Monday, October 31, 2022

Grand Marias October 2022

We drove up yesterday afternoon and got here around 5. Cathy and JA were already here. They brought Gus, their beagle, with them. Cathy, JA and I took the dogs for a walk, while Lee set up camp. The leaves are still fairly green this year. When we were here 2 years ago they were past peak. It’s been unusually warm.

We walked into town for dinner and ate at the Voyager Brewery. Another difference from last time. We were in the thick of Covid then, pre vaccine. Everyone was wearing masks, everywhere, and we avoided going inside public places as much as possible.

The brewery had some nice beers, as beers go. JA got a beer flight. I liked the one I got, but I avoid hops if I can. Lee said it was like Budweiser, but nicer. It had a nice flavor. Lee and JA got tacos, Cathy got an arugula salad, I got the pork sliders. The food was good, nothing special.

It went down in the 50’s last night, chilly but nothing like how cold it was last time.I was very comfortable with the heater and our down quilt.

This morning everyone except me went on a hike to climb Eagle Mountain, the highest point in Minnesota. Don’t get all excited; that’s only 2,300 ft! I decided to stay back with the dogs. It was 6 miles round trip, so Heather would have been in the backpack for most of that, and even Harper hasn’t hiked that far in a long time, plus the trail description said in was very rocky.

Instead first I took the dogs on a nice walk along the shore, into town and back. We walked around 1.25 miles, and as long as I stopped frequently Heather was fine. Then I hopped on the bike and rode the new section of the Gitchi Gami State Bike Trail, about 10 miles round trip. It’s a beautiful trail along Lake Superior, with long inclines and declines, that my new bike handled with ease. I even hit 20 mph on one of the declines! I still only averaged 11 mph though. Just need to get stronger on those hills.

Thursday October 6

I tried to wait for them to eat lunch but when they still weren’t back I went ahead and ate a little after noon. They didn’t get back until around 1. They said it was a tough hike because it was so rocky. Lee didn’t do the whole thing, he turned around after about 2.5 miles. I’m glad I didn’t go. It would have been really hard on the dogs, and it would have been hard on us to carry Heather in the backpack that far with so many rocks.

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon. l sat outside at the picnic table while they ate a very late lunch. After that we walked into town because I wanted some coffee. We walked over to the path to the lighthouse but I was ready to take the dogs back to the RV. Heather had already walked a lot for her today.

When we got back I set up the dog fence and a chair and sat in the sunshine with the dogs and crocheted and chatted. I actually wore my sunglasses while I was crocheting! JA had taken Gus and walked to the lighthouse, and when we got back Cathy realized she was locked out of their RV so she hung out with us until he got back.

The sun dipped behind a pine tree at around 4 pm and it suddenly got chilly so we retreated inside until it was time to go to dinner. This time we decided to try The Angry Trout, right down the road from the campsite. We had to wait a little while for a table but that was ok. The food was good. I had the fish of the day, which was herring. Not the usual herring you get from the ocean, this was a fresh caught fish that was a lot like whitefish. I thought it was good. Everyone’s dinner came with a side salad that was huge.

We walked back to the RV and started getting ready for bed right as it started to rain. Good timing! We fell asleep to the sound of rain against the RV.

We woke in the morning to sunshine and much colder temps. After  ate my breakfast I decided to take the dogs for their morning walk. I started out and then went back to get my phone so I could take a picture of the sunrise. I’d been having trouble opening the door to the RV and this time it was really stuck. Lee had to open it from the inside. I went ahead and took the dogs on a little stroll. When I returned Lee was outside. He had been trying to figure out what was wrong with the door and had locked us out.

It was a bummer. All the keys were inside the RV, including the keys to the truck. Fortunately the truck bed wasn’t locked so he had access to his tools. JA came over to help and I started calling locksmiths,  most of whom either didn’t work on campers or weren’t yet answering their phones, or lived an hour away from where we were. We tried to find another camper with the same keys, no luck. We tried to get in via the emergency exit, but it’s made to allow you to get out, not in. They tried to pick the lock, nope. Finally they drove to the hardware store to get the right sized bit, and drilled out the lock. That worked. All in all it took about an hour and a half to get back into the RV. The dogs were mightily confused, but they didn’t mind eating some of Gus’s food for breakfast.

At first I was going to skip my run because now we were running behind but I decided I should go ahead because I was feeling pretty agitated. I’m glad I did. It was a beautiful chilly run, up and down the Gitchi Gami.

