Friday, November 30, 2012

Driving a Part of History

By Seth Eagleton

In the summer of 2011 one of our guests on the Great Lodges of Glacier Tour was a man named Mr. Bill North.  It turns out Mr. North was a Tour Bus Operator for the Glacier Park Transport Company in 1961, which was later purchased by Glacier Park, Inc. Although I have never met Bill in person we were able to visit over the phone as I found out what it would have been like to be employed as a Jammer back in ’61. Bill’s experience “way back when” was intriguing. Just to be clear, the term Jammer was the nickname that was given to the tour bus operators because it was difficult to shift gears in the 4 speed non-synchronized manual transmissions of the Reds and referred to the terrible grinding as they shifted between gears.
Second floor of dormitory at Waterton.
We slept in sleeping bags we carried
with us on the bus.

  Each night was spent at one of the four hotels in a bunkhouse with the other Jammers who ended their tours for the day at the same location. It was just not feasible to have a married couple in the bunkhouses with a bunch of guys, so the company simply required the position to be filled by single guys.
My bus getting serviced.
East Glacier


Bill had worked as a teacher in California for about a year and a half, when he bumped into one of the administration staff members in the school lunch room. The man had previously worked as a Jammer in Glacier National Park and made the suggestion to Bill. He sent in his application but Bill got the impression that he was hired after only the short conversation he had over the phone with the Glacier Park Transport Company. He took a Greyhound bus from L.A. to Montana for a summer which he recalls as one of the most memorable of his life.
                In 2000, the Ford Motor Company spent two years refurbishing 33 of the Reds and a few of the differences that Bill noticed were the sizing of the wheels and tires being smaller on the newer versions. Also, the floors used to be made of wood instead of the modern steel floorboards. One other difference is that what is now the rear seat used to be an area used for storage.  
Baggage compartment on buses.
Now there's an additional seat on them -
with no leg room.

The buses now have an automatic transmission and modern suspension for a much smoother ride. Also interesting, is that the Jammers are no longer required to be single so there are many who are married and return year after year to operate the buses. Bill Trimble, a friend whom Bill North met that summer was the man responsible for Glacier Park, Inc. first considering the idea of hiring married Jammers.  

The single jammers didn’t want to stay single, so they usually only stayed on for a year or two. The new policy allows the Jammers to keep coming back and each year add to his (or her) knowledge of the Park and its history, so they are able to give much more informed tours with better stories and the like, according to Bill. The Jammers are responsible for the bus they are assigned to and typically have a special affection for it. Even after 50 years, Bill made sure to track down his bus #95, which is now operated by Mr. Jim O'mara.

Bill used to say, “If you want to survive, don’t ride #95!” I’m sure that was not exactly true, especially since he also mentioned that he was one of the few who was a careful enough driver to not grind the gears as he shifted. On the third day of his Bill’s tour in 2011, the tour operator shouted back and asked Bill if he wanted to take a turn behind the wheel, but Bill replied, “No thanks! I wouldn’t know how to drive an automatic.”
                Visiting with members of an older generation is one of the most rewarding experiences I know, and for sharing your experience with me, I am truly grateful. Thank you Bill, and don’t wait another 50 years before you visit Glacier National Park again, OK?

Follow this link to our Facebook album of several more photos from Bill’s Jammer experiences in 1961. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Critter Count

Just from the office desk we see a surprising amount of wildlife, so we thought we should start keeping track. 

Whitetail Deer: Doe/Buck/Fawn
Snowshoe Rabbit
Pine Squirrel
Mallard Duck: Drake/Female
Someone's Tabby Cat lives under our utility shed. 
Red Tailed Hawk
Bald Eagle
Grey Jay
Ring-necked Pheasant - 11/30/2012
Canada Geese - 11/30/2012
Northern Flicker - 12/3/2012
Weasel - 12/19.2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Employee Salute

Employee Salute
Mary Dickinson
Server for Logan’s Bar and Grill at Grouse Mountain Lodge
Employed for 22 years at Grouse Mountain Lodge
By Seth Eagleton

            I am jealous of Mary Dickinson. She enjoys her job more than anyone I have ever met. For the past 22 years she has worked as a server at Logan’s Bar and Grill at Grouse Mountain Lodge. It is rare to bump into someone that so obviously cares so much about the people around her. Mary is the exception. I think I heard her say “People are great” no less than 15 times in our short conversation. Many of the local folks that come in to eat make sure that they are seated in her area. A few seat themselves because they already know the area she is serving! “When people get up in the morning and come in for breakfast, they should feel better when they leave,” said Mary. With a mentality like that it is no wonder that people keep coming back. In fact, going out for breakfast at Grouse Mountain Lodge with Mary has become part of the experience of visiting Whitefish.

Positive comments come in all the time about Mary:
I think I would drive the 4 hours just to have the salmon eggs benedict and I wish I could have brought Mary home with us. What a joy she was to have her wait on us both mornings. You guys are lucky she has worked there 22 years,“ said a recent guest via email.
“Mary made my day one morning when she served us. She is great!” said a guest via comment card.
Karen Baker, General Manager at Grouse Mountain Lodge, says that she receives at least one email/comment per week praising Mary.

Mary mentioned that when people go out to eat they should feel special, not just because of the great food but also because of how they are treated. “You get to host a party everyday!” says Mary.

One of her repeat customers is a gentleman that has been coming in with his sister on the days that Mary serves for the past 20 years.  Another local couple brings in their two children once a week and Mary remembers to take out their orange juice before she takes their order. Although she already knows their orders, she checks to make sure which type of latte for her and whether he wants toast that morning or not. “Those types of details make people feel special,“ says Mary. 

