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!


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