Two hundred and fifty miles for the day. Normally I’d say that is a short day but it felt long. Little of interest on the roads today, many stretches of moderately rough pavement and the last 30 or so miles wall to wall trucks from the Alberta oil and gas fields.
We started the day from Jasper at about 0730, a good early start for us. The temperature was a cool 35 degrees to start the day but the sun was shining and it was a beautiful start to the day. There is a gondola to the top of the mountain behind the national park. It closed at 8PM or we would have been tempted. The following two pictures give you a sense of why it would have been a fun ride with great views http://www.jasperskytram.com/360-view.
I think this last section of industrial mining operations was part of what tired me out. It was disappointing to come into such an industrial area after the beauty of the run up the Icefield Parkway.
We are also beginning to appreciate what a long trip this really is. We have traveled over 4,000 miles and still have 1,500 miles just to get to Fairbanks, AK. We are averaging 285 miles a day which doesn’t sound like a lot but it adds up when you do it day after day for weeks. We have taken a couple of days off from travel to do laundry and rest but it is a pretty demanding schedule because our goal is to get to Alaska and then spend some days exploring at a slower pace. Tomorrow we are looking at a 400 mile run to Fort Nelson, mostly because there is almost nothing between Dawson Creek (mile 0 on the Alaska Highway) and Fort Nelson. We are also finding that sleep comes a bit harder when it is daylight until 2230-2300. I can’t imagine what we’ll do when we are in constant daylight in Alaska.
At six AM we were in the service department of Okotoks Ford to try to get in line for a service appointment. Julie Niles, the service advisor, made us feel right at home and as if we were her only customer and concern.
By 0900 Charli, the mechanic assigned to us, had found the problem (a loose hose), fixed it, replaced the coolant and we were on our way. No charge for labor and a discount on the coolant. A wonderful dealership staffed with caring and competent people. If you are in the area and need help they’ll be there for you.
We wanted to take the Ice Road Parkway so we skirted around Calgary on 22 and then took Route 1 to 93, according to most sources the most beautiful road in North America. I have to admit I was stunned by the beauty of this road and the really good condition it was in. As usual, words fail so just enjoy the scenery.
That’s all for tonight. It has been a spectacular day. Tomorrow’s target is Grande Prairie.
So we started out for Banff this morning and got no more than a few miles out of town when the temperature gauge on the truck suddenly jumped and a warning light came on saying we were overheating. We shut down and checked the radiator, which appears full and not hot at all but noted that it appears radiator fluid is leaking from somewhere in the engine bay. With the size of the Ford diesel motor it is almost impossible to see anything in the engine bay so we limped back to Okotoks are are now camped out in the Ford parking lot. They open at 0600 tomorrow morning and we hope to know more by the end of the day. This trip was to be an adventure and so it is. More to come tomorrow. Let’s hope for a simple fix.
The day started cool and early as we left Glacier Campground at 0730. We were advised by the Alberta travel folks to not take 93 north, my original plan. They suggested taking 2 to 93, 93 north to 3, 3 east to 22 and then 22 north to Okotoks. After taking the trip today I can vouch for their good wisdom.
Montana has a macabre but fairly effective way to remind drivers to be careful and pay attention to their driving. Because the speed limits in Montana are 70MPH on state roads and 80 MPH on the interstates I suspect most crashes are pretty serious. The state posts little white crosses along the highways at the site of fatal accidents.
We crossed into BC on 93 and continued north, not really knowing what we might expect as we traveled north and then east. What a pleasant surprise to discover that this road was every bit as scenic as the roads through Glacier Park.
This is coal mining country and there are signs of mining on the heights of the land all along route 3.
Apparently Alberta has wildlife issues and they are experimenting with some warning signals to alert drivers to animals in the road ahead. Vermont might want to check with Alberta to see how well this system is working.
Route 3 east is also the site of the worst landslide disaster in Alberta history. I’ll let the markers tell the tale.
Route 22 north is called the Cowboy Trail and it was soon clear why we were directed this way. As you drive north, to your left the horizon is punctuated with a massive, snow covered ridgeline of the Canadian Rockies.
The contrast between east and west as you drive north is spectacular and I highly recommend this route over 93 if you are traveling this way.
Our stopping point for today is 274 miles from where we started, in a Walmart parking lot where we hope things will quiet down so we can have a peaceful night’s sleep. Next stop may be Banff, a short trip, but a base from which to launch a long day’s drive to Jasper.
Once the decision was made to spend another day here near Glacier National Park it was clear that we wanted to hike somewhere in the park. The hike needed to be “reasonable” given the fact that we couldn’t take Ginger with us into the park trails. So she got to stay in the camper and sleep on our bed while we did the Cedars Trail and then the 2 mile climb up to Avalanche Lake. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves but understand that there is no way they can capture the majesty of this park.
Perhaps the videos will give you some sense of the power of the water.
After our trip up and back we headed back to our camp site for the evening. But the day wasn’t quite over. As we were driving out of the park a car suddenly swerved into our lane. We were headed for a head-on collision until we swerved into the oncoming traffic lane. In my mirror I watched the Kia slowly drive off the edge of the road and come to a stop.
We stopped, expecting to find someone having a medical emergency but to our surprise we discovered an individual well under the influence of something. They wanted to get back in the car and drive off but it was clear they were in no condition to drive so we confiscated the keys and waited for law enforcement to arrive. In the meantime, we directed traffic around the scene.
It was an exciting end to the day. And a reminder of why we are on this trip – because you never know how much time you have to enjoy the beauty of our creation.
We have stopped for the evening at Glacier Campground, near the entrance to Glacier National Park. It was a short 200 mile day from Great Falls, MT to Glacier. We haven’t been in the park yet but the approach to the mountains was spectacular. Our little Green Mountains are beautiful – these mountains are majestic.
US Route 2 runs through from East Glacier to West Glacier Park. We haven’t decided on tomorrow yet. We might try to get up into the park but we know the Going to the Sun Road is still blocked by snow drifts so we won’t be doing that tour. If we don’t stay here tomorrow I expect we will be across the border and into Canada tomorrow. Stay tuned.