Toady we drive north to Jasper National Park.
We drove farther north to Banff National Park, a place we had never visited before. It is another spectacular mountain park with tall peaks on all sides. Unfortunately it has been loved to death and is way over developed We did not know when we booked our stay that this was the busiest week in the park due to a Canadian Civic Holiday on our only Monday there. It is a holiday to take time off and be with your family is how it was explained to us. So the park was way over crowded. Banff is only about 70 miles from Alberta's largest city Calgary, so it is easily accessible to many people. Driving through town and even walking on the sidewalks was like being in New York City. We tried to go to the Hot Springs but the parking lot was full, A park ranger was writing tickets for all the cars that had parked along the side of the road leading to the Springs. On another day we drove the scenic Bow Valley Parkway up to Lake Louise. It was not very crowded and we were treated to a bear eating berries just 20 yards off the road. Three other cars came up behind us and he was so intent on eating berries he did not seem to care about us. He had a tag in his ear so he must have a reputation for getting in trouble. Once we got to Lake Louise at 10 am we discovered that they had closed the road into town because there was so much traffic. We decided to try to make it to Moraine Lake but the same thing' the road was closed because of so many cars already on the road. Even hiking you were never alone on the trail. We tried to get into two trail head parking lots on our way back to the city of Banff and even they were full so we just bagged it at 10:30 in the morning and went back to the RV Park. We did find a few of the red chairs that the park locates in scenic spots. The dominate structure in town is the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel that sits majestically on the hillside across the Bow River.
On our first full day I played the Banff Springs Golf Course early in the morning. The views of the mountains and the hotel made it hard to concentrate on golf. One of the most scenic courses I have ever played. It was in excellent condition also. Since we could not get into Lake Louise I played the course a second time and on the first hole we had to wait for the grounds keeper to chase a herd of elk off the green and traps.
Toady we drive north to Jasper National Park.
We entered Canada and stayed for the week in the small town of Waterton Lake. As you can see below it is located in a mountain paradise. On our way we passed Chief Mountain a natural landmark that lets you know you are near the border. I had picked out our camp site on line way back in January and was not disappointed with the choice. On our first morning we drove out looking for wildlife and soon found two bears eating Saskatoon berries on a hillside. We returned back home just in time for a typical mountain rain and hail storm. After the storm we had a partial rainbow. One evening I hiked the Bear Hump Trail and took the first picture below. A few days later I was able to get Josie to hike with me on the 5K trail to Bertha Falls. She did a great job hiking over the rocks and along the cliff side. We met some nice folks on the trail and were rewarded with a nice view of the falls. I did eat some of the Saskatoon berries along the trail and they are pretty good. Later that evening we shared a slice of Saskatoon Berry Pie Ala Mode.
For some reason many of the National Parks in Canada have golf courses in them. I have played many of them in the Maritime Canada Parks, so this was the first one I have played out west. The course had beautiful views. You are warned many times that there can be bear activity on the course. I saw a picture in the Clubhouse that had been taken only three days before of two Black Bear cubs playing with the flag on one of the greens. I did not see any bear but lots of deer.
There are many Colombian Ground Squirrels living in the campground. You are told not to feed them but our neighbors could not read the signs and as you can see the one below was enjoying a strawberry they gave him. There are also town deer that wander everywhere. It is not uncommon to see deer grazing on lawns and in the parks. All over the town of Waterton Lakes they have placed red chairs at various scenic spots. We enjoyed them while taking our morning walks. While sitting at the marina area and looking over at the Prince of Wales Hotel on the hill we were surprised to see an American Border Patrol boat come by. One evening we attended a production of Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" put on by the Teenie Weenie Playhouse. It was very good with a young and enthusiastic cast. On our final evening in town we had a very nice dinner in the Prince of Wales dining room, that we finished with Saskatoon Berry Bread Pudding.
Tomorrow we drive north to Banff National Park.
We left Idaho after a great visit with friends and drove back north to Fairmont RV Park near Anaconda, Montana. Anaconda was home to one of the largest copper mines in the USA and today you can see the remnants of the slag from the mine in a huge hill just as you enter town and the smoke stack from the smelting furnaces.
I played The Old Works golf course again, as it is one of my favorites. It is a Jack Nicklaus design and was built on the sight of the old copper mine. I wrote about it on the blog in the August 2014 post when I played it with my cousin Mike and Dave Welsh. One difference this time playing the course was the many Marmots living in the surrounding hills and eating the grass on the course. I also played the course here at the Hot Springs Resort and almost parred the over 600 yard par 5 fifth hole, just lipping out a 10 foot putt. One afternoon Josie and I went to the hot spring pool and sat around in the refreshing 103 degree waters. When we got ready to leave a very strange thing had happened. Someone had stolen my Hawaiian shirt. Our guess is that someone thought there might be my phone or money in the shirt. Or maybe they just really liked the shirt. I reported it to the pool office but they did not seem too surprised. I found out later by reading reviews of the place this happens all the time. We suggest not going there.
