Oh, Canada...Two-Week Canada/USA Tour by Motorcycles
(Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, Idaho)

September 2010

 
For our first international trip with me riding a motorcycle of my own, the obvious choice was Canada. Not only is it right next door, I had never been to the country (hanging head in shame). How does a person from the USA end up visiting more than 30 countries before visiting Canada?

Stefan had heard that Jasper National Park was fantastic, so we decided that would be our primary goal for the trip.

I know some of you aren't going to read the entire travelogue, so here are just the highlights:

Still with me? Then let's get to the details:

The day before we left, amid the packing and cleaning and lawn mowing, I decided to check the Web yet again to make absolutely certain we had everything we needed for the border crossing. Per the last attempt to go to Canada, I was determined to have everything we needed. I had done a lot of research already. Even had a nightmare where we were in Canada and had to leave because we didn't have regulation motorcycle covers for our motorcycles (no, there is not such a thing -- darn my brain). But then, I found a web site by some guy who said that Canada requires a card from your American insurance company saying that your insurance was valid in Canada. I freaked. I called Progressive Insurance and I have to say the customer service rep was WONDERFUL. He faxed us the documents that we needed, and assured me that the likelihood of the Canadian border folks wanting the original was pretty much nil. So this was added to my already-bulging envelope of documents wrapped in a plastic bag in the breast pocket of my bike jacket, and doubled the stress in our household, stress that is always through the roof the hours before a trip. So you don't have to be in suspense: not only did the border patrol not ask for this document, they didn't look at ANYTHING we were told they would: not our registration, not the copies of our titles, not our driver's licenses, NOTHING. Nothing 'cept those passports.

Stonehenge in the Gorge We headed out just after noon on Sunday, September 5, two hours later than intended, ofcourse. First up Interstate 205, then off on a detour around Mt. Hood, so we could be on beautiful roads immediately and avoid a bit of the oh-so-dreaded gorge (always relentless wind, always filled with crazy traffic, usually rains). We stopped for lunch at the Whistle Stop Restaurant in Welches, which I was overjoyed to learn serves breakfast until 3 (I had biscuits and gravy -- I make an exception to eating pork for biscuits and gravy). The waitress was HILARIOUS. We'll have to stop there gain. We did have to go through a bit on Interstate 84 through the oh-so-awful gorge, then and onto US Highway 97 and into Washington state.

We took another short detour to a full-size replica of Stonehenge -- not the ruins, but what it would have looked like when it was built. It's near Maryhill, a tiny town on the Washington state side of the gorge. The replica was built by Sam Hill as a memorial to those who died in World War I. He was buried at the base of the bluff, but, because he wished to be left alone, there is no easy path to his resting place. The project began when Hill was mistakenly informed that the original Stonehenge had been used as a sacrificial site. He thus constructed his replica as a reminder that "humanity is still being sacrificed to the god of war."

I'm really interested in WWI, and liked this memorial very much, because it wasn't the usual celebration of war; it was more of a tribute to the sadness and loss of war. There is nothing glorious about war, and I'm disturbed at how many memorials seem to imply that war is something to be celebrated; only its end is something to celebrate.

 
Stonehenge in the Gorge I never knew Washington state was so sparsely-populated, but indeed, it is. Sometimes gas stations are few and far between. The wind was intense, and got worse as we drove up 97. There was a consistent wind, and then there were these awful wind gusts. There is nothing fun at all about riding a motorcycle in that.

Brooks Memorial State Park is north of Goldendale, and just over 130 miles from our house, and our only option for state park camping for the evening. It was Labor Day weekend, and the park featured a volunteer who is part of a "living history" group. Around a camp fire, he told us about the early European-descended settlers of the area, and then we ate S'mores. And drank Shiner Bock that Stefan bought in a nearby store. Brooks Memorial is a terrific state park and camping site, but we were told it may be closed due to lack of funds. What a HUGE mistake that would be! It's one of the better state parks we have stayed at (nice camping sites, good facilities, well off the road, convenience store just down the road, electric hand dryers in the bathroom that blow hot air, etc.).