We’re on our way home now. Final trip of the season; I’m glad we went. Now the RV gets a break until January when we will head to Florida for a month, and hope that our RV campgrounds weren’t destroyed by Hurricane Ian.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Banff - The Rest of the Way Home

Sunday August 28

Duchess AB to Swift Current SA. Back on the plains. Today and tomorrow are short days, then two long days and we’ll be home. This morning Lee had to turn on the aircon and Harper started panting. Of course. Now here on Kilton Hill it’s breezy and coolish so absolutely no need for the air to be on, but Harper is panting and shivering. I just gave her half a CBD chew and she stopped. Such a crazy dog!

Monday August 29th

This morning I did a quick 39 minute run on Kilton Hill. Breezy and chilly (48F!) but the sun was warm. Then back on the road. We ate lunch in a park in Moose Jaw, SA and had to drive thru downtown to get there. Their town motto is “Canada’s most notorious city”. Apparently there are tunnels underneath the town that were used by bootleggers during prohibition, and at some point Al Capone used it as a hideout. I had no idea that Canada had prohibition too!

We are staying in a regional park campground. Very quiet, only a few other campers. The weather is perfect, 70’s and sunny, so we are sitting outside with the dogs and enjoying it while we can. Tomorrow we’ll be back in the US, Jamestown ND.

Tuesday August 30

I thought today would be just a boring day, drive drive drive, and it was, mostly, until the last hour or so, or what should have been the last hour. We got out of Oungre early for us, around 8:45, but we had a long drive, and would go back on Central Time, so we would lose an hour too. Crossing the border was easy. I highly recommend crossing at remote, seldom used crossings! No other traffic and except for a few questions they basically wave you through!

Most of the day was uneventful. Lee drove before lunch, I drove after, then Lee took over for the last stretch. Things were going just fine until we hit road construction. On a two lane road, the kind where you had to wait for a pilot car to guide you through. The first time we had to wait about 5 minutes. Nbd, right? But then there was another one. The second time we had to wait close to 10 minutes. Sigh. Then there was a 3rd one, and a 4th, each one involving a longer wait than the one before. It was ridiculous. We probably lost at least 45 minutes, just waiting for the pilot car to come get us. It would have been nice if Google had known about this and warned us, but nope! 

We finally got to Jamestown around 5. It’s 91F here, quite a change from just a day ago! Of course we have to run the aircon, and Harper is stressed out, again. Oh well Harper, one more night! Tomorrow we’ll be home.

Wednesday August 31

Last night someone’s rig was emitting an awful stench. It was sewer gas. And it was bad! The temp had dropped so we had opened the windows and turned on the fan, and it was pretty awful. Fortunately it dissipated after a while. Lee sent the managers an email about it and they refunded that night’s fee. It really is a great campground and I don’t think it was their fault, just someone that didn’t have their sewer line hooked up correctly. I would stay there again in a minute, if we ever pass that way again, which isn’t too likely!

The drive home was uneventful, thank goodness. We ate lunch at an old fashioned drive in, Dee’s, in Barnsville MN. Their hamburgers were really good, and I got a small hot fudge shake too.

There was a truck on fire on I-94 right before were hit the cities. By the time we passed it the fire was out, but the truck was a charred wreck. 

It’s great to be home, the RV unloaded, a humongous pile of laundry waiting for me. But first we’re going to take the boys on a boat ride tomorrow morning. I can’t wait to see them!

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Banff Part III - Lake Louise and Lake Moraine - Not What We Were Expecting

Thursday August 25

Well today was a crazy day. Things did not go as planned, but they worked out anyway.

Our thought was we would drive up to Lake Louise in the morning, maybe see Lake Moraine as well, have a picnic lunch, drive back. Well we drive up to the lake around 9 am. It’s a nice drive on the Trans Canada Hwy, around 45 minutes from Banff. The wildlife crossings on the Hwy are pretty cool too.

Trans Canada Hwy Wildlife Crossing

Then we get there. Lake Moraine, parking lot full. Lake Louise, parking lot full. Oh well we think, we’ll have to take the shuttle from the parknride. Ha, all shuttles booked for the day. Well pooh.

We drive back on the Bow River Parkway, Hwy 1a, to at least get something positive out of the drive. We stop at a day use area for our picnic lunch, a very pretty spot, and drive the rest of the way back to Banff.

Bow River

We decide to go on a 1 hour raft trip on the Bow River. We deposit the dogs in the camper and off we go again. This turns out to be fun and relaxing and very pretty. We found out what the Hoodoos are, and saw the sleeping Buffalo on the mountain. We even saw some rock climbers high up on Tunnel mountain. Yikes!

