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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Moose, mooses, meeses....

Just another day of nice weather and beautiful scenery.  This morning Cindy and I rode the Rzr down the Shoup Road past Mother Chukar's cafe along the River of No Return.  We had a nice ride with hardly any traffic.  Well except for the bighorn sheep that took their time getting off the road!

We then stopped to watch kayakers go through some rapids.  Most of them made it but a few turned over.

On the way back we came around a curve to find a few trucks stopped in the road.  Great, I thought, hope it's not an accident.  Nope, they were watching a mother moose and her young'un across the river!  I was able to get a few shots once they were out of the trees climbing up the mountain.  When we stopped for a milk shake at the Shoup Store I asked how often they see moose there and they said never.  They see them out in the meadows about 10 miles upstream but had never seen them there.

Another day in paradise!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

River of no return

When we decided to meet some friends at Wagonhammer Campground in North Fork, ID I had no idea where we were going or what there was to do in the area.  But Jeff assured me that there is beaucoup RZR riding.  Well there is, and the campground is along the Salmon River which is near Salmon, ID which is the birthplace of Sacajawea, the Indian maiden who helped Louis and Clarke explore this area.  We have been crossing locations on the Louis and Clarke trail.  The river just downstream of us (the river runs north?? ain't that backwards?) is also known as the "River of No Return".  Today a couple of us rode Rzrs down the river and I can understand why it was named so.  The mountains are very steep and there was no way before the road to walk the area on foot or horseback.  But it is beautiful.  We stopped at the Shoup Store which is still open even after the mining town closed up.  The store is powered by a small hydro-electric generator.  Great milk shakes.

We had to stop and wait for them to get off the road

River of no return

These are still in use at the Shoup store at $5.50/gallon!

Since we've been here almost a week we went on 2 other Rzr rides.  One up to the top of a close-by mountain to a fire station.  And another ride across a mountain to the town of Wisdom for a gun show and lunch.  Both were nice rides.  There are some other areas we want to explore, a ghost town, waterfalls, and other interesting geologic formations.  I might even try fly fishing one day.

There is a haze in the air from fires to the north of us.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Back to the USA

The drive from Cardston to the US border was only about 20 minutes.  The border crossing was very small and they actually had to open the gate for us to pass through.  The agent took our passports and told us to park alongside Clarke & Elaine.  Oops, full body search?  Clarke already had his trailer opened.  The agent came up to us with our passports and asked a couple questions then we had an enjoyable chat for about 15 minutes.  He was from Houston and very interested in our trip to the Icefields.  He was planning to take his wife and kids there on a short vacation.  A very nice welcome back to the states.
We followed Clarke until Babb where he pulled over for fuel.  A quick toot on the air horn and we were once again on our own.  We had said our goodbyes last night and have really enjoyed our month spent traveling with them.
The drive on 93 took us past the entrance to Glacier which we will see later and over to I-15 at Shelby where we fueled up.
 We spent the night at Great Falls and retrieved our guns which had been in safekeeping for 3 weeks.
Yesterday we drove down I-15 through Helena and past Butte where we took hwy 43.  I-15 was tough with numerous 6% grades up and down.  And 45 mph curves at the bottom of most descents.
Hwy 43 started out following the winding Beaverhead River and was narrow and very curvy.  I was driving 30mph through the first 15 or so miles.  Finally it straightened out a bit and then up into the trees.  There was a steep long 6% climb up to the Continental Divide (about the 3rd time we crossed it during the day) and Chief Joseph Pass.  Then we hit hwy 93 in Idaho and began our drop from 7200 feet to 3500 ft.  Very slow with 20mph curves for the first 10 miles.  Then the road straightened out a bit and I idled down and cruised at 52mph without touching the accelerator. 
Finally pulled into the Wagonhammer RV park and got our campsite for the next 2 or 3 weeks.  We were met by Lynn and Jeff and introduced to a nice bunch of guys.  It seems half the people, including the campground owners, have RZRs.  So we should have some fun riding this area.

We saw this RV in the Icefields and when I saw them at a rest area I visited with the  couple from Germany

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Can it get any better?

Yes it can!  We were blown away by the beauty when we drove north along the Columbia Icefields towards Jasper.  I had to brake hard to avoid hitting a young grizzly who darted across the road and climbed a steep embankment.  It happened so fast that Cindy was only able to get a quick shot of him.

We stopped at Trangled Falls which was impressive.

Then we stopped at Sumwapta Falls which was amazing for the amount of water struggling to get through the rocks, then Athabasca Falls which was just as impressive.  I can only imagine the fur traders having to portage around these falls "back in the days".  The river is really fast and if you don't know what's coming….I don't think anyone could survive going through these falls bouncing down and along the rocks.

We drove up to Jasper for lunch and walked around town a bit.  Jasper is a tourist town and the northern entrance to the parkway.  Really pretty town but quite a tourist trap.

Then we drove out to Mt. Edith Cavell, named for an explorer who was also a Canadian hero during WWII.  This was quite a hike up a narrow rocky path to Angel Glacier.  We had to stop a couple times to catch our breath.  But it was worth the trek.

 Then we drove back down the narrow winding road and continued down 93-A which was the original road.  This was neat since there was very little traffic and we followed the river along the way.  We stopped for a quick break at "Meeting of the Rivers" which was a convergence of 2 rivers where the fur traders would meet.
Then back to the coach for our last night of dry camping at the Columbia glacier.
Then we drove down towards Lake Louise.  This drive was just as amazing if not prettier than the drive north.  We passed along numerous turquoise blue lakes surrounded by snow capped mountains with glaciers reaching towards the lakes.  Like I said in my previous post "I'm out of adjectives" to describe the astounding (there's a new one) beauty of this area.

We pulled into our campsite at Lake Louise and was disappointed to see the layout of the campsites were backwards.  Whoever designed these 80-100' pull-throughs didn't think it through very well.  The electrical hookup is at the front of the site and it took all of our cord to reach it.  I do carry a 30' extension but was barely able to hook up.  The guy sharing our site is parked with his door facing us rather than his picnic table!  But at least his hookup is at the back of his site.  Yes the hookups are at different spots which makes no sense whatsoever.  Whatever, it's still a nice area but unfortunately we're here for only one night.  There are 2 different campgrounds.  One for hard-side campers and another for soft-sides and tents which is surrounded by an electrified fence to keep out the grizzlies.  Seems the campground has grizzlies roaming the area.  Didn't see any, but didn't go looking for them either.
We drove out to Lake Louise which everyone who I talked to when planning this trip said not to miss.  It was beautiful but crowded with tourists and there is a Fairmont hotel right along the only level ground on the lake.  Then Cindy suggested we drive out to Lake Morraine which was nearby.  Wow!  This is definitely a must-see.  Not as crowded and with a much smaller hotel/cabins there.

After spending a while admiring the beauty we drove back into the village where we had internet while sitting out on benches.  With jackets on!  Finally I was able to get caught up with yesterday's blog. Being in remote areas is really nice but we had no communications for a few days.  While getting caught up with email I received a picture from Scott which said "it's gonna be a girl!"  Congratulations to him and Bevi.  We're looking forward to being back home when Ella's baby sister will be born.

Today we move to Cardston for a few days where we hope Tom & Darlene will catch up with us.  Tom has been fixing leaks in his radiator system and hopefully has it all repaired and can meet us in Cardston.  We'll probably be back in Montana by the weekend.  Canada has been a great trip with great friends and we're so thankful that Tom asked us to join them.