It was very cold that night, made even more cold because I thought I had my extra warm socks on, froze all night, then in the morning discovered I still had my stupid airline socks on! The night time cold really scared us -- we would be header farther North and to even higher elevations; would it get even colder?!

The next day we continued up US Highway 97, through empty, desert landscape without much to see. It looked like the more uninteresting sites of Arizona or Mexico. We drove around 300 miles, wanting to easily make the border to Canada the next day. It's not at all my preferred way of traveling, but it was the only way to later have the trip we wanted. Plus, there just wasn't anything to see on the way. It was an incredibly boring ride. It started raining, which made it tedious as well. We camped that night at Omak, Washington, in a city camp site in Eastside Park, near the rodeo/stampede grounds. It stopped raining shortly after we arrived, and I was able to cook dinner (tomatoes from our garden, sauteed in garlic power, salt and pepper, then mixed with leftover noodles - yummy!). Thankfully, it was not as cold as the previous night. Omak is an impoverished area with pockets of wealth right next to some sad places. Our fellow campers were a mix of golfers and retirees from Canada and people actually living in the camp ground. The highlight was a tiny puppy at the site of some fellow tent campers-- had to say hello. The other highlight was a guy driving a vintage car and pulling a small camping trailer, in contrast to the behemoth RVs all around -- it looked so stylish and, really, had probably everything they needed for several weeks on the road.

Next day, it was less than 50 miles to the Canadian border. I wrote what I expected to be my last microblog until we were back in the USA (and I was right). We made a completely uneventful crossing into British Columbia and the border town of Osoyoos. I was so disappointed that the Canadians didn't stamp my brand new, entirely empty passport, nor was the Canadian border official dressed as a mountie. For the record, my passport was NOT stamped on the way back into the USA a week later. DANG IT! Then why do I even need a bloody passport?!? And, as I said earlier, the passport staff didn't look at ANYTHING we were told they would: not our copy of proof of insurance for Canada, not the copies of our bikes' registration, not the copies of our titles, not our driver's licenses, NOTHING.

This area of British Columbia is all desert, just like most of Washington state, but there are also vineyards and fruit trees in small patches of green that cut through the dry landscape. Traffic was flying on Highway 97 -- everyone was going at least 20 kilometers over the speed limit. Everyone except me, ofcourse. I'm Captainess Slow. I'm Speed Limit Jayne. I'm so glad that, even 28 years ago, vehicles sold in the USA came with kilometers on the speedometer!

We stopped in Peachland to buy provisions and gas and experienced the famous Canadian friendliness immediately, as three random people started giving us wine buying advice. Given all the vineyards everywhere, we wanted to try some local wine. We went with the Okanagan Inniskillin Merlot, which our advisers assured us was excellent. It was.

We were going to camp at Okanagan Lake Provincial Park, the equivalent of a US state park, but were outraged that tent campers are required to put their tents on spaces covered in huge gravel pieces, so large and sharp that they would shred the bottom of our tent in no time. Never mind that there is plentyplenty of grassy areas for tents -- you camp on the gravel or not at all. We went back along Highway 97 and stayed at the Owl's Nest Resort on Okanagan Lake, which has terrific tent camping sites overlooking the lake. As we were coming in that evening, the manager was passing by and called out, "Your staying in the best camp sites in this place! Just pay me in the morning!" The other manager (his wife) told me the next morning, as I was paying, that they get a great deal of business from tent campers who balk at the camping-on-gravel requirements at Okanagan Lake Provincial Park. We ended up never staying at a Provincial Park, for frea of similar tent camping conditions. There were lots of partridges running around our camp site on Okanagan Lake. They liked to run more than fly.

The downside of the day was that I dropped my bike. I fell with it, in fact. I was trying to park it on a sharp, downward hill in front of the camping office, and down I went. So humiliating...

