Travelogue – Glacier Bay National Park

Glacier Bay National Park – the last stop on our spring 2014 trip.

Sadly we approached the end of our eighteen days in our RV and had to pack up our belongings, arranging things in appropriate bags for the final leg of our adventure. After driving 4,168 miles, we turned our Minnie Winnie in to Great Alaskan Holidays in Anchorage.  From this point on, it would be planes and boats.

Flying from Juneau to Gustavus2  Flying from Juneau to Gustavus

We flew from Anchorage to Juneau, where we boarded a Wings of Alaska Cessna caravan for the flight in to Gustavus.  The folks at Wings of Alaska were more than accommodating and stored our checked bags for us while we were at Glacier Bay Lodge. I love the way Alaskans seem to be able to figure out a way to make things work even if the request is a little odd.

The scenery at Glacier Bay was wonderful. The Lodge itself was laid out with many separate buildings connected by walkways blending in to the rainforest. However, it felt like they weren’t quite ready for the season yet at the lodge and perhaps were lacking in management. We had some difficulties with both the restaurant and housekeeping services.  They were very pleasant but they just didn’t quite have it together.

Glacier Bay Lodge2   Glacier Bay Lodge

Glacier Bay Lodge

When we arrived at Glacier Bay, it was raining but that is to be expected as it is in a rainforest.  We visited the ranger station, and walked along the trail to the campground. At the campground wheelbarrows were available for camper’s use. As the parking was a ways from the campsites, this looked to be a real help. We also hiked the loop trail which wound through the rainforest and muskeg ecosystem at the mouth of the bay.

Tree Carving  Tree Carving        Forest Loop Hike

In the late afternoon, several Tlingit women did a cultural presentation at the lodge. The Huna Tlingit have lived in this coastal rainforest for centuries. The bay itself was a landscape and home for countless generations before the great glacier advanced from the north and forced them to move, probably in the late 1600’s. The Huna Tlingit established a new village, Hoonah, on Chichagof Island across Icy Strait from the mouth of the bay, but Glacier Bay remains their ancestral and spiritual homeland.

Glacial Valley

The great glacier completely filled the bay for perhaps a half century until roughly 1750 and then began to retreat. On the HMS Discovery under command of Captain George Vancouver, Lt. Joseph Whidbey charted the coastline in 1794 and at that time the bay didn’t exist as it was only an slight indentation in the coastline. By 1879, when John Muir and five other men paddled in, they found a bay half-revealed and Muir named it Bay of Great Glaciers. In Muir’s time, how and why glaciers advance and retreat was just beginning to be understood.

Most glaciers in Alaska and throughout the world today are in a state of retreat. However, some in Glacier Bay receive new snow at high elevations in the Fairweather Range and remain healthy and several even show signs of advancing.  Studying a map of Glacier Bay with the termini of glaciers recorded in various years presents an interesting picture.  Some have advanced, some have retreated.

Snow in Mountains   Snowy Ridge

Our second day there, we took a Glacier Bay boat tour.  We boarded the boat at Bartlett Cove. Naturalist ranger, Brad Mason, was our onboard guide and was very knowledgeable and friendly.  We had an amazing day!  We were so fortunate that the sun came out and we could see the beautiful surrounding mountains, glaciers and much wildlife.

Sea Otter2       Tour Boat

Sea Otter

At South Marble Island, we saw – and heard! – Stellar sea lions. All jumbled up together on the rocks and the shore, they look so terribly awkward but manage to move around readily.

Stellar Sea Lions4  Stellar Sea Lions3

Stellar Sea Lions

Puffin    Birds on Shore

Puffin                                                                          Kittiwakes

At Gloomy Knob mountain goats posed beautifully for pictures. How they can scramble up rock faces the way they do is pretty amazing.

Mountain Goat2    Mountain Goat

Mountain Goats

We viewed both Casement Glacier and Rendu Glacier as we moved northward further into the bay.  At the head of the Tarr Inlet, the Grand Pacific Glacier presides with Margerie Glacier, to the west, hidden until you are well toward the end of the inlet. There are restrictions imposed on the number of vessels which can enter the bay any given day and how close they can approach the glaciers.

