Thursday, September 14, 2017

North to Canada; Then South to Idaho (September 9-13)

As I post this entry tonight, we are 4 weeks in (5565 miles) and halfway through our 8-week road trip!  You can see our latest progress on this map.  In one way, it seems as if we’ve been traveling forever, but in another way, I’m amazed at how the time has flown by.

On Saturday morning we left the smoke of Libby, Montana and traveled north to the Port of Roosville, where we entered British Columbia, Canada.  As soon as we left the US, I lost all coverage on my cell phone (a surprise I was not expecting).  All speed limits and distances were now listed in kilometers, and there were a number of other subtle differences in homes and farms we passed.  We drove through the Crow's Nest Pass into Alberta and then followed the Cowboy Highway up to Calgary.  What a vast, open and beautiful land!  We planned to visit my cousin, Anny Drummond, whom I haven’t seen for 16 years.  Anny and I are 26 years apart in age, but are first cousins—one of those mixed up generations.  And in the time since we’ve seen each other, Anny has married and now has 2 little boys.  We had a wonderful dinner and evening catching up with Anny and family.  And, as a special added bonus, another cousin, Anny’s older brother Alex Drummond, drove down from Edmonton to visit with us, too!

We spent Sunday morning at the Canada Olympic Park (one of the primary venues built for the 1988 winter games), watching Anny’s boys’ ice hockey and skating lessons.  What fun and what an amazing sports complex!

Before we parted ways on Sunday night, we promised we wouldn’t let another 16 years go by before visiting again.  Next time I hope they’ll come to Maryland.

Our next campsite was at Bow Valley Provincial Park, located just east of Banff (Canadian) National Park.  For the first time in over a week, the skies were mostly blue, and we could actually distinguish clouds and mountains, instead of seeing vague outlines. 

Upon entering the campground, we were greeted with signs announcing a bear sighting specifically in our loop of the campground.  Ughh, back to worrying about bears and carrying bear spray.  This one was a black bear, though, so I wasn’t as nervous. But we had to be ultra-careful about storing all food, cooking items, and toiletries in the car, instead of the tent.

It was still early in the afternoon, so we drove on to Canmore, originally a coal mining town, which was given new life when it became the home of the Nordic Events during the winter Olympics in 1988; and then on to the town of Banff, which Doug and I visited in the winter sometime back in the early 1980s.  On that trip, we stayed at the Banff Springs Hotel, which we visited again this time.  It’s still beautiful, but it has been enlarged and renovated and is now under the ownership of Fairmont Hotels. 

We walked to the Bow River Falls and all through the busy town.

All the views of the craggy mountains were spectacular.  I imagine these are similar to what the mountains at Glacier Park look like when not hidden by smoke.

I’m glad we saw the mountains in clear skies because on Tuesday rain clouds were moving in. 

We officially entered Banff National Park, which is free for all visitors this year in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, and drove along the Bow Valley Parkway toward Lake Louise.  All signs are in both English and French.  We entered wolf country, but were not lucky enough to see any.

But we did see a forest of these aspens with the beautiful two-toned trunks...

Lake Louise was packed with tourists, but we managed to grab a parking spot.  You can see why this is the most photographed location in all of Canada.

And these gray jays (also known as whiskey jacks) were talking about it, too, while waiting for handouts...

A light shower was just starting, so Doug and I decided to have lunch at Chateau Lake Louise and hoped the weather would clear for an afternoon hike around the lake.

No such luck.  It was a steady rain by the time we finished, but we decided to make the most of being in such a beautiful place and hiked to the far end of the lake and back.

This was our first really rainy day of our entire trip, and we hoped it was helping to fight the wildfires. By the time we returned to our car, we were cold and soaked.  I wouldn't mind it if we had a warm, dry place to return to, but we had to go back to a tent for a cold, wet night (down to 44 degrees) and no dry place to cook our supper.  We ended up eating deviled ham, crackers, and grapes in our car.  We didn't dare add food smells to our tent in case the bear would come snooping around.  We never did see the bear, but we were up early to break down our campsite and try to warm up in our car.  Doug and I both decided we're getting too old for this cold, wet weather camping!

Today our drive started out rainy, but gradually cleared as we drove south out of the Canadian Rockies.
We did get back into wildfire country briefly.  You can see a fire burning on the hill across the lake from the highway.

And I don't want to forget to mention these wonderful "wildlife bridges" that the Canadians build across their highways to help animals cross safely. You can see the tops are planted with trees and grass and bordered by fences to keep the moose, elk, bears, etc. on the right track.

Tonight we are ensconced at Cedar Farm Bed & Breakfast Inn in Idaho.  What a cozy improvement over last night!

And even a tub for a warm soak...

My updated photo for the top of the blog was taken outside the B&B.  Tomorrow we move on to Seattle...


  1. Do you think that sign had enough bear warnings! You were brave to sleep in your tent/camper! After reading your post that bathtub looked inviting to ME. Yes, that part of camping, at our age, is harder to tolerate--it's a known fact that as we age our bodies become more sensitive to heat and cold. So I applaud you for going on that hike in the rain--the trail looks very inviting and it would have been a shame to have missed it.

    1. Thanks, Cathy! Yes, the trail and surroundings were too inviting to miss in spite of the rain. I was a nervous wreck about the bear the first night, but after not seeing it all, I calmed down the second night.


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