open until noon! We ate a very skimpy meal of Instant Breakfast at home, then set off to Glacier National Park.
A little after seven o’clock, we arrived at the new Apgar Transit Center. We got onto the second shuttle bus and started on our way to Avalanche. We had a conversation with a couple whom just retired and were on a six-month vacation away from North Carolina. We were riding in the bus leisurely when we saw a line of cars. Immediately we thought that it was a bear jam.To our surprise, it was a bull moose standing in a swampy area eating vegetation from the water. The shuttle driver stopped in front of the spectacle. We videotaped and took photographs. We were all very excited. This was the closest we had ever been to a moose. The only other times we had seen a moose were on the Iceberg Lake trail and on a boat ride on Saint Mary Lake. The shuttle bus was holding up traffic and we continued on our ride. Shortly, we arrived at the bus stop at Avalanche. We decided to walk out by the McDonald Creek. Our dad walked ahead while the rest of us were still in the woods.“A cow moose and her cub!” our Dad said.We rushed through the woods, and to our surprise, there they were! Of course, this is a sign that we had pure synchronicity that we saw moose twice in a row in one day. As you know, we hardly ever see moose even though we live in Montana. The moose walked through the rushing water to the forest on the other side. We walked back happily to the parking lot.
We walked on the Trail of the Cedars a little bit, then decided to, (instead of hiking to Avalanche Lake), hike up the Going to the Sun highway to the Loop, where, by that time, a shuttle could pick us up. We headed out on the road, walking into the woods whenever we saw a slight path. We turned around not far away from where we had started after maybe a half an hour earlier. In that exciting half hour, we saw many sights and experienced plenty of glorious adventure. We saw deep green and sometimes swirling water, large mushrooms in coniferous forests, and even were faced with sheer cliffs heading to deadly powerful water.
Back at the shuttle bus stop, we decided to catch a shuttle to the Lake McDonald Lodge of Glacier National Park to wait for twelve o’clock. We boarded a shuttle and were the only people on it. At the Lake McDonald lodge, we sat down and listened to a little girl who was playing music on the piano. After a little time spent there, we went out of the lodge. We explored the beach of the beautiful Lake McDonald and pondered over how the wake of a boat kept on coming fifteen or twenty minutes after it passed. All of us skipped stones or attempted to. Some of us watched other people on the beach. We walked along the rocky beach and jumped on pieces of concrete. In one spot, there was a school of minnows swimming around. As the day warmed up, (it was still late morning) we took off our jackets and walked around in T- shirts.
After a while on the shore of Glacier’s Lake McDonald, we went to the store nearby. We could not find anything at that time and left empty handed. By then, it was after noon. We stood at the shuttle bus stop and waited for a shuttle. There was only one seat left! We were with a group of three other people waiting for a shuttle along with us. After a while, a shuttle came along with two empty seats. The group split up and two of them got on that shuttle. Our dad got pretty mad because the manager did not send an empty bus. He told one of the people with the bus about how stupid the whole thing was.
Soon after that, a couple came along. They looked disheveled and old. “I’ve got a question for you,” the man said to our dad, “Did you tell them to send an empty bus?”
“Yes,” our dad replied and described what he said. The two men got into a big conversation about it.
“Yeah, I’m going to go into the store and tell somebody to call the people and tell them what to do,” the other man said.
Finally, after forty minutes or more of waiting, a bus came with enough seats for all of the five people. Our mom sat by the girl left behind. Upon getting into the shuttle bus, we had yet another problem. The shuttle bus could not get going! The woman driving the shuttle tried to fix the shuttle and get it going, but it didn’t work. Another person came along and got the shuttle going. All of us on the shuttle rode off. Our dad talked to the people sitting next to him, a couple who were partially retired. They were staying in Fish Creek in Glacier National Park. Our dad was astonished how everyone said “it’s the first day” when he told them about how they did not have an empty bus. He did not think that was any excuse because the manager was not on their first day. Anyway, he thought the shuttle drivers should use their walkie-talkies, but they didn’t. We stopped at the Apgar Transit Center. A woman came along.
“Who’s the idiot that runs this transit?” our Dad asked. No one answered and Dad repeated. “Who’s the brain who runs this shuttle?”
“You’re talkin’ to her right now,” the woman said with her hand on her hip.
“What’s your experience?” our Dad inquired.
“Fifteen years in truckin’ and bus transit,” she answered confidently.
“As what?” our Dad asked still persistent.
“Transit manager,” she said.
“Well, that shows what they didn’t teach you,” our Dad turned back. “How stupid can a person be to just send full buses when you know that there’s stragglers? Everybody just says, it’s their first day, it’s their first day, but that’s no excuse! And then they have radios that they should have used and they didn’t. They said they’re just for an emergency,” he said.
Now the woman was just complying with what our dad said, “They definitely should have used their radios. This counted as an emergency.”
*“It was nice talking to you!” our Mom said, trying to break up the argument.
That did not stop it. Some more angry outbursts were spoken and then we got out of the shuttle and got in line. One of the buses got filled up and we got the next one, along with the couple that was mad at the shuttles too. We sped off along the Going to the Sun highway and enjoyed the sights. Near Logan Pass, we spotted four or more mountain goats. We finally reached Logan Pass, where there was still snow. We did some things around there, such as looking at the visitor center, which happens to be not that great as far as it goes with visitor centers. We also walked along the Hidden Lake nature trail.
On the way back, I, “M”, was pretty much asleep while we rode the shuttle back to the transit center. We looked around the inside of the building, then drove home.
Quick Facts About This Story:
*Mom was not really trying to break up the argument. She was talking to the girl next to her. This story has been told completely from the writer’s perception of the experience.