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April 14th 2009
Published: April 14th 2009
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JULY 29, 2002 (Monday)

4:00 a.m. and still dark. But there are three eager beavers here this morning. We are

flying to Montana. Oh the excitement! Bethany will be taking her first airplane ride. The

airport shuttle picks us up around 4:30 and we are whisked away to start our Western

adventure. Check-in goes smoothly and we fly out on schedule.

We land in Memphis, TN, a hub airport with Northwest Airlines. There is a short lay-

over and we stretch our legs. Soon are boarding another plane and this time, we will be

flying into St. Paul, MN. This is a new state for me, the Land of 10,00 Lakes. I have now

been to 36 states! There is time for a snack lunch, mainly hamburgers. We visit a few

souvenir stands, then walk over to the waiting area. Lots of people getting ready to board

for Great Falls, MT. Janet and I noticed a middle aged man, with torn blue-jeans,

rolling around on the carpet with his young son. Guess it was some quality time, father

and son, but it looked a little out of place in an airport.

We are now on our third plane of the day. I snap a picture of the winding Mississippi

River. Ten minutes into our flight, a small five year old boy, sitting behind me, starts to

pull my hair. As I turn quickly around in my seat, I see that it’s the little boy who had

been playing with his father. The dad apologized, said he was sorry. I said “you look like

Aaron Tippin.” “Pleased to meet you” as he shook my hand. I told him that I listened to

him on the radio just yesterday. Wow, how many times have I seen him on Country

Music Television? This was an unexpected treat. We talked, off and on for hundreds of


Aaron’s wife is from Great Falls. Her parents will be looking after the grandchildren

for awhile. Aaron will be performing at the Montana State Fair, in Great Falls in a few

days. As we were leaving the plane, I was able to get his autograph.

Joe Newsom was awaiting us and we all got a bear hug from him. I think we will do

some reminiscing on this trip. Joe and I have known each other since 1968, in our junior

high school days. He was my Delta Tau Delta fraternity “big brother” at Auburn and my

student manager on the bookfield in Ohio and Indiana. Joe was the one who introduced

me to the Southwestern Company. Bethany likes him because he talks like Donald Duck.

On this trip, we have arranged to use an Alamo rental car. And we are soon on our

way to the Super 8 Motel. As we finish checking in, Janet asks if I have the envelope. “I

thought you had the envelope.” Oh no! Our large envelope with 3 passports, hotel and

motel reservations and confirmation numbers, and all our travel itinerary information was

left on the plane. By the time we returned to the airport, our Northwest jet was on the

way back to Minneapolis-St. Paul. All we could do was file forms at the desk, and hope

that our stuff would return on tomorrow’s flight, before we leave for Yellowstone.

Sometimes, the unexpected occurs. We‘ll just make the best of it. Let’s go see Great

Falls! There is a very impressive sculpture of Lewis and Clark that we visited. Located at

Overlook Park, it features Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, York (who was Clark’s

slave) and the dog Seaman. This looks out over the confluence of the Sun River and

Missouri River.

On June 13, 1805, Lewis and Clark’s “Corp of Discovery” reached the five waterfalls

on the Missouri River. With a drop of over 400 feet, the keelboat had to be portaged (the
carrying of goods over an obstacle). It took one month to transport the canoes across 18

miles of land. Makeshift wagons with wheels had to be created. The ground was rocky,

uneven and hard. There were prickly pear cacti everywhere. Plus, they endured violent

storms, sweltering summer heat, grizzly bears and rattlesnakes. What a tremendous hard-

ship. They had to build new boats, to replace the one they left behind……They love their

Lewis and Clark heritage here in Great Falls.

There is a wide sidewalk along the edge of the Missouri River. We go strolling for a

little distance. Bethany tosses bread to several Canadian geese and even sea gulls. They

had been looking for food in the grass.

Not far away is Giant Springs State Park. The highlight is the crystal clear water which

bubbles up from below. We see several fishes. And we are standing on the edge of the

Roe River. This is the worlds shortest river, at 201 feet. Did I mention how clear the

water is? Easy to spot speckled trout. Mere pictures just don’t seem to do this place


It is suppertime and we are hungry. Afterwards, Joe gave several tiny beanie baby

animals to Bethany. She is thrilled.

JULY 30, 2002 (Tuesday)

Today we shall visit the Charles M. Russell Museum. It is fantastic. C.M. Russell was

born in St. Louis in 1864 and moved to Montana at age 16. He was a historian, cowboy,

true “westerner”, philosopher, outdoorsman, advocate of the Northern Plains Indians,

environmentalist, conservationist, and artist. He worked as a cowboy and wrangler for 11

years. After observing cowboys at work during the day, he had time in the quiet evenings

to sketch and document all the activities and excitement of the cow camp.

The Russell Museum contains five galleries dedicated to his life and art. There are

about 2000 works of art, artifacts and personal objects by Russell, in the permanent

collection. These present the art and soul of the old west. There are early paintings,

books, personal papers, illustrated letters and his sculptures.

Dozens of other artists are also on display. Plus, there are galleries for changing

exhibitions. All total, there are close to 12,000 items in the museum. Wow.

