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Going to the Sun; Banff; A Book for TOTFN; Hey, Tubby??? Moose and Elk

One of our last Glacier events was riding the Going to the Sun Highway… on our bikes. We had two options: ride up 3,000 feet to Logan Pass then coast and back down, or wuss out and take the shuttle up (it carried two bikes on the front) and ride down without breaking a sweat. I wish that I could tell you that we did it the tough way, up and down, but my standard of perfect veracity requires me to tell you that we took the easy route. 

Here is My Lovely Bride at the top, ready to launch herself down the steep, narrow and winding road where we kept up with almost all the cars (the speed limit was 15-25 mph, depending on the curves). On one side was a sheer rock wall, and on the other… a sheer cliff with only a short rock wall to tumble over, with a thousand foot drop to hard stuff below. Exhilarating? You betcha!
At the bottom of the ride, we enjoyed a few stops at scenic overlooks of McDonald Creek. This was one of the prettiest spots, with deep blue pools, probably ice-cold with snowmelt from the glaciers far above. 
At another spot, Your Faithful Correspondent enjoyed a few moments of meditative introspection. This would have been a perfect spot to pitch a tent for the night, with the river gurgling just a few feet away. 
“Oh, Canada!” Again?Yep, after calling AT&T and setting up international cell service so Suzanne could continue to give phone readings from Canada, we departed Glacier National Park and headed north through far southeastern British Columbia into Kootenay National Park and then to Banff National Park in Alberta, where we are camped out for six nights. The Canadian Rockies are truly spectacular, and with all due respect to their American counterparts, are somehow even more impressive. Part of the reason, I think, is that there is more bare rock here than in the mountains of the US. Also, the base of the Canadian Rockies seems lower by a thousand feet or so, and the mountains rising above you thus seem taller. 

We had just entered Kootenay NP when this cow moose (Alces alces) casually strode across the road about 50 yards in front of us. Fortunately, we were on a steep uphill and only doing about 60… oh, sorry, that’s km/hr, so about 37 mph… (for some strange reason, our northern cousins use that ridiculous Continental European system of measurements instead of good old English miles and pounds.) The moose then wandered into the woods, probably looking for a nice spot for lunch.
With one cell phone working here in Canada (international roaming is far too expensive to allow us the use of both phones and two iPads), we have some connectivity with “the outside world”. As many of you may be aware (I hope), Suzanne’s latest book, Wolf’s Message, is now out in both Kindle and paperback versions. If you haven’t ordered your very own copy for My Lovely Bride to autograph upon our return to The Villages or other booming metropolis, well, you had better get hot! 
Our good friend Terri of the Frozen North (TOTFN, who is mentioned in the book) sent us a photo of her holding her brand new copy of Wolf’s Message, and I was actually quite surprised that FEDEX had managed to get a copy to her in the wilds of Minnesnowta. In fact, I called the local FEDEX office to find out how that would work. The dispatcher described that to get a real book to Coon Rapids, MN, a Boeing 737 cargo jet would fly the first leg. Then the book would be transferred to a coal or wood-burning train. A Pony Express rider would carry the book for the next leg, followed by a snowmobile driver. Finally, a sled dog team with an intrepid musher would make the final push into Coon Rapids, assuming they didn’t freeze to death. The trip would normally take six weeks, but evidently some early snowmelts and ice dam breakups have fortuitously made road and trail travel less hazardous than normal for mid-August. Thanks, Terri, for your photo… fortunately satellite communications are less affected by the brutal Minnesota weather than sled dog teams. 

Speaking of My Lovely Bride, she has had me on a serious diet and workout schedule today, all because of the generosity of my cousin Jim Abbott and his lovely bride Betty, from Wrangell, Alaska. I should explain… Betty very kindly packed us a load of frozen and vacuum-sealed Alaskan seafood before we left last month, and for the past couple of days I have been enjoying smoked salmon (lox) and bagels with cream cheese and red onions for dinner and lunch, one of my favorite treats. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I have put on a couple of unneeded pounds, undoubtedly due to the high salt content of the smoked salmon. When I did my morning weigh-in the other day, and reported the number to MLB, I got a raucous guffaw, and a “Hey, Tubby, you’d better get your running shoes on!” “Hey, Tubby????”She is in such trouble!!! See if I make her chicken Marsala again!  
Okay, so today I got my running shoes on, and we went for a four miler on Tunnel Mountain, near our campground. The elevation here is about 4,700 feet, and our hilly run was rather tiring. After a very short break, we went for two mountain bike rides… the first was on the Legacy Trail with this view along the shores of First and Second Vermillion Lakes, a lovely area just 4 miles from Banff town. 
Biker Chick here demonstrates the proper method of riding over roots and threading her way between two riverside trees… 
Following the photo above, we had two encounters with girl elks or moose (it’s hard to judge when they are running so fast) in a marshy area. These photos of the second encounter show a shy young lady elk staring at us from the bushes hoping we would simply go away. We know it was a cow because she didn’t have a big rack… of antlers. (That is not a sexist comment, by the way).

Then we rode out a long jeep road and hiking/biking trail past the Banff golf course and along the Bow River… a beautiful remote setting that caused me to think about bears. But the grizzlies (Ursus arctos horribilis – what a great name!) kept their distance and merely sent a lowly coyote to keep us company for a minute or two. It was a good reminder of the wide variety of animal life to be found here in Banff.The coyotes’ bigger cousins, the grey wolf, are here in smaller numbers, but they are usually very shy of humans, for good reason.  
The third wildlife encounter was on our trip home. Here we found a young bull elk (Cervus canadensis) with antlers in velvet. Contrary to some contemporary thought that the velvet is for making the male more “soft, sensitive and seductive” to the female, it is shed each summer.   

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