Saturday, June 18, 2016

Canada OH Canada! But First, We're Going To The Sun

Last stop USA ... Whitefish, Montana.  Dear friends and Whitefish residents Kurt and Susan Blades were happy to abandon all work and responsibilities on our behalf!  Chilly Glacier National Park was the perfect antidote to city living and sweaty armpits.


Going-To-The-Sun Road is the "main drag" through Glacier, 32 miles of going up up up, then down down down from the highest point, all the way across the park.  We biked 8 miles up and 8 back down before my poor pathetic city-slicker thighs seized up in a permanent, glacier-sized cramp.   


For just a month or so in late spring, the road is closed to automobiles (while they are working to clear all the snow) but open to bicyclists, meaning 100% of the road was ours!  How could we resist?



Beautiful sights abounded, and I don't just mean Philip and Kurt!





The tunnel was the last major landmark before our destination, eight miles in and mostly uphill!  Whew!  Also ... a pic-a-nic LUNCH!  Carbo-loading without guilt.




Glacier is huge, and our schedule was tight, but being "up close and personal" on two wheels was the best possible way to feel AT ONE with Glacier for the short time we were there!


AND THEN -- CANADA CROSSING!



As we crossed into Canada, I was NERVOUS!  I'd read on the Internet all the crazy restrictions the Canadians had, and that they wouldn't hesitate to pull you aside and rip your RV apart looking for all the good contraband.  Raw chicken.  Eggs.  Citrus.  Certain vegetables (but nowhere did it specify which ones.)  Alcohol.  Tobacco products.  Dog food must be in its original packaging.  Full pet records and actual rabies certificates must be immediately available.  And most importantly, no firearms.  I'd heard that they would ask over and over, multiple times and multiple ways, if we had any weapons, trying to trick us into cracking and handing over our AK-47's.


Of course, they hardly asked about any of these things for which I had carefully prepared (and tossed a bunch of stuff) and lain awake worrying all night.  (Also, there may have been a stash of cocktail fixin's that a certain somebody was unwilling to part with.  I was fully resigned to going to Canadian prison because Philip didn't think citrus vodka was a "thing" we could find in Canada.)  They didn't even want to see our (adorable) pets.  I'd given them a bath and everything!  Sheesh!


 The beauty of the Canadian Rockies was all around us!



The small town of Radium Hot Springs was our first stopover.  The local Radium Woodcarver has a very, um, interesting treehouse from which he sells his carvings, "when he feels like opening," that is.






The nearby Koontenay National Park contains the Radium Hot Springs natural mineral pools for which the town is named.  


In 1890, an Englishman purchased the hot springs for $160 with plans to bottle and sell the mineral water as a miracle tonic, not having first thought of the pet rock or the chia pet.  Here's what it looked like back then ....



.... and here's what it looks like in 2016!  Same type of rugged dudes still frequent the place!
There are three hot springs up here (in Koontenay, Jasper and Banff National Parks) and we're going to try them all.


Radium Hot Springs was full of charm and Canadians are soooooo friendly.  Maybe a little too friendly.  It's disconcerting.  "Can I help you hook up your Jeep?"  "Would you like me to level your RV for you?"  "Can I throw away that soda can you are currently drinking from?  Oh still drinking? I'll wait!"  But their good cheer and open hearts are growing on us quickly.


We were super excited to note Canadian gas prices, until we realized that price was in LITRES, not gallons.  ~Doh!~


The national Canadian sport of Wildlife Spotting started right away, with a herd of frisky rams right outside our RV campground.


French is the national language in this part of Canada, and everyone greets each other by smashing together the salutations, which becomes one single word "Hellobonjour."  Grocery shopping is entertaining and we feel wayyyy more worldly buying a box of "p'tite abeille gaufrettes" than plain ole graham crackers. 


But French or English, everyone speaks the language of sassy wine labels.


Next, we journey to the farthest northern point of our journey, Jasper National Park, 1,657 miles away and a world apart from Phoenix!  We'll be driving the famous Icefields Parkway to get there, one of the absolute most scenic drives in all the world.  (Also lots of potholes.  The clocks will all vibrate off the RV walls in the first 10 minutes.) The Lucky Charm will be coming at you next with lots of pretty pic-a-tures, guaranteed!