Friday, May 31, 2019

Polebridge, Montana

One's destination is never a place, 
but a new way of seeing things. 
- Henry Miller

They say "you need to get lost to find it" when talking about Polebridge, MT. Well, we found it today! The tiny community of Polebridge is just outside Glacier National Park and is totally off the grid. They now have solar panels. Polebridge is 22 miles from the Canadian border, and has a saloon, a few houses, and the famous Polebridge Mercantile.

We drove for over an hour going higher and higher up the mountain on improved and not so improved roads.

And then we went around a corner and there was the mercantile.

I took another picture when I hopped out of the car. When we left, the place was full of vehicles. It seems that we attract crowds wherever we go!

Inside we found super friendly people and all kinds of things including delicious looking baked goods made fresh today. They employ 25 people!

Of course, we bought some goodies. Outside we sampled our two huckleberry macaroons. I took a bite and could not believe how wonderful they were. Ray had enough self-control to wait until after the picture to taste his. After he did, it took great self-control from both of us to not go back into the Mercantile and buy two dozen more. Of course there was a long line of people trying to move about and check out. If the place had been empty like when we entered, we would have bought more!

We bought four of the famous cinnamon rolls. Two were for our hosts - they told us that if we went to the Mercantile to be sure and have the cinnamon rolls. One of our hosts was having a procedure today and will have heart surgery Monday. We thought rolls might be a good way of saying we care.

We also bought two snickerdoodle cookies - sorry no picture but they were good - and these two meal rolls. I'm not sure what they are called but they have potatoes and cheese and I'm not sure what else. We'll have them for lunch tomorrow.

We had driven past a couple of interesting buildings on our way so we stopped to take photos on our way back.

These flowers were nearby.

About 4 miles from the Mercantile, on our way back, we stopped at Home Ranch Bottoms.

Ray was talking to the master BBQ guy who is also the chef.

This neat bar is in the small dining room. The girl on the left and the guy behind her were working for the University of Montana in Glacier National Park. They are doing some study on trail usage. The girl is from Russia. We had a neat visit with them and the bartender/waitress who told us the place will get busy in July!

We enjoyed BBQ ribs, grizzly beans, coleslaw, and potato salad. Everything was made on site and delicious. 

When we finally got on the road again, w stopped by this creek.

You may be able to tell from the pictures that its been a cloudy day. We are supposed to have sun tomorrow but we still have the smoke/haze from the northern Alberta, Canada fires.

It's been a fun, new adventure kind of day. We did talk on the way back and decided that the feeling we got when we were visiting this remote area and the people feels like the years we lived in a tiny mountain town. #GreatMemories

Thursday, May 30, 2019

O Canada!


We have arrived in Columbia Falls, MT, met our hosts, moved in, and are now relaxing by a fire in a very nice rental. It's been a long day. We left Canmore in the rain which continued to the border (about 5 1/2 hours). Then the sun shone a little and we had a tail wind!

It was hard to leave Canada. We enjoyed the places we stayed (in Canmore, here), the places we visited, the people we met, the diversity of the people, the time we spent outdoors, the longer daylight, everything! Thank you! Merci!

On our way today, we saw this waterfall while still in Alberta.

We had to drive in the narrows in British Columbia.

We crossed the border at Roosville  crossing (Grasmere, BC, and Eureka, MT). We were in a line but it only took 10-15 minutes.

The skies started to clear some in Montana. We just heard on the news that the Northern Alberta wildfires are affecting the air quality in western Montana. Looks like we'll keep our haziness.

Before we left Banff yesterday, we went up the mountain towards Mt. Norquay, a ski area. About 1/2 mile before you get there is an amazing overlook. We found it when we were in the area 4 years ago and I think it is one of my favorite places. There are 2 red chairs. The current red chairs have a built-in table between so they aren't as close as the 'old' ones. We still wanted a selfie like the one from 2015. (Canada Tourism has placed oversized red Adirondack chairs at some very scenic places around their nation.)

Our view from the red chairs - a little hazy bur nice.

Last night we walked to our favorite bridge for sunset photos. it was a gorgeous evening.

Now it's time to figure out tomorrow. New adventures await!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

A Day in Banff

Going to the mountains is going home.
~John Muir

This morning we headed for Lake Minnewanka near Banff, AB. We made it in time for the boat cruise. The lake has beautiful scenery although we still have haze from the fires in northern Alberta. (We cannot smell smoke though.)

