Crossing the Border

Published: June 17th 2017
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Today began with a loud gobble, repeated a few dozen times. The sound came from the woods behind our room and before long a big 'ol Tom came prancing out in the meadow. He was strutting big time for his lady companion but she didn't seem impressed. We have been fortunate to have daily visitors from the woods at the B&B. We have seen several deer, guineas and turkeys. That just adds to the charm of this unique place.

We decided to head back to the east side of the park today with no real plan in mind. The west side is more of a hub for all the planned activities and is a bit crowded. Lots of bicyclists, boaters, tours, kayaks, group activities. The east side is more of the scenic side and less congested. It has the rugged peaks, waterfalls, and numerous views. So we definitely liked the east side more, but it was not as convenient.

As we made our way north traveling on the east side of the park, we opted to just keep driving and head into Canada. I was not aware until looking at the area for this trip that Canada has a national park adjacent to Glacier. It is titled Waterton Lakes. They share the same waters and eco system but are managed by two different entities. So we headed across the border at Chief Mountain to tour Waterton Lakes. We stopped at the border patrol gate with our passports, answered a few questions and were on our way. I had expected the process of entering another country to take longer, but this particular crossing and area was not crowded at all, so it was quick.

When entering a different country, it is important to remember that they are on a different system than we are in the USA. So that 80 speed limit sign, is not 80mph but rather 80kph. When hearing the high temp is 18 degrees, they are referring to Celsius. When seeing the price of items, it is not US dollars. So a bit of extra thought goes into every thing when on foreign soil. Even my phone service was quick to charge a different rate on foreign soil.

After stopping for several photo opportunities we made it to the gate for the national park. I read that our US park passes were not valid for Canada's parks so we were prepared to pay the entry fee, but uncertain if they would take US dollars. When we reached the attendant we were told there was no admission fee for us today and they gave us a pass for the entire year for all Canadian national parks. What a nice surprise and an excuse to do some more traveling.

We stopped in the visitor center for some info and suggestions on what areas to see since we only had a few hours to spend there. The park staff recommended red rock canyon and to go in the village for restaurants and shops. So we followed her suggestion and ate lunch at a place called Zums and then took the Red Rock Canyon road. We caught a glimpse of the Prince of Whales hotel overlooking the park. The area was very pretty. Lush green forests and wildflower meadows along with a river at the bottom of the mountain. A couple miles down the road, I spotted a goat enjoying the wildflowers on the mountainside. He was a rough looking fellow. We stopped for photos and a deer came out of the woods behind me. The Canadian park was showing more wildlife than the US one so far.

We reached the parking area for the canyon and walked over to take a closer look. It was not very deep, but still beautiful. We read the trail sign at the canyon and it stated that Red Rock Canyon was .7km down the trail. So we thought that there had to be more and since the distance was not far, we headed down the trail. The mosquitos found us once again and though not quite as vicious as those Montana ones, they were still able to bite through my shirt. After some distance we encounter another trail sign that indicated that Red Rock Canyon was behind us. Not sure what the misleading signs were trying to accomplish but what they did accomplish was confusion. We turned around and went back to the canyon where we started.

It was then time to start heading back out of this park so we headed back the way we came in. We came around a corner and Donald spotted a black spot moving up the mountain. We knew it had to be a bear. With no place to pull off the road, I jumped out for some photos - the bear was very far away so we were completely safe. The people behind me realized what we had spotted and joined in. Everyone else just sped on by. If I had been in the Smokies and spotted a bear, I would have created a "bear jam" stopping traffic in both directions for hours. Different country - different types of people. We watched the bear for a bit then decided to move along. In about a mile or so, I spot another moving black spot. Another black bear! This one was a mom with a cub. We watched them for a long time but no one else joined in.

By then it was getting late in the day and we had to start back but we took one last quick road into the center of the park and was greeted by a beautiful coyote. And a little farther down we were in a stare down with a deer. She gave in and retreated into the woods. So then we really headed back. We approached the US border and stopped for the appropriate check. We were asked several questions, car was searched thoroughly-every door, bag, cooler, everything. And my favorite question was if we had more than $10,000 cash on us. I actually laughed. I know they were doing their job, and have to ask questions and check thoroughly, I just find it interesting in the different methods used by different countries. Canada seemed unconcerned that we were visiting. I wasn't sure the US was going to let us back in.

Back in Montana, we took the winding mountain road south stopping only for the life of the not so wild. Free range cows and horses. You have to be careful in those areas for they pop out of nowhere and seem to like the roads more than the pastures. A few more pictures later and we were back in the community of East Glacier where we stopped for dinner. We then started back to our room but made one last stop at Goat Lick again just to see if any goats were out. As I opened the car door, I heard someone say " there is one". It took me a while to find him for he was high on the mountain top. I just wasn't looking high enough. And if that guy had not of said something, I probably would not have ever spotted him. I guess I should set my sights higher.

We finally made it back to our room with way too many miles under us today. But it was a good day. 2 countries, 2 national parks, 2 border crossings, we were allowed back in the US, saw quite a few animals, and had lots to write about today. We have one more day to soak in the remainder of the area and you never know what tomorrow brings.

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