The Hoodoos

The Sleeping Buffalo

Bow River Rafting

When we got back to the camper Lee called the Lake Louise Shuttle and got us a reservation at 2 pm tomorrow. It was all they had. That or according to some people we talked to on the float trip, sleep in the truck in the Lake Moraine parking lot tonight. Uh no, we’re way too old for that!

Friday August 26

After the float trip we went back to the RV for awhile. I sat outside in the screen tent, crocheted and read. Very nice! Then I took the dogs for a walk, fed them, and changed clothes. We had a reservation in town at an Italian-Swiss restaurant called Ticino’s. It was really good! Lee’s gin martini was well made, which is always a good sign. I had a vodka lemonade which was refreshing and delicious. Then I had the gnocchi as an appetizer and we shared a salad. The gnocchi was awesome, but I got the smaller option because I wanted to try the fondue as well.

I had the cheese fondue as my main course, and Lee got a veal, mushroom, and potato dish which was amazing. He shared some of it with me. The fondue was delicious. We ate all of Lee's entree and as much of the fondue as we could. We were stuffed and happy, a good conclusion to a day that could have been a disaster, but we definitely made lemonade out of lemons this time!

Saturday August 27

Well yesterday was “interesting “ as the Minnesotans say. We saw both Lakes, and they were beautiful, as everyone has said. BUT!

We had a leisurely morning. I ran the trail that goes all the way around the Tunnel Mountain campgrounds, around 4.25 miles. It was a very pretty trail. It’s the longest I’ve run since the marathon.  I need to practice some trail running before I do the arboretum trail 10k again at the end of September.

Tunnel Mountain Trail

At around 1 we said goodbye to the dogs and drove back to Lake Louise. The shuttle parking lot was almost full but there were still spots. We walked to the bus stop for Lake Moraine. We would go there first, then take the shuttle to Lake Louise and then go back.

We waited around 20 minutes for the shuttle. The bus was warm, and packed full. Dark clouds were gathering over the mountains. Just as we pulled into the parking lot it began to rain, just lightly at first.

Lake Moraine is beautiful just like people said. Very blue! You could rent canoes, or hike along the shore, except for one thing. It started to thunder, and lightening, and rain harder.  After 15 minutes we decided we had better head to Lake Louise.

Lake Moraine

So did a lot of other people. We waited about a half hour in the pouring rain, and got pretty soaked in spite of our rain parkas. It was cold too. Finally we got on the bus and before very long we were at Lake Louise. It’s pretty spectacular! But sooooo crowded. At least it had stopped raining. We walked up to the shore, took some requisite pictures and that was that.

Lake Louise

By now with all the waiting in line for shuttles it was 4:30. We figured it would be close to 6 by the time we got back to the RV. Time to go.

The line for the shuttle back to the park and ride was huge. One bus came, filled up quickly, and left. They finally took pity on us and got another bus to help out. Back to the park and ride, walk to the truck, drive the 45 minutes back to Banff.

We got Popeye’s for dinner. Not healthy but quick and easy. The dogs were very happy to see us. After a chance to pee, and another longer walk after dinner, they were content.

So. Obviously there’s got to be a better way to do this. A tour? Maybe. They got priority and it would reduce the hassle. Go and sleep in the parking lot? Sure, if we were 30 years younger. Ha. Or, plan ahead and stay in one of the hotels or campgrounds up by the lakes. There weren’t RV campgrounds that I saw, and it’s always a question whether hotels or cabins will allow dogs.

So I don’t know. I’m glad we saw the lakes, but it wasn’t worth the insanity.

This morning we drove to Canmore, about 20 minutes from Banff, and right on our way. It’s very nice, a much lower energy version of Banff, with some nice mountains of its own. We parked the RV in free parking, and walked down 8th street, a pedestrian street in the heart of town. Lots of shops and stuff but it was early and they weren’t open yet. No matter. We found a popular looking bagel shop. Lee got a bagel and orange juice. I got a cinnamon roll and a cappuccino. Then we walked back to the truck and went on our way. We are on our way home.


On our way to Banff we saw these strange tents out in the fields outside of Duchess, AB. We had to look up what they were. They are for bees! Apparently if you grow canola for seed you need bees to pollinate the plants and beekeepers bring their bees to your fields in portable hives for that reason. On the way back we stopped and took pictures of the bee tents. There’s definitely more to learn about this!

We were at our campsite a little after two. We got everything set up and then enjoyed a real internet connection for the first time in a week. I was going to go sit outside with the dogs but a big storm with a LOT of wind started blowing through so I’m staying put. We can see the storm off to the north; we are just on the edge of it. The RV is shaking in the wind, but I think we’re ok. You wouldn’t want to be in one of these in a tornado, however!