I'm not sure if it was this day or the next day, but I saw an overlook parking lot on Okanagan Lake with a bus stopped on it and a lot of people out walking around. I knew it was a bus load of Germans, and as Stefan was following me, I turned off for it. And, yes, I was right: it was a bus load of Germans. Two of them came over to check out the bikes and have a chat.

The next day was Stefan's birthday! We continued on Highway 97. We were three days into the trip and still hadn't had a "wow" moment, and that was worrying. Plus, the weather was rather blah: cloudy and always a threat of rain (and sometimes actual rain). The landscape had been under-whelming. It wasn't a bad trip up to this point, but it just didn't seem all that worth the trouble.

But then, as the morning continued, things started to get pretty, landscape-wise. Things started becoming green. There were trees and grass and rivers. We had lunch at Falkland Pub in, where else, Falkland. The pub is a very attractive place -- had we seen the "Harleys only" parking out front, we most certainly would have parked our Hondas there!). The landscape just kept getting better and better. We finally made it to Clearwater, Canada, right on the edge of Wells Gray Provincial Park. While checking out the very helpful information center in town, I decided that, in honor of Stefan's birthday, we deserved a hostel; its always a treat not to have to put the tent up and down. We were referred to the Half Moon Guest House. It's four rooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and a common room, plus a large patio, behind a family home. It's run by a woman from Austria. There are horses, chickens and, to my other delight, a couple of kittens (who LOVED playing with my shoe laces and hair). There were two Dutch couples and a German woman also staying at the guest house, all enjoying the waterfalls and hiking in the area, and who had all seen great wildlife (including moose and bear). It was rainy, so it was a REAL treat to have a dry place to sleep and not have to deal with packing up a wet tent and not having to try to cook in the rain. We also got to have a shower -- marvelous... I loved getting to talk to other travelers -- it's part of what I love about traveling. And if you don't like someone, it's okay -- you all move on the next day!

That night, I cut short my lovely long nails. I knew it as only a matter of time before they started breaking and tearing. It was sad.

What do we eat when we camp, you might ask? It works like this: we usually eat lunch in a local restaurant. At that stop, or the last gas stop of the day, we buy food from a grocery story for the next two mornings and the next two evenings, plus beer or wine for that night. For breakfast, I may make scrambled eggs or bowl some eggs. Or Stefan will have a German breakfast (bread, cold cuts and cheese) and I'll have oatmeal and/or peanut butter. We also make instant coffee every morning. This is all via Stefan's fabulous camping stove (thanks, Howard Sherman!). For supper, we heat up something from a can: ravioli, chunky soup, chili, whatever, and drink either beer or the bottle of wine. Although, per this trip, hot chocolate and instant potatoes that don't need butter or margarine to make have been added to the menu. We have a non-stick cooking pan we LOVE -- makes clean up a breeze. We have three other cooking bowls, and all fit into each other. Sometimes we boil water for dishwashing for face-washing after a meal.

Next morning, our forth day on the road, we turned from US97 onto Canadian highway 5 (Southern Yellowhead highway) and headed away from Clearwater and toward Jasper. This was the first day we really felt like we were reallyin Canada: no more desert landscape. There were now tree-covered hills, and we had been inspired the previous day by the other guest's stories of seeing bears, moose and various other wildlife. But I'm sorry to say we saw lots of moose crossing signs, but no moose. We crossed from British Columbia to Alberta, and I would have loved a photo of my bike right in front of the welcome-to-Alberta sign, but it was gravel and downhill, and after dropping my bike already on this trip, I wasn't willing to chance it.

We were greeted into Jasper National Park by an oh-so-friendly park worker who treated me as though I was her first customer of the day, even though it was the late afternoon and I was probably the 500th person she'd greeted. She gave us a super helpful, free tabloid information booklet that provided a list of suggested sites, as well as all the campgrounds in Jasper, Banff and Kootenay national parks, as well as their closing dates -- and those dates had us troubled. Most of the campgrounds were closed right after Labor Day. We were stunned. At least our entrance fee paid for Banff and Kootenay as well.

