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Diary Last Updated: Jun 16th, 2015 - 16:51:13


Stage 1 - Day 8
By Dick & Pip Smith
May 15, 2006, 13:13

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Another beautiful morning.  We found a note under our windscreen wiper from our host Vera Gjerdrum, saying she had to leave early that morning and wished us a good trip.  Isn’t it wonderful how you can meet a person and in one or two minutes of talking you can create a rapport and become instant friends. We departed at 9.35am on the local daylight saving time and headed back onto the Deerfoot Trail – actually a magnificent freeway.

 

In the distance we could see the Rocky Mountains.  We had been driving on the rear tank and it finally ran out of fuel after 391 miles. We switched back onto the full front tank.

 

On the side of the road were huge cattle feed lots and the verges were  covered in yellow dandelions
The silos holding the feed for the huge cattle feed lot
yellow scene of dandelions
The temperature was rising all the time, now 67 degrees F outside.  As we entered the foot hills of the Rockies on the way to Pincher Creek we were surrounded by wind farms.  They may be great for the greenhouse but they tend to ruin the view with man made mechanical monsters.
A wind farm out on the plains around Pincher Creek

 

At one stage we stopped to view the special vertical wind generators that were being tested.
the experimental vertical wind generators next to a huge standard wind generator
They look better but we understand they are not as efficient.

 

At Pincher Creek we stopped at a café for breakfast.  This was our first bought breakfast so far on the trip and it was very good.  We met the owner of the café, a New Zealander who owned his own experimental aircraft.  Pip set up the laptop on the table and quickly answered a few emails. It is amazing how easy it is to do this with the technology available today.

 

After 50 minutes we set off again – there were more wind farms beside the road. Obviously this is normally a very windy area but fortunately for us, today it is calm and sunny.  The farms were green however at 4,000ft above sea level it was obvious that they needed all the hay sheds and under cover protection for the stock, especially in winter.
A farm with plenty of hay bales situated on not far from Waterton Lakes National Park
We basically had the road to ourselves as we headed in beautiful weather to Waterton River.
the road was open to the Chief Mountain Canadian/USA border

 

At the junction there was a sign stating that the US border post was open.  Half way up the hill we stopped at a look out to photograph the Waterton Lakes National Park.
Mt Vimy on the left and the view of Waterton Lakes National Park from the lookout
When Dick started the engine to go, for some reason the check engine temp warning came on.  We let the vehicle cool down, topped the water in the radiator and the problem seemed to be solved.

 

At this stage we were at 5,000ft and it was 70 degrees F outside.  A few minutes later we were at the Chief Mountain Border Crossing.
The USA border post
We pulled up at the United States border post and two guards in uniform came out to see us.  Fortunately they were friendly but we noticed by their demeanour they could be very tough if they wanted to be.  They checked our passports quickly and then were very interested to know what food we had purchased in Canada. 

 

Pip took one of the Guards into the back of the Earthroamer and showed him the food and our receipts. (It’s always a good idea to keep your dockets as it turned out) This verified that the food was purchased in Alaska not Canada.  It was mainly the meat that he was interested in. We later found out that the US had a case of mad cows disease that had come from Canada. The other Guard asked Dick to open the back hatches so he could have a quick look inside.  Not an incredibly thorough check but it was obvious that we didn’t meet the ‘profile’ of the type of people they really wanted to check.

 

We asked to have a photograph taken with one of the Guards.  This was a no - no for security reasons however they obliged us by taking a photo of the two of us.
The photo taken by the Border Post Guard
Interestingly enough they didn’t ask for any confirmation of who actually owned the vehicle and whether it was insured or not.

 

We were lucky because the border post had only opened today and we must have been one of the first vehicles through this year.

 

On the road again and 10 minutes later we stopped and took this photo of a beaver dam with Chief Mountain in the background
Beaver dam built in a lake with Chief Mountain in the background
Dick stopped the vehicle so Pip could climb out and take this photo of Chief Mountain

 

At St Mary Lake the scenery was extraordinary with small cabins scattered along the foreshore with vast mountains in the background.
Looking across St Mary Lake with cabins scattered along the shore
We stopped at the St Mary’s Visitor Centre for Glacier National Park.  We were informed that the road across Logan Pass was closed due to snow still covering the road.  It normally opens in mid June the Ranger told us. 

 

We decided to spend the afternoon walking and picked up a small brochure that listed day walks in the Park.  The drive along the foreshore of St Mary Lake would have to be one of the highlights of the trip so far.  We were virtually the only vehicle on the road however we could see from the parking areas that in the peak tourist season, (June and July) it would almost be bumper to bumper traffic.  We stopped every kilometre to look at the view, have a short walk and take photos. Here are a few of them
We walked down to the edge of St Mary Lake
Spectacular scenery driving through Glacier National Park
the scene over St Mary's Lake with Wild Goose Island in the middle

 

A little further on, an on coming vehicle slowed down so we stopped.  The driver had an Aussie accent and wanted to tell us that there was a bear on the road just around the corner.  Once he recognised Dick he wanted to stop and talk however we wanted to see the bear, so we quickly said goodbye.  Whoever he was, thanks very much
We saw a black bear feeding on the dandelions growing next to the road

 

We parked at the St Mary Falls car park and went for an hour walk to the St Mary Falls and the Virginia Falls, keeping our eyes open for Grissly bears all the way!!
Dick walking along the track to St Mary Falls
Pip sitting at St Mary Falls
Dick at Virginia Falls

 

On the way we stopped at a plaque which pointed to a Peak that was the watershed of three great river systems.  A drop of water to the northeast of the Peak would flow to Hudson Bay.  A drop to the southeast would flow to the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico.  A drop to the southwest would flow to the Pacific
Looking across St Mary Lake to Triple Divide Peak, the mountain in the centre of the picture way off in the distance.

 

As we headed out of the Park we saw another bear crossing the road.  They are obviously not an endangered species but exciting for us to see.

 

We headed to the east over a 5,800ft pass and the country turned from wooded forests to excellent farming and grazing land.
Fertile farming land with big herds of cattle grazing

 

We drove through Browning and headed for Shelby.  We stopped at a number of gas stations and tried to get fresh water to fill our tank.  No one could help until we got to the big Exxon trucker’s fuel station at Shelby where they kindly provided us with a hose.  As a reward we purchased our diesel fuel from them at US2.93 per gallon.
Pip washing the bugs off the windscreen as Dick refuels the vehicle at the huge truckers gas station in Shelby

 

On reaching highway 15 at Shelby, Dick insisted we park for the night in the railway goods yard.  I kid you not, we were parked within 10 meters of the main track with kilometre long trains heading both east and west, as well as shunting going on.
Dick was like a small boy, standing for ages watching the trains and we listened to the bangs and crashes of the railway carriages being moved for half the night.
Dick watching the trains being shunted past us
When a major goods train went through the vehicle would actually rock.  Pip suggested we move a bit further away but Dick said he had had enough driving for the day!!!  Dick headed off for a walk (while Pip cooked dinner) and came back with a bottle of Californian wine to keep Pip on side!
Dick with the wine he bought about to eat dinner

 

After a few phone calls Dick suddenly decided we should do the quick drive to Great Falls in the morning and take an airline flight to Wichita.  A new Citation had become available and as there is normally a two year waiting list he didn’t want to miss out.

 

488km for the day – 4,100 km total

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