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Banff Part II - Tunnel Mountain, Lake Minnewanka and the Banff Gondola

Back to my report on our trip to Banff:

Tuesday August 22nd, Banff

Daniel is 36 today! My baby….

I’m very glad we don’t have to drive long distances for the next 5 days. We only had to drive 3 and a half hours today, but that was enough. It was mostly prairie except for the last 30 minutes or so, the mountains rise up out of nowhere and then there’s Cranmore and then the National park and here you are.

 We are in Tunnel Mountain RV park, in the park itself. It’s huge but there really aren’t that many people, considering. We got set up and I took the dogs on a short walk. There is almost no connectivity here, no WiFi, hardly any cell service either. We called Dan to wish him a happy birthday and the call was dropped.

So we decided to go into town, get some coffee, find some wifi. We left the dogs in the RV and off we went.

Banff is a busy mountain tourist town, but nice. We figured out where to park and found some coffee. Even in town the connectivity wasn’t great but I was at least able to check my email and figure out where to do laundry tomorrow. And Google routed us back to the campsite in a way that’s much shorter than how we got here.

Now we’re back at the RV for the evening. We’ve got the screen tent up and I’m sitting outside keeping the dogs company for awhile. It’s cooled off enough that we can turn off the aircon, which might make Harper less anxious inside the RV. Maybe.

Tuesday August 23

I ran around the campground this morning. I ran for 40 minutes. The altitude isn’t bothering me, that’s a relief. It’s so big, I only ran around part of it. Just up and down the rows, looking at the different campers.

After my shower it was time to go into town and do laundry. The laundromat was in the basement of a shopping centre. I had to carry the laundry about 2 blocks, plus the soap, etc. It wasn’t too bad. Good thing I’m strong, lol.

When I got there is wasn’t too busy. The attendant gave me 22 Canadian dollars in coins for my 20 dollar US. I needed most of it to get my 2 loads washed and mostly dried. While I was waiting I finished the Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich. What a great book! It’s about the movement in the 1950’s to terminate the Indian Reservation system. Her grandfather was one of the tribal elders that fought against it and she made his story into a novel. It was fascinating. There was a lot of stuff about Indian culture and belief systems in it. In some ways it reminded me of the Magical Realism in One Hundred Years of Solitude, except that the spiritual/fantastical portions of the book are presented matter of factly, as if they were not unusual occurrences if you were a traditional Indian. Anyway, I loved it. 

After lunch we decided to drive to Lake Minnawanka, do a little hiking, a little driving. We tried out Heather’s new backpack. She wasn’t thrilled with it, but we hiked almost 2 miles around Lake Johnson and she just can’t walk that much anymore. Harper was full of vim and vigor however! I walked behind Lee so Heather could see me, and so I could see her too and make sure she was ok. Harper kept trying to catch up with Lee. Such a little booger!

Then we drove around the lake loop road. We were tired so just stopped a couple of times to take in the views and then went into town for coffee and a few groceries. Then Heather got to walk a little. 

And We Saw a Moose! Just Strolling Through Town...

Wednesday August 24th

Today we rode the Banff Gondola. There’s not a lot of parking at the gondola so they recommend that you take a shuttle. No problem, I bought tickets for 1:10 pm, and looked up the shuttle schedule. We could catch one at 12:30 in front of a hotel downtown. 

We went into town early, parked at the train station, and walked to a restaurant that Lee had found which sounded like it would be good for brunch. Only problem was there was a 45 minute wait. Oh well. We walked around a bit and decided on another place, right by the shuttle stop. 

After brunch we still had some time to kill so we decided to go buy me some socks. For some reason I only brought 3 pairs. I got some colorful Pink Floyd themed socks. 

We went back to the shuttle stop and waited, and waited. No shuttle. Finally one of the other people that was waiting went into the hotel and asked them what was going on. The girl at the front desk told them the next shuttle didn’t come until 2! This in spite of the schedule on the website and what some of the people waiting had been told at the ticket office when they bought their tickets. Grrrr

Fortunately the Banff Roam mass transit buses also go to the gondola, and we could ride for free if we showed them our gondola tickets. But we were going to miss our boarding time! Would this be a problem? 

As it turns out, no. We got there around 1:20, got in line, and hopped right on a gondola carriage. You can’t board early, but they don’t care if you board late!

It’s a steep breathtaking 8 minute climb to the top of Sulphur Mountain, named after the hot springs at its base. Looking up the mountain gave me vertigo, looking out at the vistas was ok.

At the top there’s a 1k boardwalk that climbs to an old weather station at the peak of the mountain. We were at 7500 feet, so it seemed farther. it was nice up there, cool but not cold, breezy, but not windy. It was a lot more pleasant than Mount Washington!

