Friday, July 24, 2015

July 12, 2015 Banff, 111 miles

After enjoying a  shower and dumping our grey water tank we were on the road to Banff by 8:10.

Banff National Park Administration Office

We meandered around Banff a bit, having breakfast and driving up to the old stone Administration Building and discovering Cascade Gardens there.  

Cascade Gardens, Banff National Park

 We ended up here while trying to find the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.  The gardens were spectacular even though the water features were all fenced and empty while being upgraded.  It was fun to watch as two brides and grooms were being photographed at the park and in front of the grand building.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Parking on the street at the bottom of the hill, we climbed up to the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.   Along with all the other Lookie Loos we explored the lobby and the stores on the lower floors, an impressive hotel!  I just checked the prices through Trip Advisor, mid week in September over $500.00 a night, I hope that's US dollars!

Leaving Banff we drove up the Bow Valley Park Way,

Bow River, Banff National Park

along side the Bow River,  watching Castle Mountain go in and out of the clouds.  

Castle Mountain, Banff National Park

Alberta is wild rose country and they were growing along side the road!

Roadside wild rose

We stopped briefly in Lake Louise to find some sort of literature on the spots we would be passing. It was frustrating to drive along the parkway and not know what you were passing, the literature when we entered the park was not as informative as what we receive in our National Parks.  Without being able to Google information we were lost!   A tourist info person we talked to in Banff had suggested finding a campsite as soon as possible, we agreed and took her suggestion for the campground, and headed straight there.

#88 Waterfowl Campground

Waterfowl Lakes Campground was about 38 miles north on the Ice Fields Parkway.  How sad it was to see all the free firewood available and a ban on fires.  After we'd made arrangements for our campsite we headed back down the Icefields Parkway to explore what we'd missed.

Bow Lake and Falls, Banff National Park
 I think this section of Banff is probably the most beautiful road I've driven.  The glacier fed lakes and glacier covered mountains are magnificient.  The Bow Summit overlook is the most magnificent of all.  

Peyto Lake from Bow Summit, Banff National Park

In the picture above our campsite is near the fourth little spot of blue after the lake.

10 years ago we were here with Kaci, stopping at a trail to hike to a lake or glacier only to find out she hadn't put on her hiking boots.  We gave her a hard time.  I can't believe I did the same thing, maybe at the same place!  I had my flip flops on and we start climbing and climbing and climbing to the most beautiful view.  The hike was 1.9 miles.  For the rest of the trip I wore my hiking boots as we walked to all sites!  

We drove back through Lake Louise to Lake Moraine, arrived at 5:00 and it was mobbed, took a look and headed back to our campsite at Waterfowl Lakes Campground.

Black Bear along roadside

This black bear ran across the road right in front of us as we were driving back to our camp!  It pays to be out and about in the evening.

Mistaya River at Waterfowl Lake Campground

The river that ran beside the campground was quite wide and rushing.  We spent our evening  down enjoying the river. 

Our neighbors at this campsite had an interesting pop up tent they used as a changing room next to their tear drop trailer.  I was talking to them about it, and as travelers do, we asked where each other were from.  They were from Marin, I don't say I'm from Sonoma, why do people from Marin say, "Marin"?  Small World.

This campground was one of my favorites.  Hope to return one day and spend more time.

July 11, 2015, Glacier National Park to Seebe, Alberta, 303 miles

By 7:00 we had left Fish Creek and were on our way over Logan Pass for the second time.  After the stalled trip over Logan Pass the day before we were happy that we only had to wait 5 minutes at the road construction and made no other stops.  We were in Saint Mary by 8:15 and continued north on Highways 2 and 5 into Waterton Lakes National Park.
Entering Waterton Lakes National Park

By 9:50, after entering Canada, we had surrendered our fire wood to the customs agent, they were afraid of wood transporting Dutch Elm Disease.

Bye, bye firewood

The cities within the National Parks in Canada are surprising, considering I don't know of any National Park in the United States with a city within it. The lake was beautiful, but lacked the splendor of Glacier.  
Waterton Lakes Mountains

After looking around the town I inquired about the drive up towards Banff from a young ranger, who's roommate attended Sonoma State!  She suggested a "unserviced campsite" about 25 minutes down a gravel road.  Knowing  the distance we were trying to cover, we decided to continue on the highway. 

Fields north of Waterton Lakes

As we traveled north we passed through farm country.  Lots of hay.  Alberta must produce a lot of yellow mustard, judging by all the gorgeous fields of it we passed.

