Montana Road Trip Journal-Days 3 & 4

June 17, 2005: Today was a much needed day of rest.  We were able to sleep in fairly late, but Julianne made sure we up at a decent hour so we could get haircuts and help setup for the reception later in the evening.  I will be posting reception and wedding photos elsewhere (with a link from here eventually).

June 18, 2005: Amaree gets married today.  We will be going north to Cardston, Alberta for a visit to the temple there for the wedding.  I've looked forward to this day because we will also be going to Glacier National Park, one of my all-time dream locations to visit.

We left at about 8:00 AM to head for Cardston.  It would be about a 3 hour drive up there through the high plains of Montana and southern Alberta. 

Along the way we went through Cut Bank, Montana.  This is on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and is home to the Museum of the Plains Indian.  Unfortunately, we didn't have time visit the museum.  I have a keen interest in the American Indians as a result of all my days as a tour guide in Arizona, where I visited the Hopi and Navajo Reservations many times.  I hope someday to get back out here and visit many of the Indian Museums in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.  There is such a wonderful heritage and history out here.

Another thing we found here is supposedly the World's Largest Penguin which also celebrates Cut Bank as "The Coldest Spot in the Nation."  The 27 foot tall statue is made from cement and weighs about 10,000 pounds.  I understand that it is supposed to also talk, but we didn't have time to stop and see.  Anyway, here is a photo of the penguin:

We stopped in Cut Bank for a quick restroom break and while at the small park, who should pull up at the same place but Bill and Cindy Matthews, Aaron's parents.  We were both dressed for the wedding in our suits. Who would have thought that in the middle of nowheresville USA I would find someone wearing the EXACT same necktie as me?  But, of course, we were cheating...Julianne had made them both for the reception the night before.

Soon, we were back on the road to Cardston.  From Cut Bank, which is also known as the gateway to Glacier, we would begin climbing and also seeing the mountains of Glacier.  The contrast of the plains and the mountains reminded me of the verse in America the Beautiful--"O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain; for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain".  I know that Katherine Lee Bates, the author of the song, wrote it based on her experience at Pikes Peak, but I couldn't help but have the same words cross my mind. The photos below just don't do justice to the real views:

 

It took us about 40 minutes to get to the Canadian border from Cut Bank.  We entered the port and were quizzed, had to pass out our documentation to enter the country and then were finally let through.  We headed up the two lane Highway 4 towards Cardston.  Soon thereafter we were forced to stop in the road by a cattle drive, of all things.  It was interesting to be in the midst and have cattle circle our car.  Here is a series of photos I took...just as we saw it:

   

   

This was truly a moooving experience that had us udderly trapped

After getting out of the cattle call, the remaining drive was beautiful.  To the west were the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Canada and Northern Montana.  Around us were tall waving stalks of wheat.  It really set the stage for the wedding ceremony to be held at the temple.

We arrived in Cardston just on time, as planned (first time on the trip we were actually on schedule!!).  The town of Cardston was established in 1887 by Mormon pioneers from Utah who traveled to Alberta in one of the century's last covered wagon migrations.  The Cardston temple is the sixth oldest of the LDS temples, having been dedicated in August of 1923, four years after the Laie, Hawaii temple and four years before the Mesa, Arizona temple.

I could not resist this photo.  It shows the majesty of the mountains behind the temple.  I wish I could have taken a photo like this or seen this view.

The wedding was a beautiful event.  An LDS wedding is a short ceremony held in the temple.  The couple is married for "time and all eternity", rather than "till death do us part."  It is one of many sacred ceremonies carried out in these Holy buildings.  Only worthy members of the church can enter the temple and attend the ceremony.  This is why receptions are such big events for Mormons, as all family and friends can celebrate the union of the happy couple.  For more information on temples, please click here --> Purpose of Temples

On this day this is how the temple looked and I have also attached a photo of Amaree and Aaron Matthews in front of the temple on their wedding day.  The wedding pages will have many more photos.

 

  

After the wedding was over, we joined the Matthews family for a small picnic in the park.  Then, we were on our way back to the U.S. and to Glacier National Park.  I personally was already filled with joy from the wonderful wedding, but also filled with great excitement and anticipation for the other highlight of my trip...I have waited for many years to see Glacier.  My only disappointment would be that I couldn't spend more than a few hours there.  I really wish I could spend a week there hiking, driving the many side roads, relaxing on the shores of the lakes, etc.  Perhaps someday....

We entered the U.S. at the Piegan Border Station.  Immediately we could begin seeing the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains appearing before us:

  

  

 

Julianne and I with the mountains of Glacier surrounding us

The park is so very beautiful with numerous breathtaking views.  I have compiled all of my photos into a slide show that can be seen here: Glacier (this may take a few minutes to load, especially at slower speeds)

Of course, there was one thing here that reminded me of my trip to Cebu, Philippines back in January and February of this year.  I saw the Glacier National Park version of a Jeepney.  I couldn't resist making this comparison:

 

Here are just a couple more of the most spectacular views Glacier.  There are really too many to post here:

 

 

Though there is supposed to be abundant wildlife in Glacier National Park, on this day we didn't see much.  However, we did find a small group of what I believe are Columbian Ground Squirrels at one of the stops.  They can be found in rocky areas around the park, so I am assuming that these are what they are.  Solomon, always fascinated with animals, got some of our trail mix out of the van and tried to feed them by hand...check out the results:

 

Finally, we departed Glacier to head back to Great Falls.  One last stop at the General Store in Glacier and I found my unusual thing for the day...at least the first of them.  Then we went on and through a small town that had some "scary" dinosaurs:

 

 

We finally arrived back in Great Falls about 9:45 PM.  It was a long, yet glorious day.  One that will not be forgotten for a long, long time.  I am so glad to have been able to share these experiences with at least Julianne, the boys and Marissa.

Tomorrow we leave to return back to Lexington so we can prepare for Marissa's wedding on Saturday.

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