We continued through ever-more-gorgeous scenery and headed into the town of Jasper, passing underneath a banner advertising the 2nd Annual Jasper Motorcycle Run on September 18. Jasper was just as over-commercialized and frenzied as Stefan had been warned by others, filled with incredibly unfriendly locals. We picked up groceries, talked to a LOT of German tourists (they see the bike and have to say something), then headed to the large information center in town. It was obvious that the park was almost full, even though the season was supposedly over. The information center was packed with confused people both inside and around the building. I got in line for the information counters, and the stress in the air was unmissable (yes, it's a word, look it up). Suddenly, one of the staff stormed out from behind the counter, announced that the information would be closing in just a few minutes, shut off most of the lights and locked two of the doors. He returned behind the counter to finish with the people he had been "helping." When those two people walked away, one of them looked at me and said softly, "good luck", in a voice dripping with the message hope-you-get-something-helpful-'cause-we-got-nothing. I approached Mr. I-Can't-Wait-to-Get-Out-of-Here and said, "I've been looking at this brochure and it seems that most of the campgrounds are closing in all the parks." His immediate reply: "Yup!" I asked how likely it was that we could still get in to the only campground near us -- Whistler -- before it filled up and he said, "I have no idea," as clipped as could be. That was it, that was all I was getting. I just turned around and walked out. We headed over to Whistler campground, sitting in a long, long line of cars and wondering if we would be able to get in. Luckily, not only were there still plenty of tent camping sites (though all the full-service sites were filled much earlier in the day), the guy working the information booth was absolutely delightful -- and a big Kentucky bluegrass music fan.

Whistler campground turned out to be terrific; tent sites have a good deal of distance between them, there are plenty of bathrooms (but no showers - argh), and there's an entirely-enclosed cooking shelter, something that is beyond rare in North American campgrounds. The vast majority of our neighbors were Germans (surprise!), though there were some Brits about as well. We stayed up passed 10 gabbing with a French guy and German woman camping beside us, enjoying their camp fire. This was the first time Stefan ever had Molsen beer, and he liked it!

It was cold in the night, as cold as our first night out, but this time, I remembered my socks. But what I was really missing was my sock cap -- I had forgot to pack it. ARGH! I decided that I would look for the most obnoxious toque I could find, preferably one with CANADA in big bold letters on it. The first hour of trying to sleep is always the worst on a cold night, but I finally fell asleep and my sleeping bag became incredibly warm and snugly.

When we came into the camp, we got a lot of literature about both the importance of staying away from wildlife and putting all your food and cookware and toiletries in your car or a bear box (and how you would be fined if you didn't follow this rule), but also a sternly-worded flier about how it was Elk rutting (mating) season, and the importance of staying the heck away from the bulls. That night, one of our German neighbors had told us that, while she was cooking earlier in the day, she had heard something behind her, turned around, and was face-to-face with a bull Elk. Yikes! He didn't kill her, probably because she was mentally begging for mercy. The next morning, a heard of mother and children elk came through our area of the camp site, and as we turned out of the camp site later, there was the bull elk munching on some plants, followed by tourists with cameras acting like paparazzi (they obviously did NOT read the brochure!).

Athabasca fallsIt was time to enjoy Jasper National Park. And, wow, we were not disappointed with the primary destination of this trip. Jasper National Park is AMAZING. It's stunning! It's packed with endless glaciers and waterfalls and mountains. We could have taken 1000 photos. It was everything we could do to not stop every two minutes and take more photos. We drove slowly down the Icefields Parkway, 93, taking a detour to see Athabasca Falls. The water is so blue because it is glacier water. The road is mostly straight, but that doesn't matter, because the jaw-dropping scenary just doesn't stop. We took another detour up Cavell Road, a former full-oh-potholes road (now asphalt), still narrow and windy and still with a prohibition for large RVs and trailers of any kind. "The switchbacks begin immediately, and rapidly climb out of the valley bottom. During the winter months, when this road is closed to traffic, it becomes a popular cross-country ski trail." (source for that quote). The road brings you to a large parking lot and a hiking trail for views of Mt. Cavell and its glaciers. The mountain is named for Edith Louise Cavell, a British nurse during World War I (the "Great War" still looms large in Canada, because they had so many soldiers fighting in it).