We continued north on Highway 6 through Pincher Creek where we stopped to buy groceries, it's always an experience grocery shopping in a foreign country.  There was a huge display of Cheez Whiz near the door, a local specialty?  

We turned west on Highway 3 continuing to Highway 22. On Highway 22 we had a downpour and then it continued to rain on and off for 15 minutes. The drive was beautiful with rolling hills covered with firs and aspens.
Chain of Lakes Provencial Park, Kakanskis Country, Alberta

We stopped for lunch at Chain of Lakes Provencial Park. The drive continued to be pastoral, passing through some small towns until we met up with Canada 1, west of Calgary. We tried to find a campsite in Canmore, but the town was full, no vacancy at any type of lodging, hotel, motel, hostel or campground. Being closer to Banff might have been part of the problem.  It turns out that that's the way it is on Saturday nights in that area, plus it was the last weekend of the Calgary Stampede.  We ended up at Willow Rock Campground in Kananaskis Country, I believe the closest town was Seebe.  Before heading to Canmore we had looked at this park because Bow Valley Provincial Park, across the street was full.  

Camper at Willow Rock Campground

I wasn't crazy about this campground, but it turned out to be fine.  We had hook ups to charge with, clean showers and a quiet night.  It was rainy and windy during the night and the view from our campsite in the morning was fantastic.   Reading about the campground, now that I'm home, it turns out that a flood had gone through recently doing quite a lot of damage.

July 9 and 10, 2015 Around Glacier National Park, 463 miles

July 9, 2015

Of course, as usual, we were up and out of the campground early, arriving in Glacier National Park long before our check in time at Fish Creek Campground.  After stopping at the Visitor Center, a hub with free shuttles running up and down the Going-to-the-Sun Road, we decided to use our morning to head up the only unpaved road available to Bowman Lake.  I think the ranger didn't realize how rutted our Sonoma County roads are when she suggested that the road was really bumpy.  By 4 wheel drive roads it was probably a 1 1/2, narrow in some spots, but not too rough.  It was only about 6 miles of slow driving, but well worth the trek.  The campground probably would have had space last night, but I bet they have some feisty mosquitoes in that area.  

Bowman Lake, Glacier National Park
After watching a young fisherman, who is visiable as a spot in the center of the lake in the photo, catch fish and lose them one after another we decided that it would be after one by the time we got to our campground, so we headed back.  Once set up in our campsite on a hillside, we drove up to Lake McDonald Lodge to see what it was like.  After exploring the shoreline around the lodge we headed to Apgar for ice cream.  The man in front of us said the huckleberry ice cream was so good,  after having had it yesterday, he was back for again for another.  What is a huckleberry anyway?  I thought it was a hound!  

Looks like a Huckleberry is related to a blueberry

We thought the ice cream  was just alright.  I didn't feel it was as flavorful as blackberry, we didn't feel a need to return a second day.

Later in the afternoon, after things were nice and overly warm, we hiked to Rocky Point, about a mile and a half round trip from our site.  It was nice to have the lake just across the road and down the hill from our campsite.  We chatted briefly, and awkwardly, with our neighbors from Sweden, who had shipped an RV over and were touring the United States, New York to San Francisco and Alaska too!

July 10, 2015

Logan Pass

Around 7:00, we left our campsite for the east side of the park, traveling over the famous and beautiful Going to the Sun Highway, stopping at the top at the Logan Pass Visitor Center at 8:45. At that early hour the parking lot was already half full.  The Park Newspaper said that the lot fill up by 10:30.
Logan Pass Visitor Center View

After we admired the area around the Visitor Center we continued on to  Saint Mary arriving in the town at 11:00.  On the east side of Logan Pass the blacktop was being re-done, causing us to sit for about 30 minutes waiting for a pilot car and closing all the east bound view areas.  There was no stopping to photograph Lake Saint Mary. 

Logan Pass Waterfall
Many Glacier Hotel reminded us of the Ahwahnee, with it's huge pillars, large dining room and beautiful views. Many Glacier Hotel is celebrating its hundredth birthday this year.  While in the market in Forks, Washington the clerk told us that the pillars in Many Glacier Lodge came from the area near Forks, along with giving us tips to ward off the mosquitoes that didn't work so well.
Many Glacier Hotel

We arrived just as they were beginning to seat people for lunch and shared a bison burger with grilled mushrooms and onions, a mixed vegetable salad, and two Arnold Palmers.  Not bad to enjoy a great lunch and fabulous view for $28.50. 

