Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Crossing the Border

We left Montana heading towards the Canadian border which was about a four hour drive.  We had prepared diligently to ensure we could cross the border with little stress but one never knows what will happen.  In order to meet the crossing requirements we made sure all edible goods were in their original packages, except for a dozen pasties ( pastry filled with meat and vegetables) we bought in Montana and buried in the basement freezer of our rig.  The packages were plain white wrappers that did not show the point of origin.  Even the pups dog food was kept in its original bag when placed in its plastic container.  

We had extra wine and beer in the rig that was more than the limit so the Captain figured he would have to pay duty on it.  The pups had their shot records and we even took them back the week before we left and paid for another examination in order to get a health certificate for each of them.  I believe in following the rules (mostly)! 

Heading north through Montana.

The Captain enjoying one of the pumpkin muffins Pam baked for us.  A nice drive, a good mug of coffee, and a delicious muffin.  Life is good.  

The further north we drove the less traffic was seen.

And then ahead of us was the border crossing.

I was ready.  Our passports in hand and all the records for the pups.

Last chance!!!!

Entering the border crossing.

We pulled up into one of the lanes and the Captain handed over our passports.  The border guard checked our identification and asked us where we were going and how long we would be in Canada.  He then asked for the license plate number of our rig.  Brett said IMALULU.  The border guard looked surprised and asked what it meant.  The Captain explained one of his aunts was named Lulu and was 6'3"  tall, weighed 250+, and was one of the sweetest ladies one would ever want to meet.  So when we bought our rig, seeing the size of it, we thought of Lulu and named the rig in remembrance of her.  The guard said that was a really nice story.  He then asked if we had any guns or ammo, beer, liquor, or wine.  The Captain truthfully told him several bottles of wine and beer which we knew was over the allotted amount.  The border guard told us to go ahead and have a nice time in Canada.  

As we started to leave we saw a bay with a 5th wheeler in it and another rig waiting behind it for  inspection so we were confused.  The Captain asked the border guard if we needed to get in line there but he told us we were finished and to drive on.  Woohoo! We made it into Canada.  I still had my records grasped in my hands and none of them were needed.

We spent the first night in an RV park a few miles form the border because we didn't know how long it would take us to cross.  The park reviews were lovely and showed  the actual park down in a ravine alongside the Milk River with a two sectioned lake and the parking sites.

Our spot, however, was for transients so we didn't get to park by the lake.

But we did get serenaded by the cattle early the next morning that were grazing alongside the Milk River.

Desi, who is almost blind, has a fascination with squirrels and at home he is always racing out onto the deck to try and catch one.  In this part of the country there are other furry animals that he thinks he should chase after.  They are much faster and have lots of hiding places underground but Desi keeps trying.
This is the yellow-bellied marmot.  He was living in a woodpile not far from our rig so we got to hear and see him a lot.  This type of marmot lives mostly along the Rocky Mountains and dwells in an underground home with approximately 8-12 other female marmots.  He is the dominant male and protects the home.  When threatened he releases a high pitched whistle which Desi hears very well.   The marmot appears in May-September and the remaining time of the year it hibernates.

Watching Desi walk by.

Other members of the family.
We left the next morning and headed towards Fort McLeod, an old town in Alberta.

Wind power is very prevalent up here.

Our next large city to travel through was Calgary.  We were surprised to find out it has a population of over 900k people so we took the bypass around the city.  The bypass, however, was under construction with poor sign directions so it was a struggle getting through.  

To the left we could see some of the jumps used during the Calgary Winter Olympics.  They are still being used.

And then we were through the city and started heading toward the Canadian Rockies and they were a sight to see.

We arrived at Banff National Park staying at Tunnel Mountain park which has 1,149  campsites.  Every way you looked there were mountain views that were stunning and the park itself was very well maintained.

The first full day was rainy so we took a hike with the pups, went into town, and stopped at a pub to have a quick meal.

I saw a town next to Banff that had an Ammolite factory and showroom that I wanted to visit.  Ammolite is a natural stone that I saw last year on our cruise to Alaska at several jewelry stores and it was very pricey on the ship and in the ports.  When I found out the stone is mined in Alberta I hoped I could find a better deal. 

Ammolite was given official gemstone status in 1981 and that same year the stone was commercially mined.  While ammolite stone is very common, the type that carries the gemstone is rare and most of it has already been removed from the ground.  They told us they have a supply left in warehouses that will last another 50 years and then it will be gone.

Not a great picture but this is the bracelet the Captain bought me.  Since it was such a better deal than in Alaska, I found a pair of earrings to go with it :)
We drove back to Banff but by this time the rain was cold and it was not a great day to be outside so we just headed to a pub for a meal.  The Captain needed a beer by then, anyhow.

Saw this sign in Tommy's Pub and I thought they had a great idea.  The Captain thought it was a great idea, too!

The next day was beautiful so we took the pups for another hike.

These tall  natural stone sculptures are called hoodoos.

One of the rigs parked in Banff.
We headed out of Banff a few miles so we could take a scenic route up to Jasper National Park.

The interstate is designed so animals can walk over the top on grass rather than moving into traffic.

The scenic drive from Banff to Jasper is on a two lane road and the trip is 130 miles.  The road is nicely maintained with wide shoulders and the highest speed limit is 90 kpm (56 mph) because of the mountains and curves.  There aren't words to describe the views other than breath-taking.  

The clouds made the mountains look like they were smoking.

Beautiful rivers could be seen along the way.

Our first sighting was a black bear.  He caused a real traffic jam. 

While most people had to jump out of their cars to try and get a photo, sitting higher in the rig we were able to drive slowly by and get some shots.

Rock slides were in evidence along the route.

Rivers and lake water have a blue cast from the ice flows.

We think these are mountain sheep we saw along the drive.

Whatever was on the ground sure got their attention.

There was a road delay for construction and I'm sure maintaining this road is difficult.

Just when you thought the views were over you came to another mountain panorama.  This area is called the Icefields.

People out on the Icefield.  Someone told us the temperature was about 10 degrees.

We came across areas that looked like there had been a landslide.  We also noticed how dry (almost arid)  certain sections of the mountains were.

Our rig was too large to pull into a spot that had a viewing bridge with a glass bottom.  Plus the Captain decided $34 per person was a bit much to feel your legs wobble.

It took us over 5 hours to go on the scenic drive from Banff to Jasper but it was worth every minute.  We arrived in Jasper National Park in total awe of the Canadian Rockies. If you ever get the chance.......this is the place to visit.  You will be humbled by its majesty.  Peace!