Downstairs at the museum, there is a children’s room. There are furs, an Indian teepee,

old leather saddle, a “play” old west store, bison hooves, stagecoaches and an art center.

Bethany had a blast.

Our next order of business was to return to the airport. We went to the Northwestern

airlines desk. No envelope or package of passports for us. What a disappointment. Now is

the time to prepare for NOT receiving our envelope with itinerary, reservations, confirma-

tion numbers, passports, etc. How could this inconvenience have happened?

Lunchtime and we found a wonderful little restaurant. We had the kindest waitress.

Just a very nice, pleasant person. We shall write a complimentary letter to her manager

when we get back to Alabama. A great lunch and we’re almost ready to go.

Janet and I decided that we should call her sister, Susan. She drove to our house in

Mobile and found Bethany’s birth certificate. Susan will mail it to us, care of the Super 8

Motel. We might need that when we try to return to the U.S.A. from Canada next week.

Our family leaves Great Falls in a rental car and heads south towards the capital city of

Helena. We are in the Rocky Mountains and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The miles zip on

by. As the sun begins to set, we stop at the edge of the Yellowstone River. My daughter

and I have to stick our feet in the water. May I mention how cold the water is?

We have now arrived at Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the

world. It was established in 1872. Our home for three nights is the Canyon Lodge cabins.

There is a detour and lots more miles to travel. And it is getting late. What is that we see

ahead in the road? Two wolves! Bethany was sound asleep and missed them. Finally, we

settle into our cabin. We are so excited about our upcoming adventure. (Happy birthday,

Uncle Bill.)

JULY 31, 2002 (Wednesday)

What a beautiful place we will be staying in. After a wonderful breakfast, we went to

the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River. It is 308 feet high and thunders through the

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The Lower Falls is the largest volume major waterfall

in the Rocky Mountains. There are over 40 falls in the park and this is probably the 2nd

most photographed sight (behind Old Faithful geyser). You can hike to several points to

get a better view of these falls.

There are so many hiking trails to choose. We pass an old tree where bears have been

clawing. Soon, we pass by a huge glacial boulder. Located near Inspiration Point, this

boulder is the size of a house. Geologically, the Yellowstone area was once covered with

glacial ice up to 4000 feet thick. The last glaciers retreated almost 13,000 years ago and

left hundreds of rocks and boulders.

From our car, we saw a few large male elk, grazing in the meadows. They have a shrill

bugling sound. Time to get out, carefully, and take a few photographs. Now this is the

reason we came out west. And they have huge antlers, this time of year.

Around the next bend, dozens of cars had pulled off to the side of the road. People

were snapping away on their cameras. There was a herd of maybe 20 buffalo near the

roadside. What took our breath away was the sight down in the valley. A few of us

tourists estimated about 300 buffalo. MAGNIFICENT!

For someone who likes to take pictures of signs, this was the place to come: Dragon’s

Mouth Spring, Mud Volcano, Mt. Washburn Trail…Life Above Treeline. Underground,

thermal activity was slowly deteriorating part of a parking lot. The scenery changes with

different elevations.

Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces is one of the most amazing landscapes at the park.

Several key ingredients are necessary to make these terraces what they are: heat, water,

limestone and a rock fracture system through which the hot water can reach the surface.

Travertine is deposited as white rock. However, the microorganisms and living bacteria

create stunning shades of pink, orange, yellow, brown and green. Since the underground

springs are continuously changing, water is forced to flow in different directions. The

constant changes in slow, trickling water and mineral deposits form “living sculptures”.

There is about one mile of boardwalk, with stairways, at this section of Yellowstone.

We spent a couple of hours exploring both the Upper and Lower Terraces. I liked the

names of these formations, too. The Lower Terraces have: Liberty Cap, Opal Terrace,

Pallette Spring, Minerva Terrace, Cleopatra Terrace, Jupiter Terrace, Main Terrace,

Canary Spring, and Overlook. I loved these small cascading formations.

The Upper Terraces have: Prospect Terrace, New Highland Terrace, Orange Spring

Mound, Bath Lake, White Elephant Black Terrace, and Angel Terrace. Did I mention

earlier about “amazing” landscapes? And we saw our first snake, below the boardwalk.

As we continued driving in the northwestern section of the park, we pulled over at

Nymph Lake. There was a sign about Moose Bogs. And we saw a young female moose

grazing on some green grass in the lake. We saw plenty of mule deer as we approached

Steamboat Geyser. On distant mountaintops, there were patches of snow. Steamboat is

the world’s tallest active geyser. It erupts infrequently, sometimes going years between

eruptions. But when it does go off, it can spew water more than 300 feet into the air!

We are now in the Norris Geyser Basin. This is the largest and most changeable ther-

mal area in Yellowstone. What an incredible 2 and ¼ mile walk. There are two distinct

areas: Back Basin and Porcelain Basin. The hottest of the geothermal features are steam

vents, called fumaroles. There is Black Growler Steam Vent. It is the second largest

geyser here, and can shoot water 125 feet into the air, but at an angle. There is Congress

Pool, which is usually pale blue in color. But at times, it becomes muddy and boils vio-

lently. Sometimes the temperatures approach 200 degrees F.