View from our table in Many Glacier Lodge at lunch
After lunch we continued south to Two Medicine Lake.  The road coming in from the north is narrow and windy, with no large rigs allowed, they could easily get in to this location from the south road.  

Two Medicine Lake, Glacier National Park
Just as we arrived, so did the thunder and lightening.  We watched as boaters returned to the shore. 

Running Eagle Falls
Running Eagles Falls was a short trail on the road to Two Medicine Lake.  Pictures I had seen showed water also spilling over the very top of the rocks, not this year!

Our one day drive around Glacier National Park, the pink line!

Returning through East Glacier and Essex to West Glacier on Highway 49 to Highway 2 made this a loop.  As we were leaving Essex the storm really let loose and poured.  Arriving in West Glacier the rain had cleared the smoke from the skies.  We stopped in the small town of West Glacier and walked through a farmers market before asking at the Alberta Visitor Center if they knew of a place where we could pay to take a shower.  The young girls said she believed at one of the motels in town.  We asked the proprietor of the motel and he sent us to an outfitter, sporting goods store about a mile out of the park where they sold showers in a private bathroom with towels and all for $8.00.  We arrived just in time, a line was forming as we were finishing up!  We choose not to try the 1 set of showers for 178 campsites in our campground when the ranger told us the water was never hot. 
Rain cleared out the smoke on the west side and the temperature at the campsite was a steamy 96 when we arrived back at camp.  During the evening we packed things up because of the rain drops that were falling and so we could get away early heading to Waterton Lakes, Banff and Jasper.  Neither of us were any longer excited about the prospect of the heat in Eastern Washington and Oregon on the way back to California.  Why not head north and stay cool?  We had quite a rainstorm all during the night, cooling things off and lulling us to sleep.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

July 8, 2015 Hope, Idaho to Kalispel, Montana, 191 miles

After a beautiful evening and morning we are on the road towards Glacier at 8:00. We hope to find an RV park with hookups somewhere for tonight so we can charge up before our four nights in Glacier.  Along highway 200, Mark found a place to stop and shoot the gradated mountains before we turned north and drove along the Flat Head River.

We decided to drive in to Whitefish now, rather than back track once we're in the national park. As we approached Whitefish, driving through Kalispell we were surprised by the number of huge RV lots selling and repairing huge RVs.  Do people fly to Glacier and then decide to purchase an RV?  The town seemed spread out.  The old town area reminded us of a smaller Jackson Hole, Wyoming with restaurants, western art and upscale clothing shops, Mark says it lacked the "cool" factor of Jackson Hole.

There were two KOA's in the area, one in Whitefish and one in West Glacier 1 mile from the entrance to Glacier National Park.  We choose the one in West Glacier because it was closest to Glacier and had the best reviews.  One said it was as good as state and Provencal Parks and another said the best KOA.  It did look great, if you looked at where they put the giant buses.  Us in our little pop-up?  We were sandwiched in with the trailers, having the campfire next door right outside our bedroom window as we were trying to read.  I do have to say the amenities were very nice, nice showers with so-so water pressure, a laundry room, restaurant open for breakfast and dinner and an ice cream shop.  Will we stay in another KOA on purpose?  Probably not, unless we can stay in one of the bus sites.

July 7, 2015 Grand Coulee, Washington to Idaho, 191 miles

Columbia River Inn, Grand Coulee, Washington

We said good-bye to the Columbia River Inn a little after 8. Driving through miles and miles and miles of wheat fields on Highway 174.   We passed through the dying town of Wilbur, where we turned onto Highway 2.

Washington wheat field
 Stopping outside of Clayton, Washington,  Mark found a shot of a wheat field and grain elevator. The farm lady drove her truck out to see what we were up to on her private farm road. We were on a county road, but all the property is private. When she was done chatting with Mark, I was in the truck out of the wind and away from his usual escapades to get shots, she backed her truck all the way  back to the ranch. The wind was  rustling through the wheat.

