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

 

We took our border crossing into Canada very seriously, making sure we abided by all the regulations, of which there were many. No fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, fire wood or dog food.  The dogs had to have special health certificates certified by a registered veterinarian.  Our shotgun had to be declared and available for examination.  And of course, we had to have valid passports.  We abided by all the rules, eating up our “contraband” food, selling our firewood, giving our dog food away and filling out paperwork for the shotgun.

Once we notified the border patrol officer we had the gun, they spent time making sure we weren’t criminals by doing a background check on us.  Then they asked us rapid fire questions to verify our identity, such as “What’s your date of birth?  Where were you born?”  After determining we weren’t criminals, they then spent time asking us financial questions.  After answering the questions, I asked why this was an area they were interested in.  They explained they want to make sure we were financially secure so that we would not stay in Canada and “freeload” on their social support systems.  In other words, they wanted to make sure we had the means and intention to go back to the USA.

The border patrol officers were extremely courteous and even funny at times.  At one point, I said, “We read we were not supposed to make any jokes and take this all very seriously.”  The officer laughed and said he liked to enjoy his work, even if it is interrogating foreigners entering his country.  All in all, it was a good experience.  I’m glad we prepared so it would be less stressful.

 

Waterton with the Prince of Wales Hotel on the right

Canada is truly beautiful, as many told us it would be.  After entering Canada, we spent time hiking in Waterton National Park and then drove to Banff National Park, which is where we are now.  Timm will post the details of our hikes and the parks in www.npexp.com shortly, so I’ll leave the details to him but summarize our observations here.  Both parks are spectacular, located in the Canadian Rockies with towering granite mountains in all directions.  These behemoths are still snow covered, creating striking contrast with the black sheerness of their rock faces.

 

Wildflowers on Horseshoe Basin trail in Waterton

One of my favorite hikes was through the wildflower fields in the valley of the mountains.  The acres of yellow daisies and white wild flowers brought tears to my eyes.   Humans could not have labored to plant a more beautiful display, yet Mother Nature did it effortlessly.

The kindness of Canadians also appears to be effortless.  Everyone we’ve met has been incredibly kind: the border patrol officers, a man on the street whom we asked directions, the park entrance employees, the man parked in the RV next to ours, and even the hells angels-type bikers at the gas station.  The people seem genuinely caring and generous with their time.  There is a peaceful happiness about each person we’ve met with very few exceptions.

 

Darby and Shadow playing in the snow in Waterton on the Bertha Falls trail

Another nice surprise is that unlike in U.S. national parks, dogs are allowed on all trails in Canadian national parks!  The dogs have joined us on every hike since we entered Canada.  We have to be extra careful about keeping them on the leash because a wandering dog can attract bears, and we don’t want them leading a bear back to us!

It’s 8:00 p.m. as I write this post sitting at the kitchen table in our RV in Banff National Park.  Outside the RV window, I’m watching 3 elk grazing, unconcerned about our presence.  They’ve seen RVs before, no doubt, but to us, seeing them is a gift and a treat.

The forecast calls for rain tonight, but we don’t mind, as it’s cozy and warm inside our little “home.”  Tomorrow, it’s supposed to rain some more so we’re going to the little town of Banff.  We found a Starbucks there that has free wifi.  I can’t wait to sit and use my Starbucks gift card to buy a tall cafe mocha low fat no whip (thanks Joe, Tina, Steve and Catherine!) while I upload this post to our tntrv blog.  That is one downside to being in Canada is we’re virtually without Internet due to the incredibly expensive rates.  Thank goodness for Starbucks and their free wifi.

 

Theresa happily camping in Banff National Park

So, life is good in our little tiny part of the world in Alberta, Canada.  No, make that “life is grand beyond words.”  Not one breath do I take that I don’t know how fortunate we are.

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