Goodnight, America, How Are You? Day 14 – Changes in Altitudes, Changes in Attitudes

It’s our full day in Montana and we spent the day, pretty much, at Glacier National Park. Due to yesterday’s illnesses, we went to find tissues and drinks first. On the way back, there was a “historic marker” sign which led us to the actual sign. Carved in wood, painted in red, it told the story of the “savage Indians” who had started a war with the local settlers. It described the “savages” as “flexible and sneaky like squirrels” as they attacked the “innocent” settlers. I said to my wife that I hadn’t seen anything that racist in a long time — at least publicly. My daughter asked how people could think that way and say such mean things. I remember when language and history were simple — simply wrong, but simple.

My wife went on to explain that there were cultures of White Supremacists in the state and those of us who were out of the loop were astounded. I guess the Unabomber was out here at some point, so anything’s possible. Culture among the people out here moves glacially or maybe backward.

Nature, on the other hand — the actual glacier — changes quickly here. My wife came here as a child and there were far bigger glaciers in the park then. There are still some now, but we are pretty sure that our daughters’ next visit will find none at all. Permafrost (if that’s what it is) isn’t permanent, after all. Global warming? Climate change? They could be real, you know.

In any case, the nature is everywhere here and it’s gorgeous and I am aware that, if Teddy Roosevelt hadn’t created national parks, this place wouldn’t look like it does. We humans can do good things for nature as well as destructive things to it.

About that nature: Most of our time in Glacier National is spent well above 6,000 feet, with rises into the 9,000 + range.

Our drive is in a huge circle with roads that snake around the center. Everywhere there are 100 foot trees and running through them are icy green rivers. For reasons not clear to me, water from the glacier turns the rivers green and you can tell glacier from -non glacier water this way.

There are mountains rising nearby and in the distance, and some turn into crags of jagged rock, each with their own unique shape. Within the sides of these rises, sometimes, is something like a field of snow or a white stream. These are the glaciers. Sometimes, as you get higher, the snow-pack comes right to the edge of the road and under the road to continue its journey downward.

Apparently these used to be everywhere, like walls of snow covering the jags in the rock. Now, they are scattered here and there — still gorgeous and special (it is, after all, snow in July), but no longer overwhelmingly so.

Things here — like every other place — do change, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. For now, though, you have to wonder if that change is going in the right direction…

Peace,

John

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