By ManAboutWorld Global Correspondent and Traveling Gay Dad Paul J. Heney
Our trip through Glacier National Park ended on a challenging note, as we took a last hike to Avalanche Lake–a ranger told us it was an easy 2 mile (each way) hike with a beautiful view at the end of a lake with waterfalls cascading into it. Both our guidebooks listed it is an “easy” hike. But it was anything but. The 500-ft elevation gain felt more like 2,000 ft. Our feet were exhausted by the end; the view was stunning, but we slugged back to the car and decided we were done, to the hotel it was.
I’d originally planned to have us stay in Kalispell, Montana that evening, the main town at the western end of the park. But the best lodging option seemed to be the Pine Lodge in nearby Whitefish. I didn’t know anything about Whitefish and I guess I assumed it was sort of a crummy suburb of Kalispell, 15 min north. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Whitefish has been our biggest surprise of the trip thus far. The downtown area is a prototypically Western one, and the amount of people walking the streets on a Sunday evening was impressive. There were definitely more choices that were bars than restaurant, but we had little trouble finding a lovely place. Ciao Mambo is housed in a funny little building sandwiched in between two other structures. Walking inside was an explosion of wonderful Italian food scents. We resisted the oven fired pizza (the bos didn’t) and enjoyed the succulent lasagna and penne with sausage.
A short walk down the street to the Red Caboose, an adorable coffee house and ice cream shop, made the evening for the boys. We also had time to just wander the streets and found ourselves falling in love with this cute little town.
The Pine Lodge is a nice, rustic place, with seasonal rates in the mid 100s. The rooms were comfortable, there was a nice pool out back, and the free breakfast is a huge hit with me; given how poorly the kids eat sometimes, it is nice to have a “free” meal for them.
The boys and Lance have been getting along for the most part, and I’ve let Lance be the enforcer a few times when the boys have sassed or not listened. He has good parental instincts, and it’s been fascinating to see their reactions to him–as well as his reactions when they don’t magically listen to directions, even after a threat of punishment.
Next, we wrap up the vacation with a day in Missoula (which everyone raves about) and then a trek through Idaho’s panhandle and Spokane, Washington.