Monthly Archives: May 2012

Hot Soak in a Cold Rain in Kootenay National Park

Who wants to go for a swim in pouring cold rain in 50-degree weather?  Why, we do, when it’s in a luxurious 103-degree hot spring!

Theresa enjoying the Radium Hot Springs in a cold, pouring rain

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Hey, Bear!

Black bear along the road

“Hey, Bear!”  That’s the phrase we call out while hiking though the forest in bear country.  Bears are great to look at from a distance, but you don’t want to surprise a bear, especially a mamma with her cubs.  A surprised bear is likely to react to your presence in unwanted ways, such as by eating you. 

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Banff Wins Award for Best Campground View

Darby hanging out in front of our RV with Mount Rundle in the background

Banff wins the award for having the best view in a campground so far on our trip.  For five days, the 9,675-foot Mount Rundle dominated the view out our RV windows.  Mount Rundle’s face got a little whiter during our stay from two snowstorms (there’s nothing like snow in May to keep you on your toes).  In the morning, Rundle was often shrouded in clouds.  In the evening, it blushed in the 10pm sunset.  And at night, Rundle blotted out a whole section of stars from the dark sky.  For more photos of Mount Rundle and Banff, please check out our Banff photo tour.

Thank Goodness for Starbucks

Theresa showing off our camping spot in Banff National Park

Just checking our email and the weather, we’ve already blown through $25 worth of Internet in just 5 days in Canada.  So we were happy to find a Starbucks with free wi-fi.  We’ve been experiencing price shock ever since we arrived.  The latest was discovering that laundry costs $4 per washer load and 25 cents per 3 minutes of dryer time.  Laundry usually costs about $10 per week in the USA, but will now cost $50 per week.  Ouch!  Looks like we’ll be rewearing some clothes.  We knew that Canada and Alaska would be expensive but it’s still a shock when we see the bill.

But the views are incredible!  The photo above shows our camping spot in Banff National Park.  This wins the prize for best views in a public campground so far on our trip.

I’ve made good use of the free bandwidth at Starbucks to upload photos from our recent parks:

Theodore Roosevelt (South) National Park
Theodore Roosevelt (North) National Park
Makoshika State Park
Waterton Lakes National Park

Canada: It’s All That, Eh!

Timm and I are in Alberta, Canada in Banff National Park.  We entered Canada 7 days ago from Montana and wanted to provide an update on our observations so far.

Theresa, Timm, Shadow and Darby (hidden) happily hiking in Waterton

 

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Oh Canada

Today is our last full day in the USA.  We are hanging out in Great Falls, Montana, doing our research on Canadian parks now, because Verizon Internet in Canada costs 25 cents per megabyte, ouch!  There are so many beautiful parks in Canada, it will be difficult seeing all that we want to see and still make it into Alaska by July 1st.  So we’ll have to use the same method we’ve been using in the USA, and spend just a few days in each park to get a small sample of what each park has to offer.

Classic view of a cloudfree Peyto Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. Copyright © Frank Kovalchek. Image used under Creative Commons 2.0 License.

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Bubonic Plague: It’s No Joke

While looking for a dispersed camping spot in the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, we found several of the following signs nailed to posts on some of the dirt roads we were about to explore.  Timm posted this picture of the sign on Facebook and our sister-in-law Lauren said, “I thought he posted it on Facebook as a joke.” Unfortunately, it’s real. Bubonic plague has infected the prairie dog populations in this area of South Dakota.

Bubonic plague sign in Buffalo Gap National Grasslands

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Our First Dispersed Camping Confrontation

It’s day #110, and we’ve dispersed camped 30 of those days in 15 different locations.  As a reminder, dispersed camping is when we camp for free on public land and not in an established campground.  You’ve read before in this blog how much we prefer dispersed camping, and how we would dispersed camp every night if we didn’t need electricity, water, sewer, and laundry at least once a week.  Not only is dispersed camping FREE of charge, but it’s also very much like what we’re accustomed to back home: no neighbors nearby, super quiet, incredible views, we can use the generator at any time, and the dogs can run free.

Camping on BLM land southwest of Makoshika State Park

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Little Missouri is the Largest Grassland

Theresa standing in our RV in the Little Missouri National Grassland

Little Missouri National Grassland is the largest grassland in the nation.  We camped here for four days while visiting the nearby Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  Please check out our Little Missouri photo tour.

No E.T. at Devils Tower

Devils Tower as seen through the Wind Circle sculpture

Devils Tower is a 100-story monolith of volcanic rock in the Black Hills of eastern Wyoming.  It was made famous by the 1977 Steven Spielberg movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” though we didn’t spot any aliens on our visit.  This photo shows Devils Tower through the Wind Circle sculpture (also called the Sacred Circle of Smoke), created by internationally-renowned Japanese artist Junkyu Muto.  It’s the third in a series of seven “peace sculptures” planned for important sites around the world.  Please check out our Devils Tower photo tour.