In Canada and then back in the USA , August 5 until August 17, 2017
After a cool start of the day, it’s only 50 degrees, it warms up. We drive to Jasper in our camper since the road is very busy with speeding cars so it’s not nice to do this with our bike. We walk around town, drinking delicious coffee in the laundry (recommended by my sister Hannah) and look around in the shops or there is something nice. Dick does not like this because we don’t need anything but I love to look or there is anything on sale. But without purchases we drive back to the overflow campground in the afternoon. Dick start cleaning the camper so I fill up the buckets with water from a nearby watering hole. It’s necessary because the camper is filthy.
But with the splendid weather it is not bad to be outside. Our beer at 5 pm is well deserved because the camper looks beautiful.
Sunday, August 6, the sky is steel blue, a great day to drive the Icefield Parkway. The mountain scenery is majestic and we go South. We soon discover that driving the reverse direction is better because now we constantly look into the Sun and the mountains are hazy. Regularly we stop to take pictures of the surrounding glaciers and lakes. Unfortunately an endless stream of cars comes to meet us and the parking spaces near attractions are overcrowded. Regularly we have to continue our travels because we really cannot park our RV. Ofcourse the campground in Lake Louise is full. There is no place at all in Lake Louise Village, so we drive to the overflow campground, about 5 miles away.
There is enough place for campers to stay. There are long queues waiting for the shuttle to get to Lake Louise, so we decide not to go to the lake (you can walk there over the heads of people). Around three o’clock, the line dries up so we get the shuttle to the Village, where Dick can publish on our website and around 5 pm we drive back to the overflow parking before the mass return from the lake. This is the busiest weekend of the year, at 8 am there was already no parking place available at Lake Louise.
But we have a good place on the overflow parking and watch the returning stream of people. Mirjam and Wim from Holland come to visit us, they want to learn everything about transferring a camper and when Alexander (also from Holland) ask or his wife Ilena may take a shower in our RV (of course it’s possible) we have a pleasant evening together.
Around half past 11 we realize what time it is and say goodbye to each other. Monday morning, August 7, we also say goodbye to our neighbors John and La from Oregon (we really need to drop by) and drive to Banff. Again, there is no place available on Tunnel Mountain campground, we are too early, but if we return around 11 am there will be something available.
So we go down to the city center where we walk around. However, I am restless so after an hour we go back to the campground. There is vacancy now and after taking our RV spot we board the free shuttle to Banff and walk around again, now with the certainty that we have a place for the night. Unfortunately, late in the afternoon the sun disappears and a chilly breeze blow so after returning at the campground it’s not pleasant to sit outside.
Tuesday it’s cloudy but there is no wind so it feels warmer. Before leaving Banff we bring our empty cans to the bottle depot and receive $ 3,70. Wooooow!
On our way to Radium Hot Springs we face the forest fires that terrorize this part of Canada for some weeks. Thick smoke clouds are around us and inside the RV it smells like we make a wood fire. The mountains around us are almost not visible and you realize how bad the people here are affected by the fires.
At the Visitor Center in Radium they tell us that the road going South is open so we take that one and at three pm we stop in Fort Steele, to late to visit this Historic Fort, but it’s nice on the nearby campground.
We walk around searching for geocaches and enjoy the sun, covered by smoke. It is warm (78 degrees) but at 8 pm the wind starts blowing and thunderclaps coloring the sky, unfortunately no rain, with the many fires it would be welcome here. On Wednesday August 9th the sun still suffer from the smoke, it’s veiled and the sky looks like milk. We still smell the fires. Around half past 10 we are at the border crossing of Roosville. Only after extensively explained where and when our car has arrived and when it leaves the USA, we may enter the country. No wonder there are fires, the past 5 weeks there was no drop of rain. The fields are yellow and nature looks very dry.
When we arrive at Glacier National Park we stuck in a traffic jam. It is very busy and it’s not amazing that all the campgrounds are full. Yet, we look at a few and to our surprise, at the last campground, Fishcreek, we find out that there is a place for one night available, a great place where we can sit outside amid the trees, very pleasant with a temperature of 80 degrees. Late afternoon Dick make us pancakes with bacon, ofcourse outside the RV because the smell is not really pleasant inside the camper.
