On Saturday, we left Whitefish, Montana, drove north, and departed the US just north of Eureka, Montana, at Canada’s Port of Roosville, British Columbia. We were shocked (and pleased) to find only three vehicles in line ahead of us. The line was much shorter than when crossing into Canada at Blaine, WA, north of Seattle. Of course we had to exchange our US dollars for Canadian. There are some readers who may not know about Loonies and Toonies. These terms do not refer to Canadians themselves (although some of our Canadian friends definitely qualify as “loonies”), but their one and two dollar coins. Loonies have a loon on them while toonies… well, they are two dollar pieces. And the Eh Team in the title above? It is the Canadian term for “right” or “isn’t it?” As in, “It’s a grand day, eh?” Canadians are a wonderful people. They are very friendly, down to earth, generous and likeable; sort of like the folks you find in Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska. We are happy to be back visiting our northern neighbors again!
We drove for an hour or so through ranchland and forests on the west slope of the Canadian Rockies toward our destination, Invermere, BC. As we got closer to the Continental Divide, the terrain began to get even more rugged, with BIG mountains towering above the rivers, lakes and forests to their west.
Many of the rivers are a light greenish-blue color because they carry glacial silt from tributaries farther upstream. They also overflow their banks periodically, and there isn’t much development along the riverbanks. Canadians must be prudent people.
We passed through some clouds of bugs, necessitating erecting our ladder so that our Dauntless Driver (Moi) could clean the windshield/windscreen for Canadians. You may note that ours is particularly large and impressive… (another instance where size does matter.) It makes for a wonderful panoramic view of the countryside and magnificent scenery we were about to transit, and we didn’t want to miss a single sight because of some yucky splatted insects.
We arrived in Invermere, and after missing our objective, took an unexpected scenic tour of the town with our big rig. Invermere is a charming lakeside tourist town of several thousand which swells to 8-10,000 during the summer. Because this was a three day weekend, all the campgrounds were full, so we ended up in a parking lot, with permission of the Canadian Tire store manager. CT is unlike a regular American tire store. It’s more like a mini-Wal-Mart, carrying garden supplies, outdoor clothing, canoes, fishing equipment, appliances, etc. This was the view from our parking lot home for the night… not too shabby, eh?
While walking around town, we encountered this aggressive moose. Well, maybe he wasn’t that aggressive, but I thought he might be, unless I established that I was the alpha moose, or whatever that equates to in moose societal structure. (As many of my readers know, I have had many unfortunate wildlife encounters over the past two years, but I can assert that no moose was injured during this incident).
We met a delightful Canadian lady, Marie, who had moved here for two years to get to know her granddaughter better. She was about to move back to Victoria, BC, which we had visited last month. Perhaps we will see her next summer when we return to Victoria, Nanaimo, and Vancouver Island. While Suzanne was meditating, I went on a short walkabout, and found this neat driftwood artwork on the wall of a closed shop. I may have been tempted to purchase it as a Christmas gift for My Lovely Bride, but alas, they were closed until after our scheduled departure time.
As nice as Invermere was, we were anxious to head for our next destination, Banff National Park, Alberta. We were happy to have to enter Kootenay National Park to get to Banff. Kootenay is much less visited than Banff, but is also gorgeous. Here is the Marble River, which rushes down through a small gorge and past a 2003 forest fire burn with tens of thousands of dead trees on the lower slopes of several beautiful mountains. The fire was started by a lightning strike, very common out west (in the US and Canada) during summer thunderstorms when the forests are tinder-dry.
Suzanne got this photo of The Coach alongside the Marble River (down a steep bank) with towering mountains as a backdrop. As big as our motor home is, we feel dwarfed by the Canadian Rockies.
We also stopped at the Marble Canyon trailhead for a hike upstream to a lovely waterfall. These photos don’t do it justice. I would recommend that you visit here and spend an hour contemplating nature and your place in it to get a better appreciation for the natural beauties of our planet.
At a rest stop along the Kootenay highway, we met Rich and Lori Wright, a couple from Dayton, Ohio, riding their Harley-Davidson motorcycles. We learned that Rich is a retired policeman who specializes in tactical training for law enforcement officers. Knowing how hard it is to bring firearms across the Canadian border, I mentioned that he was probably not “packing” on this trip. He laughed and said, “No, I’m not, and after 30 years of carrying a weapon as a policeman, I feel naked!” (Rich, it’s not quite the same, believe me!)
On Sunday afternoon, we arrived at our campground, Banff National Park’s Tunnel Mountain Village #2. The campground itself is sort of “minimalist” – we have a 30 amp electric hookup, water is close enough to reach with a couple of long hoses joined together, and there is only one holding tank (sewer) dump station (doesn’t sound real pleasant, does it?) . But this view from our coach window makes up for any lack of amenities.
While Suzanne did a sunset meditation, I watched the shadows lengthen on Mt. Rundle (9,675 ft.) until the mosquitoes got a bit too aggressive. For you folks back in Florida, I want you to know that tropical skeeters are puny wimps compared to their Canadian and Alaskan cousins… These evil creatures are as big as sparrows and meaner than wolverines! But the bites I got were well worth the opportunity to watch a mountain sunset here.
Our first trip into downtown Banff was for two critical items: hiking trail maps and pepper spray. The reason for hiking trail maps is self-evident. As for the second item, no, I didn’t run out of seasoning for our omelets… this can of spray capsicum ($41.99) is supposed to be able to stop a charging adult grizzly bear. I’m hoping it never has to be used for its designed purpose!