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Vagabond Journey

Glacier National Park

Into the mountains with an ex-family member.

MONTANA- Throughout this trip out to the west of the USA readers of this site have asked me multiple times if I’ve seen any interesting animals or went to any national parks. Rather than responding with a dumb … “uh, that’s not really my thing. I like people and stories, not recreationally hiking around on trails just to look at some buffalo’s butt” I decided to put up this post.

Yes, I did see animals. Yes, I did go to a national park.

I went to Glacier with my ex-brother-in-law Rory. He was the guy that my sister married straight out of high school. He was one of my friends in school and has been a part of my family in some form or another since I was a teenager.

… Rory was also Vagabond Journey’s business travel correspondent for a time, so you may know who he is.

My family didn’t get the message that we’re not supposed to talk to this guy anymore just because Nicky decided to divorce him. It’s more weird for us reimagining him as not being a part of our family. My mother and father still call him when they have a problem with their computer; Rory still calls my dad when he has a problem with his car. My sister complains that my dad talks to Rory more than he does her. My father even suggested staying in his house with him when they were evaluating whether or not they would go to my sister’s wedding reception.

Even though they got a divorce over five years ago, going to Montana and not seeing Rory just seemed a little too weird for me — he’s just still a part of my family.

So we talked daily on my way out to Montana and when I arrived we made plans to go to Glacier …

Well, actually first I had him babysit my kids while Hannah and I went out fora night with Nicky and her new husband. Rory’s new wife didn’t get it:

“So can you tell me again why are we watching your ex-wife’s brother’s kids.”

Uh, well …

The night before that we crashed his recreational men’s soccer game with signs bearing his name and lovingly ironic cheers.

So we went to Glacier together. We drove up a mountain to find that there wasn’t anywhere to park at the top. The parking lot was full and instead of making more parking to accommodate the overflow of visitors that they get every year they created a traffic hazard — probably some arrogant national park thing about limiting the number of visitors for ecological reasons. Apparently, it’s more environmentally friendly to have a traffic jam on a mountain top and hundreds of tourists yelling and screaming and trying to steal each other’s parking spots.

But Rory preserved, driving around and around the parking lot waiting for some tourists who’ve finished their hike to serendipitously appear in our proximity. He found some and crept behind them as they walked to their car. They pulled out. We pulled in.

Now we could hike.

We walked and talked. I have an extended common history with this guy. We’ve known each other through multiple eras of life. There’s not many people I have this with. What was most interesting is that he’s remembered some of the things that I’ve told him … advice about the importance of setting the precedent in relationships and other passing moments that he had frozen in memory.

I was able to start conversations with “Do you remember the time when …?”

If you have five people in life that you can start questions this way with you’re doing pretty good. This is probably my measure of friendship.

Here’s some photos:

Filed under: Family, Hiking and Trekking, Montana

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3411 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Rochester, New York

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