Going back down didn’t take any time at all. We boarded the carriage and swooped down the steep part of the hill. It was a little bit like the first part of a roller coaster. But then it calmed down and before we knew it we were back at the base of the mountain. And just as we got there a Roam bus pulled up. Lucky!

Once back in town we walked to the train station to get the truck. We were going to stop at the wine shop, but made a wrong turn and ended up way out of our way. There’s a beautiful river that flows through Banff. We drove along that. Then we ended up on Tunnel Mountain Drive, high above Tunnel Mountain Rd, which is the road back to our campsite. So Lee took me back to the campground. Then I took the dogs for a walk, and Lee went back into town for wine.

Btw, Harper has been fine the last few evenings. She is not crazy about Lee using the stove, but we haven’t run the aircon or the fan and she doesn’t care if we run the heater. Crazy dog!

Sunday, September 18, 2022

We Interupt This Regularly Scheduled Program - RVing with Leo and the Johnmeyers

Sorry, I know I started posting about Banff, but then I realized that I had forgotten to post about our camping trip with the Johnmeyer's earlier in August. So here's that post, and I'll get back to Banff after this one!

Last year we took Leo to Baker Park to go RV camping for a few nights. We had such a good time we decided to go back. So when Cathy and JA said that they wanted to go RVing, we suggested they bring a couple grandkids and join us.

On Wednesday we picked Leo up from daycare after nap and drove to Baker Park. That’s one of the great things about it, it’s very close. We set up the RV, the screen tent, and the dog fence for Heather and Harper. It was pretty warm so when the Johnmeyer’s showed up the kids and Lee put on their bathing suits and went down to the beach. JA stayed behind to get things set up and Cathy and I walked the dogs down. 

I let them get close to the water. Harper walked in up to her knees, but Heather didn’t even get wet. Then we sat on a picnic table and watched the kids swim. The big kids watched Leo, but we had to keep an eye out too. He can almost swim, but not well enough for us to be confident about him being in the water without an adult.

When we took my bike off the bike rack the front tire was deflated. Somehow the little cap had come off. JA tried to inflate it but the tube got pinched between the tire and the rim and exploded with a very loud POP! Oops! 

It was getting late and time to start on supper so we walked back to the campsite. It was Cathy’s turn to cook dinner. Lee would cook tomorrow night. We had steak, grilled veggies, quinoa salad, and ice cream for dessert. They tried to make a fire but were only partially successful. It was too late for s’mores anyway. 

We all went straight to sleep. In the morning Leo and I had oatmeal and then I went for a short run. Then Lee made pancakes (frozen ones) and blueberries for everyone so that was breakfast number two.

This was breakfast the next morning

JA and I went into town to get me a new tube for my tire. Gear West wasn’t far away, so that was easy. We had to go to two different grocery stores to find the tonic water that Cathy wanted, however. Oh well!

We spent the rest of the day biking, hanging out, talking, and generally having a good time. After Leo’s nap Lee took all the kids down to the fishing dock to fish. They had a great time and Leo caught 6 fish! He loves fishing!

That evening the kids played soccer and practiced casting. We kept telling them to stay away from the trees, but we “fished” quite a few lines out of the the trees anyway. And Leo playing soccer with the big kids was awesome. He was very into it, “hey guys, pass it to me!” He wasn’t that bad either. You could tell Erik has been working with him.

That evening Lee made pork burgers, potato salad and watermelon. Once again there was ice cream for dessert. 

During the night it began to rain. The Johnmeyer kids were in a tent because their RV is too small to hold 2 adults and 4 children. So they all ended up in the Johnmeyer RV, but not until early in the morning. We just hung out in ours until the rain tapered off. I decided to go for a bike ride and explore the 6 mile park loop. I did that, plus a couple of miles on the Luce line to get to 10 miles for the day.

The kids were having so much fun we decided to wait until after lunch to leave. When we put Leo in the truck he fell asleep almost instantly. It took us about 30 minutes to get home. Then we just kept the truck running and let him sleep while we unloaded the RV. He got a really good nap! 

The only trouble with that was that he was full of energy, and we were trashed. He was spending the night with us, so we started a movie (Paddington, funny), made some popcorn, and curled up on the couch. When the movie was over the grownups couldn’t keep their eyes open so we all went to bed. I heard a few bumps upstairs and then it got quiet, and he slept until 7, so he was very well rested.

We had a great time all around. It took my mind off the sadness about Cosmo for a few days, and it was a delight to see Leo playing with his cousins. They are really nice kids and we want to do this again. Next year Kirby can come too!


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