The milky color of the mineral deposits help inspire the naming of Porcelain Basin.

There is Blue Geyser, which has been almost dormant since 1997. I liked the names:

Whirligig Geyser and Little Whirligig. The water swirls in its crater when erupting. Acid

water is released at many areas of Norris. Surprisingly, some green algae thrive in this

environment. There is the Whale’s Mouth hot spring and Crackling Lake.

Emerald Spring is a 27-foot deep pool. Below the water level, the pool is lined with

yellow sulfur deposits. The reflected blue light, along with the yellow sulfur, combine to

give this pool a magnificent emerald green color. There is Cistern Spring and the Echinus

Geyser. Echinus is the largest acid-water geyser known. It has the ph of vinegar (3.4).
Acid geysers are extremely rare, with the majority of the planet’s total being found here at

Norris Geyser Basin. Green Dragon Spring reeks of sulfur. Porkchop Geyser is a contin-

uous spouter. At one point, Minute Geyser thrilled visitors every 60 seconds. But its

eruptions now are irregular.

For supper this evening, we shall go to the Old Faithful Inn. I have been wanting to

come back here for about 16 years. The Inn was built in 1904 from local lodge-pole pines.

There is a massive 4-sided rhyolite fireplace, standing 85 feet high. Impressive! This is

the largest log hotel in the world. The lobby features a 65 foot high ceiling. There are a

couple of overhanging balconies, which give wonderful views. And you can walk out

onto the terrace, pull up a rocking chair, and wait for Old Faithful Geyser to erupt again.

It should take about 75 minutes.

AUGUST 1, 2002 (Thursday)

Today we start our adventure with a visit to the Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River.

We got very close. And my little “mountain goat” got a chance to do some rock climbing.

This is truly beautiful.

We make a few stops to see Sulphur Caldron and Mud Volcano. I think you have a

good idea what sulphur smells like. Stinky. Then there was Dragon Mouth Spray.

We park the car and walk down to LeHardy Rapids. This is the place where salmon

make the annual run upstream to spawn. Bethany and I take off our shoes and go wading

in the cold waters. And someone has to pick up a few collectible rocks. As we walk back

toward the car, we see dozens of molted locust shells, and a pronghorn sheep in the


We went back to our room to freshen up. This is our last night and we have made

reservations for a Cowboy Campfire Cookout. Just another lovely drive as we head up

to the Roosevelt Corral. Thought for a little while that we might not make it there by 5.

After that time, it is first-come, first-served. We arrived a few minutes before 5 p.m. and

join about 100 other guests. The first group leaves on horseback. The rest of us have a

chance to pet the horses and take pictures around the wagons.

The one hour ride goes through sagebrush flats. Children join the drivers of these

wagons on the first row. Ambling along the trail, we are entertained by tales of the early

visitors in this part of the state. Bighorn sheep are spotted in the distance.

The steaks are sizzling as we arrive. Dinner is served buffet style. There are plenty of

baked beans, potato salad, corn, cole slaw, corn muffins, watermelon, apple crisp and

beverages. Sitting at picnic tables, everyone seemed so friendly. How many times did we

hear, “where are you from?” After dessert, we walked towards the campfires, where the

smell of coffee filled the air. Cowboy Bob played his guitar and sang songs from the days

of the Old West. We all got a cup and thought how much Grandma and Boppa would

have enjoyed this.

The dinner is finished. Most of us are stuffed and its time to head back to the corrals.

I think I have been inspired to write a poem about this wonderful experience. It seems

like we were part of a Charles Russell print, appreciating the cowboys of long ago.

AUGUST 2, 2002 (Friday)

Our final day in America’s first National Park, we’ll start with a visit to the West

Thumb of Yellowstone Lake. This is the largest lake in the park. It is 20 miles long by

14 miles wide and covers 136 square miles. The average depth is 140 feet, with the

deepest spot reaching 390 feet. Yellowstone Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake

above 7000 feet in the U.S.A.

The bottom of Yellowstone Lake is hydrothermally active. There are vents, spires,

domes, craters, and rhyolitic lava flows. There is also evidence of glacial, tectonic and

sedimentation processes. Scientists describe Yellowstone as a Super-Volcano. The vol-

canic depression in the ground, or caldera, covers the entire park. The whole park is one

gigantic reservoir of magma. If past history is any indication, that area is overdue for a

mighty explosion.

Some say Yellowstone has a bulging magma chamber. And a few roads and walking

trails have now been closed to the public, with ground temperatures reaching 200 derees.

An explosion would be 2500 times as strong as Mt. Saint Helens, WA which erupted in

1980. We’ll keep an eye on developments.

We shall tour the Old Faithful Geyser visitor center. Old Faithful is the most famous

of the 182 geysers at Yellowstone Park. Hundreds of tourists come by every hour to wit-

ness this spectacular display of nature. There are artisans inside, with their crafts. Very

interesting to see and pick up a few souvenirs. The potter crafting clay into bowls, cups,

and mugs got Bethany’s attention. Sixteen years earlier, I had bought a leather picture,

featuring a buffalo that had been “burned” onto it.