Grand Pacific Glacier   Grand Pacific Glacier

Margerie Glacier is one of the most beautiful and oft-photographed glaciers of all. Margerie Glacier is roughly a mile wide and 250 feet high.  As we idled viewing Margerie, we could marvel in the shapes and colors exhibited in the glacier. We were treated to “calving”, large chunks of ice breaking off the glacier and plunging into the water of the bay, and heard the “white thunder” as the ice cracked and shifted.

Tom and Marlene on Glacier Bay Boat Tour  Margerie Glacier4  Margerie Glacier

A harbor seal was lazily floating along on a bergy bit (small iceberg that rises 1 to 4 meters out of the water) between the boat and the glacier.

Harbor Seal on Ice  Harbor Seal

Lamplugh Glacier exhibited shining slivers and chunks of blue ice. The blue is a result of dense glacial ice which absorbs all wavelengths of the visible light spectrum except blue.  Glacial ice is much more highly compacted than ice we make in a freezer and as a result, melts more slowly.

Margerie Glacier2  Blue ice of Margerie Glacier

In early June, Johns Hopkins Glacier still had an incredible amount of ice in the water in front of it – icebergs and bergy bits. The two mountains behind Johns Hopkins are called Orville and Wilbur, supposedly in reference to the Wright brothers.

Johns Hopkins Glacier   Johns Hopkins Glacier

Mt. Cooper to the left of Johns Hopkins was the last feature named in the park and was named for William S. Cooper.  Cooper, a botanist, arrived in Glacier Bay in 1916 to study plant succession: how land changed and how after an event such as a glacier or volcano, the land could be resilient.  The entire bay has proven to be a living laboratory.  Virtually all the vegetation has returned in the past 300 years following the glacial retreat making this park one of the premier sites on the planet to study plant re-colonization. The process of succession isn’t limited to the land but also enlivens the sea and the shore. Cooper was an early advocate for protection of this region as a national park.

Margerie Glacier

Glacier Bay became a national monument in 1925, a national park and biosphere reserve in 1980, and part of a binational World Heritage Site in 1992.The reverence shown Glacier Bay by everyone who lives and works there is impressive and well-deserved.

One more great adventure trip in Alaska drew to its conclusion.

For more information on Glacier Bay National Park:

Margerie Glacier3


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Travelogue – Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska

Wrangell St Elias sign.

Wrangell St. Elias National Park is not overly easy to access. The road from Chitina to McCarthy is such that you do not take an RV on it so we made arrangements to fly into McCarthy from Chitina. We abandoned our trusty Minnie Winnie for the three days spent at Kennecott. We parked it at the Chitina airport and would retrieve it on the way back.

Chitina Airport2    Chitina Airport

Chitina Airport

Our flight was scheduled for 9:05 a.m. There was not a lot of activity but six other people were also waiting. At 9:00 we spotted two planes coming in to land on the gravel airstrip. The pilot of the Cessna 182 said he could take five passengers and the Cessna 162 could take three. So away we went. It was cloudy and snowing in the distance so the views were not spectacular flying in but Kelly took us over Root Glacier and Kennicott Glacier and pointed out the moraines, explaining that they were jumbled ice covered with a thin (6 feet or more) layer of gravel deposited by the glacier. The Kennicott Lodge van met us at the McCarthy airport for the six-mile trip to Kennecott, which was pretty slow going due to the condition of the road.

Root Glacier Moraines in front of Fireweed Mountain   Root Glacier Moraines

Wrangell St. Elias National Park is by far the largest U.S. national park – at 13,188,000 acres – almost six times the size of Yellowstone. Four major mountain ranges converge here: the Wrangells, the Alaska, the Chugach, and the St. Elias – the tallest coastal mountains in the world. Together they contain 9 of the 16 highest peaks in the United States, 4 of them over 16,000 feet.   There are more than 150 glaciers. Only two gravel roads and few trails penetrate this park. Some areas are designated as park, some as preserve, and extensive areas are reserved as wilderness.  A vast majority of the park is accessible only on foot or by bush plane.

