Monday, August 10, 2009

Sat, Aug 8: On the Road to Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

It is grey and overcast this morning as we break camp. After gassing up the Explorer, we head up Hwy 93 through a valley of mostly farm land. It is about an hour’s drive to the border.
At the border there are maybe five cars waiting in line. The line moves fast; most must be returning Canadians. With in minutes, the line behind us is ten cars long including three motor homes and we are talking to the border agent...our timing is perfect. The lady agent is friendly, looks at our passports and asks if we have any liquor or weapons. Dick quickly tells her the amount, in liters, of liquor we have and that we have no guns. She asks, "where did you leave the guns? Dick replies, "they are at home, why do you ask?" She responds, "you are from Texas!" We all laugh and she asks about fresh fruits and vegetables, Carolyn tells her we have lettuce and tomatoes. She checks again on potatoes, peaches, plums and apricots. Carolyn says we ate those up last night.

She also questions the extra pages in the passports and all the countries we have visited...were they business? Dick responds we just finished a trip around the world and are now going to drive the ALCAN to Alaska. We are celebrating retiring! She wishes us a safe trip and sends us on our way! We are on our way in eleven minutes after stopping in the line.

The countryside is very pretty. We drive for a long way through a forested valley along a river with rugged rocky mountains on either side.

About 1:30PM, we are ready to find a lunch spot as we are driving along a beautiful lake. Like so many places in New Zealand, there is absolutely no place to pull off the road and enjoy the view. Finally we see a gravel wide spot and pull over. Carolyn fixes some lunch and we enjoy the scenery for a bit.

About 3:00PM we reach Radium Hot Springs, a resort town built up around the hot springs at the entrance to Kootenay National Park . Stopping at the park entrance, we purchase a four day pass. We are entering a complex of four national parks and will camp for four nights in two of them. The road into the park goes through a narrow canyon giving Kootenay an impressive entrance with an 11% climb for a mile are two. The mountains are stark and steep. We follow a river canyon for the next 50 or so miles to Banff in Banff National Park. It is a beautiful drive and we arrive at the campsite in Banff about 5:00PM.

Here we encounter a small problem...they don’t have a reservation for us! Seems as how our reservation starts tomorrow for two days! Fortunately, they can accommodate us for tonight then our reservations are good for the next three nights in Banff and in Lake Louise and one more night in Jasper National Park. Tomorrow we can try calling to see if we can move the dates at Lake Louise and Jasper up one day each. We are assigned a very nice, wooded, spacious site. Dick is feeling so bad right now, he is glad to have three nights in one place.

We get set up; even getting out the outside chairs and ground mat. After enjoying a nice sunset with deer roaming the campsite, we have the chicken pie Carolyn had fixed the day before. By 9:00PM we are both asleep with a golden moon shining in through the trees !

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