Our time here is over, as we soak in the incredible beauty of the place. As we exit the

park, we soon enter West Yellowstone, Montana. That Dairy Queen looks like it has the

ice cream we need, as we talk about the first part of our trip. On a nearby utility pole, was

a poster of a missing person. Have you seen Elizabeth Smart? How many times had we seen her videos on television? I pray that somehow she is located. Looking at our

map, I see how close we are to Idaho. If I can take the correct road, we should be able to

drive through another new state. Well, it seemed like a good idea, but I missed our turn.

I have enjoyed taking short little stretch breaks at historical markers. We came across

The Bozeman Trail was opened in 1864 as a shortcut between the Overland

Road and the newly opened Montana gold fields. There was another quick stop at the

Gates of the Mountains park near Helena.

We have seen some wonderful scenery these past few days. Back into Great Falls, we

drive to the airport. No passports for the Cobb family. We were concerned that might

happen. I guess Northwestern Airlines just tossed my envelope into the trash, as they

cleaned the plane last Monday. So much for being helpful. We check into a hotel and

talk about our big day we have planned for tomorrow.

AUGUST 3, 2002 (Saturday)

After an early breakfast, we head over to the Super 8 Motel. The letter from home has

arrived and we now have Bethany’s birth certificate. Time to drive on up Highway 89. I

wanted to stop in Choteau. At the Old Trail Museum we learned a little about dinosaurs

that roamed the area millions of years ago.

A little farther up the road, we stopped in Bynum. Just had to visit the Timescale Ad-

ventures Research Center. It offers hands-on dinosaur programs. From one day up to two

weeks, you can join paleontologists, staff and other volunteers. Reservations are highly

recommended, and we could not fit it into our schedule. We’ll just have to come back

another time to dig for dinosaur bones.

Have I mentioned that I like to take pictures of signs and historic markers? I got a

picture of one about Blackfeet Indians and Buffalo. Next was a simple sign, Rocky

Mountains. Another sign told about Captain Meriwether Lewis. The last sign gave notice

that we were now on the land of the Blackfeet Indians.

In the town of Browning, we stopped at a souvenir shop. Bought a few knick knacks

and a beautifully colored blanket. Authentically Indian made, of couse, it will keep us

warm for many winters to come.

Finally, we enter Glacier National Park, on the eastern side at St. Mary. We soon

check into our room # 6 at the Rising Sun Motor Inn. Built in 1940, it sits adjacent to

spectacular St. Mary Lake. We are in awe of the soaring mountain peaks, and snow caps.

This inn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. This is located

along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. What a marvelous view!

After bringing in the luggage and getting settled in, we did a little driving. There was a

bright red sign I took a photo of: Bear Country…All Wildlife Is Dangerous…Do Not

Approach Or Feed. Nearby were small plants with white flowers. Had not seen this kind

before. Learned that is was bear grass.

What do you do when it is 37 degrees outside? You gotta stop at a snow bank and

have your picture taken. With a windchill in the low 20’s, this southern boy was glad to

get back in the car. This is our first trip to Glacier and we just enjoyed the beauty of the

place. Got to see two mule deer, glaciers, waterfalls, rivers, streams and lakes. Awesome!

AUGUST 4, 2002 (Sunday)

We have a fun day planned when finished with breakfast. We have reservations for 3

on a boat ride on St. Mary Lake followed by a 2-mile hike. There is a very informative

guide for us on the 1-hour boat ride. We see Sexton Glacier and Wild Goose Island. The

deepest part of the lake is 300 feet. As we get closer to land and prepare to dock, our

guide has her binocculars on a golden colored black bear. We shall be walking on that

trail in about 5 minutes.

There is such a variety of plant life. We see huckleberries, sarvis berries, Indian paint-

brush, fir trees, spruce, etc. We learn that fir trees are friendly (soft) and spruce trees are

sticky. I just love hiking through a thick forest. The wildflowers are beautiful as we pass

by cascading creeks. We learn a lot from our Park Ranger, Lucy Walter.

Our group is on a two mile round trip to St. Mary waterfalls. The rugged cliffs in the

distance add to the grandeur. We take our obligatory pictures, then start the hike back to

our wooden boat. I guess I would say we were fortunate that we did not cross paths with

the bear. Such spectacular mountain vistas as our boat passes over the silent lake.

Such a picturesque boat ride on lovely St. Mary Lake. Soon we are back at our room

to relax for a little while, before we go to lunch. I like the name of our restaurant, Two

Dog Flats Grill. We are seated at a table next to very large glass windows. As we finish

our meal, Bethany orders one of the largest brownie sundaes, dripping with chocolate

syrup, that I believe I have ever seen.

This afternoon we drive to the northeast corner of Glacier Park. Many Glacier Hotel

area is stunning. Completed in 1914 on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake, it rests at the

base of Mt. Grinnell. It is a five story brown wooden Swiss themed hotel and is listed on

the National Register of Historic Places.

There are a few walking trails nearby. This is why we brought the can of “bear spray”.
We shall hike around Josephine Lake. Soon, I feel like we are in the proverbial “middle

of nowhere”. This region is classified as sub-alpine forest and we notice that beavers

must live in this area. There are several young trees that have been chewed near ground

level and fallen over. A little breeze blows across the lake and I’m glad we have on our

wind-breakers. Lush vegetation, tall trees and rocky mountains, what a view! It was about

3 miles round trip and certainly a hi-lite for us.