We continued down the Icefields Parkway, stopping for late lunch at a restaurant at a private resort along the way Glaciers (I couldn't believe it was still open). I was not expecting so many, many glaciers! They were everywhere! I never thought I would see more glaciers than we saw in Norway, but here they were, first in Jasper, and then in Banff!

Athabasca fallsThe sun came out, and I could not have been happier. I sang every sun-related song I could think of as we road along. There were still quite a lot of motorcycle travelers everywhere for this time of year, though most were on cruisers, even Harleys, in numbers we have never encountered before while on a motorcycle trip. Our fellow motorcycle travelers were Canadians, for the most part, though we did meet two Alabama guys on Harleys schlepping up to Alaska of all places. They weren't very loaded down, even though one was on a trike, so I asked if they were camping. "Camping?!" said one. "Why, my idea of roughing it is the Holiday Inn Express!" We couldn't believe they were going to Alaska so late in the year and wished them well.

They were the only Americans I met in Canada, a fact that makes me really sad -- Americans just don't travel, and it so affects the world view in the USA in a negative way. Most of the visitors we met in Canada, by FAR, were Germans and Dutch. We wondered if there was anyone left in either country, actually.

While the park staff believe the season is over, travelers don't believe so at all, and we met many who were just as frustrated as us over already-closed camp grounds and other already-closed facilities, as well as shorter opening hours. Everything needs to keep their in-season hours for at least the weekend after Labor Day!

I couldn't believe how we were lucking out with the weather, but a report from some fellow campers the night before regarding how so very, very cold it was camping at the icefields in the southern part of Jasper, near the border with Banff, had me whining about wanting another stay in hostel. So we drove to the tiny complex at Saskatchewan River Crossing, got gas and groceries (and the most obnoxious Canadian toque I could find) and headed back up the road to Rampart Wilderness Hostel. LOVED IT. The substitute camp host let us park our bikes right next to the dorm house. It has a really large kitchen facility with everything you need to cook, running water in the kitchen, gas stoves, a working fridge, a non-working fridge for food storage (keeps the mice away), a large dining table, a little cozy sitting room in the kitchen building, two heated dorm houses (each sleeps 12, six in a room), a very well-kept pit toilet house (two stalls for boys, two for girls), and A SAUNA. Yes, I said a sauna. What has power gets it from the solar panels. No showers, unfortunately. There's a beautiful stream next running through a canyon nearby, and tons of hiking and rock climbing and ice climbing all around. And apparently the entire site is a frisbee golf course as well. Only bummer is that absolutely everything shuts down at 10 p.m. and you MUST leave by 10 a.m., when absolutely everything gets locked up until 5 that evening.

Stefan washed his hands in the creek -- or, as we say in Kentucky, "he got worshed up in the crick". His hands were covered in motorcycle engine muck, and he tried a trick that he learned at our recent Horizons Unlimited meeting near Petrolia, California that turned out to work quite well: dishwashing liquid and sugar. It worked!

As a result of this stay at the wilderness hostel in Banff, I have a new inspiration: now, in addition to my dream of creating a hostel in Louisville, Kentucky, I want to create a wilderness hostel somewhere in Mammoth Cave National Park or somewhere in Eastern Kentucky! Come on, lottery numbers...

