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Published: August 24th 2019
Lethbridge was at first scary to me, because it has deep valleys, many with sheer cliffs. The first night there, our phone was not cooperating at all to make a reservation, so we stayed at a Walmart. I did get used to the city, sort of. We visited the Japanese Peace Garden and then the Galt Museum, where we learned about the history of the town: mining, railroads, ethnicities. It has the tallest and longest trestle railroad bridge in North America.
For the next two days, we stayed at a delightful provincial park north of town. There were so many children running around and playing. There is a large lake - more chances for fun. The only problem was one John detected, though I didn't. There was a nasty odor. It was from the feedlots nearby; we were told by a nice park ranger that north of the entrance to the park were a string of feedlots, the largest concentration in Canada.
On the road again, we stopped for coffee at Fort MacLeod, but didn't visit the fort. Next destination was Pincher Creek, and we even stayed three nights! The first day we walked around town. The second day, we drove the Crowsnest Trail highway into the Rockies and visited several small towns. The third day, we drove south to Waterton Lakes Park, the Canadian part of the International Peace Park, with Glacier National Park as the American component. Wildfires had ravaged the park in 2017 and it was sad to see scorched slopes.
Tonight we are staying at a campground next to a huge amusement park near Calgary. Tomorrow we head to Banff, where we think electronic communication will be dicey; that's why I'm writing again so soon after my blog from McDonalds (I was abashed that I had misspelled that word!). Four days in Banff, and we hope the rain forecasts are wrong.
Truly the terrain around Lethbridge is very dramatic. The city is built up on the prairie, but those valleys are deep. There is a road named "Scenic Drive" on the west side of the city, but the scenery is the valleys and gorges. The long trestle bridge was built to get coal to market faster. It is actually a very large city. I was perplexed that the peace garden was built adjacent to a large public pool, which was very noisy that hot day. There seemed to be a lot of construction. One afternoon, while aiming for a store where John hoped to find a screw to replace the temporary one we had used since Ottawa (explained in my first blog), our GPS went crazy. I was trying to give directions, but when the road to the store was closed for construction, the arrow just started spinning. I was flamboozled, which John communicated to the lady in the store. She took pity on him and gave him the screw for free.
We were actually driving the Crowsnest Trail, route 3, from the east side of Alberta. It leads west into the Rockies and to a pass into British Columbia. That pass is the lowest pass through the Rockies between Jasper, in northern Alberta, and New Mexico! We didn't drive through the pass because we will be spending a lot of future days in the Rockies in the U.S. There are several small towns at the beginning of the road, but the most significant is Frank. There was an enormous landslide there, 82 million tonnes of limestone, on April 29, 1903, and John was especially fascinated to learn about it. He spent a bunch of time at the well-developed Interpretive Center, and we actually drove on a road through gigantic limestones. Because the slide was at the edge of town, casualties were not huge. The experts insisted, though, that the town be moved to a less precarious spot. There are now 60 machines on the mountain monitoring any activity, because a new landslide could sometime occur.
I had the most delicious lasagna at a pizza place in Pincher Creek! By the way, the town supposedly got its name because a miner lost his pincers, an essential tool, in the creek. Years later, a mountie found a bunch of rusty tools in the creek, and the town acquired that name. Our stay at the Veterans Memorial campground was very satisfactory, and was especially made fun by chatting with the genial hosts.
The drive to Waterton Park was only a bit over 30 miles, but it seemed longer. Up and down, through hills and dales. By the way, if I had a penny for every hay bale we have seen on this trip, we could finance the whole trip. We entered the park (I had forgotten that my Golden Age Pass wouldn't work in Canada) and drove to the town of Waterton. There were two lovely large lakes along the route, and one extended into town. There was a huge amount of construction in town because buildings had burned during the 2017 fire. The visitors center burned to the ground, and we could not easily get information about what roads and trails were open or closed. So we just wandered around the town. It was sobering indeed to look up at the mountainsides which had tree skeletons but no green. There is a dramatic old hotel, the Prince of Wales, on a prominent hill overlooking a lake, and there is quite a tale of how they saved the hotel during the fire - fire companies from afar, hosing down the hotel, digging fire breaks, etc. There is a large monument commemorating the establishment of the International Peace Park. And there were actually times when we were in the U.S. during our wanderings around town.
Our drive today to the amusement park just west of Alberta was very enjoyable. The road was named the Cowboy Trail. It was many miles before we got to a town; we just passed through more of those lovely hills and dales. There seemed to be snow on the mountains to the west. Finally we arrived in Longview, where there was a celebration of the life of a man. There were lots of motorcycles already in town, and more roared into town while we were there. The man apparently had a lot of friends. Later, we were diverted off our route, around a bunch of emergency vehicles. There was a motorcycle lying by the roadside. They are exciting vehicles, but they can be dangerous. Sad.
That is a low note to end on, so I will wish you all well, and say that we are having a very enjoyable time.
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