Shane and I embarked on Monday on our first-ever solo camping trip – we were up before dawn that morning to pile our tent, sleeping bags, and various essentials into our trusty Civic, and by 5 a.m. we were headed east, excited by the prospect of five full days in the great outdoors. Our first destination was Glacier National Park, where we would camp for night on Lake McDonald, followed by three nights in Canada’s Banff National Park.  I camped a lot as a kid (some of my earliest memories are of sitting by the campfire, watching my mom cook up whatever fish my dad caught in the river that day), and Shane and I have gone on several weekend camping trips with groups of friends over the past few years, but this was the first time we were doing it on our own.  This made me the slightest bit anxious for two reasons:  1) When I found I forgot something (and it’s inevitable that you will forget something when packing for a camping trip), I couldn’t just shout out, “Hey, did someone bring ___???” and hope for an affirmative response, and 2) It’s easy and fun to sit around a campfire all evening and tell stories with a big group of friends, but were Shane and I really up for the task of keeping each other entertained for five solid days?   Fortunately, 1) It turned out I hadn’t forgotten anything that couldn’t be picked up at the little market near camp, and 2) Shane and I are actually pretty entertaining people.  Go figure.

Anyhow, after a long drive, we arrived at our campsite Monday afternoon, tired but eager to set up camp and then explore the sights.  Sadly, just as we began to unpack our tent, raindrops started to fall, and though it never poured, it sprinkled on and off throughout the evening. Thankfully, it was still dry enough for us to have a fire, so we warmed ourselves by the flames while we munched on grilled corn on the cob and bratwursts, followed by s’mores.  Turned out to be a pretty decent night after all…

We awoke Tuesday morning to the sound of birds chirping, and I could tell from the glow of the roof of our nylon tent that the rain had passed and we were in for a beautiful day.  After a short walk down to Lake McDonald to take in the sparkling water, we packed up camp and hit the road once again.

We had decided to take the scenic route up to Banff, via ‘Going-to-the-Sun-Road’ – 53 miles of winding, mountainous glory.  It was an amazing drive, and we ooh-ed and ahh-ed all along the way, from the rolling green hills up to the snow-capped glaciers.  Thank God Shane was driving, because there’s no way I could have kept my eyes on the road with sights like this around every bend!

Our first big encounter with Glacier National Park wildlife:  this guy was just chillin’ by the side of the road, nodding his head to the cars as they passed.  Awesome.

And with one final gander at the beauty of Glacier, we were off to Banff, wondering if Canada’s mountains could top what we’d seen in Montana.  Stay tuned to find out if they did!  (How’s that for a cliff-hanger?!)