Monthly Archives: September 2014

Mt Rushmore

Week 13 – Wyoming, Montana & South Dakota

‘Friendship is a horizon which expands whenever we approach it.’ – E.R. Hazlip

[How this works is, each week, I will write to someone on my list, picked randomly and I will post it online on this blog – just in case the letter doesn’t reach it’s destination.  The letter includes a card with a random quote, which I hope you will enjoy (at the top of this blog page).]

This last week we’ve, mostly, stayed in South Dakota, as it was agreed we needed some more downtime and the RV needed some more repairs before we embark on our next push.

Mom pouring over maps

Mom pouring over the maps, trying to figure out new routes, due to our delays!

That meant leaving Cody, Wyoming and heading to Montana for an over night in Ranchester, so we could go to ‘Custer’s Last Stand.’

Custer Last Stand

Custer Last Stand

It was very interesting and I learned a lot about this infamous battle. (I’ve put a tip to get into these national parks below this letter) We went to a Ranger talk on it and it was really engaging and surprising.  Based on the Indian accounts of the battle, Custer was not standing and firing his gun, instead, he ordered his men to shoot their horses and hide behind them.  Then the Indians decided to volley arrows over the dead horses onto the soldiers – the battle lasted, possibly, only 5 mins for Custer’s part.  The whole of the attack on the Indians lasted over a week and the Indians won the battle, but they lost the war with the killing of Custer.  They were, then, forced onto reservations and their lives were never to be as they were.

So, we, then, started our drive to South Dakota where we still are, but there’s ton to see and do.

On our drive here, we saw an old western jail – tiny and in the middle of a park. (Unfortunately, can’t remember what town we went through, but you blink and you will miss the town.)

Small Western Jail

Small Western Jail

Mt. Rushmore was our first stop – quite the tourist attraction.

Mt Rushmore

Mt Rushmore

We got lucky with our timing and our weekend was filled with, once a year, events – a buffalo round-up

Buffalo Round-Up

Buffalo Round-Up

and a walk up to the Crazy Horse monument.

Crazy Horse Monument

Crazy Horse Monument Walk

We, also, went around parts of Custer State Park and went on the Needles Highway – definitely worth a visit.

Needles Highway

Needles Highway

It’s a great drive and this was where they originally hoped to put up the monument they later put on Mt. Rushmore.  The artist said God made the Needles too beautiful for man to destroy.  I agree!

Hope you well! (Some extra Stories & photos below of my experiences which I wasn’t able to fit into the letter.)

Debx

Extra Stories:

When we were in Ranchester, the smallest town, we went to a restaurant there and entcountered the most amazing onion rings.

Onion Rings

Onion Rings extraordinaire!

Also, while going for a walk in the evening with my parents, I noticed a man leaving his house to cross the street to the grocery store with his pistol?!  This lady ain’t used to needing to pack my pistol to go to the corner store!

Tips:

I suggest you buy an annual national park pass, if you are going to be traveling from state to state and going to national parks and national monuments.  The pass will get you into both, places like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park and Custer’s Last Stand.

2015 is the 50th anniversary of the Buffalo Round-Up, I believe it’s the only one in the US, at this time.  Had no idea this happens, but it’s quite something to see.  They vaccinate the buffalo, reduce the herd, as the park is limited in its space to support so many buffalo.  They get branded, which you can watch, I chose not to, and they auction off the buffalo which they no longer need in the herd. There is a festival the whole weekend, cook offs, local artists work and music.

Crazy Horse Monument is 6 times larger than Mt Rushmore and they have the walk twice a year, in the spring and autumn.  It’s approximately 6 miles and you go right up to the monument face.  It’s a private enterprise, as the artist who created it wanted to make sure that this Indian moment never fell into the hands of a government led organisation.  They support the first Indian College/University and have a huge museum of Indian artifacts, it’s worth a visit if you can make it.  Also, when you go on the walk, it’s free to see all these things and you get a free pass to see the night-time light show.  At other times of the year, it’s quite expensive to go in, but it’s an all day kinda place, as there is much to see.

Mt Rushmore costs nothing to go and see.  You do not need to go to the actual place that the parks have in front of it to see it; there are many pull outs to get a good photo opp.  While the entrance to the monument is free, the parking isn’t, that was $11 when we went, but it gives you a pass for a week, so you can go back and forth and see the night lighting and film, which we did.

Needles Highway – you can’t take a large vehicle up this highway, there are tunnels which an RV or trailer/tuck, would not be able to make it through, so detach your vehicle and drive it.  Also, there is a beautiful lake – Sylvan Lake, where you can eat and just enjoy an incredible view of this beautiful area – it’s worth taking some time there.

Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake

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Another Amusing Take on Canadian Politeness

This is so true! No wonder when I was at an American event yesterday, they knew I would step out of the way!