Grouse Mountain Lodge was purchased by Glacier Park, Inc. nearly two years ago and since then Mary has made sure to personally introduce her “locals” to any new members of the management team. She says that when they bump into each other at the store, at least they’ll recognize a face. That settles it; Mary wins the sweetheart-of-the-year award – hands down. For taking personal responsibility to make sure that everyone else feels so special and promoting the importance of community within Whitefish, we salute you!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

2011/12 Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour (Canada/USA)

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour will be hosted by the Flathead Nordic Ski Patrol at the Flathead High School Auditorium this year. Tickets are available at Sportsman and Ski Haus in Kalispell and Whitefish, the White Room, Rocky Mountain Outfitter, and Runner Up Sports for $14 per person. There are two separate showings: one on Monday (11/12/12) and the other on Tuesday (11/13/12), both at 7:00pm. The event usually sells out, so don't wait to buy your tickets! Proceeds benefit the Flathead Nordic Ski Patrol. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Glacier Park Lodge History

It’s easy to understand why the majestic setting of the Glacier Park Lodge has attracted many thousands of visitors over the past century. Did you know that the area Glacier Park Lodge is located was originally called Midvale and not East Glacier? Great Northern Railway purchased the land for $30 an acre, which was part of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Originally named the Glacier Park Hotel, it's location was not within Glacier National Park borders, but within the reserve.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thanksgiving Feast at Grouse Mountain Lodge

Chef Mike Garcia is ready to prepare a proper Thanksgiving Feast at Grouse Mountain Lodge. Leave the cooking to us and enjoy the holiday the way it was meant to be enjoyed -- by eating great food and giving thanks.

Thanksgiving Menu available from 3-8pm, November 22, 2012.

  • Deviled Eggs Three Ways - Traditional, BLT and Crab Fillings - $10
  • Fried Brussels Sprouts Tossed with Apple Cider Reduction, Pistachios, Rosemary Salt and Sliced Green Apple - $11.50
  • Shrimp Cocktail - $8.95
  • Coconut Shrimp Beignet with Pepper Jelly - $12
All entrees served with House Salad or Soup and Dessert. Turkey Dinner comes with a free refill plate.
  • Turkey Dinner - Choice of White or Dark Meat, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, Broccoli and Cauliflower Au Gratin Served with Fresh Cranberry Sauce - $27.95 adult; $14.95 Children (age 6-12); Free for Children Age 5 and Under
  • Prime Rib Served with Au Jus & Horseradish Sauce, Broccoli and Cauliflower Au Gratin and Mashed Potatoes - $32.95
  • Butternut Squash Lasagna - $24.95
  • Mac & Cheese - Our Grouse Mountain Recipe With a 3-Cheese Cream Sauce and Bacon - $18.95
Included with all entrees
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Pecan Pie
  • Chocolate Cake

Friday, November 2, 2012

Employee Salute - Kevin Adams

Employee Salute
Kevin Adams
By Seth Eagleton
 Winter Caretaker at Many Glacier Hotel.

Right about now, Kevin Adams is probably wondering what in the world he got himself into. As the new winter caretaker for Many Glacier Hotel, he will experience isolation and extreme weather found few places in the world. The only road which accesses the hotel closes for the season at the Glacier National Park entrance due to adverse weather conditions. Snow machines are prohibited inside Glacier National Park boundaries so his only way in or out is seven miles by snowshoe or cross country ski until the rangers re-open the gate and begin plowing the snow in late May. Until then he will be in charge of maintaining the facilities at Many Glacier Hotel during the winter months. 
I found it humorous that as prep for his new position Kevin purchased a copy of The Shining. In all seriousness he should have no shortage of duties to keep him busy over the coming months. One year a mountain goat wandered off a snowdrift onto the roof of the hotel and fell through the skylight. Yes, it snows that much! That goat still resides at the hotel, albeit mounted in a glass case. The harsh winters take a toll on the historic lodges of Glacier National Park so Kevin should have adequate chores to keep him from boredom.
                Prior to his career at GPI, he can tell you stories of traveling with Disney on Ice where he worked as the lighting and screen director, or the time that he rode in the “Hotter’n Hell 100” in Amarillo Texas with a 17-year-old Lance Armstrong. He likes to travel and has been all around the world. He is a people person and has made lots of friends across the globe.  He likes that he gets to see all of the “internationals,” as he calls them, on his home turf now that he has settled down here in Glacier National Park.
Kevin began his employment with Glacier Park, Inc. in the maintenance department of Lake McDonald Lodge in 2007. That’s where he shines. He became known as the “Guitar Guy” around Lake McDonald Lodge after picking up the instrument at the encouragement of Chef Josh Newman. He likes to jam with the other employees in the warm evenings of summer. He does what he can to encourage his fellow employees to not spend much time alone inside of their dorms but to take advantage of the opportunity to meet and get to know their co-workers from all over the world. Kevin grew up in Texas and says, “It’s hot in Texas. It’s not hot here. I moved here five years ago and have sweated maybe three or four times. I like that!”
We plan on sharing some of his pictures and posts from his experience this winter through our Facebook page and blog. His new job description is one that many of us are jealous of but would probably be leery to tackle.  Kevin, we hope to hear your exciting adventures during these winter months and for braving this challenge, we salute you!

Many Glacier Hotel and Mt. Wilbur

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Abundant Wildlife

The abundance of wildlife around here is such a big part of life in GNP and the Flathead Valley that it's easy to overlook some of the things that are right in front of your face. I snapped a pic of this little doe right inside the western entrance to GNP a few days ago. Its attention was pretty focused on fattening up for winter and was far from frightened of my presence.