Anaconda is home to a great old time supper club the Barcaly II. I was introduced to it a few years ago by our friend Dave Welsh when we were in town to play The Old Works. The steaks and seafood are top quality and it comes with a salad, relish tray, cheese and meat platter, baked potato, raviolis, spaghetti and ice cream for dessert. Josie was very happy with her giant prawns served lobster style. One afternoon we drove over to Butte and had a nice dinner at a local place. Butte is also a copper town and the mine comes right down to the edge of town. There are old parts of the mine all over town. Butte is also the burial place for Evel Knievel. It seems he had his head stone made right before he attempted his famous jump of the Snake River, just in case he didn't make it out alive. Of course he lived and went onto live 30 more years.
On our final day in the area, we drove 40 miles to the town of Phillipsburg, Montana to see a play at the old McDonald Opera House, which was built in 1891. We saw a very good production of "Unnecessary Farce" a comical "who done it". While in town we visited the Sweet Place, a famous candy store that was filled to the ceiling with great candies, fudge, taffy and chocolates, all sold by the pound. We left with a good sized bag of candy and fudge. After the play we visited the Phillipsburg Brewing Company that is housed in the towns old bank. While browsing one of the local antique shops Josie found a Hall casserole dish that matched a tea kettle she has from her parents first wedding anniversary. A nice treasure, as she likes to say.
We left Anaconda and drove north to the small town of Choteau, Montana. We had a three day wait before we could get into Waterton Glacier National Park in Canada so this was a good place to stop for a few days. The campground we stayed at was at the bottom of a large hill. I climbed it the first day and discovered the local County Club Golf Course was on top. I played it the next day. Josie was greeted by the camp host "Camper" the cat when we were doing our laundry. We explored the town and came upon the grumpy cowboys below. On our last evening in town we attended a concert on the lawn of the town's visitor center. A good time was had by all. I spent one morning birding the Freezout Lake Wildlife Management Area and was able to get a few good pictures.
Tomorrow morning we head for Canada.
We have spent the past two weeks in Idaho Falls, Idaho parked in the driveway of our good friends BJ and Karin Bybee and their two Pugs Lucy and Dinah. We could not ask for a better place to stay, not only because of their great hospitality but also for the view. Karin has quite the green thumb and their yard is absolutely gorgeous. She has a vast variety of flowers as you can see from the pictures below.
We visited the Saturday Farmers Market where our friend Debbie has a booth selling her hand made beaded jewelry. Debbie and her husband Larry are good friends of BJ and Karin and we met them last winter when they also spent the winter in Arizona. Debbie highly suggested we try the Mexican corn on the cob at the booth across from hers. We are glad she did as it was very tasty. The corn was covered with mayonnaise and then rolled in Parmesan cheese and then sprinkled with a spicy pepper and lime seasoning.
We played 4 rounds of golf during our visit, at four different courses. Three in Idaho Falls and one at Larry's home course in Blackfoot, Idaho. We fought the wind a few of the days but we had a great time.
BJ went birding with me a couple of days, and we covered over 100 miles of back roads. Our trip up Wolverine Canyon was not that "birdy" but we did find a beautiful cinnamon colored bear. On our way home we stopped at the Bone Store. Wonder what they call people who live in the city of Bone? On another day we visited Market Lake Wildlife Management area where we found Trumpeter Swans and a Juvenile Great Horned Owl. There were raptors everywhere as the young Red tail and Swainson's hawks were fledging. One young bird was not happy as he was dive bombed by much smaller Blue Gray Gnatcatchers.
BJ and Karin took us on a scenic drive over to the towns of Swan Valley and Driggs near the Wyoming border. We followed the Snake River most of the way and stopped at Falls Creek Falls along the way. We finally ended up at the Targee Ski area with fantastic views of the Grand Tetons. They have far less snow then when we viewed them over a month ago. Along the way we saw thousands of acres of potato, barley, wheat and canola fields. By the end of our over 200 mile trip Josie was wiped out.
Of course Idaho is known for its potatoes. They have Potato Beetles, potato shaped sand traps on the golf courses, and best of all potato flake donuts they call "Spudnuts" which are very light and fluffy. We liked them even better than Krispy Kreme. They also put potato flakes in their square scooped ice cream and even in chocolate milk. Both are very good. If you order a baked potato here in Idaho be prepared to pig out. They are huge!
Tomorrow the Bybees will travel to Montana with us for a few days of golf.