There's our boat - we had about 50 people on our cruise.

Here is a picture from the dock.

That's us on the boat.

In front of us were 3-year-old Abby and her 12-year-old brother. We enjoyed watching Abby's reactions to things especially when the boat started.

We learned some pretty interesting stuff. Did you know that one grizzly bear eats about 200,000 buffalo berries a day? Even more interesting - how does anyone know that? Someone counts the berry seeds in the bear scat. What a crappy job!

We enjoyed the mountains and the very calm lake.

When the cruise ended, we headed into Banff for the Banff Mountain Market. You might recall that I love farmer's markets. This one did not disappoint and it was all day - 10AM to 6PM. My only problem was that I couldn't buy much because we head south tomorrow and cross the US-Canadian border - the customs agents aren't happy if you have produce.

We bought a small container of strawberries that came from British Columbia. (Most produce today was from BC.) When I thought to take a picture, this is all we had left. They were wonderful!

We ordered lunch from one of the food trucks at the market. I had a specialty grilled cheese on sourdough - two LARGE pieces of sourdough bread, Gouda cheese, strawberries, and fresh basil. Ray also had a specialty grilled cheese on sourdough - two LARGE pieces of sourdough bread, aged cheddar cheese and bacon. We'd definitely order there again!

We sat on the side of Bow Creek to eat. It was a gorgeous day. It was sunny and in the 70s. This guy and his dog were enjoying their canoe.

The market is in Banff's Central Park. There were many people sitting and enjoying lunch.

The only parking we could find for the market was the parkade downtown. We were trying to figure out where to pay. Well, if you are displaying a National Parks pass in your vehicle, it is free. Nice! If you don't have a pass, you get fined. Banff is in the Banff National Park. Since we had a parking place for up to 8 hours, we decided to spend a little more time and walk down Banff Avenue. It is so pretty with the neat buildings and the mountains.

It was very warm so after a few blocks, we found the jeep and headed to Bow Falls Viewpoint. This is the Bow River. The temperature was 10-15 degrees cooler at the viewpoint. 

This is looking the other way.

Now it's time to pack up and get ready to return to the states. We both both feel very at home in the mountains - it doesn't matter what country. We have loved our time in the Canadian Rockies.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A Gorgeous Day

No matter how sophisticated you may be, 
a large granite mountain cannot be denied – 
it speaks in silence to the very core of your being 
                        -Ansel Adams

Today has been gorgeous - sunny and warm. The temperatures were cold when we got up but reached 71 later.

We drove to Lake Louise, about an hour trip. We had heard the lake was not frozen but it mostly was. It was pretty but not the iconic image that you see in their publications. We have a gorgeous photo that Ray took in 2015; photos from this trip will make an interesting contrast.

There was lots of ice.

We took off our hats and sunglasses for a selfie. The sun was bright.

We were amazed at the number of people and buses. We were told that the Canadian government is trying to get more Chinese tourists. It appears to be working.

Our next stop was Moraine Lake. The canoes are still on the shore.

The sign said to wait there for a canoe attendant so Ray waited 

It appeared that the lake was VERY low - we have been concerned about other lakes too. We talked with our waitress at lunch and she explained about Moraine Lake. It is glacially fed. At some point in the fall/winter, the glaciers lock (freeze) and stop discharging water. However, the lake continues to lose water and Moraine Lake goes dry. In the spring, when the glaciers begin discharging water, the lake still loses water but enough water is fed in that the lake fills. Interesting!

After lunch, we started home at Highway 1a, the Bow Valley Parkway. 

The sky kept getting more and more hazy. I continued to take a few pictures.

Driving on the Bow Valley is a slower, more scenic drive. Although wildlife is common, we saw just 1 deer and 1 elk today.

We eventually had to leave the Bow Valley Parkway due to construction. So we got back on Highway 1. I had to show you a picture of some of the Hoodoos near Banff. They intrigue me.

Last night we walked back toward town and stopped on a footbridge to watch the sunset.The sky was cloudless so there wasn't a lot of color but what was there was pretty.

As we left to head home, I took a picture of this complex. I loved seeing the Three Sisters at the end.

We are making a plan for tomorrow. It will be another great day after all we are in the mountains!


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