Blackburn Mountain   Mount Blackburn

The former mining town and millsite of Kennecott is a National Historic Landmark and is in the process of being rehabilitated. While we were there, work was being done on several buildings, and safety inspectors and others were involved with further restoration plans. At the time, five buildings were open to the public: the Recreation Hall, the Refrigeration Plant, the Train Depot, the General Manager’s Office, and the Power Plant. The National Park Visitor Center is located in the General Store and Post Office which is partially restored for their use. We got my parks passport book stamped, watched two films (one on the Park itself and one on the Kennecott mine and town) and asked questions of the park ranger.

Kennecott Mill     Kennecott Leaching Plant

Kennecott Concentration Mill                                    Leaching Plant

Generations of the Ahta people collected native copper and worked it into art, utensils, and arrowheads from the Kennicott Valley.  In 1900 two prospectors, exploring in the area of Ahta Chief Nicolia’s mines, looked up at the ridge and saw a large green “sheep pasture.”  Upon further investigation it turned out to be a copper deposit, one of the world’s richest concentrations of high grade copper ore, which they named “Bonanza.” Developing the strike would require tremendous effort, ingenuity and financial resources.  From 1900 to 1902 Stephen Birch, a young mining engineer, purchased a controlling interest in the Bonanza Mine and organized the Alaska Copper and Coal Company to develop it. With financial support from the Guggenheim brothers and J.P. Morgan, Birch reorganized in 1905 and the new company later became the Kennecott Copper Corporation.

General Manager's Office     Hospital and Bunkhouses

General Manager’s Office                                              Hospital and Bunkhouses

To get the lumber and heavy equipment needed in the isolated Kennicott Valley, as well as to supply the miners and mill workers with necessities, and to get the ore to the port at Cordova for shipment to Seattle, the 196-mile-long Copper River and North Western Railway was built through impressively inhospitable country. Crossing rivers and glaciers and dealing with rugged mountain terrain required almost 30 miles of trestles. Sternwheeler steamships hauled supplies and materials during construction, navigating the winding Copper River until reaching the Abercrombie Rapids. At that point, the boats had to be taken apart and packed by sled and horse from Valdez and then rebuilt on the river above.  With the railroad completed in 1911, Cordova became a busy port, Chitina grew up at the juncture of the Copper and Chitina Rivers, and McCarthy emerged as a more “free-spirited” community only six miles away from the company town of Kennecott.

McCarthy    McCarthy


The mill at Kennecott operated around the clock to meet the demand for copper during World War I but by the 1920’s the high-grade ore had been depleted and work slowed. After earning more than $100 million in profit, Kennecott was abandoned in 1938 and fell into ruin. In June of 1998, the National Park Service acquired many of the significant buildings and lands of the historic mining town of Kennecott. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and designated as a National Historic Landmark since 1986, Kennecott is considered the best remaining example of early 20th Century copper mining.

Kennecott Mill & Power Plant Stacks     Power plant

Mill and Power Plant Stacks                                  Inside Power Plant

Kennicott Glacier Lodge is actually a private entity within the park and our lodging package included meals which were outstanding. An example of an evening meal: crab-stuffed cod, fresh green salad, asparagus, angel hair pasta and cheesecake. The evening meals were served family-style and guests were assigned seating at tables for eight. As a result, we met some really interesting people. One evening we were seated with a couple from France, a couple from India, and a couple from California. Conversation in general centered on the park itself, travels and experiences traveling. We discovered that the couple from India shared our bucket list of visiting all the U.S. National Parks. We were about at the same point toward accomplishing that.

Kennicott Glacier Lodge    Kennicott Glacier Lodge

We spent much of our time in the park hiking and enjoying the scenery and what felt like a step back in time. We hiked to Root Glacier. We hiked the trail around the perimeter of Kennecott. We walked Silk Stocking Row. We walked around McCarthy and visited the museum there. Although our first two days were overcast and rainy, the third day the sun came out and the mountains were glorious.