O' Canada

Canadian-Lemmings

___

Similar to the “Canadian Standoff” cartoon by Roz Chast in an issue of the New Yorker from this past January, the above illustration by Robert Leighton in the August 5, 2013 issue of that magazine pokes good-natured fun at the Canadian penchant for politeness.  Not really a bad reputation to have though.

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Let's Fly

Week 12 – Lethbridge & USA!

‘Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.’ – E. Joseph Cossman

[How this works is, each week, I will write to someone on my list, picked randomly and I will post it online on this blog – just in case the letter doesn’t reach it’s destination.  The letter includes a card with a random quote, which I hope you will enjoy (at the top of this blog page).]

Just when you think you’ve solved a problem another one pops up. Last week, it was John’s visa (US) and the RV’s block heater. This week it’s the RV’s batteries. It’s slowed us up, but we are still managing to move forward and we are, now, officially, in the US.

Before we left Canada, we had repairs to make, so we stopped at ‘Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump’, it’s an UNESCO world heritage site, about the Plains Indians and how they used to herd buffalo over cliffs to live through the winter.

Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump

Mom, Dad and I at Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump

Everyone enjoyed it and we had some delicious buffalo chilli.
In Lethbridge, Alberta, we saw the tallest and longest trellis train bridge of its kind in the world,

Lethbridge Train Trellis Bridge

Lethbridge Train Trellis Bridge

plus I went to ‘Fort Whoop Up’ which was a rebuild of an old fort of notorious reputation – the name gives a hint.

Fort Whoop Up

Fort Whoop Up

Then we headed over the border to start our first leg in the US.

US border crossing

US border crossing

Our first stop was White Sulphur Hot Springs and Mom and I tried the hot springs out and agreed – these were the best we’d ever been in. They had 3 pools ranging from 98 degrees to 105 degrees – lovely.

After our warming soak, we headed off to have a few days in Yellowstone Park.

Yellowstone Park

Yellowstone Park

We saw Mammoth Hot Springs,

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs

Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone Park.

Lower Falls - Grand Canyon Yellowstone

Lower Falls – Grand Canyon Yellowstone

Gorgeous park and it was really easy to see wildlife. We saw Elk, deer, antelope, sheep, squirrels, chipmunks and tons of buffalo. We got caught in Buffalo, Elk and Bear jams – where you can’t move due to cars stopped because of animals on the road. It was awesome. The weather has been perfect and made for some great scenic photos. (Animal photos can be seen at bottom of blog)

I’ve been to Yellowstone before, but I was able to see places I’d not seen before and go through the historic gate.

Roosevelt Gate Yellowstone

Roosevelt Gate Yellowstone

Did you know Yellowstone was the first US national park?  I’m learning so much on this trip!

We, then, continued our journey east and overnight-ed in Cody to see Buffalo Bill’s museums. They even named the town after him. We’ve managed to find a campsite very near the museums – walking distance.

Buffalo Bill Museum

Buffalo Bill Museum

So, from today, we are hitting some real Wild West areas and all their cowboy stories. Everything here is on epic scale – the skies, the mountains, the tundra and the food.

Epic Landscape

Epic Landscape

Yesterday, I saw an eagle flying beside the RV – my good omen!

Hope you well! (some more epic photos below of animals)

Debx

Photos from Animals in Yellowstone:

Some photos of the epic US photos:

10 Peaks

Week 11 – Banff, Calgary, Banff, Calgary, ecetera, ecetera

‘While one person hesitates because he feels inferior… the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior’ – Henry C. Link

[How this works is, each week, I will write to someone on my list, picked randomly and I will post it online on this blog – just in case the letter doesn’t reach it’s destination.  The letter includes a card with a random quote, which I hope you will enjoy (at the top of this blog page).]

This week has been a lot about going back and forth between Banff and Calgary, Alberta. We’ve been through snow storms

Banff Snows

Banff Snows #mybanff

and, today, 28 degree weather.

Mickie

Mickie enjoying the tall grass and return of warm weather.

The seasons are, definitely, changing.
So, why back and forth between these 2 cities? – Well, like all great ideas, you hit some hick-ups and this week was one. John, who has New Zealand and Dutch passports) got the wrong US visa – an Esta – it’s free and, for most, this would suffice, but because we plan to be in the US longer than 90 days (it doesn’t reset if we go into Canada or Mexico) he needed to go to the US Embassy in Calgary to get a B2 Visa. Only problem was we had 2 snow storms which hit the region – one, the worst of the two – the day we needed to drive to Calgary from Banff. So snow storm or not – we had to go in for John’s early morning, next day, appointment. Thankfully, my parents could hold up in Banff – nice and snug in the motor-home,

Snowman

Fellow German campers snowman

while we went to a friend’s place to stay for 2 nights in Calgary.

Friends Hot Tub

Sally & Gary’s Hot Tub room.

Then back to Banff for a few days and, then, one more in Calgary, so my parents could catch up with their friends, too.