We continued to Interstate 60 through Spokane. Just as we were entering Couer D'Alene we turned North onto Highway 95. We planned to stop for lunch at Farrgut State Park, but the smoke was thick from a forest fire that was burning right next to it. We continued on to Sandpoint where we picnicked at the city beach, a lovely park right on Lake Pend Oreille.  Sandpoint was a fun resort town. We finally found the Visitor Center on the north edge of town after doing a couple of revolutions of the town. A couple of options for the night were on our minds as we entered the Visitor Info Center to find out their opinion, one being continuing on to Canada and staying in a Provential Park right across the boarder or continue up through Bonner's Ferry and south east into Montana. The woman in the visitors center suggested what she said was the best idea; Continue along the Pend Oreille Scenic Byway and camp at Sam Owens Deer Preserve, a National Forest Campground the Lake Pend Oreille, pronounced Pond O'ray. 

Lake Pend Orieille, Sam Owens Federal Reserve, Idaho

What great advice! The temperature was very pleasant and the lake beautiful.

Great camp site at Sam Owens Deer Preserve

We found a campsite about a hundred yards from the lake and plopped our chairs under some fir trees near the waters edge. The lake was so clear I almost decided to go for a swim.  When we first arrive a mama and baby white bottom deer were in our campsite.

Lake Pend Oreille sunset

The sunset down by the lake was beautiful with all the smoke in the air.

July 6, 2015 Whidbey Island Washington to Grand Coulee, Wasington, 282 miles

You bet we were out of our room and to the ferry terminal by 6:00.  No way were we going to be late for the 6:30 ferry to Fort Casey, a pre-WWII fort (listed as to Coupeville, the only stop on this ferry).  

Fort Townsend sunrise

The sunrise  from the Port Townsend Ferry Terminal at 6:15 was beautiful.

Back to camp, we packed up and were on the road at 7:50.

The sky was hazy due to forest fires.  We heard they were burning near Walla Walla.  We followed the Skagitt River on Highway 2, the North Cascades Highway. Blueberry farms grew along the road way.  

Gorge Creek Falls, North Cascades National Park

I remembered lots of waterfalls along the roadway when I traveled in 1972 with my  sisiter-in-law Mary and Catherine and James.  They didn't amaze me as much this time, perhaps because of the dry winter, but there were some, along with glacier fed lake.

Colonial Peak and Pyramid Peak, Diablo Lake, North Cascades National Park

For 72 miles there were no decided to drive all the way to Grand Coulee.  The close to 100 degree temperatures once we began to leave the mountains inspired our decision.

Road descending Washington Pass, North Cascades National Park

The ranger had said that Washington Pass was famous, it was a beautiful drive.  Patches of Snow were on the north side of the mountain and thunderheads were moving in.

Camper at Columbia River Inn with Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center in background

Because the temperature when we arrived in Grand Coulee at 6:00 was 97 degrees, we spent the night across the street from the Grand Coulee Dam at the Columbia River Inn. Our room was very comfortable room for $108.00 including tax.   We caught up on the news of the past week on TV and enjoyed a private shower!

Fusion Restaurant in Electric City was one of the recommendations the girl at the motel desk had given for dinner. It seemed like it belonged in West Sonoma County, what I would consider upscale for this town.  We shared a garden salad and a lamb gyro with two Arnold Palmer for about $20.00.  

We managed to stake out spots across the street at the dam for the laser show at 10, not hard since no one else was around.  The show was very dated, but we stuck it out.  Out and about until almost 11:00, a late night for us!

July 4, 2015 Kalaloch to Fort Casey on Whidbey Island, Washington 145 miles

We left Kalalock at 7:50 headed for the ferry to Whidbey Island at Port Townsend.

Forks Outfitters Parade Float, the store that wasn't a Walmart.

Traveling through Forks, we stopped at the sporting goods/hardware/grocery/department store all in one.  No, it wasn't a Walmart!  

As we arrived the Fourth of July Parade was assembling in the parking lot of the market.  When we asked about a place in town for breakfast the checker announced, "Oh, they may have already closed because the roads will be closing soon."  The roads would be closing?  We had a ferry to catch! 

We continued on through the part of Olympic National Park that skirts Crescent Lake and were reminded we need to return to this part of the park and spend more time.  I don't think we've been to Lake Quinault.  With the help of Yelp we had breakfast  the New Day Eatery in Port Angeles. 

Busy place in Fort Angeles

Sat looking out on Front Street.  This was a great place to sit and people watch! 
Looking out from our seat at the counter

I had a coconut pancake with Lemon butter and coconut maple syrup and a long awaited latte, what I miss most in my camper.  
Inside the New Day Eatery, must have been Harrington's Cafe in an old day!

Mark enjoyed a Pancetta Flat bread with egg, pancetta, tomato, arugula, & pesto aioli on flat bread. Both were excellent.