Toe of Root Glaicier    Regal Mountain

Root Glacier                                                                 Regal Mountain

On the flight back to Chitina, the views of the mountains were magnificent. Steam rose from the vent of the dome-shaped volcano that is Mt. Wrangell and the Wrangell Mountains on the north competed with the Chugach Mountains to the south for the title of most splendid.

Kennicott Glacier    Flying out of McCarthy

Kennicott Glacier                                                    Flying back out

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Travelogue – Yukon into Alaska

Tanana River    Tanana River

In the Yukon territory, we decided to hike the Spruce Beetle Trail. The spruce beetle is taking a toll on the spruces in this area much like pine beetle is on the pines in the U.S. Rocky Mountains. However, the response evidenced through the very informative trail signs somewhat surprised us. In forests here seldom hit by fire, the spruce beetle plays the role of selective recycler. By killing older or less robust trees, the beetles trigger change and rejuvenation. An interesting bit of information stated that spruce beetle adults can survive winter temperatures of -23° C. and larvae even colder -32° C. That is because they develop antifreeze in their blood as the days get shorter. The antifreeze prevents the formation of ice crystals that would pierce their cells. However, if severe cold hits in early winter before the beetles have produced enough antifreeze, mortality can be high.

Moose on the Run- Yukon

The Kluane Lake area provided us with our first close view of a moose. This cow moose definitely had a goal in mind as she took off and it was amazing how fast she could travel. Kluane Lake itself was still partially covered with ice.

Kluane Lake   Kluane Lake

At the Tachal Dhal Visitor Centre, Ranger Pauley was extremely knowledgeable and very personable. She answered questions and encouraged us to use the spotting scopes. The southern slopes of Tachal Dhal (Sheep Mountain) are the primary winter and spring range and lambing area of a Dall sheep population. We were fortunate to be able to spot numerous ewes and lambs on the mountainside.

Dall Sheep - Sheep Mountain - Yukon2   Dall Sheep

Whichever of us was not driving had plenty of time to observe the surrounding countryside as the road was absolutely terrible – huge potholes, frost heaves, sections of gravel washboards where the pavement was gone completely. An average of 35 miles an hour was about the best to be hoped for here. This was undoubtedly the worst road of our entire trip.

Continuing slowly on north we saw another moose, “drunken” trees, and trumpeter swans.

Moose  Drunken Trees

Trumpeter swan


At the U.S.-Canada border, we paused for the standard photo op standing in both countries at once. There is a monument celebrating the longest unfortified border between two countries anywhere in the world.


Tom at International Boundary  Marlene at International Boundary


At the Seaton Roadhouse Interpretive Site and Trails, we took a hike and I had the opportunity to photograph nesting trumpeter swans. They were fascinating to watch and to hear their trumpeting.

Nesting trumpeter swans  Trumpeter swans and cygnets2

Diving Swan  Trumpeter swan2

The town of Tok is the major overland point of entry to Alaska. Highway travelers arriving in Alaska or leaving Alaska must pass through Tok. The visitor center offers tourists a friendly welcome to Alaska and as much information as you could possibly want. From Tok, we headed southwest on the Tok Cutoff.

Tok, Alaska

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Travelogue – British Columbia into Yukon Territory

The Cassiar Highway which connects the Yellowhead Highway in British Columbia with the Alaska Highway in Yukon Territory is a scenic route presenting its own challenges. It is generally narrower than most 2-lane highways with little or no shoulder, many potholes, and no road striping. Trees crowd the edge of the road in many places and logging trucks piled high are prevalent. One does have to be alert! This stretch also proved to be one of the best for spotting bears. At Gnat Pass Summit we spotted one caribou, albeit a small one who looked as if he had had a rough winter.

Yukon Bear      Caribou

Jade City earned its name as a commercial outlet for jade mined from the nearby mountains. According to their ads, the Cassiar Mountain range supplies 92% of the world’s jade.

