So here is how the Canadian adventure went.
Jim (Kate’s dad) and I drove up through West Yellowstone National Park on our way to Montana as we were intending to go to a powwow in Arlee, stopping for a little lunch and to make some phone calls. While there we went to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery center to snap a few photos of the animals and one of me sitting in a giant teddy-bear couch. That night we camped somewhere in MT.
Jim was trying to take photos of people in the powwow however the organizers forbade Jim from taking photos and so we headed to Glacier National Park a little earlier than anticipated. Glacier National Park is amazing and we camped in an amazing site and then had huckleberries ice cream and cobbler at the 100 year-old Lake McDonald Lodge. The next morning we drove through the park, stopping for a hike on a glacier. At the top we found a mountain goat with a new baby that let us photograph them for over an hour. That night we slept in a teepee in Waterton Lakes National Park, the Canadian side of Glacier National Park and we went into the town of Waterton for dessert at the nearly 100 year old Prince Wales Hotel. Even though everything had closed for the evening the night manager went into the kitchen and cut us a few pieces of cake and then didn’t even charge us for it even though he knew we weren’t guests. He even stopped by as we ate to ask if we needed a glass of milk. Kind Canadians!
Waking up in a teepee in the mountains as it turns out is one of the best ways to wake up in the morning. After one of the most restful sleeps in memory we jaunted down to Waterton for a bite of breakfast before heading of to Calgary for the Calgary Stampede. Our trip into town was slowed by endless photo sessions including one of a beautiful beaver damn draped in a backdrop of glacier blanketed mountain peaks. Needless to say, our breakfast turned into lunch as we struggled to free ourselves from the captive beauty of the park. For some reason we had been on a sweet-potato fries kick and so ended up at Wieners of Waterton for fries and wieners, of course. As it turns out, I kid you not, the restaurant had been started by some BYU students who had been inspired by J Dawgs in Provo. The sweet-potato fries are among the best I’ve ever had and my falafel dog was amazing too. On the way to Calgary we stopped at the UNESCO site, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and spent a few minutes poking around. It is an early site where archaeological evidence suggests ancient indigenous peoples in the region chased buffalo in masses over the cliff as hunting strategy.
That evening we ended up in Calgary for the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede, probably the largest rodeo in the world. Rodeos are kind of like carnivals and so unless you have tickets to an event than you can probably not get in. Lucky for us we got standing tickets for the chuck-wagon race and because we had arrived so early were able to find open seats on the first row (we also thought standing tickets would mean standing but it turns out they have an inside set of bleachers for standing tickets). The race was not what I expected and the horses flew around the track break-neck speeds. After the race we split and headed for the Canadian Rockies and Banff.
If you have never been to Banff I highly recommended it. I found Banff and Jasper National Parks to actually be more stunning than Glacier National Park in the US. The mountains just seemed to tall and glaciers were more abundant. We slept in some campsite a few miles outside of town and then the next morning headed up to Lake Louise for breakfast at the lodge (sorry chateau). Lake Louise was stunning but the lodge was so damn pretentious we decided to spend our money elsewhere and so headed back into Banff. I mean seriously, the lake is so gorgeous tucked among the jagged peaks, why on earth would you build such a monstrous eye-sore that looks like a cheap casino on the outskirts of Vegas (it’s called Whiskey Pete’s and, yes, I have stayed there)?????? Anyway, being two simpletons the experience has left a bad taste in our mouths so on the way back to town we detoured to Moraine Lake. Moraine Lake is amazing and without a lodge to block the view is thousands of times prettier than lake Louise. We hiked around the lake and spent ample time taking photos. Once again by the time we made it to Banff breakfast was now lunch. Jim had his first boba tea and Vietnamese sandwich (Ban Mi). After lunch we headed to the Banff Upper Hot Springs to revitalize our travel-weary bodies.
We continued our drive though Jasper (is anyone still reading this far down the page? I am getting tired of typing so don’t get disappointed if I start bullet pointing the rest) which is beautiful and has a road through the saddle of a bunch of mountains that passes right by a giant calving glacier. This was probable the most scenic drive I have ever taken. One the way out of town we spotted a large elk on the side of the road that let us photograph it for about 40 minutes.
- Drove through Edmonton at night – looked like one giant oil and gas processing facility.
- Camped off the main road in some dusty mosquito-infested field.
- Went to a powwow in North Battleford where Jim took a bunch of pictures for his Powwow Project.
- Left around 5pm for USA and crossed the boarder around 2:30 AM.
- Camped in Shelby, MT in an LDS church parking lot.
- Had a delicious breakfast at the Dive Bakery in Helena, MT.
- Arrived home safe after driving 3,050 miles.
- Visited 3 UNESCO sites.
- Did NOT eat Poutine.