May 7, 2015 North Into Canada

Black Bear and Cub
Black Bear and Cub

The Palouse to Banff, Alberta, Canada

May 6

I left the Palouse on Wednesday deciding to take my time heading north to Banff, Alberta, because of the posssibility of snow and temps in the 20’s there that night. Drove back into Colfax and picked up Route 272 east that turns into Route 6 in Idaho, then got on Route 95 north. Stopped at the WalMart in Couer D’Alene, Idaho and decided to overnight there, spending the afternoon working on getting caught up on blog pots and getting everything ready for my border crossing tomorrow.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

May 7

Awoke early and did my last minute USA shopping at WalMart before heading north on Route 95 for the Canadian border. Not too much interesting along 95 north in Idaho, but boy, did that change not long after crossing into British Columbia.

Border Crossing Into Canada

I had done a lot of internet research on what I could and could not bring into Canada, what I needed for documentation, etc. Read other bloggers reports of their experiences crossing the border, looking to make sure I would have no problems. I sorted through the dogs food labels looking for suspect ingredients, pulled out their rabies shots documentation, went through my cupboards and refrigerator looking for forbidden items, through away my air pellet gun I had bought to scare off unwanted visitors to my bird feeder setups, cleaned out the scraps of firewood I had left, etc. After two border crossings in Montana where the Canadian customs agents had literally turned my motorhome inside out searching for who knows what, I wanted to be sure I was clean.

As I approached the window at the border crossing, I was pretty sure I was prepared for whatever they wanted to do with me. What I wasn’t prepared for was a nice woman simply asking a couple innocent questions, checking my passport, and waving me through in about three minutes. No inspections, not even a question about the dogs. All that prep work for nothing, this time, at least.

Route 95 North to Route 93 North then Down to Banff National Park

Black Bear and Cub
Black Bear and Cub

 

black Bear and Cub
Black Bear and Cub

I experienced a very nice welcome to the Canadian National Park system when these wildlife ambassadors greeted me within five minutes of my entrance into Kootenay national park.

Route 93 Road Cut
Route 93 Road Cut

After passing through one very rugged rock cut, perhaps the most severe I have ever seen a highway pass through, I emerged to some of the most incredible mountain scenery imagineable.

Kootenay Scenery
Kootenay Scenery
Around Every Corner, More Gorgeous Scenery
Around Every Corner, More Gorgeous Scenery

If you ever pass this way, be sure to make the drive through the Kootenay National Park.

Plenty to See Along the Kootenay
Plenty to See Along the Kootenay
Elk Fence Along the Kootenay
Elk Fence Along the Kootenay
Forest Fire Aftermath
Forest Fire Aftermath
Leaving Kootenay NP
Leaving Kootenay NP

I had initially had reservations about taking this road when I reseached it on Google Earth, being concerned that the grades through the mountains might be more than I wanted to tackle, but the road turned out to be no problem to drive for any size rig.

Tunnel II Campground, Banff N.P.

I arrived at the campground, very poorly signed, blink and you will miss the turn, in late afternoon and was assigned site #B75.

Banff Tunnel II Campground
Banff Tunnel II Campground
Banff Tunnel II Campground
Banff Tunnel II Campground

All sites here are pull off type sites where you park on the side of the paved roadway. You are all but on top of your neighbors and there is absolutely no privavcy, whatsoever. A horribly designed campground in an absolutely magnificent location. The scenery all around the campground is simply stunning, but unfortunately, you are looking through or over your neighbors site to see it.

Tunnel II Campground Visitor
Tunnel II Campground Visitor
Campground Elk
Campground Elk

Elk graze right up to your door, so you have to be a little cautious about where you step, and most definitely want to check your surroundings before you step out of your RV. These large animals can be quite aggressive, especially if you surprize them while letting your dog out.

The site cost $ 32 ( Canadian ) and comes with 30 Amp electric, no water or sewer, though there are dump stations and water spigots for fresh water. No Wifi available, but I was suprized to find I had no problem getting my DirecTv satellite to hone right in on a signal.

NOTE:

This is my first blog post using Tim Horton’s WiFi in Canada and my new Windows 8 Laptop. A post that would normally take 20 minutes to do on my Imac at home took almost two hours to complete here. Absolute agony, mostly due to my unfamiliarity with how sensitive the new laptop is and how screwy Windows seems after using the Imac exclusively for the last 6 years. Posts will continue to be a little less frequent until I get the hang of this.

Alaska Trip Road Diary

From the Canadian Border

Route 95 North – Highgate Border Crossing to Radium Hot Springs

Good two lane road

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September 27, 2013 Grand Teton National Park

Great grey owl
Great grey owl

Made the move today from the expensive Fireside Resort CG to the more reasonable Gros Ventre Campground 4 miles off route 89 heading towards the tiny village of Kelly.

No hookups, but with the worst of the weather past, $10.50/night versus $ 60 is kind of a no brainer.

This National Park campground is not bad, run down like most federal campgrounds I have stayed in, but for the price, what can one expect. The sites are a little close, but not too bad and there are many sites that will accomodate a rig like mine. Most of the sites are in a wooded area, but I managed to get one on the main road that gave me an opportunity to get my satellite to work. Verizon has 2 bars of 4G, so the internet is available, if not terribly fast. It says the campground, unlike all the other park campgrounds, doesn’t usually fill up.

Made a run up the park road to Colter and then did the Moose-Wilson Road.

BlackFeedingVertBlackbearApproachVert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Got this black bear there chomping down on berries, just destroying the roadside bushes. He didn’t look all that big while eating, but looked quite large when he started lumbering towards me, actually just wanting to get to some bushes on the other side of the road where I was standing.

