Sunday, August 7, 2011

Banff, AB, to Glacier National Park, Montana, August 5-7, 2011

We got on the PH 1 in the morning and planned to connect with PH 2 in Calgary to start our trip south. We saw some signs as we entered Calgary for PH 2 so we took the exit and ended up driving through busy roads through new shopping areas and restaurants to finally get to PH 2A then PH 2 outside of Calgary. Not the route I expected but we made it out alive.
The road to Calgary was more like interstates in the US and Jim mentioned how easy it was to drive now than it had been on gravel roads in Alaska and parts of Canada near there. The land also changed to very Texas looking pastures and ranches.
We took a small detour off PH 2 just before the border crossing to check out the Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump National Historic Monument. We had been advised to see this by our friends, and former RVers, Ed and Reta. It was well worth the trip. It was a beautifully designed building…constructed so that it fit right in the side of a hill and looked like part of the landscape. We watched a film at the beginning of our tour through the facility. The movie depicted how the natives who hunted buffalo 6,000 years ago herded the buffalo and stampeded them over a cliff. It was a community effort every year where several different groups came together to organize this hunt. There were other exhibits about the natives and about the archeological digs which made studies and discoveries about the event.
We had a little lunch in the motorhome before getting back on the road to the border. When we reached the border crossing it began to storm…dark clouds, rain, lightening and thunder. This was the first hard rain we’ve seen since our trip began. I know we’ve had rain on this trip but usually at night and not a real storm.
It wasn’t very far to our campground from the border. We’re camping at Johnson’s Campground and RV Park in St. Mary, Montana, just outside Glacier National Park. I had made reservations before we left Banff. We also made reservations to do the Crown of the Continent Red Bus Tour on Saturday.
After we got settled we went up to the office to try and connect with wifi using our phones. It worked well and I checked email and facebook. We walked to the office and back to the rig. I ran first up a steep path before Jim left the office. It looked like more rain was coming but it never developed. We had some soup then Jim went back to the office with his laptop to do some real work.
In the morning I had set my alarm to get up in time to shower and wash my hair before we went on our red bus tour. We had plenty of time to get ready and went to the office early to check out email. The bus picked us up at the office at about 9:45. We had a full bus…we were packed in like sardines. Not much legroom and four sitting on a bench seat. Jim and I sat in the first row behind the driver. I don’t know why the others already on the bus hadn’t sat there but I was happy we did. I could hear the bus driver very well even when his voice missed the microphone. The drive into the park was beautiful. We stopped at St. Mary’s lake for photos and along the way for other picture opportunities. We made it to Logan’s Pass where we got out to stretch before heading on up the road. We saw some mountain goats and snow still on the mountain peaks. Then came the real ride…the road was cut out of the side of a mountain…sometimes they didn’t cut out enough!! We could see the road wrapping around the side up ahead because the road was also climbing and curvy. We even saw a trail also just on the side of the same mountain only higher. I couldn’t believe people we walking on it! The views were spectacular. Waterfalls were all over the place. We even drove along a portion of the road called Weeping Wall…waterfalls were just pouring out of the rock wall and falling on the road. We ended up going down to the canyon floor and driving through the trees and along McDonald Creek. We stopped at the lodge at McDonald Lake and had an hour’s break for lunch. Jim and I ate in the bar area…I had salad and Jim a turkey sandwich.
There were other RVers on the bus tour. One of the couples right behind us is also going to Yellowstone and the Grand Teton NP. They were also in Alaska and visited a lot of the places we visited. It was fun to share information and compare notes about the places we’ve seen. The couple who sat next to us on the bus were from Boston and had flown in with their two young sons. I still love meeting all the different people. Tomorrow we head to Helena, Montana, on our way to Yellowstone.

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