Around half past eight we walk to the Amphitheater. The topic “Mountains” is made for me because from an early age I love the mountains and as John Muir comes on the screen: “The mountains are calling so I have to go ” (I bought a T-shirt in Seward, AK with this text). I am satisfied and by the way, the lecture is also fascinating.
It’s already dark when we leave the amphitheater, so we need our lights while climbing the mountain to the campground. After some chitchat with our neighbors we go to bed. Thursday August 10th our alarm clock wakes us up before 6 am and after a shower we leave. Yesterday I heard that the campgrounds fill up at 8 am so early in the morning we have to find another spot. At Apgar campground there is vacancy and a beautiful spot. Once I filled out the “self registration” form and put money in it, we walk to the Visitor Center where the shuttles leave. The big crowds this year in Glacier (already more than one million visitors) make that there is hardly any parking place at Logan Pass so many people take this shuttle. The result is a long line waiting at half past seven. After one hour waiting in line we aboard the bus and moments later we drive the “Going to the Sun road”. Finally, after been here three times before, we can explore this park (as our RV is too long we cannot drive this way).
On Logan Pass we buy nice T-shirts, get a stamp in our National Park Passport and decide to walk to Hidden Lake. It is quite cold at this altitude because there is an icy breeze and I am glad that we have two wind jacket to wear. Despite the fact that a lot of people make the same walk (the way up is a traffic jam) nature is very beautiful and next to a herd of Bighorn Sheep, we also see a lot of Mountain Goat. These are my favorites, they look great with their pure white coat. I’m glad I’ve bought a stuffed one for the camper.
More clouds are coming in and the visibility is less when we arrive at Hidden Lake but on our way back the Sun re-appears. The shuttle back is more quiet as many people are still in the mountains. Back on the campground we sit outside and read. By nightfall storm is coming in and lightning strikes heaven, there is also substantial rain. Unfortunately the rain lasts only briefly, not sufficient to compensate the lack of rainfall for the past 5 weeks. The wind gusts break a big branch that falls on our roof. Days later, it turns out, that the edge of one of our skylights is destroyed by it. In October, we will have to bring a new skylight with us from the Netherlands. Friday morning, all the clouds are disappeared and the sun shines, it quickly becomes hot and when we arrive in Polson it’s 87 degrees.
After visiting the laundromat, no luxury if you did not wash your clothes for 9 days, and vacuum the camper, we drive to Odyssey Auto Glass. Just before arriving at Polson an overtaking car has thrown a stone which originated a huge star in the driver’s view. After looking at the place and size of the star Dick thinks it’s advisable to enlist the help of a specialized company. Greg does a superb job, you can hardly see the star and moments later we are at Tree Dogs Down, Bob’s shop and are warmly greeted by Bob and Brenda, his manager. Bob has customers for a ride with the “Happy Hippo” an amphibious vehicle from Viet Nam, we have to come. I love to go but Dick prefers to stay at the premises. We have a great ride (partly boat trip), it’s even more fun now I am part of the crew.
With loud music we drive through Polson, Bob tells a lot about this nice town, everybody waves at us and finally with enormous speed we dive into the Lake. With waterguns we moisten each other and we have fun. The children on the shore love it when Bob get them soaked with his fire hose, well it is 89 degrees. Soaking wet after a crazy and cozy ride we arrive back at the shop. After exchanging my wet clothes for dry and looking around in this fantastic store, where apart from the best down, great stuff is for sale, we drive with Bob to his ranch, 25 minutes farther.
