Our First Season Together
It is important to understand that Ben and I had been working seasonally before we met each other. So, when we refer to season one, we mean OUR first season together. To provide a little back story we had both decided to take jobs in Glacier National Park in the summer of 2015. And, we were both working for the transportation department. The funny thing is we didn’t really get to know each other until after we left glacier. We went our separate ways but stayed in touch via email and phone calls. We were only living about six hours away from each other and began our relationship long distance. Things were going pretty well and by the spring we decided we were both going back to Glacier where our long distance relationship would continue as Ben would be living in East Glacier and Lauren would be living in West Glacier. And so, season one began.
California, Oregon, Washington
We had made a plan to do some traveling before we arrived in Glacier. Lauren’s contract at the ski resort was going to end a few days before Ben would be finished at the school district and Ben had one more big commitment to fulfill before we could get on the road for our first big adventure together. The exciting part was Lauren was going to get to tag along. Ben would be driving one one of the buses used to transport runners for the relay portion of the Big Sur Marathon and he was allowed to bring a guest with him. Ben drove for the marathon and we got to hang out at Big Sur for six hours watching the runners and listening to the drums that were being played just down the road from us to help keep up the runners’ morale. After completing this last commitment we were free to get on the road for Glacier.
That first day we did not get very far. In order to get the runners in place for the relay we had to be at the bus yard at 1am. So, you could say we were a little tired. From the Monterey area we only got as far as Sacramento on the first day. But it didn’t matter, we were excited to be on this trip together. From there we made a stop for the night near Shasta Dam. Unfortunately, Lauren had made a mistake and her registration tags on her car were out of date so we were unable to cross the dam. We had to come up with a plan to stay in another campground for the night. We did get to see the Shasta Dam, we just weren’t able to drive over it.
Our next night was in Oregon at Bastendorf Beach. We went out to a seafood restaurant overlooking Coos Bay and then boondocked right on the edge of the beach. There was access to drive out on the dunes and we took Lauren’s car out for a spin on the sand. We ended our evening by enjoying the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean. On our way to the next location we drove through a rainforest. There was construction along the road and in one area it brought us to a stop. This was fortunate because in a tree along the roadside there was a Bald Eagle perched. It was so close and just one of the amazing sights we were about to take in.
We were both very excited about our next destination which was Olympic National Park. We knew we didn’t have very much time to spend exploring so we decided the best thing to do with the four nights we had in the park was to circle the park and stay in a different campground each night. This allowed us the opportunity to not have to travel very far each day and also to go on a small excursion each day. We drove to the top of Hurricane Ridge, walked through an old growth forest, saw where Twilight was filmed, visited Rialto Beach, and the rain forest. There was one excursion that we tried to do with the trailer that almost ended badly. We saw a sign for a scenic viewpoint and decided to pull off the road to check it out. It wasn’t until we had turned onto the road that there was a sign that said no oversized vehicles or trailers. The tough part about this was that Ben could not back the trailer back onto the highway safely because the entrance was on a curve nor was there enough room to make a U turn. So, Lauren took her car up the muddy dirt road looking to see if there was a place Ben could turn the trailer around. There was a place that might work so Lauren radioed back to Ben to continue up the road. The muddy dirt road continued up and up and became more narrow until we came to a wide enough area where we could turn the trailer around. When we say wide enough, we mean less than ideal for turning around. It was muddy and uneven. Ben had to utilize 4 wheel drive low to even get to the turn around point and then a series of maneuvers to get the trailer turned around. Concerned with now having to descend the road we just came up, because it did slope off to one side we used a tow strap attached from the back of the trailer to the front of Lauren’s Crosstrek. There wasn’t a lot of tension, but just enough on the back of the trailer to hold it straight while descending the muddy slippery road. At the bottom Lauren celebrated and Ben was relieved nothing was damaged. We were much more careful about our stops after that. On our last night we stayed in another campground with beach access and enjoyed the sun set over the ocean which we would not see again for a while.
At this point we were running out of time and needed to get to Glacier. We headed east via St. Regis, Montana which is marked as the most scenic route to Glacier National Park.
Glacier National Park, Montana
In Glacier we would both work in the transportation department again. We would have lunch together every day and Ben would say he drove 148 miles every day to have lunch together. What Ben leaves out of the story is that he drove a bus tour that stopped at the lodge Lauren was working at every day for lunch. We explored the park more but this time we did it together.
One of the first things we did together was drive a tour where one of the stops was at the helicopter tour company. As a perk for the drivers we were able to go on one of the helicopter tours at an extremely discounted price. The tour flew over some of Glacier’s most beautiful and scenic back country. Seeing the lakes, glaciers, and peaks from the sky was an amazing way to experience the park and gave us renewed excitement about the park we had begun to explore the previous season.
It was a novelty to work in a National Park that season because 2016 was the centennial celebration of the formation of the National Park Service. The protectors of our National Parks and all that they encompass.
We were not completely alone in our adventures, Lauren’s brother came to work in the park so Ben was able to meet him as well as Lauren’s parents when they visited. And Lauren got to meet Ben’s Mom and Step Dad when they came to visit. The summer was full of firsts and as it came to an end we needed to part ways. Before we did Lauren booked herself a seat on Ben’s tour bus under a pseudonym and surprised him by riding along on his last tour of the season. Ben’s contract finished before Lauren’s and he headed back to California to see family, work for the school district, and prepare for the next season. While Lauren finished her contract and headed back to Rhode Island to visit family and prepare for the winter season. We would spend about a month apart and then meet back up for season 2.