I chose a bottom bunk for me and the top bunk over it for Stefan, and unpacked while Stefan serviced the bikes (he lubricates the chains and adjusts the chains, if needed). Shortly after we arrived, two French women arrived, and took beds in the other room of the dorm house. Then another couple, from Germany, ofcourse, arrived and they chose the set of bunks on the other side of our room. We were all hoping that no one else would show up, I think -- there were just two more bunks in our room. But later in the evening, a Canadian guy showed up, IN SHORTS, and took one of the beds in the other room. After we all cooked our own suppers, the camp host made a camp fire and we all sat outside and gabbed. The regular camp host had shown up, but was still officially on vacation, and had a friend visiting. They were in the sauna instead. Just as we were brushing our teeth and settling down for sleep and lights out, four Germans showed up. Two left, appalled at the idea of sharing a room. Two stayed -- and, ofcourse, chose our room to stay. They were upset that the sauna was closed and that they had to cook and eat in a rush. Germans are so funny -- they insist you follow their rules in their country, but they balk at following rules elsewhere.

We really liked the other German couple; I was completely charmed when the woman asked if I minded if she read aloud a bit, and then she proceeded to read a crimi novel to her husband in her very soft voice. Stefan complained later that I never read to him, and I assured him that I would do so at ANY time.

Unfortunately, the beds were not at all long enough for Stefan. He likes to stretch out when he sleeps, and was unable to, so he didn't enjoy the night's rest as I did: I was in HEAVEN.

We all slept later than we intended and had to rush through breakfast, cleaning and packing in order to be out by 10 a.m. I said "Bon voyage" to our fellow travelers from France, who spoke no English at all, and they seemed so thrilled at my pathetic attempt at communication. I asked Stefan to drive my motorcycle back down to the parking lot, across the gravel road; after falling so early in the trip, I just wasn't feeling good about my navigational abilities on challenging surfaces.

Okay, for the record, we would have been find at the Rampart Creek campground -- it was NOT that cold at night. But, then again, only I would think of a hostel stay as "splurging".

We drove on through more stunning scenery, to Lake Louise, which is both a small town (where we ran into our camp host from the night before) and a lake. I cannot be upset at all the development and people at Lake Louise, because while I'm an environmentalist, I'm also a realist, and know that you have to have a more commercialized-place for people who just aren't into the whole adventure camping thing but who do love the outdoors and will lend their voices and money to supporting state and national parks, as well as conservation efforts, as much as I do. We drove up to Lake Louise and had a brief walk about. The park service was setting up a sobering display near the lake, in the parking lot of the large resort hotel there: the head and beautiful pelt of a dead black bear. The bear had to be killed because so many people fed it. As the guy explained, a human-fed bear is a dead bear. I really hope the message gets through! Don't feed the freakin' bears!

We didn't have time to take any of the sky gondola tours offered here and there, and given the unpredictable clouds, we weren't sure we would have seen much anyway. Instead, we stuck to the roads. We took the Bow Valley Parkway, a road that runs along side 93, hoping to see wildlife. We didn't, but we did see a memorial for the Castle Mountain Internment Camp of World War I. The Eastern European prisoners held here, mostly from the Ukraine, helped to build Banff National Park. They were immigrants who were imprisoned in the frenzy of war paranoia. We never knew there were internment camps in Canada ('cause I thought Canadians were more sensible), and certainly not internment camps in WWI. Very sad. But good for Canada to remember its dark past as well as the good stuff -- makes for a healthier country.

borderThe border for Banff National Park and Kootenay National Park is also the order between Alberta and British Columbia and ALSO the continental divide! The scenery wasn't as beautiful as earlier in the parks, but it was still lovely, or at least interesting: there was a devastating fire a few years back in this region, and its fascinating to see the scarred landscape and read about the positive results from the fire.