As we drive back toward our room, there are dozens of cars that have pulled off the

road. It sure reminded me of buffalo at Yellowstone Park. What would cause such a

commotion? There are two huge grizzly bears! At a safe distance (?) people are taking

pictures and using their camcorders. And the bears? They are just minding their own

business, munching on bushes at the edge of a large green meadow.

We stop at a scenic overlook and pick up a Junior Park Ranger activity sheet. This

looks like fun. We learn that inside Glacier National Park, which was designated in 1910,

there are 1583 square miles, 32 glaciers, 175 mountains, 745 miles of marked hiking

trails, 1004 camping sites, numerous waterfalls and 762 lakes. Now, isn’t learning fun?

As we slowly drive eastward, we stop many times and read clues for Jr. Park Ranger

activities. At one of our stops, I read about a Triple Divide Peak. More than just a Conti-

nental Divide, rain and snow-melt travel to three major river systems. Eventually this

water will enter the Pacific Ocean, Hudson Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

We enjoy an earlier than normal supper before retiring for the night. It has been a full

day and we are excited about our adventures tomorrow.

AUGUST 5, 2002 (Monday)

Bethany has now completed her Junior Park Ranger requirements. We travel to the

Ranger Station so she can give her pledge and receive a badge! The motto for junior

park rangers is: “Explore, Learn, Protect“. I took a few pictures of my 7-year old as she

is sworn in. That little smile showed me she was so proud of herself.

We will be travelling the entire 50-mile route of the Going-To-The-Sun Road. It was

completed in 1932 and passes through every type of terrain in the park. There are cedar

forests, wildflower meadows, large glacial lakes and alpine tundra. In 1983, this road was

included in the National Register of Historic Places. G.T.T.S. Road splits the park into

northern and southern halves. It crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass at a height

of 6680 feet. Glacier National Park hosts 264 species of birds and 60 mammal species.

We make a quick stop at Sunrift Gorge waterfalls. It is a deep, straight vertical gorge.

A beautiful hike and then we are at Baring Falls. It is gorgeous. As we drive westward,

a sign catches my attention: DANGER… Unstable Snow Bridge…Keep Away…

Well, of course, we stop to take a picture of the snow bridge.

Russell’s Trails End is the restaurant we stop at for lunch. I enjoy these rustic settings.

And there is a carved totem pole out front. Then we’re on our way to Lake McDonald.

Gazillions of stones at the waters edge and the water is crystally clear. Bethany says this

is her favorite lake at Glacier Park.

Going-To-The-Sun Road is closed in October and reopens in April. At times, there are

80 foot snow drifts. I can only imagine! We only saw a few of the 32 glaciers here at the

National Park. Some scientists predict that they will all be gone within 18 years. I’m not

so sure about that. This is an incredibly beautiful National Park. I think a poem will help me remember the majesty of this place. And I called it :

A trip to Glacier National Park Reveals a landscape of ice and snow.
Has northern Montana really changed Since 10,000 yeas ago?
Less than 50 glistening glaciers remain. Hike in the remote wilderness with care.
Dip your bare feet in an ice-blue lake. Might see mountain goats or grizzly bear.
Historic lodges at the water’s edge, Alpine meadows, snow banks and water falls.
Pull out the map & chart your hiking trails. Do you think you can visit them all?
On top of the world at Logan’s Pass, Straddling the windy Continental Divide.
Skim the blue waters of St. Mary Lake. Take a Going-to-the-Sun red jammer ride.
Crystal clear waters flow through the park Sunlight fights to reach the forest floor.
One visit to this World Heritage site, Can’t wait to return to see more!
(published in “The Road That Never Ends” by the International Library of Poetry 2003)

We have reservations for the night in Whitefish, MT. And why are we staying at the

Holiday Inn Express? It has a 90-foot waterslide!!!! Wow, what a fun time. Bethany and I

spent about two hours in the pool and on the twisting slide. What a blast! There were two

loops to the slide before we plunged into the blue water.

Then we stepped out to the deck and had our choice of two hot-tubs. Just sitting in the

whirling hot waters, relaxing and admiring the snow capped mountains in the distance.

Did I mention how relaxing this was?

After supper, I fill the gas tank and wash a few clothes at the nearby laundry. We shall

try for an early departure tomorrow.

AUGUST 6, 2002 (Tuesday)

After breakfast, we just have to get back into the swimming pool. Bethany and I just

love that 90-foot waterslide. If you have a child, this pool is for you. Fun!

After leaving Whitefish, we drove through the Tobacco Plains of northern MT.

Centuries ago, Indians planted tobacco here for religious uses. We stop in the town of

Eureka. It is the last stop before the border. I liked the wooden sign in a small park: EUREKA, MONTANA Welcomes You. Next to it is a 5-foot tall wood carved bear, atop

a stump. Cute. Time for lunch and the buffalo burger gets my attention.

This will be Bethany’s first visit outside the country. Time for some pictures. There is

the “Leaving U.S.A., Report to Canadian Customs” sign. Next was the “Revenue Canada,

Customs” sign. And my favorite, “Super, Natural British Columbia Welcomes You”.

