It has been a few days since my last post and quite busy ones to boot! We have made border crossings, taken bus tours, lunched in Banff, and have even spotted a bear or two!
First things first…the border crossing. Investigating for weeks what might not be allowed into Canada food wise we planned our last shopping trip in the states accordingly – no eggs, no fresh produce, and limited quantities of libations. We approached the border in Eastport, ID with fingers-crossed, passports in hand and smiles on our faces. We had been told to answer their questions without expounding – simple yes and no’s were best so as we got closer to our turn we joked that we all have our stories straight! The stern faced clerk asked the questions we were expecting – guns, tobacco, alcohol, pets, and what is your business in Canada? Art answered all accordingly as Caryn and I nodded and smiled. We were in Canada within 5 minutes – easy peasy, one, two, threesy! Later that evening we did find out that 1 of the 19 rigs in our tour got pulled for further inspection – having to open their slides and allow border agents to go through their things as they stayed out. Phew, guess we lucked out on this one! We have 6 more to go as we weave back and forth through Alaska & Canada.
Views along the road to Radium Springs
Our first two nights in Canada were spent in Radium Springs, BC. Known for its hot springs this cute little town sits in a beautiful setting just west of the mountains. Our campsite backed up to a wonderful roaring river which lulled us to sleep each night.
Though our tour included tickets to the springs we opted against that and on our free day just drove part of the route we would be taking to Banff. Saw a small herd of bighorn sheep holding up traffic in town and a black bear grazing on the side of the road (wouldn’t lift his head for a pic – too busy enjoying the fine grass!).
One tidbit I found interesting is that on these roads Canadian Parks Department runs fencing to prevent wildlife fatalities. They also build highway overpasses with trees, grasses and other native plantings so the animals can safely cross over to the other side. Originally the animals were funneled through underpasses, but it was determined that they weren’t using them because the predators (ie wolves and bear) lurked around these looking for an easy meal. The overpasses provide a clearer view for the animals and less likelihood of meeting an untimely death at the hands of something higher up the food chain!
From Radium Springs we drove up the Kootenay Highway into Banff, Alberta. This short drive of 85 miles offers wonderful long range views of the mountains as you follow along the Kootenay River cloudy with glacial silt. We arrived to our campsite in a provincial park just outside Banff by 2:00. Stayed put that day soaking up the setting and hoping to spot some of the elk that are supposed to frequent this area (we didn’t), but we enjoyed a few games of Yahtzee before calling it a day.
Views along the road to Banff
Views from our campground in Banff
The next morning we were up and out by 8:15 to catch our bus tour through Banff and Yoho National Parks. Blessed with another beautiful day our stops included: Spiral tracks, Emerald Lake, Natural Bridge, lunch at Lake Louise Ski Lodge, Lake Louise, and Moraine Lake. As everybody says, pictures do not do these splendid places justice, but superlatives become redundant too. Suffice it to say we were awed. But, I must warn you these places draw a LOT of people and traffic in and out of the parking lots can be a zoo. We fully appreciated the bus not only for its comforts, but for the priority given to it to enter areas that otherwise had been closed because there was no more parking. On the way back to Banff we pulled off the main highway and were rewarded with our first grizzly sighting! Hope to see many more of these as we continue onto Alaska.
Lake Louise Ski Lodge – lunch spot
Our last day was free to do as we pleased so we spent time exploring the town of Banff, Bow Falls and the Banff Springs Resort. Again, plenty of people out and about, but nothing that interfered with our plans. Home by 3:30 we relaxed until our group met for our travel day meeting at 6:00. Next up, the Icefields Parkway, Jasper and Athabasca Falls!