Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dance with the bears for your Glacier Park get-away


Arriving at the end of a snow storm, our travelers found Dancing Bears Inn a welcoming respite -- with tasty treats! 
East Glacier's Dancing Bears Inn is a lovely base for Keller's
exploration of nearby wonders in Glacier National Park

If you go down to the woods today
You're sure of a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today
You'd better go in disguise!
For every bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the Teddy Bears 

have their picnic.


All roads point to Dancing Bears Inn.
TODAY'S THE DAY the teddy bears have their picnic! Remember the old song we sang as children? Written in a menacing minor key, it sounds a bit like Charles Gounod's "Alfred Hitchcock" theme.
But there are no minor keys at Dancing Bears Inn in East Glacier, where every day is a picnic! It's all sunny side up!
An all-day buffet of organic treats invites hotel guests to snack between hikes, enjoy a hot or cold beverage -- including beer one of the evenings we visited -- and plan the day's activities thanks to knowledgeable hotel managers.
Kim Stevens and her co-manager C.J. are proprietors of this delightful find! They love what they do and it shows.
We joined the two of them, and their hotel bears (photos, drawings and even a bear shower curtain)  -- along with a gorgeous grizzly bear who prowled nearby -- for a two-day picnic of our own.
Our headquarters, the Dancing Bears Inn in East Glacier, is a convenient Glacier base in the Two Medicine Valley of this northern Montana park.
Kim Stevens, at the computer, and Cookie, plan the day's activities.
Tasty organic snacks are available for guests all day long at the inn.
THE MOTEL is small and welcoming, with only 15 rooms. And, a must for us, several of the rooms are pet friendly.
The two managers are hands on, greeting guests at check-in, and making certain they feel welcome. They even put a make-shift walkway down to help us navigate melting snow.
And Stevens escorted us to our rooms to make certain the heat was on and we had all we needed to be comfortable.
The rooms are quiet and nicely decorated. Nothing fancy, but clean, inviting digs (bear motif of course) and spacious.
It's not unusual to have a continental breakfast included in the room price, but that's usually rudimentary: toast, cereal, juice, maybe an orange or banana.
Just a hop, skip and stroll from Dancing Bears, Serrano's Mexican Restaurant
in East Glacier serves tasty Southwest and Mexican fare and is always packed.
Dancing Bear's all day "breakfast" is a real exception, and truly the star in the crown of a Dancing Bears stay.
THE BEAR'S BREAKFAST is more like a European morning buffet than an American motel offering.  Bagels, granola, yogurt, juices, and a treats such as breakfast burritos and English muffin sandwiches -- the Bear's own version of MacDonald's classic. Their "Bear MacMuffin" and more make for real value.
"We like to have goodies for people all day, when they come back from a day of hiking or a long drive," Stevens said. "It's a nice touch because the owner really cares that people have a memorable, enjoyable time and get what they want for snacks."
That, of course, is smart marketing and encourages return business.
WE ALSO found  a couple fun dinner eateries, suggestions of the inn managers.  Our favorite was Serrano's, a lively Mexican place with terrific, zesty Southwest cuisine. Specialties include a tasty
The picturesque Two Medicine area is just minutes from Dancing Bears Inn.
red snapper and a flavorful strip steak. Appetizers, margaritas and a delicious flan-like dessert were happily and efficiently served.
 EXPLORING Glacier again, we learned that Lewis and Clark were very near where we were based, on the east side of the Rockies.  They were so close to Marias Pass they could have reached it in an hour or so.  But they couldn't see it for the clouds.  Surely, had they found it, their journey over the mountains would have been easier!
We made no attempt to see all of Glacier, a park we grew up with as native Montanans. Our advice to Glacier travelers with only a couple days is to base at one of the hubs -- West Glacier, St. Mary, Many Glacier, or farther north, across the Canadian border, in Waterton Park.
CONCENTRATING on a smaller area -- no farther than 75 to 100 miles from your hotel -- gives time to really take in your area.  Besides the grizzly, we noticed beautifully changing autumn colors, beargrass, flowers and snow on the same mountains which sheltered native people for millennia.

Bruce Turk and Michael Santo square off in "Freud's Last 
Session," an ambitious play in its San Diego debut to Nov. 9.
COMING SOON: Two kinds of drama -- the traditional meaning -- inside a theater -- and drama in the wilds of nature. We can barely wait to share our grizzly sighting.  We watched with other charmed tourists, for more than 90 minutes as a grizzly ate, drank and made merry before our eyes, about 40 yards away! But before bears, we're excited about a San Diego premier, "Freud's Last Session," at North Coast Rep. Imagine a meeting between these two: an avowed atheist -- Sigmund Freud -- and a onetime atheist, now a believer -- writer C. S. Lewis. Their conversation about life, religion and the fates is thrilling, and the two actors playing the great thinkers are terrific. We try for a fresh take on art, travel, theater, music and life. Wednesdays and weekends at: www.whereiscookie.com 

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