Category Archives: Vacation blog 2011

Vacation adventure blog will document our 2011 summer camping vacation covering over 8000 miles. We will be traveling through portions of the Rockies extending from New Mexico to Canada. We plan to visit many National Parks and State Parks on the way sharing the beauty and adventure of our travels all along the way.

Mammoth Caves National Park

07-17-2011

Today was a travel day traveling south from Zumbra Falls, MN to the Hickory Hill campground just north of Bloomington, IL, a full day’s drive.  We traveled through my home state of Iowa surrounded on all sides by corn and soybean fields as far as the eye could see. I was full of thoughts of my childhood in the state where I grew up as a young adult. We crossed the wide Mississippi near Davenport and set up camp at a country campground nestled next to small creek surrounded by six foot tall corn fields. Lightning bugs flicked as the evening grew darker while the summer heat lingered into the evening.

07-18-2011

From Hickory Hill we set out for Indianapolis to pick up supplies at Trader Joe’s before making our way down to Kentucky to visit Mammoth Caves National Park. We had a full day’s journey traveling over 400 miles to our destination. Mammoth Caves National Park is a beautiful park located in the hill country of Kentucky. We plan to spend the day tomorrow exploring the caves and relax before our final two day journey back to Florida and home.

From Mammoth Caves we plan to make our way back to Florida staying over one night in Georgia. This will be my last post of the trip. I hope that you found my travel blog interesting and informative. It was truly a labor of love created to inspire the adventurer and traveler in you. I hope by doing so I will give you the seed of inspiration for your next adventure.

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Deadwood & Wall, SD

07-11-2011

We started the morning a little later than usual regrouping to organize for the last section of our trip back to Florida. We left the foot hills of the Big Horn Mountains in Sheridan, WY to travel west to Wall, SD home of Wall Drugs. On the way we stopped at Deadwood to take in a buffet at one of the local casinos. Afterwards we planned to go a little father into town to play the slots and tour the historic sites. However the weather turned rainy with storms on the horizon and we decided to move on to Sturgis, SD to buy  shirts from last year’s motorcycle rally at a discount.

The rain followed us to Wall where we camped out for the night. Wall is the site of the famous Wall Drugs known for its marketing genius. There are so many signs advertising for Wall Drugs from hundreds maybe thousands of miles out that you have to stop there to check out. They have just about everything you can imagine plus more.  It is just a short walk from our campground to Wall Drugs making it possible for us to leave our camper attached.

Lake Louise, Jasper, Baniff, Calgary & Great Falls, MT

07-03-2011

I am including several days accounts as we had very limited service in Canada.  After Fort Steele we traveled through the Kooteny Provincial Park on our way to Lake Louise. We stopped at Radium Hot springs for a soak in the lovely southern portion of the park.

On our way north through the park we arrived at the Paint Pots where for many years the pigments in the soil were used to manufacture paint products. Barbara could not resist using the clown instincts in her to put on some face paint.

Our last stop was Marble Canyon. This canyon eroded through the limestone formations to a level so deep that in many places it was hard to see the bottom. At the end of the trail we were rewarded with a great view of a waterfall cascading into the canyon.


We ended the day by setting up camp in the Lake Louise Provincial Campground surrounded by woods and plenty of wildlife.

07-04-2011

After a broken nights sleep due to the closeness of the main line of the Canadian Pacific railway we headed to one of the most beautiful Lakes in Canada, Lake Moraine. We hiked to the view point where so many have been inspired before us surrounded by high mountains and crisp cool air.

A short drive away we arrived at scenic Lake Louise site of the magnificent Fairmont Hotel. Just before noon we started our hike up to the Tea House nestled in the mountains on the far side of Lake Louise.

The hike up to the Tea House was a challenge for us. The total distance was 9 miles round trip with a gain in elevation of 1,200 feet.

We took our time and were rewarded with magnificent views of the glaciers and surrounding mountain peaks.

Once we arrived to the end of the trail we rested and enjoyed soup and desert at the famous upper Tea house nestled on a mountain slope surrounded by glaciers and the high Rocky Mountain peaks.