Boya Lake Provincial Park is another of those great BC provincial parks. Once again we visited with fellow travelers and enjoyed the beautiful setting. On a hike on a lakeside trail we managed to spot a ruffed grouse in all his glory.

Boya Lake Provincial Park Campsite        Boya Lake Provincial Park - BC

Boya Lake

Entering Watson Lake, Yukon, the odometer turned over 3000 miles which somehow seemed providential as we were at the famous Alaska Highway landmark – the Watson Lake Signpost Forest. In 1942, while building the Alaska Highway, it was common practice for the U.S. Army of Engineers to put up a directional post at their camps. It gave directions and mileage to surrounding communities and various parts of the world. While working on the Alcan Highway near Lower Post, BC, Private Carl K. Lindley from Company D, 341st Army of Engineers was injured and taken to the Army Aid Station in Watson Lake to recuperate. During that time Carl’s commanding officer had him repair and repaint the directional post to the Military Air Base. While doing so, he decided to add his hometown sign of Danville, Illinois. Thus began the tradition and since then, travelers have continued to add their own signs so that now there are over 72,000 signs in the Signpost Forest.

Signpost Forest - Watson Lake, Yukon    Signpost Forest - Watson Lake, Yukon2

At Lake Teslin, the Yukon Motel and RV Park is also a gas station, convenience store, restaurant, post office and nearly everything in one, including a gift shop with an amazing Wildlife Museum.
Carcross is an interesting little town at the top of the White Pass and Yukon Railway from Skagway. There are numerous tourist shops and the S.S. Tutshi, which was a stern-wheeler that operated on the river there. We found it fascinating that such big ships were used throughout the Yukon. Of course there are great rivers but basically many of these riverboats had to be brought in overland in pieces and reassembled when they got over the mountains to a navigable river. The process of restoration of the S.S Tutshi was nearly complete when a fire broke out and destroyed her beyond salvation.


The mountains continued to be rugged, impressive and beautiful.

Waterfowl on Pine Lake - Yukon2       Kluane Range

Waterfowl on Pine Lake                                                      Kluane Range

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Travelogue – British Columbia

I wanted to mail postcards to my grandchildren and needed stamps so we went into Jasper, not realizing it was Saturday and Canada Post does not operate on Saturday. We did find a convenience store to buy stamps so I could drop them in the postbox. I think we’re spoiled in the U.S. with our mail service – each postcard stamp cost $1.20, considerably more than the postcards themselves.

Bear - British Columbia
We kept seeing places with the name of Robson – Mount Robson, Mount Robson Provincial Park, Robson Pass, etc. and were curious as to who “Robson” was. A little research revealed that in the early years of the nineteenth century, the North West Company outfitted parties to hunt and trap in the mountains near the Athabasca River. One party was led by a man whose name was “carelessly pronounced” and had a camp near what is now known as Mount Robson. This was likely Colin Robertson (1783-1842) who worked for both the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company around 1815. The spot became a gathering place for the various parties of hunters and the peak was probably named after him. Mt. Robson is the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies at 12,972 feet.
We were also curious as to why this particular highway was called the Yellowhead Highway. In a fur trader’s 1827 diary, he wrote of a location known as “Tete Jaune Cache”, a place where an Iroquois Indian half-breed who was fair-haired had made a fur cache. He was known as Tete Jaune or Yellowhead. We stopped and took a nice little walk to Rearguard Falls. The sign informed us that these falls mark the upper limit of the 800-mile migration of Pacific salmon.

Rear Guard Falls - British Columbia    Rearguard Falls

A stop at the Ancient Forest provided us with a nice hike. The term “ancient forest” describes a forest that contains significant populations of trees that have reached great age and exhibits unique biological features. This is a temperate rainforest and is particularly unusual in that most temperate rainforests are found by the ocean. However, the interior Wetbelt in British Columbia is home to the world’s only known rainforest so far (800km/498 miles) from the ocean. As a result, a combination of coastal and interior species can be found in this unique forest.