At last, our stretch of great weather was about to give out. It was starting to cloud up and sprinkle, so we stopped to put on rain gear. It even hailed for a while (yuck). I was soon to be out of gas. At first I wasn't worried, since I was almost always in front, and there was plenty of shoulder. But then the signs started warning us of the steep downward grades ahead and the shoulder all but disappeared. I pulled over into the break-check parking lot for trucks at Sinclair Pass and demanded that I get some gas from Stefan -- I was not chancing running out under those circumstances. We then continued down the winding road and steep decline and stopped on the road outside the Radium Hot Springs resort in a long line of traffic, waiting for some road workers to finish whatever it was they were doing. And while we were waiting, my speedometer broke, right there and then. Same thing had happened on the trip to Petrolia. I not only couldn't tell how far I had gone, I couldn't tell how fast I was going. Oh well, I'm Speed Limit Jayne -- it could wait for Stefan to attempt to fix it the next day, or even the next. We exited Kootenay National Park, arriving in the town of Radium Hot Springs. We got gas, got scowled at at the pumps by a Canadian police officer NOT dressed as a Mountie (where are the Mounties, dang it?!), had lunch at a Rockies Pizza (excellent!) and discussed where to stay that night. Since we still had one more night our our park pass, and since there was a place near by in the park that was supposed to be winter camping, we decided to go back in and get our money's worth. So, back we went into the park, through the steep cliffs that make up the entrance, back up through Sinclair Pass.

The Dolly Varden picnic area on the side of the road (93) has a sign that it is the site for winter camping; it says this as well in the brochure we got at the entrance to the parks in Jasper. So we set up our tent in one of the picnic shelters. We were not the only ones; after night fell, a young couple (a German guy and a French woman) showed up, talked to us a big and set up camp in another shelter. Stefan packed up all most of our things that wouldn't be going into the tent with us into our silver bags and put them high in the rafters of the shelter, then we moved the picnic tables so a bear couldn't use those to reach the bags. The rest he put into his panniers. Yes, there were bears in the area, as usual and, no, we hadn't seen any, though EVERYONE we met had. Our fellow campers at this site had been staying at back country camp sites reachable by short drives on forest roads (great idea), and had seen a bear AND a moose while trying to find a camp site that very night; they had given up when they kept coming to large standing bodies of water on the dirt roads. I was oh-so-comforted that they were camping there as well, feeling strength in numbers. There was a pit toilet there, so it wasn't like we were completely without comforts, but the traffic made it hard to sleep (where in the frak are people going on 93 at THAT time of night?! Lake Louise?! Jasper?!). The stars were gorgeous that evening, while they lasted before the cloud cover. Stefan mistakenly bought Molsen Light beer, but stayed in a good mood anyway. I put rocks in an empty Molsen can and shook it at deer trying to cross the road when traffic was approaching.

Next morning, we packed up and headed out, through cloudy weather. The ride from Kootenay to the USA border is nothing at all to blog about: it's quite economically depressed and, after the incredible beauty of the national parks, it just seemed bland and, at times, sad. We would have loved to go to Waterton Lakes National Park and entered the USA and Glacier National Park there, but I suspected the road was closed for the season, so we stayed on 93. We stopped at Skookumchuck for gas and to spend the rest of our Canadian money (no, we did NOT buy the Butt OutŪ big game field dressing tool). We had a great lunch at Jaffray Pub Sunrise Grill, then came to Roosville. We stopped at the small duty-free shop and bought a couple of bottles of Canadian whiskey and took photos of the small inunnguaq cairns someone had built right next door (very disappointed to never find a small representation of such for purchase). Then we proceeded to the small border crossing. The border guard was yet another Honda Nighthawk fan - those guys are everywhere! I watched the family in the RV in front of me have to give up the tomatoes they had tried to bring over from Canada, I'm sure brought over accidently. Ofcourse, we did NOT bring any tomatoes over from our garden into Canada, and I am appalled that you would even THINK such a thing. That empty plastic container? Oh, I forgot I packed that...

I was disappointed that there was no big, beautiful "Welcome to the USA" sign right on the other side of the border for photos. There's one later, very inconveniently located.

Before we leave Canada, I want to offer this observation: oh-so-few churches. In Western Canada, what few churches we saw were usually Jehovah Witness Halls. As an atheist, let me make it clear that this isn't a concern; I'm just really curious as to why this is.

part 2!!

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