07-05-2011

After a good night’s sleep with my ear plugs to avoid the sounds of the nearby passage of the Canadian Pacific freight trains we set out for a drive up the Ice Fields parkway to Jasper. We had done this drive 18 years ago on our honeymoon and anticipated the beauty we had lived so many years ago.

Our first stop was at Peyto Lake nestled in one of the two passes on the parkway.  After a short hike we were rewarded with a great view of Peyto Lake surrounded by high peaks with glaciers all around. What a view.

From Peyto Lake we traveled north to Bridal Veil Falls near the second pass on the way to the Columbia Ice Fields where the famous Athabasca glacier is located.

At the Ice Fields visitor center more than half way to Jasper we took a walk out to the tip of Athabasca glacier. This time we could not walk on the glacier as a stream had formed at the tip of glacier and a lake under it made the glacier unstable.

We had been here before 18 years ago and were surprised to see how far the glacier had receded. This provided direct evidence of the effects of global warming.

At the end of the day we made our way to the Athabasca Falls wilderness hostel about 21 miles south of Jasper to spend the night. Rustic it was with no running water, pit toilets, no showers, no wireless service and coed dorms with bunk beds.  I was surprised by the primitive aspect but did find several interesting guests with adventures of their own helping make the experience enjoyable.

07-06-2011

The next day we took off early to take the tram ride up to a drop off station near the Peak of Whistler Mountain in Jasper. On the way we saw our first grizzly bear by the roadside. We were not able to slow down enough to take a picture of it unfortunately.

The Tram ride to Whistler Mountain is the longest and ascends to the highest level in elevation of any tram ride in Canada. The view from the top was fabulous with panoramic views of the mountains and the city of Jasper.

We hiked to the top of Whistler Mountain some 800 feet plus past the upper tram station. The hike was exhausting but the reward was well worth it. We slowly walked up the trail stopping along the way taking in the view of the surrounding mountains surrounded with snow covered peaks where the trees do not grow.

After our Whistler hike we set out for Maligne Canyon about 15 minutes north of Jasper. Maligne Canyon is the deepest slot canyon that we had seen in the Rockies with a beautiful waterfall cascading into it at the very beginning of it.

On the drive back to Jasper we stopped at Athabasca Falls and Peyto Lake near Peyto Lodge to reveal in the beauty of the exquisite landscape.

07-07-2011

After spending one last night at Lake Louise Provincial Campground near the Bow River we drove the 30 miles on scenic bypass 1A to Banff. The day was beautiful and sunny making for a great experience. We stopped at Castle Mountain to take in the view of one of the most famous peaks in the park. A little further down the road we were treated to our first glimpse of two big horn sheep near the side of the road.

In Banff we toured the shops before walking down to the famous Banff Hotel along the banks of the Bow River.

After our tour of Banff we headed out to our campsite at Mountain View campground just west of Calgary to attend the stampede the next day.

07-08-2011

From our campground at Mountain View we took the bus into Calgary to attend the first day of the Stampede. First up was the opening parade complete with an appearance of Prince William and Kate the royal newlyweds. We caught only a glimpse of them as they were confined in the back seat of a police cruiser.

The parade seemed to go on forever with many bands, horses of all kinds, floats and even one bull rider.

After the parade we meet our friend from home Terry Duffy in downtown Calgary. Terry had arranged to get us tickets to the Rodeo that afternoon and the stadium show that evening. We meet Terry at Lammles western wear and tack where he was busy promoting a very fine brand of boots made by Dan Post. We were lucky enough to meet up with the owners, Barry and Marie Lammle, who are a kind and lovely couple we meet earlier in this year in Florida as guests of Terry and Amy. Barry and Marie do a lot for their community and help sponsor the many events that place at the Stampede.

We stopped by the Indian village in the park and enjoyed the original native customs and tepees where the Indian families resided during the Stampede,

The rodeo was our first and of course it was the biggest of its kind anywhere.  We saw bareback horse riding, competitive bull riding and chuck wagon racing. The night time show was fabulous complete with fireworks and high quality performances.