Bob has a special VIP spot at his ranch, away from his own House and it is indeed a great spot with magnificent view of the Lake and the surrounding mountains. We have no luck, also here is a lot of smoke caused by fires so the mountains are hazy. When the RV is on his VIP spot we take Bob’s “New Used Mercedes 450”, a great sports car with a variety of gadgets. Sitting in the front seat you even can get massage. Bob and Dick have the greatest fun with all this fantastic car gadgets, this car is really a “Boys toy”. After having dinner together in a good restaurant, enjoying each other’s company and talking a lot, we drive back to Bob’s ranch. At Bob’s House Dick takes the Mercedes convertible 350, again a Boys toy, and drive through the fields to our RV on the VIP spot. It’s under protest by me, because I think we can easily walk that distance, but the men decide that now everything has to be done by car. Bob says that (when we were here a few weeks ago) he did not teach Dick the use of an automatic transmission for nothing. That’s why, a little later, we stay on Bob’s property, on our VIP spot, with our own camper as well as this fantastic Mercedes convertible. Dick smiles broadly when he leaves the steering wheel.
On Saturdaymorning it’s already hot. You smell the smoke of forest fires. After having breakfast and enjoying this beautiful place we drive with Bob’s convertible Mercedes to the shop. Bob says that today we have to make a trip with his Mercedes convertible to the National Buffaloo Range. No protest! Bob explain us the way we have to go and we leave. Dick lowers the roof and I must say that this “ Boys Toy Car” is great, especially if the temperature is over 88 degrees. It is fantastic to feel the sun and the wind around you. Now I understand that famous people drive in sports cars like this, what a luxury, we enjoy!!!
It’s amazing that a friend insist that you take this car instead of his old truck. But Bob says that nobody here want to have such a convertible Mercedes so why shouldn’t we use this one. The heat doesn’t bother us in “our” open Mercedes and we see different herds of Buffaloo’s walking around in the reserve. We would never been able to drive around here with our camper regarding the very steep descents on the gravel roads. At the end of our tour we also see a herd of Pronghorn Antelopes so we are really privileged.
On our way back, we stop at the mission church in St. Ignatius with magnificent frescoes before driving back to Polson where after a ride of 140 miles we arrive at half past 4. Just in time to help the people who ride the Happy Hippo getting off, arranging the vehicle for a next ride and chitchatting together before we drive back to Bob’s ranch at 7 pm. It was a fantastic day and after cleaning Bob’s car (it became dirty because of the ride on dusty gravel roads) we enjoy the fantastic surroundings and paradisiacal rest on Bob’s ranch. Sunday August 13th it’s (unfortunately) time to leave Polson.
As we talk too much and actually don’t want to say goodbye we do not leave before noon. The sky is much more cloudy and as soon as we left Polson it starts to rain. Fortunately no heavy rain but the dark clouds remain. When we arrive in Washington State the sky clears and at 6 pm in Spokane, the sun is shining. Once again we have a different time zone and again there is a 9 hour time difference with the Netherlands. At the first Walmart in Spokane, we are not allowed to stay overnight but the Walmart West of the city allows us to stay. After having dinner it’s dark (darkness already occurs at half past eight pm) so we stay inside and read. Monday August 14th the temperature is chilly, only 52 degrees. As I have a coupon of REI I want to go there, so after breakfast we drive to REI in Spokane and moments later we walk around in this fantastic sporting shop. We do not leave empty hands because Dick find a nice zip off pants and I buy a discounted backpack. Now I can throw away my old worn out backpack with broken zippers.
Around 10 am we drive through a beautiful countryside with rolling hills, covered with yellow grass and corn, it’s looks dry. Steep descents alternate with long climbs and finally we arrive in a valley filled with fruit trees. In Wenatchee-WA, we stop and find a beautiful spot in the State park. It is three pm so we still enjoy to be outside the RV, the temperature has come to 86 degrees. The next day is also beautiful and in a magnificent mountain world we drive towards Seattle.
The city of Seattle has no campground so I’ve figured out that we should stay at Cabela’s, North of Seattle. When we arrive, however, it is not allowed to stay overnight and also at Walmart it’s not, so we drive south and try some campgrounds. They are all fully booked and of course we have no reservation. We drive around but everything is full and the parking lane along a busy road at the KOA campground in Kent, WA (we also have to pay $ 35,-for it) is not an option. Meanwhile it’s 4.30 pm and there is a huge traffic jam. We drive on the busiest road (167) of the USA. Fortunately the great view of Mt. Rainier compensate some.