Great grey owl
Great grey owl
Great grey owl
Great grey owl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then there is this totally unanticipated highlight of my day! I noticed this Great Grey Owl perched in an aspen only 200 ‘ from the edge of a gravel road. After rushing to get my tripod out and running ( actually. slowly, carefully inching my way down towards her ) to a position a little closer to her, I set up my tripod and fired off one shot … and off she flew. Disappointed, I followed her a little farther into the woods where she had perched on the top of a broken off dead tree, and where she very agreeably stayed, surveying her surroundings for 20 minutes or more while I snapped shot after shot from all directions around the base of the tree. This was quite a thrill for me, this being the first grey owl I have ever seen, and to be able to get this close for so long to such a very large beautiful bird, well, as I said, definitely the highlight of my day, week, maybe even the trip so far.

Great grey owl rotate left
Great grey owl rotate left
Great grey owl rotate back
Great grey owl rotate back

 

Great grey owl rotate right
Great grey owl rotate right

 

Great grey owl straight on
Great grey owl straight on

 

 

 

 

 

Got a kick out of watching her ability to rotate her head right, left, and backwards, seems weird to be able to look behind you without having to turn around.

 

September 23, 2013 Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone fall color
Yellowstone fall color

Another trip to Hayden Valley

Headed out early this morning to do the same trip around the upper loop road and down to Hayden valley but in the reverse order of Saturday’s trip. Today was one of those days where I cover a lot of ground, at the proper time of day, but just pretty much come up empty. I may have set some kind of reverse record for wildlife sightings in Hayden Valley. I traversed the entire valley north to south and then again south to north and saw but one lone bison in the distance, no elk, antelope, bison herds, wolves, bears, or coyotes. If you have ever been to the Hayden Valley, you know how rare it is to have it virtually empty of wildlife.

Yellowstone swans
Yellowstone swans
Yellowstone swans and Canada geese
Yellowstone swans and Canada geese

 

 

 

 

 

I did manage to find these swans to photograph. I was excited to see some Canada Geese floating downstream towards the swans, for I seem to recall that the swans are extremely territorial, and will drive off other birds such as the geese. I was ready for some action! But these guys seemed like they were the best of friends.

Roadside black bear cub
Roadside black bear cub

I was rounding a sharp corner and saw this young black bear cub all but in the road grazing on the curbside clover. With no mother in sight and other people stopping and getting within 6 feet of the youngster, for once, I was almost hoping a ranger would come along and break this up before the cub was startled out into the road and struck by a car. At times, his head was only a foot or so from the pavement and he acted as if he didn’t even see or hear the cars only a couple of feet from his head whizzing by, and he was completely oblivious to the growing crowd of people all but reaching out to pet him. I hope he survived this, but with no mother and this lack of fear of traffic and people, it probably doesn’t look like much of a future for this guy.

Bison on the centerline of road
Bison on the centerline

Lastly, a couple more bison shots. I got a kick out of this guy, once again using the centerline of the highway to negotiate his way down the road. They do move at a very slow pace while traveling on the highway, but they can seriously unnerve you as they pass by at only a couple of feet from your vehicle.

Bison
Sharing the road

Especially if you are on a very narrow gravel road, such as the one to the fire tower, and you encounter a fellow like this coming down the road as you head up. At least he was using the shoulder of the road, I assume because there was no yellow centerline on the gravel road.

Yellowstone Bison
Yellowstone Bison

August 14, 2013 Glacier National Park

In Many Glacier by 7 AM looking for bears again. Gorgeous morning, looks like the grey skies may break today. Just before the entrance station, on the right, fifteen feet from the edge of the road in a room size clearing, sits a black bear stripping berries from the single bush in the clearing.As I get my camera ready, unfortunately someone coming out of the park in my direction, sees me pulled off the road,notices the bear, slams on his brakes, comes to a screeching halt, and, of course, scares the bear off before I could get a good shot. Too bad because he was a neat looking black bear with a large white patch on his chest. It is interesting that in a park where black bears out number grizzlies two to one, this is only the third black bear I have seen in a week versus seven grizzlies.

Drove down 89 back to Browning to grocery shop and fill up the car. Checked out the grocery store here in St. Mary yesterday and it was the same case as with gas prices at the two gas stations here…prices are ridiculously high. Regular gas here $4.24/gal, in Browning $3.73/gal, a small can of tomato sauce here $3.29, frozen hamburg $6.00/lb.,so the trip back to Browning is probably worth the gallon of gas it takes me to get there. Plus I wanted to check out just how bad 89 was between Browning and St. Mary since I had been advised to avoid it and take 464 out of Browning instead. I guess I agree that 464 is the better route for an RV.

Glacier Black bear grazing in the berry patch
Glacier Black bear grazing in the berry patch

Went back in to Many Glacier tonight around 6:30 and found just one distant black bear way up the hill down by the lodge and the blonde grizzly in her usual meadow. As you can see from the photos, she grazed up fairly close, until, once again, four jerks on souped up Harleys roared ( blasted ) by and send her flying. These particular idiots, seeing all the people enjoying the bear sighting,very intentionally slowed and then accelerated with an absolutely deafening roar and obviously were taking delight in ruining a special wildlife viewing for probably close to 40 people. Someone should start a petition?

Grizzly checking the scent
Checking the scent
What is that photographer so interested in ?
What is that photographer so interested in ?
Grizzly heard a ground squirrel
Heard a ground squirrel
Closeup of Blonde grizzly
Closeup of Blonde grizzly