Two Weeks of Travel: Christmas 2020 PART ONE – Glacier National Park and Lewiston, Idaho
After almost a year of greatly reduced travel, especially for my husband, we spent the last two weeks of 2020 on the move. We tried to make it as relatively safe as possible, only going to see small amounts of family members and not doing extremely social events, but I will say we did assume much more risk these two weeks than we had all year.
- Travel Safety
- Lewiston, Idaho
- Glacier National Park, Montana
PART TWO (coming soon)
- The Woodlands, Texas
- Falls Church, Virginia
Before I get into what we actually did, let me go through what we tried to do to stay as safe as possible.
- Fly direct when possible. To avoid multiple planes and airport layovers, of course only taking one flight means less people.
- When layovers happen, if possible go to an airport lounge. This is a pretentious tip, I know. But lounges are less crowded.
- Wear N95 masks on the plane and limit taking them off as much as possible. I kept a few from work that I never opened. They came in handy.
- Only see limited family members (such as those who live with you) and when visiting friends maintain distance and wear masks.
- Partake in outdoors activities and limit dining out.
- Get a covid test as far out from suspected exposure and as close to seeing family as possible. While this does not give you a home free pass, it does at least let you know that for that moment in time you are negative. Keep in mind, covid-19 has a 2-14 day incubation period, which means that 2-14 days after ANY exposure you are still liable to developing symptoms and testing positive. Symptoms appear two days after you become contagious, so anyone you saw before becoming symptomatic is now exposed.
And of course the usual rules of hand washing, etc. apply. And with that, we go into our adventure:
We spent the first six days of our vacation in Idaho/Montana. One of my husband’s good friends from college had a wedding in Lewiston, Idaho. We spent two nights in Lewiston at the Red Lion Hotel. It’s a pretty little town right along the Snake and Columbia Rivers. There was a small dinner at Groundwork Brewing. They had good pizza. We had breakfast at Mystic Café, which was very large and quite empty. We spent the morning walking along the river. There were lots of nice paths going along the water. Our friends had a beautiful, super fun wedding that we had a great time attending.
We then drove six hours from Lewiston, ID to Kalispell, Montana. We had visions of going cross country skiing through Glacier National Park, but quickly learned that a) there was not enough snow and b) cross country skiing is difficult. Neither of us had ever done it before. I had never seen this much snow in my life before.
Glacier National Park
The drive from Lewiston to Glacier was long but beautiful. The surrounding terrain changes from yellow, grassy hills in Idaho (watch out for the police, I might’ve been pulled over for speeding) to the vast expanse of water that is Lake Coeur d’Alene, to steep hills through snowy mountains, to more plains with snowy mountains in the background. We stopped at the St. Regis Travel Center about two hours outside of the park. It has a restaurant that’s actually pretty good, a massive gift shop, a coffee shop, and of course a gas station.
Upon arriving just outside of Kalispell, the driving route takes you around Flathead Lake, which is simply gorgeous. We hiked in Herron Park (super muddy, hilly, nice views) before renting our cross country skis from Sportsmand Ski Haus and heading to our VRBO.
We stayed in Coram, Montana, which is about 30 minutes from Kalispell and Whitefish, and less than 20 minutes from Glacier National Park. I cannot find the listing on VRBO or AirBnB, but it was a cabin off of Coram Stage Road in Coram, Montana. The inside had these massive windows perfect for enjoying the snowy view, and had a new kitchen. We enjoyed our stay, even though it was right along the train tracks and we were frequently woken up by the train whistle blaring through the night.
Our first day there was far less snow than we expected, so our first attempt at cross country skiing was a bit of a bust. It actively snowed throughout most of the day, so by the end of the day an adequate amount for skiing had amassed. However, in the morning we decided to do a hike. We hiked the 6-mile-roundtrip to Fish Lake. As previously stated, I had never seen this much snow at one time, so the whole hike was such a novel experience. The higher up we climbed, the more snow piled up on the ground and the trees, making it quite the winter wonderland. The hike itself climbed a comfortable amount, traversed a gorgeous snow-banked river, and wound through the frosty trees. Fish lake had entirely frozen over, so we walked out onto it and ate some snacks. While on the lake, the flurries picked up quite a bit. The hike back was even snowier and somehow more beautiful.
We really enjoyed walking along Lake McDonald, the famous “fruity pebble rocks” lake. Both days there was very limited visibility but still the water was gorgeous and there were ZERO people around. The rocks really are rainbow, and the water is so incredibly clear. With snow lining the banks, no other visitors, and the looming fog, it was like nothing else.
The next day, we were met by a blizzard while driving back from Montana Coffee Roasters (great, freshly roasted coffee that’s cheap and you get a free cup of coffee too). We spent part of the morning trying to cross country ski along the train tracks and the front yard of our cabin
We then went into the park and skied/hiked the Johns Lake Loop. This beautiful loop is relatively flat and goes by the lake and along a gorgeous river. It goes along a road for 1.5 miles and then along quiet trail through the forest.
That concluded our Glacier trip, minus a 20 minute stop to walk along Lake Coeur d’Alene on the drive back to the Spokane airport.