Big Tree - ancient rainforest - British Columbia     Cirrcle of Cedars- British Columbia

“Big Tree”                                                                                Circle of Cedars

The scenery changed along the Yellowhead Highway. Here farming and ranching are major industries. We did take note that dandelions seemed to grow especially well as we saw numerous meadows covered with their bright yellow flowers.

Fraser RIver Valley      Fraser RIver Valley

Rising out of the Fraser River Valley, in the Lakes Country there are more than 300 fresh-water lakes, of which Fraser Lake is one.

Fraser Lake     Fraser Lake2

Tintagel Cairn is a roadside monument that was named after Tintagel, Cromwell, England. The central stone in this cairn once formed part of the Norman wall of Tintagel Castle, reputed birthplace of King Arthur, knight of the Round Table.

Tintagel Cairn    Tintagel Cairn

‘Ksan historical village is a reconstruction of the traditional Gitxsan village which has stood at this site for centuries. There are seven traditionally styled cedar longhouses as well as various totem poles and dugout canoes. We felt they could have used a bit more signage as we nearly gave up before we got to the village.

'Ksan historic village2    'Ksan totems - British Columbia    'Ksan historic village

In Gitwangak, there is one of the largest concentrations of standing totem poles in northwest British Columbia. These stately monuments in cedar proclaim the owner’s clan status and inherited family traditions but were never associated with religion. Clan crests portrayed mythical creatures, sometimes in human form, from the legendary history of the clan.

Gitanyow Totems2    Gitanyow Totems    Totem at Gitanyow, British Columbia

On this beautiful clear day, we could see the Coastal Range, rugged and snow-covered in the distance.

Canadian Rockies - British Columbia   Mountain

British Columbia has really nice provincial parks and Meziadin Lake Provincial Park was a prime example. We met up with several other RVers who were also doing the trip from Iowa. The ranger joked with us that there were about forty of us missing based on consecutive license plate numbers. One of the couples we visited with here, we had first met in the campground in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. Camping overlooking a lake, jazz background music with cocktails and a steak dinner is a really nice way to spend an evening.

Mezadian Lake Provincial Park  Meziadin Lake


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Travelogue – Canadian Rockies in Alberta

After spending the night at a campground in Cochrane, we set out into the Canadian Rockies, taking a secondary route through the Stone Indian Reserve and then on to the Trans Canada Highway. There I found the wildlife overpasses rather fascinating. These overpasses are designed to allow wildlife to cross the highway without endangering either themselves or motorists. These overpasses maintain a natural-appearing corridor across the highway and studies have shown that the wildlife in the region have adapted to these routes quite readily.

Wildlife Overpass    Wildlife Overpass

Canadian Rockies - Alberta2    Canadian Rockies - Alberta


Having visited before, we bypassed both Banff and Lake Louise on our way northwest on the Icefields Parkway toward Jasper. The Canadian Rockies are incredibly beautiful. We found ourselves stopping frequently for photos. Mountains, lakes (some still ice-covered), glaciers, and waterfalls all demanded attention.

Crowfoot Glacier    WaterFowl Lake with green ice

Crowfoot Glacier                                         Waterfowl Lake with Green Ice

Mistaya Falls   Mistaya Canyon

The Columbia Icefield is a national park and a United Nations World Heritage Site. Glaciers are different from the icefields that usually form them. An icefield is an upland area of snow accumulation that feeds two or more glaciers. A glacier is a lobe of highly compressed crystalline ice that sometimes flows downward from the icefield that forms it.
There are six major glacier outflows from the Columbia Icefield. Even though not the largest, the best known of these is the Athabasca Glacier. It is the only one accessible by road. It is a classic valley glacier and the Icefields Centre is located strategically across the road with an unobstructed view. Unobstructed, that is, except by the rain and fog which seems to be nearly ever-present.

Athabasca Glacier - Columbia Icefield   Athabasca Glacier

There are three great rivers which have their origins in the Columbia Icefield – the Athabasca which flows to the Arctic Ocean, the North Saskatchewan which flows into the Saskatchewan and to the Atlantic Ocean and the Wood River which flows into the Columbia and to the Pacific. Three rivers going to three different oceans.

