Every vacation is a very personal experience for the person or persons taking it. This year my usual fall vacation had a tinge of sadness to it as I had just lost my beloved German Shepherd, Zeus, to a longtime illness. But it was great to get away, have some down time and always wonderful to see my siblings.

My sister Carolyn surprised me for my birthday with an unexpected trip to Glacier National Park, which along with the National Park Service is celebrating a 100th anniversary. Although we try to get to the park almost every year, I didn't expect to this year because I knew it would be extraordinarily crowded and lodging might be hard to find. But she did it and I was thrilled as Glacier is one of my favorite places on this planet.

We decided from the outset of the trip that we'd be open to new experiences and initiated that quest by having a late night supper at a place we'd never been to, prior to going into the park. The Flathead Lake Brewing Company in Bigfork Montana, is a great place for burgers, pulled pork sandwiches and locally produced beers. (We had the burger and pulled pork, but opted for coffee and tea because we were freezing- -and driving).

We got to our motel room in Hungry Horse (a little town just a few miles from the entrance to West Glacier) and celebrated my birthday with a luscious, made-from-scratch, (by my sister) four-layer chocolate torte, filled with raspberry jam and chocolate ganache, which we had transported in our cooler.

We started the next morning leisurely, slept late, moved slowly and tried to find a late breakfast. We were referred to the Glacier Highland Restaurant and it was so good we ate there the next morning too, when I tried the outstanding Huckleberry French Toast. This epicurean marvel is made with delicious bread dipped in a batter which contains melted Huckleberry ice cream. Every bite made me smile!

This was a big deal for me because unlike most native Montanans (which I am) I'm no fan of Huckleberries, or products in which they're featured. The tart little berries end up tasting very blueberry-ish in most items they're in and while I love blueberries, again, I don't like blueberries in things.

The next day was spent touring the park as we usually do, going from area to area, taking in the amazing scenery and people-watching. My favorite time was spent at Lake McDonald lodge, sitting lakeside, drinking coffee and chatting about everything and nothing.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier is an iconic 50 mile stretch of sometimes terrifying two-lane blacktop. At many points along this gloriously scenic road in the upper elevations, you have two choices should there be an emergency, crash into a mountain or drive off the side of one!

In all the years we've been there, this was the first time we had an extremely close call. A red car careened around a curve coming toward us in our lane, (there is no passing allowed-ever!). I braked hard and waited for impact or a sooner-that-I-expected visit with God! Neither happened, which I truly believe was some sort of miracle.

On that note I'll wrap up part one of this missive with the promise of more scary adventures in part two!