07-09-2011

After leaving Calgary we made our way across the border to Great Falls, MT. We were happy to be back in the United States again although I must say there is no match to the beauty of the Canadian Rockies anywhere. The other fact that must be mentioned is that the greatest asset Canada has is its people. They are so kind and welcoming making our visit a truly enjoyable experience.

07-10-2011

We set out from Great Falls, MT to make our way some 330 miles southeast to Sheridan, WY. Originally we planned to travel across northern Montana through Havre to North Dakota but decided a more southerly route would be a bit more scenic. On our way out of town we stopped to see Black Eagle Falls on the Missouri River one of the set of five falls in the area. Since the river is at one of its highest levels the view at Black Eagle was one of raging water and mist well beyond normal.

Just up the road from the falls we stopped at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center for a visit. We were treated to a first rate display of artifacts and history of the famous river expedition of 1805. An interpretive movie by Ken Burns helped explain and detail the heroic two year expedition that Lewis and Clark made to map out the Louisiana Purchase.

We finished the day by driving through Montana big sky country to the foot hills of The Little Big Horn Mountains to set up camp in Sheridan, WY.




Watertown National Park

07-02-2011

We started out the day early leaving Lake Mary campground and heading up the scenic Chief Mountain highway to Watertown International Peace Park across the border. We stopped at the majestic Prince of Wales Hotel located on a hill top looking over Watertown Lake surrounded by Glacier Peaks all around.

After touring the lovely mountain town of Watertown we headed over the continental divide to Fort Steel.  Along the way we passed Franks slide where back in 1907 the whole side of a mountain collapsed and buried a mining community.

 We also stopped in Sparwood, BC to take pictures of the world’s largest dump truck. In this area strip mining for cool is big business. Most of the coal is shipped to Japan to make steel via rail.

We arrived at our campsite at Fort Steel in time to set up camp and marvel at the view of the Canadian Rockies.

Two Medicine, East Glacier Natl. Park

07-02-2011

After a cool night of temperatures in the thirties with gusts up to 40 mph whistling around our trailer we started out the day by taking a driving  to the east side of the going to the sun road. We were not disappointed as the views on this side of the park were much more spectacular then on the west side of the park.

In the afternoon we set out for the Two Medicines Lake section of the park about 25 miles south of our campsite at Lake Mary. We had heard that this area was one of the most spectacular regions of the park. The views and hikes in Two Medicines’ were as advertised. We had a wonderful afternoon exploring waterfalls and alpine lakes that were right out of a painting. Tomorrow we travel into Canada to explore the Canadian Rockies. I will be posting whenever I have a wireless link from the Lodges and campgrounds we will be staying at.

Lake Mary, East Glacier Natl. Park

Today we made our way over to East Glacier National Park to a campsite at Lake Mary. On the way over we passed through some of the most interesting scenery of the trip. We stopped at a viewing site for mountain goats. The salt on the river bed provided a good nutrient feeding site for the goats making for a photo opportunity.

We also stopped at the East Glacier Lodge built by the Great Northern railroad in the early nineteen hundreds. The lodge was grand in size within walking distance to the Amtrak Depot where many of the visitors come to visit the park.

After setting up camp we traveled a short distance to Many Glaciers Lodge. Many Glaciers is located by a lake surrounded by mountains many of which have glaciers. The day was very windy with gust approaching 40 miles an hour. The temperature hovered in the low 50’s making for a chilly experience. The view was beyond description with sloping high mountains all around us teaming with wildlife.

West Glacier Park day two

06-29-2011

Today we toured the scenic viewpoints and majestic landscapes that we missed the day before.

We meet a young man at the entrance of Glacier who was traveling on his bike for 7,000 miles across America  heading for California with his dog. Out on the road we have met many young adventures who travel just on their own free will and love of life. Such spirit is precious with own special kind of reward apart from the material world most of us live in.

 

In the afternoon the weather changed as a cold front was passing through. We spent the afternoon replenishing our supplies in Kalispell, MT, a short drive from the park. On the way back we stopped at Hungry Horse, MT to pick up Huckleberry Jelly, a treat that can only be found in this neck of the woods.