Sunday 31 July 2011

Day 119: Roadtrip from Great Falls to Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park, now almost devoid of glaciers

I'm having some problems with my camera battery, so instead of roadtrip photos, it's just more socio-political observations about Montana today. 

The O'Haire Motor Inn gave us a free newspaper every morning in which we can see Montana bragging that it has plenty of money in the bank, no shortfalls and is well placed to withstand the chaos that may ensue next week.  That's very laudable, but today it's sharing the front page with a possible explanation for why Montana has so much money.  A prisoner has taken the state to court protesting the demand that he write all his correspondence in English.  Since he is of Guatemalan origin, he has reasonably good cause to want to use another language.  The reason he can't is that the prison has run out of money and can't afford a translator to check that he is not plotting and scheming. They used to rely on voluntary translations from a guard who since retired. Hmmm....

We stopped for breakfast in a little village with the very English sounding name of Dutton.  We were surprised to discover: a playground with picnic tables and what look like reservable barbecue facilities, a sports field and a pool.  I've been complaining for weeks about the lack of public facilities in the US and I was very surprised to see all ths in such a small place.  Then, at the entrance to the playground I noticed the sign saying it was built using funds from the government's recovery scheme.  Look everyone!  Your tax dollars do work!  Here is a very nice thing that everyone can use.  Too bad there isn't more stuff like that.

All the same, as we were driving to Glacier National Park, Montana looked quite well off.  It's mostly empty, but the farms are pristine and orderly in a way that reminds me of the Dutch and Scandinavian countries.  Then, all of a sudden we passed through what seemed to be a shanty town with a pretty American flag flying over it.  And then another one, then fields with ramshackle cabins.  I was changing my mind about Montana, and I suppose the fact that I later realised the 'poverty line' coincides exactly with the Blackfeet Indian Reservation does not alter matters one jot.  It's a beautiful bit of landscape though.

We arrived at Glacier to find all the A campsites filled with Canadians on some bank holiday weekend we didn't know about.  We just managed to get in at Cut Bank campground.  There are no facilities or water here, but we like it anyway. Antonia is feeling homesick, maybe because it looks just like home.