As y’all know, I turned 30 on Thursday.  The last four days have been a birthday gift you just can’t buy – Summer arrived, and with it, my dear friends and family.

On Thursday, the Going-to-the-Sun Road fully opened, and we were in line at the St. Mary entrance to witness the “Logan Pass CLOSED” sign being taken down!

The Going-to-the-Sun Road never fails to amaze me with its architectural wonders and sheer beauty.  Here, we are driving through “The Big Drift,” an area just east of Logan Pass that generally holds so much snowpack that it must be surveyed every year to determine the road’s location before it can be plowed.

Logan Pass was sun dappled, hoppin’ with folks, and packed with snow.

We enjoyed a picnic lunch at Logan Pass and then retraced our path down the road, heading for Many Glacier, my favorite part of the Park, where we enjoyed a little stroll around Swiftcurrent Lake and then indulged in G&Ts on the Many Glacier Hotel deck, the best deck in the world.

At home that night, my mom prepared some of my favorite dishes for my birthday meal: grilled Copper River salmon, panfried halibut, asparagus bunches, potatoes-n-Vidalias, farmer’s market salad, and rum cake with pineapple-coconut sorbet and grilled pineapple.

It. was. heavenly.  Mom, Dad, Honeydew, and Darling Summer Help offered a champagne toast to me, out of my grandmother’s gorgeous champagne saucers.  Thanks, y’all.  I’m grateful for my thirty years on this Earth.

After dinner, Honeydew took me up to Warehouse No. 1 to give me a birthday gift, the sweetest I have ever received.  He fastened six bee hive sides together and branded our logo and name into the wood.  It is not done yet, but when he is finished, we will have a beautiful sign to mark the entrance to Glacier County Honey Co. World Headquarters.

I think I now have a better understanding of why my parents treasure the Christmas ornaments my brothers and I made for them above all else – except in this case, no kindergarten teacher guided Honeydew’s hand.  He came up with this idea all on his own, and I can see his love for me in the branded wood.  Thank you, sweetheart.

On Friday, my parents went home to Whitefish, and Brother Dear, the Hot Buns, and Dan arrived to continue the celebration.  Saturday, LJ stuffed us full of her famous French Toast (thanks, LJ!) and we hiked to Shangri La, an off-trail area of the Park that is one of my favorite places.  I’ve been there many times over the years, and each group I’ve hiked with has been special.  This trip was no exception.

Kestergill, LJ, Darling Summer Help, me, Brother Dear, Ray-Ray, and Dan – at Shangri La, on Mt. Wilbur, Many Glacier Valley, Glacier National Park, Montana

We saw a goat, many sheep, one cow moose, and a sow griz with three cubs.

But more about Shangri La later – it is worthy of its own blog post!

Apres hike, we enjoyed huckleberry margaritas on the Many Glacier Hotel deck, Twistas at Two Sisters, and burritos, burgers, and BBQ at Gib’s Roadside Grill in Babb.  Yum!

Today, Ray-Ray and Dan headed back to Missoula, but Brother Dear, Kestergill, LJ, Darling Summer Help, and myself drove up to Logan Pass for skiing, snowboarding, snow shoeing, and sledding under sun drenched skies.

Darling Summer Help borrowed my randonee “Sweet Fat Thang” skis, which are plastered with green butterflies – we decided he is a heck of a real man to be able to rock these girly skis!

Kestergill brought her split board, and LJ and I strapped on our snow shoes and our hiking skirts.

And up the pass we went!  That’s Mt. Oberlin in the background.

Here, Kestergill, LJ, Darling Summer Help, and I approach the ridge beneath Mt. Clements from which we wanted to ski and sled.  Can you see the green sled I’m dragging behind me?

Darling Summer Help earned those turns!

Kestergill looked professional, as ever.  And so happy.

LJ and I hopped into the green sled and took a wild ride down the hill, laughing hysterically and somehow keeping ourselves, our packs, and our snowshoes in the sled the entire way down.  We’re professional, too.

If there was ever a day to be skiing up on Logan Pass, today was the day.  Carpe weekend!

Summer, welcome back to Montana – we’re so glad you’re here!

2010.  Glacier County Honey Co.  Photo credits to Sanford Stone and Jeff Street, too.  All Rights Reserved.