I began Day 23 by attending Fresh Life Church (website) in Helena. As I was looking for a church to attend in Helena I noticed they had a connection with the Hillsong church (website). I had attended the Hillsong main-campus church while I was traveling in Australia last year and really liked it. Like Hillsong, Fresh Life is a multi-site church with several locations in Montana, Utah and Oregon. Also like the Hillsong church the Sunday morning service integrates both “local/on-site” pieces with other pieces telecast from the main location in Kalispell MT. I had never attended a service with a telecast message but I have to say it was seamless and actually worked quite well. I really enjoyed the service and had a great conversation with a lady I met after the service named Jewelya. This is a place I would definitely feel at home if I lived in the Helena area.
After the service I dropped by a place called LaPa Grill. The LaPa Grill is owned by a high school classmate of my good friend and former band-mate Chris Bird. Chris told me if I was passing through Helena to stop in and say hello to the owner Grant. Unfortunately Grant was not in today but I left him a message. Any friend of Chris’ is a friend of mine. 🙂
After that I stopped into an outdoor sports store called The Base Camp to see if they might have a replacement filter for my outdoor water filter system. I didn’t really expect them to have one as my filter system has been out of production for several years but to my surprise they had one! So I purchased and installed it and headed to my next and final destination in Helena….the capital building.
As I mentioned in my previous blog I was not originally intending to go through Helena but I figured since I was there I may as well check out the Montana State Capital. I honestly didn’t think it would be open on a Sunday but when I looked it up I was surprised to see that it was….score!
I really didn’t know very much about the history of the Montana State Capital ….or even Montana history to be totally honest, so I had no expectations as I drove to the capital grounds. I have to say it was pretty impressive and I spent an hour or so walking the grounds, the building, reading the information and (of course) taking pictures. I liked the department of Indian Affairs. That’s not something you see in every state for sure.
About two blocks from the capital building I saw this statue outside the Montana Historical Society Helena and thought it was really cool…
Unfortunately it was not open on Sundays. 🙁
As I mentioned in my previous post Glacier NP was, for several reasons, my #1 destination for this trip. Ever since the movie The Shining (movie opening) came out in 1980 I have wanted to drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road (images). And as I grew older I wanted to hike the trails and see the glaciers…and the grizzlies. So (as I mentioned in my previous post) I was really disappointed when I learned that half of the park, and over half of the road, was closed due to fires and that it had been so smoky that you could not see the mountains. But of course, there was nothing I could do about it so I was determined to see and do what I could.
As I drove north toward the park I could already see the effects of the smoke as I could barely see the mountains through the haze…but I did see a bull moose walking across an open field, two pronghorn sheep and a monument to the Blackfeet Indians…..
When I arrived in St. Mary, the eastern entrance to Glacier, I was happy to see that the smoke was not too bad here. I stopped at the Information center to get a map and acclimate myself and then quickly headed, and anxiously, up the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Although it was definitely smoky and the distant mountains where covered with a haze it was still magnificent! Although only 19 of the 50 miles of the road were open I probably stopped 20 times to take pictures and just to gaze at the beauty. Here are a few pics (you can see many more by clicking the link at the bottom of this page)….
When I reached Logan Pass I was very sad to see the gates over the road, but I was happy to have come this far. Unfortunately the visitors center at the pass was already closed for the day but there was still plenty of daylight left to do the 2.7 mile hike to Hidden Lake (AllTrails, Images). While the hike up was nice and the view was just amazing, unfortunately it was very smoky/hazy at the overlook. I included a link to above to images from the Hidden Lake Overlook so you can see what it looks like when it is clear.
By the time I returned to the parking area the sun was setting. So I reluctantly (hey, I haven’t done anything reluctantly in several days, ha ha) started back down. I stopped along the way and took a few more pics but by this time of the day the smoke/haze was getting really bad….
Even though I still had an underlying sense of disappointment I was overjoyed that I was able to travel some of this historic and famous road and to see at least some of the amazing beauty that this park contains. For many reasons Glacier National Park still remains one of my #1 places to visit (again) someday.