At 11:15 we were back on the road to Port Townsend, giving us about 2 hours until we needed to be in line for the Ferry to Whidbey Island. For the 4th of July traffic traveling east was very light. It was a beautiful 75 on this part of the Olympic Peninsula.

Port Townend installation art

Port Townsend

After settling in to our campsite we drove around the old fort and over to Coupeville to explore.  We were late enough, on the 4th, that all the stores were closed.  Coupeville is the second oldest town in the state of Washington with over 100 buildings on the National Historic Register.  

Although their were no fireworks (supposedly) on the islands it sounded like the whole sound area was being bombarded for about 2 hours.  One set of blasts would stop and another would start.  As I looked out the window of the camper I could see distant flashes.

July 6, 2015

We actually slept about 10 hours last night! Awoke to another beautiful coastal morning. After coffee and a walk on Fort Casey Beach, Mark was raring to get on the road and find shots while the light was good.  That means early morning! 

Actually over cast began to move in as we left camp,  on our way to Coupeville to find a bakery for something for breakfast.  I had noticed the building below, so we checked their bakery items.  

We ended up with an all day cinnamon roll, which we shared.  Venturing on we visited what I believe is the central, south part of the island, stopping at Greenback Farm.  Greenbank Farm is a community-founded nonprofit organization which manages 151 acres of publicly owned space and a historic farm, located at the center of Whidbey Island.  We meandered through the galleries as they were opening.  As I was admiring one of the felted flowers on display at one of the galleries the proprietor told us we should visit Langley, if we were interested in art.  We continued on to Langley, not finding the gallery with the felted work, but we did enjoy the quaint town and the shops.

Chocolate raspberry jam in Langley

We were both impressed by a small shop called Edit.  I couldn't resist buying a jar of raspberry chocolate jam from, Chocotere, she had just made in the morning.  Unfortunately, she ran out of time for making her chipotle chocolate raspberry jam! 

We weren't sure where the time had gone.  We were unsure of what we would do with 2 days at Fort Casey and afternoon was quickly approaching and we had to get our laundry done.  There were only 2 laundromats I could find on Whidbey Island, one at Langley and one in Oak Harbor.  Driving into Oak Harbor, Sunday traffic was lined up on the highway. Oak Harbor is home of a Naval Air Station and has all the appearances of a military town.  We spent the afternoon in the laundromat and didn't really explore.  The character of the other towns we had visited was lacking here.  We had much we still wanted to see, a return trip to this island is a must.

 The Salish Ferry which was bound for Port Townsend was just a short walk from our campsite.  We decided to board it for dinner in Port Townsend, leaving Great White behind at the campsite!

Great White at Fort Casey

The only place we could find that appealed to us AND was open on a Sunday night was a pizza place.  I had found one on Yelp that sounded excellent, which was closed.  Having plenty of time until our 9:10 ferry left we took our time at a very slow pizza restaurant, only to get to the dock at 8:35 and find a, "CLOSED" sign in the window of the toll booth. The 9:10 ferry had left at 8:30, the schedule I looked at was a Saturday schedule, today was Sunday.   We contemplated  which direction to travel for a room, ending up at the Palace Hotel, a former brothel on a warm Port Townsend night. 

We stayed in Miss Sarah's room
Our room, with 2 story high ceilings and windows was the Miss Sarah.  Funny thing. a man sailing over on the ferry had mentioned what an interesting place this was after telling us the town was full of hippies and artists, not a working town like Port Angeles. He happened to have been born in Port Angeles. Thank goodness it was Sunday the 5th, not Saturday the 4th!  We could were able to get a room for $99.00, we don't usually go for historic lodgings, but this sufficed. 

The Palace Hotel was built in 1889 for 28,000 by a retired sea captain, Henry Tibbals. He went to sea in 1839 at the age of 10. He had many careers in port Townsend, served on town council and as sheriff, postmaster and county commissioner.

The first floor of the hotel was originally a billiard parlour and saloon known as the Townsend Tavern, the upper two flours were rooms for rent. It later housed The Call Newspaper, an Egyptian Theater, the Northern Pacific offices, a grocery store, a state liquor store, a florist shop and several restaurants. The upper flowers were underused for many years.

From 1925 to 1933, the upper two floors were known as The Palace Hotel, affectionately nicknamed The Palace of Sweets as it operated as a brothel and hotel. The room that the madam of the house occupied is now decorated much the same as it was then. Restoration began in 1976. Each room was named for one of the girls.