Our rode winds alongside the Kootenay River. Steamboats were common here from 1893

- 1898. This facilitated the mining boom in the area.

We made a few scenic stops to stretch our legs, take more pix, and soak in the view.

Near the town of Radium Hot Springs there is a Playland. There was miniature golf,

paddle boats, a carpet slide, picnic tables and other fun things. That was a treat for the

little one.

We enjoy Sinclair Canyon in Kootenay National Park. The Kootenay Parkway was the

first road to cross the Canadian Rockies. We now drive alongside the Simpson River.

Time to stop at the Continental Divide. This is the border between British Columbia and

Alberta. On the east side is Banff National Park. Such beautiful wilderness!

In the city of Banff, we shall stay four nights at the Norquay Timberline Inn. It is

located at the base of the Mount Norquay Ski Resort. The view from our balcony of the

Bow Valley was breathtaking. There is a very nice restaurant downstairs, the Big Horn

Steak House, featuring a wide variety of good things including Chilean sea bass.

AUGUST 7, 2002 (Wednesday)

After breakfast, we drove about two miles into the city of Banff. Bought gasoline and

sandwiches for a picnic lunch. We drove to Lake Louise. The parking lot was so crowded

that we could not find a single parking space. So, we went about 15 miles down to

Moraine Lake. Beautiful!!! The blue-green water is so pretty. Bethany was fond of the

cute little golden-mantled ground squirrels. We tried to feed them some bread. Climbed

a rock pile and took more pictures. Hiked over a mile, through a thick, green forest of fir

and spruce trees. Finally reached the end of the lake. That’s where the little waterfall

came in. So pretty. And we had to pick up some rocks along the way. Such a beautiful

reflection of the blue lake, with mountains AND glaciers in the background!

Bought some souvenirs, then drove back to Lake Louise. Many people were enjoying

a canoe ride. I tried to capture a glacier in the background of many of my pictures. It sure

was cold and windy. Janet was pleased to catch a few snowflakes on her glasses.

Our family went inside the luxury hotel, Fairmont Chateaux at Lake Louise. We

needed to buy some postcards. I thought of my trip to this hotel with Joe almost 16 years

ago, then hiking around the backside and encountering a moose. None to be seen today.

We won’t ever forget the majesty of this special place. Our time here is over and now

we’ll head toward Banff. Janet wants to eat at Bumper’s Restaurant. We’ll have steak and

baked potato tonight. There are large picture windows and we had an incredible view.

What a fun day at the two lakes!!!

AUGUST 8, 2002 (Thursday)

Today, our family drove through the Bow Valley. There were so many places to pull

off the road and see some awesome scenery. Incredibly beautiful! There was some snow

on the mountains, several glaciers, blue - green lakes, wild flowers. And I loved the log

cabin lodge at Num-Ti-Jah. It overlooks one of the most dramatic scenes in the Canadian

Rockies. Out of Bow Lake the mountains rise steep and rugged. The blue ice of Crowfoot

Glacier hangs suspended over the turquoise water. To the west, the craggy peaks of the

Great Divide tower over Bow Glacier. I snapped a few amazing pictures of the reflection

of the glacier on the mountain-top in the water.

We were snacking as we headed northward. Traffic slowed down to a crawl. There

was a parade of four mountain goats, taking their time, while crossing a bridge. Neat.

We have now arrived at the Columbia Icefields. Joe and I had travelled here also.

There are six glaciers that make up this ice-field area. At the visitors centre, we

booked a glacier ride.

The Sno-Coach ride took us down the steepest road in Canada. Our driver / tour

guide threw out a lot of interesting facts to us. After stopping, we all went out walking on

top of the Athabasca Glacier. It is 1200 feet thick !!! The recent snow had turned into ice.

Some of the tourists were more sure-footed than others. What a cold and crunchy thrill.

The guide explained about this being a “tri-continental divide”. The melted waters flow

into the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. The ice field covers 320+ square kilometers.

The continuous accumulation of snow feeds eight major glaciers to create a true

“hydrological apex”.

Our tour ended back at the visitors centre. There were photos that showed where the

glacier ended, showing a retreatment over a 100-year time period. Fascinating. Learned

more about glaciers and the Rockies, here.

It took just a few minutes to drive across the road, into the large parking lot. Janet will

stay warm and stay in the car while Bethany and I walk on the edge of the glacier one

last time. There are steep slopes to climb but we arrive. It is such a bright sun-shiny day.
We crossed a little foot bridge and my first step was in an icy “gloop” of mud. As we

played for just a little while and taking pictures, I had to think of my trip onto this spot

with Joe in 1986. It was fun to reminesce on how far I’d come.

It is time to return to Banff. As we got closer, I slowed to take a photo of the “animal

bridge”. The bridge above us is for the thousands of land animals to use. The wire fence

near the entrance of the auto “tunnel” is designed to keep animals off the highway. It has

really helped to prevent so much road-kill. Just a sad reality for travelling in this wilder-


Near Lake Louise, we stopped for a wonderful supper at The Crossing Resort Rest-

aurant. It is only open in the summer months and has a terrific buffet. The tall mountains

we see through the large picture windows are grandiose.

