Day 28 – Richfield,UT

Today we didn’t do any traveling. We got up and washed and vacuumed 7,000+ miles of dirt, bugs & grime off the trusty minivan. Now it shines! Paul took it to get the oil changed while I did laundry. As a reward we went to lunch at Ideal Dairy (since 1926) and Perkin’s Bakery. After a nice lunch we almost were able to finish our sundaes. We drove around the outskirts of town and took some sunny multi-colored mountain pictures. Now we’re just chillin’ before we head out tomorrow to see some national parks.

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Day 27 – Idaho Falls, ID to Richfield, UT

The drive to Richfield was pretty much unremarkable. We drove most of the way on I – 15 so the drive was easy and pretty quick. The speed limit in UT is 75. The road was very good except through the Salt Lake City area which had a lot of construction.

The scenery is quite a change from green farm land to brownish looking arid lands. We saw a lot of potato and alfalfa fields in ID. The area around Richfield is very arid and the hills and mountains are made up various color bands. It was raining and overcast as we arrived today and has rained a little more tonight. I’m sure they needed the rain.

We are going to stay here tomorrow and rest up, wash clothes, get the oil changed in mini and give it a bath. To say the car is dirty is a bold understatement! We are determined to finish out our trip but both of us are getting pretty road weary (Tom:Not me!). Tomorrow’s break is much needed.

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Day 26 – Missoula,MT to Idaho Falls,ID

Happy Independence Day everyone! I don’t know if we can stay up for the fireworks here in Idaho Falls tonight at 10:00 PM but we did stop by the Fourth of July Creek while crossing the Lemhi Mountain Range! When we left Missoula this morning we decided to take the more scenic route down old Highway 93 instead of the quicker route down IH-35.

In going this way we followed a winding 2 lane road through the Bitterroot and Lemhi Mountain Ranges. We went high enough into the Bitterroot Mountains to reach the snow at a bit over 7,000 feet. The Lemhi Range route kept us mainly in the valley following the route of the Salmon River. Highlights included passing both the Lotta Sweat Ranch and the No Sweat Ranch. We also crossed the Continental Divide and the 45th Parallel (said to be halfway between the Equator and the North Pole). The only wild animal we saw was a Pronghorn antelope. We saw very many pretty horses though. This is real cowboy country.

When traveling down 93 along the Lost River Mountain Range we were delayed by a cattle drive of at least 500 cattle being herded down the side of the road (and some in the road!).

We passed through Arco,the first community in the world ever to be lit by electricity generated by nuclear power. This occurred on July 17, 1955, powered by a reactor at the nearby “National Reactor Testing Station” (NRTS), which is now the Idaho National Laboratory (located in the nearby desert). NRTS made further history on January 3, 1961, when the SL-1 reactor melted down, causing three deaths. It was the world’s first (and the U.S.’ only) fatal reactor accident. In town, the most striking physical feature is Number Hill, a rocky hill with numbers painted all over it. Butte County High School has a tradition of each class since 1920 painting its graduation year on the face of hill.

The mountains and rock formations were very nice. We are now transitioning from totally snow-capped mountains to more arid Southwestern style formations. Tomorrow Utah!

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Day 25 – Banff, AB to Missoula, MT

Last night we stayed in the Cascade Court B&B in Banff. This is a very nice three story home about a half block from the Banff Springs Hotel. We enjoyed our stay and would highly recommend it to anyone going to Banff.

We left around 8:30 this morning heading toward Missoula. It was a sunny day when we left but quickly turned stormy as we neared Radium Hot Springs. This drive is every bit as spectacular as the drive from Jasper to Banff although shorter. You drive down the road at the foot of these huge snow capped mountains and they look so BIG!

The drive down highway 93 to the US border is quite scenic but not as spectacular as driving through the mountains. The critter count today was a mere 4 Dall Sheep and one deer. We did cross over Ha Ha Creek while still in Canada. It is so nice to be back in the good old USA!

We stopped at Glacier National Park near Whitefish, MT. There had been an avalanche so we did not get to drive up and see the glacier. We got to admire one of their huge glacial lakes, however. Glacier fed lakes, for those of you who may not have seen one, are this incredible jade green to turquoise color (depending on how the light strikes it). There are many of them up in the mountains. We drove along Flathead Lake after we left the park. It was very big and beautiful.

Tonight we ate at a restaurant here in Missoula called “Famous Dave’s Bar-b-que”. Their menu had beef brisket which they claimed was as good as in Texas. I had to see if this was true since we have not eaten BBQ since June 8th. Tom had pork ribs. We have to admit, Dave’s is up there with some of the best.

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Day 24 – Grande Prairie, AB to Banff,AB

Today was another good, but long day of driving. Partly cloudy & windy. We saw many animals today. 14 deer, a moose, a black bear, 2 elks, 3 bighorn sheep, a coyote and 12 Dall sheep. We saw the Dall  sheep crossing the road so we were very close. This is rare. Usually you see Dall sheep only very high up on the mountains and they look like tiny white specks. Driving from Jasper to Banff we drove right down the top of the Rocky Mountains. The views were awesome. It will be tough choosing which scenes to put into the blog. We are in Banff on a Saturday and on the Canada Day weekend so it is crawling with tourists in addition to Paul & me. Tomorrow we head out for Glacier National Park and the good ol’ USA.

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Day 23 – Ft. Nelson, BC to Grande Prairie, AB

Thanks again for all of your comments. We enjoy reading them.

Today was sunny or mostly sunny the whole day. It was the first such day since early in our trip and it was very pleasant.

For all of you that did not know, today is Canada Day. They have celebrations in all these small towns. We wished folks Happy Canada Day all day long :-). The parts of Canada we have traveled through are incredibly beautiful and very unspoiled. I mentioned earlier but it certainly bears repeating, there is very little litter up here, the restrooms are usually very clean, the people are friendly and the scenery is……what more can I say? We could learn a lot from our northern neighbors!

In spite of the beautiful weather, we only saw two big black bears and one deer. The deer was too fast for us to get a picture. The two bears were right on the side of the road and within 30 yards of each other. That is rare. They were keeping a close eye on each other.

We stopped in Fort St. John’s for lunch today since we were hungry for a change.

As we drove through Dawson Creek, we came to the end of the Alaskan Highway, so we did it! It was just about the same time that my old mini turned over 100,000 miles. The car looks terrible because of all the dirt but it is running like a top.

Tonight we are staying in Grande Prairie, AB. It is just past Dawson Creek and afforded better accommodations.

We modified our itinerary some tonight. We are headed for Banff again tomorrow but we will re-enter the US a little farther west in Montana than where we came into Canada. We are planning to see Glacier National Park on the 3rd and end up in Missoula, MT. From there we will go to Idaho Falls, ID then to Richfield, UT. We will stay in Richfield a couple of days and kind of slow it down.

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Day 22 – Watson Lake,YT to Fort Nelson,BC

We departed Watson Lake early today even though we had a relatively short distance to drive. It was a good thing that we did because today was Critter Day! By the time we arrived in Fort Nelson we had seen 12 bears, 40 bison, 29 bighorn sheep and a marmot. We stopped many times to both photograph the animals and the beautiful vistas as we crossed the Rocky Mountains. It was chilly because at times it was overcast with a wind but the sun came out quite often also. The road surface was much improved.

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