Saturday, June 23, 2012

Heading East, Friends - Old and New

We left Jasper and started our slow trek back to WashPA.  As we drove out of the mountains the land quickly changed to the high plains of Alberta.  We continued to see wildlife coming upon a big black bear and a huge mule dear buck with a big velvet rack right along the road.  Our plan is to go to Montana and head east through North Dakota along the same road we cycled on our 1982 transcontinental trip.  We have crossed parts of that trip's route before, near the start in Washington and at the end in New Hampshire and Maine, but we have never driven many miles of it in the rig.  It will be interesting to see what we remember, what has changed and what hasn't, along that road.   We continued our - "we do not have to go to Alaska to experience this" - when, as we went through a tar and chip zone, a truck kicked up a stone and we added a chip to the windshield to the list. 
We decided to spend a couple of days near Edmonton and I got malled.  We went to West Edmonton Mall which was the the world's largest when it was built.  In addition to over 800 stores and a casino, there are also those things pictured above; a sea lion, an amusement park, a pirate ship and a wave pool. We only walked around and had a snack at one of the many restaurants, but even I, the ultimate non shopper, had to admit the place is impressive.  A note to anyone heading north, we paid less for diesel here than we did in Montana on our last fill up.  Alberta has a booming oil economy.
 We did make some new friends as soon as we pulled into the RV park when our new neighbors, Ron and Louise, invited us over for a drink.  They are from Vancouver Island and we had a great couple of days learning all about that beautiful place we have on our to do list to visit.
 A roadside curiosity along the road in Medicine Hat, Alberta is the world's tallest tipi. 
We wanted to add Saskatchewan to our provinces visited and spent at least one night in during our five years on the road.  So on our way to Montana we headed off the Trans Canadian Highway and  we encountered another "we did not have to go to Alaska moment" when we came upon this well marked frost heave.
 We stayed in Val Marie, a small town close enough to the US border that it was part of it from the time of the Louisiana Purchase until the present border was agreed to in the 1880's.  Grain elevators are a real part of the landscape all across the Great Plains in both the US and Canada. 
 We picked Val Marie as a stop because it is the home of Canada's Grasslands National Park.  This park is different from the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas because this land is the largest piece in Canada that has never been plowed, so it is in its natural state.  The plains do have a different look than the soaring mountains, but with the big sky they have their own unique beauty. 
 Buffalo have recently been reintroduced into the park and join the many prairie dogs and huge variety of birds.  You have to be a more careful observer to see the wildlife in the plains. 
The next day we crossed the border at a place so small that we were the only vehicle there.  The American border agent came aboard and open a few doors while we sat and chatted with his Canadian counterpart who shares the same building.  This is the first time we crossed at a spot where both countries shared one building.
 We were staying in Fort Peck and knew our WashPA friends, whom we have not seen since last summer, were passing through nearby Glasgow on the train on their way to a trip through many Western national parks.  Our first thought was to get on the train and travel with them for one stop and then catch the Eastbound train an hour later.  That plan did not work out because their train was delayed four hours while tracks that had been washed out by a flood were being repaired.  
Our visit was only about one minute while a few passengers got off and on the train in Glasgow.  It was a short visit but it is always great seeing old friends.  Here is Nanc, Jim, John, Patrice, Ron and Becky.  We even had Mardi Gras beads for them.  We hope John shared:-)

I have added a new feature to the blog, My Blog List.  Most of them are RV blogs, with the exception of killing Mother.  All but the bottom three will move to the top of the list when there is a new entry.  Marty's Travels is an exception as, for some reason, it does not update, but it is still current.  Hitchitch is a site with many RV blogs. See Ya' Down the Road is no longer active but I found it to be one of the best when we were planning to go fulltiming and the material is still very useful.


Bobbie and Jim said...

Very interesting blog post. Nice to hear from you again.

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Wow, good post but I can't believe you went into a mall, they make me sick. By the way we used to fish a lot at Fort Peck and loved it there.