For the first time this trip, the group splits up. Happy Independence Day! I get a lazy morning with the cabin all to myself. I tidy up the place a little, and spend some time reading. Then I climb up to the top of the hill by the entrance to our little lodging area for a view of St. Mary lake. I actually sit and watch the still water in front of me and the bugs crawling around me for forty-five minutes, not moving, no sounds, just dreaming in the sunlight.
In the afternoon Kerri and Erik and I go horseback riding. Four hours is way too long for me to spend on a horse, I find, but still very fun. Just the three of us, the guide, and another lady. And of course the horses.
It's nice to go on a long trip into the mountains and not have to walk it myself, but my favorite thing about horseback riding is the horse. Mine horse is named Walker, and he doesn't really care to follow the other horses much. Has to be nagged (hah, unintentional pun) into staying close to Louie up ahead of me. Insists on stopping to drink at almost every stream we cross. Bangs my knuckles on the saddle horn by jerking his head down sharply when I least expect it. But still I love him! I like to talk to the horse a lot, and see the horse's ears flick back, listening. When I stop talking for a while, he gets worried about me, and turns to look back at me over his shoulder. "You still there?"
Our guide points out an actual glacier to us, Salamander Glacier, so we are now sure that we have indeed seen one.
Pretty glad to be off the horse when the ride is over. OW! We all sit in the lodge for a while, listening to an incredibly inept pianist, then we go eat at the Cattle Barons' Steakhouse.
THAT was a good steak. Yes, the mountain air makes me hungry for animal flesh. Yes, horseback riding wears me out and gets my stomach all rumbly. But THAT was a good steak. PEFECTLY done. Juicy, well flavored, tender. Sigh. It doesn't get any better than that.
So if horseback riding and eating steak isn't American enough, Independence Day is capped off by fireworks down by the lake, viewed from the porch of our cabin.
Showers of brilliant, jewel-like sparks leap into the sky, and glow through the window curtains even after I've gone in and laid down to sleep. Happy birthday, America!