So we had walks in Banff round trails, discovered the Cave & Basin hot springs

Cave and Basin, Banff

Birthplace of Canada’s National Parks

[I’ve been to Banff many times and never been to this birthplace of our national parks! (if you want to watch a couple of silly videos of John and I click here and here)], almost, got charged by a male Elk in rutting season on one early morning snowy walk, saw a herd of Elk, seen tons of ‘chippies’ (chipmunks), squirrels, birds and deer, but no bears – sadly – not this trip, maybe the snows chased them into their dens early.

Just to add to the list of what I did: got to a play in Calgary – ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’, which I’ve wanted to see and was a good laugh, plus, it was based in Brighton!, sat in a hot tub and the gorgeous hot springs in Banff, saw endangered snails

Snails and Dragonflies

Can you spot 3 dragonflies in this photo?

– only in Banff and saw fish, which one sign said were extinct, but clearly weren’t. For the first time, I feel, I got to know my neighbouring province a lot better and despite all past rivalry – really liked it.

Calgary is a hot spot for sunshine all year round – who of you knew that?!

Calgary at Night

Calgary at Night

Love Debx

PS: I forgot to mention the Moraine Lake, Banff, absolutely beautiful and the picture which used to be on the back of the old Canada $20 bill.  Definitely worth a visit, check out the feature image and these below:

Rocky Mountain High: Rogers Pass, Golden and reaching Banff

John’s latest blog!

A Kiwi living in Brighton

Time flying by

Today it has been 37 days since we left England and it is a glorious sunny day in Lethbridge, Alberta. I have been a bit slow in writing blogs due to a lack of good wi-fi. I am writing this blog in two parts with the first up to our first stay in Banff. Since leaving the Okanagan two weeks ago we have travelled to Golden, Banff, Jasper and via Calgary to Lethbridge. A fantastic two weeks in the Rockies with incredible scenery wonderful sunshine, wolves, bears and some unexpected snowfalls which all made for great adventures. I also had a problem with having the wrong US visa which I will not bore you with but is now resolved.

Canyon Hot Springs

We started the trip travelling towards Golden stopping for the night at Canyon Hot Springs campground where we had a lovely soak in their hot…

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Columbia Ice Fields

Week 10 – Golden, Banff & Jasper

‘Determination is the wake-up call to the human will.’ – Anthony Robbins

[How this works is, each week, I will write to someone on my list, picked randomly and I will post it online on this blog – just in case the letter doesn’t reach it’s destination.  The letter includes a card with a random quote, which I hope you will enjoy (at the top of this blog page).]

Well, we’ve had summer, autumn and winter weather all in one week. We started out with wine tastings in summer heat with my brother and sister-in-law to end the week in snow in Banff! I thought I would be chasing summer and I’ve ended up in a snow storm at the end of our first month in Canada.

Wine Tasting

Wine Tasting

This week saw us start our journey east. Our first night was spent in Canyon Hot Springs

Bit of a down pour!

Bit of a down pour!

where we enjoyed the pool in the cool autumnal rain. Next day, we were off again to Golden for a few days which took us over Rogers Pass.

Rogers Pass

Rogers Pass

We got summer back for another day as we settled in for a few days at a nice municipal camp ground near a river and the CN railway lines – great train spotting!

Our second day in Golden sent us off to one of only two wolf sanctuaries

Northern Lights Wildlife

Northern Lights Wildlife

which taught me a lot I didn’t know about these beautiful creatures and their struggle to survive in Canada.

Our final day in Golden, we headed over to the Kicking Horse Ski Resort

Kicking Horse Ski Resort

Kicking Horse Ski Resort

which meant we met Boo – the Grizzly in this bear sanctuary and rode the gondola in the warm sunshine – almost got burnt it was so warm.

Boo - Grizzly Bear

Boo – Grizzly Bear

Beautiful place to visit and lots to see and do.

We then drove to Banff and that day we saw a moose, mountain Big Horn Sheep, Blue Jay, fat chipmunk, Boo – the grizzly, deer and squirrel.

John and I didn’t stay long in Banff; we took a few days to drive up to Jasper and plunged back into summer weather and stellar views of lakes,

Drive to Jasper

Drive to Jasper

mountains and valleys to tent our first night just outside of Jasper. I can now add Elk to the list of animals seen.

Elk - Jasper

Elk – Jasper

Our only full day took us into autumn and a hike into one of the canyons around Jasper. That evening: rain, log cabin motel, stellar meal and hot spring – again!

Miette Hot Springs

Miette Hot Springs

Then, today, we woke to snow

Jasper snow

Jasper snow

and drove through snow

Banff snow

Banff snow storm

back to Banff to curl up cosy in Mom and Dad’s RV again.

M & D's RV

Mom and Dad’s RV in snow!

Tomorrow more new adventures!

What’s your weather like this week?

Love Debx