As we approach Banff, we pull into a scenic overview spot. There are 5 wooden signs

pointing to 5 mountain ranges. And these signs point in the correct direction. There is the

Sundance Range; Mt. Howard Douglas alt. 9440; Mt. Rundle alt. 9675; Cascade Mt.

alt. 9836, and Sulphur Mt. alt. 8040.

Back at our Norquay Timberline Inn, we sit out on our balcony. The beauty of the

valley helps us ease off to sleep.

AUGUST 9, 2002 (Friday)

The big plan for today is visiting the Snowy Owl Dog Kennels in Canmore. The

Snowy Owl website bills itself as “the premiere dog sled adventure company in the

Canadian Rockies!” Since it is summertime, our tour today is to visit with each and every

one of the 141 sled dogs!!! To feel like we’re preparing for an authentic sled-dog trip,

we slowly bake our bannock bread biscuits over an open flame. We shall need something

to eat on our adventure, won’t we?

Our guide today is Jereme, the 18 year old son of the two owners. This dog-sled tour

business was started in 1983. He tells us about the history of dog-sledding. As we go

from doghouse to doghouse, we learn that the huskies do not sleep in them. For whatever

reason, they like to sleep on top of their small houses. Each dog has a name that is painted

on their green wooden doghouses. As I said, we stopped to visit and pet EACH dog they

had there.

There is a large chart for their feeding schedule. These dogs are not just treated as a

valuable asset (which they are), but as family! And it seemed like each one had its own

personality. Did I mention that each one loves to be petted? Janet accidentally forgot one

dog that had been waiting patiently. As she walked slowly by, he jumped up upon her

back as if to ask, “are you forgetting someone?” The dog named Raja appeared in the tel-

evision series “Due South”, and was called Diefenbaker.

There are five distinct species of dogs here at the kennel: Inuit husky, Canadian Indian

husky, Siberian husky, Alaskan husky and Alaskan malamute. Jereme is very informative

as he explains about hair color, eyes, dominance (alpha male and female), endurance, re-

sponsiveness, a better leader, a better follower, size, pulling capacity, origins, etc…

It was a fascinating few hours there. One day, and I don’t know when, I’d really like to

join a sled-dog tour in the wintertime. Mush! Bethany was thrilled.

It was time to go back to Banff and change clothes. With over two hundred dog paws

jumping up on our shirts, it was time to freshen up. After a quick lunch, we drive north to

Lake Louise then head westward to Golden, British Columbia. Golden is at the junction of Highway 1 (the trans-Canada Highway) and Hwy. 95. Our adventure takes us to the

Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Center. The Black family started the wolf center in 1998,

with the adoption of Aspen. She is a wolf dog: 25% husky and 75% grey wolf. There are

now four wolves at the center. We are the only visitors at the moment and receive a

thorough tour of the almost one acre facility.

Tuk and Maya were added in July 1999. Tuk is a male grey wolf. His sister, Maya, is

from the same pack. The new wolf is Wiley. He is 100% grey wolf and was born about 10

weeks ago. He was only 9 days old when brought here and weighed 1 & ½ pounds. Maya

even dug a den for him.

The owner recalled that there had been a few newspaper stories about these wolves. A

local hunter offered him a large amount of frozen venison. Since it was over 5 years old

and frost-burned, he didn’t know if it was any good. So, he cooked a little and ate it.

Since he did not get sick, he thought it would be safe for his wolves.

Interpretive talks about the wolves and their role in a healthy ecosystem was very in-

formative. Plus, the owner made sure we got all the photos and camcorder shots we

wanted. And there was a souvenir shop on the premises. This has been entertaining

and Bethany has certainly enjoyed it .

Our next activity is to visit Yoho National Park. The word yoho is a Cree expression

for “awe and wonder”. And we will start at Natural Bridge. It’s an impressive limestone

rock formation that completely spans the flow of the Kicking Horse River. Powerful

rushing waters helped erode this landscape. Quite impressive to see the results of water

and time. Of course, Bethany wanted to walk down to the river and put her feet in. Fun.

Now we drive to Emerald Lake. Some have called it the “jewel” of Yoho National

Park and also, the Canadian Rockies. It’s incredible green color is created by glacial rock

flour. One of the most spectacular pictures you can take is the reflection of the Wapta

Mountain on Emerald Lake. The Emerald Lake Lodge is a fantastic destination. As I

repeat myself, the scenery is truly breathtaking.

The day is winding down and time for us to leave. We stop at the West Louise Lodge

for supper. Good food and a great view of the mountains, right across the street. This has

been our last full day in Canada and we shall sleep well tonight.

AUGUST 10, 2002 (Saturday)

Ths sun is shining over the Bow Valley as we roll out of bed. We check out of our

hotel and follow the long and winding road to the Norquay Ski Resort. Such a lovely

view. Maybe we shall return one day and ski these slopes. Hope so.