Finally at 6 pm we arrive in Puyallup-WA, a town with a rail connection to Seattle. On the grounds of the Washington State Fair is place enough and there is electricity, water and sewer, so we don’t hesitate and place our camper here. We only searched for 5 hours to get a place for the night in this busy urban environment. Wednesday June 16th at 8 am I want to pay at the State Fairgrounds office. It is not really easy because all the counters are closed but when I boldly open a door, I am in an office where I can pay. The lady here is quite surprised that we placed our RV on the fairgrounds while there is a telephone number that we had to call before spending the night there.
We are lucky, the State fair starts September 1st, so now there is still place to stay without reservation. Back again at the camper we walk to the train station, just a 1,1 mile walk and after waiting for half an hour we have the train to Seattle. In 45 minutes, we are in the City, we could not do that with a car considering the many traffic jams. It is beautiful weather and we walk through the streets of Seattle. We cannot resist a geocache with a difficulty 5 and thanks to Dick’s technical understanding he is able to grab it quickly.
Farther is the “Gumwall”, an alley completely covered with gum. It looks cleaner than three years ago when you saw the bubblegum dripping down in long strings. There is bubblegum everywhere and it still remains a nasty place and not pleasant at all. While I make pictures Dick already walked to Pikes Market where I find him. My purpose here is: Lavender! But even though we walk around the market three times, the stall with Lavender and soft Lavender pillows is no longer there. Unfortunately, because after three years, my lavender pillow lost its smell and is in need of replacement. Now I have to find another solution, here I will not find it. Pikes market is also the perfect place to have food and drinks so we search for a foodstall and after finding one we enjoy our sandwiches looking at the lines of people waiting for special food and drinks such as clams or the first Starbucks. After a great lunch we walk along the shore to see the departing and arriving ships before turning back to King’s station. To reach that we have to cross a not so pleasant neighborhood with addicts loitering around. People warning us not to walk around here but take another street.
Late in the afternoon we are back in Puyallup and at the Fairgrounds RV Park, we can enjoy the last sunlight. It’s still warm but when, at half past eight pm, the sun disappears behind the edge of the forest, the temperature drops at least with 18 degrees and sitting inside is more pleasant. If we wake up on Thursday it is cloudy and not warm so we put on our long pants and a sweater and walk to the station at 7.30 am.
The train comes soon and when we arrive in Seattle we walk to the bus stop where we board bus line # 5, buy a ticket for a dollar and leave for Fremont, “the Center of the Universe” as the people here say. In this district of Seattle, on the other side of the Aurora bridge, a lot of artist settled here halfway the last century, so there are many works of art. Also headquarters of Geocaching is established here. Now we are in Seattle we want to visit HQ.
We ordered tickets for noon today but going here by train and bus went faster than we expected, so we have all the time to grab some geocaches, drink coffee, visit the Troll under the bridge and of course the statue of Stalin, before going to headquarters. Although we have been here three years ago, it is fun to look around and of course we glue our picture in HQ photo book. We are now in book 2 and 7.
After one hour we leave GEO Headquarters and walk back to the bus stop. In downtown Seattle, we leave the bus and search for the “Bubbles from Amazon”. According to the bus driver you should have been here.
The Bubbles are not finished but nevertheless, impressive. We can imagine that when these Bubbles (the Spheres) are ready and serve as alternative workspace, the employees of Amazon come to inspirational thoughts. Close to the “Amazon Bubbles” is a Macy’s Store, so Dick cannot refuse to go inside with me. With Dick there’s no way of long shopping (unfortunately) but I am glad to find a “sport top” from Calvin Klein and after half an hour we walk back to the bus stop and back to the station.
At 6 pm we are at the State Fairgrounds in Puyallup and after drinking some soda I have to pick blackberries. In the bushes around the fair grounds are massive amounts of blackberries and within half an hour I have a tub full of delicious tasteful blackberries, some of them I process to compote and we eat quite a few of these excellent fruits before going to bed.