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Glacier National Park — The Crown of the Continent

Since neither of us had ever visited Glacier National Park before, we were unprepared for the spectacle that awaited us.

Just minutes from the west entrance we got our first glimpse of the park … the glacier formed Lake McDonald. From our vantage point at the southern end of the lake, Danny took his first in a series of panoramas of the park (see our Panorama Gallery). On the northern shore, nestled in a grove of giant cedars, stands the delightful Lake McDonald Lodge.

The lobby of this old hunting lodge has a patina of warmth and comfort. It did, however, take a few minutes for us to adjust to the watchful eyes of the numerous wildlife trophies peering down from the log balconies. A sign on the old upright piano in the lobby invited anyone to play ... so Danny sat down and entertained the guests with a crowd-pleasing boogie-woogie.

Surprisingly, all the furniture is original (the vintage chairs were especially charming). The one item that struck us as being out of scale was the huge lighting fixture hanging from the ceiling. We learned that it is not original but had been reclaimed from the larger Prince of Wales Hotel in Canada.

Parked outside we got our first glimpse of the park's vintage red sightseeing buses known as "Jammers". Thirty-three of the original 1936-37 buses were refurbished by Ford in 2002 and returned to service for propane-powered tours around the park. The red buses hold the record for the longest continuous service of any fleet in the U.S. ... and quite possibly the world.

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