In Banff, we will take the gondola ride. It only takes about 8 minutes to reach the

summit of Sulphur Mountain. We climb 2292 feet until we stopped. The Summit Up-

per Terminal sits at 7486 feet. Above the restaurant is an observation deck. You’ll get a

bird’s-eye view of six mountain ranges! We followed the Bow River as it meanders

through the city. What a glorious end to our visit of Banff. We learn that the town of

Banff was named for Banffshire, Scotland. That is the birthplace of two major financiers

of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

As we drive towards the east, we see a few huge elk grazing a couple of feet off the

highway. So majestic with their huge racks of antlers. It starts to rain on us as we enter

Canmore. We wonder how much it would cost to feed 141 sled dogs for a year.

Soon we are approaching Calgary. This was the host city for the 1988 Winter

Olympics. Joe and I had taken this route. There was a lot of activity at the skiing

area at that time. We buy a few snacks as I gas up the car. The rain has quit.

Near Fort MacLeod, we stop at the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. It is one of the

world’s oldest and best preserved documented buffalo jumps, and is proclaimed as a

United Nations World Heritage Site. There is a very informative interpretive center.

Essentially, the buffalo were funneled into a smaller trail / drive lane until they were

stampeding. The dramatic hunt came to an end when the buffalo plunged over the top of

the cliff.

There are four distinct components to this site: the gathering basin, the drive lanes, the

cliff kill site, and the processing area. The gathering basin is a natural gazing area with

plenty of water and mixed grass. It covers 40 square kilometers. Long lines of stone

cairns were built to help the hunters direct the buffalo to the cliff kill site. Thousands of

small piles of stones marked the driving lanes which extended about ten miles back into

the gathering basin. A few would scare the animals by waving robes and shouting. The

stampeding herd would plunge about 60 feet over the cliff to an untimely death. Evidence

shows that this site was in use as early as 3700 B.C. If a few of the animals survived the

fall, they would be clubbed to death or shot with bow and arrow. The buffalo were

skinned, butchered and processed just below the kill site. Its flesh was food, the hide was

used for clothing and tipi covers, its dung, fuel, and marrow extracted from the bones.

Horns were scraped and made into spoons and the tongues were given to medicine men to

ensure the success of a hunt. Gazing toward the eastern plains, we could imagine the

Blackfoot tribe at work, as recently as the 1850’s.

Our family stops in Lethbridge for supper. I recognize it as the place Joe and I had

eaten at, many moons ago. That was an interesting coincidence. We discuss crossing at

Coutts and hoping we would not have trouble at Customs. Without our passports, we did

not know how much difficulty we would encounter. Fortunately, it was not too bad.

Back in the U.S.A. and we decide to spend the night in Shelby, MT. We check into the

O’Haire Manor Motel, as it began to gently rain.

AUGUST 11, 2002 (Sunday)

We check out of our 1953 era motel and join dozens for a Sunday breakfast at a

restaurant on Main St. Time to fill the gas tank and leave this pleasant little town. As I

check my receipt, I am awe-struck by the date : 08/11/1902. Y2K has struck. This is not

100 years ago. I think I’ll keep this interesting souvenir.

The miles zip by and we are now back in Great Falls. We check into our Super-8

Motel. Joe soon joins us. Our next attraction today will be the Charles Russell home and

log cabin studio. It was built in 1900 at a cost of $800. His wife, Nancy, suggested a log

cabin studio, which was completed in 1903. This became Charlie’s sanctuary and work

area. It contained his Indian and cowboy collections. In all, there were about 1200 items

ranging from completed art works and works in progress, painting materials, personal be-

longings, plus horse equipment and props. What an inspiring place! I could just feel the

history there.

Charlie Russell died in October of 1926 (two weeks after Janet’s father was born). His

wife and son moved to California the next year. The Russell home and studio became a

Designated National Historic Landmark in 1966.

We drive to the river to visit the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive

Center. The 25,000 square foot building has so many displays and exhibits, I wish we

could have stayed all day. It also contains a theater and the obligatory souvenir store.

Outside, there are several hiking trails. We enjoyed the 1 and ¼ mile trail, which took

us down to the Missouri River. And we saw some wild huckleberries. There are signs

along the route to satisfy our curiosity. This has been very informative.

We eat supper at a restaurant and meet a few of Joe’s friends. He seems eager to show

off his Alabama buddies. Back at the Super-8, we pack our suitcases and hit the bed early.

AUGUST 12, 2002 (Monday)

After checking out, we mail some of our souvenirs back to Mobile. We purchased

many pounds of “memories” on this wonderful vacation, and our suitcases are stuffed.

Joe meets us for lunch at one of his favorite downtown locations. We say our good-byes

then drive to the airport. Turn in the rental car and await our 1:30 flight.

We are going to miss this Big Sky state, it seems so wide-open! Our Northwestern

plane takes us to St. Paul, MN. There is a delay leaving (inclement weather) on our

flight to Memphis. Unfortunately, we don’t make our connection to Mobile. The airline

gives us vouchers for a free nights stay in a local hotel. The restaurant is closed for the

evening and about 40 people try to get served food, via the bartender and one cook. Not

the kind of great service we usually experience.

AUGUST 13, 2002 (Tuesday)

A good breakfast and a shuttle ride to the airport. No delays and we are back in Mobile

before noon. All in all, this has been another fantastic vacation! Life is good!


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