After leaving the Icefields Centre, we stopped time and again to view the gorgeous scenery. Tangle Creek Falls was a roadside photo op and Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls were only short hikes from the highway. They were great “stretch your legs” breaks from driving.

Tangle Falls - Alberta                        Sunwapta FallsT

Tangle Creek Falls                                         Sunwapta Falls

We also saw Bear Number 1, a black bear – the first of many on this trip.

Bear in Alberta

Athabasca Falls - Alberta (3)            Athabasca Falls - Alberta            Athabasca Falls - Alberta (2)

Athabasca Falls

We chose the Whistler Campground to stay the night. It’s on the edge of the town of Jasper, is a national park campground and is huge. With over 700 campsites, one would expect them to be tiny and crowded on top of each other but that was not the case, so it was quite pleasant. The rain even held off so we could take a long walk around the campground. Of course the further north we went, the later it was before dark.

Whistler Campground

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Travelogue – Montana and into Alberta, Canada

To those people who live in and love Montana, I must apologize for the following statement. Northern Montana is very long east to west and very monotonous. Coming from Nebraska, I can relate to the umbrage that might be taken to this comment, as we often hear the same thing and know it certainly does not apply to the entire state. However, our travel this trip through this part of the state fighting a fierce crosswind was less than enjoyable.
Northern Montana     Lake Fresno

Northern Montana                                                    Lake Fresno
We did find a lovely spot overlooking Lake Fresno to camp for the night. There were numerous campers parked there but no people. We assumed they were snagging their sites for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.
This might be an appropriate time to add comments about our “camping.” Our RV was equipped with all the comforts of home and our meals were most definitely not hot dogs and beans. In addition to a full stove and microwave, we had a nice little grill. Our typical dinners would be something like grilled steak or chicken, potatoes or rice pilaf, and corn on the cob or fresh green beans. Not exactly roughing it.
We crossed the border into Canada at Couts. I don’t think that border agent liked his job all that much. He was definitely not pleasant! His questioning seemed a little over the top. In our experiences in the past we have found Canadians to be very friendly so maybe it’s just the border agent thing.

Welcome to Alberta
Our next encounter with Canadians was what we had expected. We stopped at the Milk River Visitors’ Center and the young ladies there were extremely welcoming and very helpful. They steered us to some secondary roads that would help us avoid Calgary and its traffic and provided us with much information and numerous brochures.They also encouraged us to stop in Lethbridge at Fort Whoop-Up National Historic Site. We went there and were glad we did.

Fort Whoop Up - Lethbridge, Alberta  Fort Whoop Up - Lethbridge, Alberta9

Fort Whoop-Up Exterior                                  Fort Whoop-Up Interior

This fort is a replica reconstruction of the original fort with three museum galleries and numerous period rooms. The self-guided tour accompanied by the Voices from the Past program – audio vignettes presented by various scoundrels and lawmen who called Fort Whoop-Up home – was most interesting.

Fort Whoop Up - Lethbridge, Alberta8   Fort Whoop Up - Lethbridge, Alberta4

Originally called Fort Hamilton, the fort was built by Montana traders, and was the largest of 110 established posts and forts throughout Blackfoot country. Because of the use of whiskey to “encourage” trade, the fort developed an infamous reputation and became known as Fort Whoop-Up.

Fort Whoop Up - Lethbridge, Alberta5  Fort Whoop Up - Lethbridge, Alberta10

This reputation and the fact that an American flag was said to be flying over Canadian territory led to the formation of the North West Mounted Police in 1873. The Mounties arrived at Fort Whoop-Up in October 1874, their task being to establish Canadian sovereignty in the Northwest and to control the alcohol trade. A Fort Benton newspaper was the first to report that the Canadian Mounties “always get their man.” In 1875, the Mounties established a post at the fort by renting one of the buildings and for the next twelve years, the Fort continued to trade and host a Mounted Police post – an unusual arrangement! We’re assuming that the whooping-up at Fort Whoop-Up also settled down.

Fort Whoop Up , Alberta  Fort Whoop Up - Lethbridge, Alberta3

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