Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Going-To-The-Sun Road, Montana ...

For a while now, driving the Going-To-The-Sun road in Glacier National Park, Montana has been high on my must-see list.  When I knew that Mum was going to be visiting this summer, it was a no-brainer to add this trip to our itinerary.  After packing up our things in Waterton, we hit the road, ready for a day of spectacular driving.  It was a challenging drive because of the steep cliffs on the side of the road and the stunning scenery that kept distracting me from the road.  The road was in great condition and there were plenty of pull-outs for tourists to stop and admire the view.  We stopped at Logan's Pass, the highest part of the road, for a walk and some wildlife spotting.  We saw about 5-6 big horned sheep and just a little further along the road, there was a wildlife jam due to the family of mountain goats licking the salt off the road - my first ever mountain goat sighting!  The Going-To-The-Sun road is definitely one of the most spectacular drives I have ever done and next time I visit Montana, I'll be leaving the lovely Abbey at home so that I can enjoy some of the hiking (dogs aren't allowed hiking in US national parks) on offer in this beautiful part of the world, Glacier National Park.

'Welcome to Alberta' sign on our way out of Alberta

Welcome to the United States

Abbey looks mournfully out the window while we stop to admire the view

The beautiful rolling hills of Montana

Big square mountain in Big Sky Montana (that's the state's slogan)

Wild Goose Island in Glacier National Park

Beautiful Glacier NP view

And another amazing view

I've always wanted to take one of these photos!

Canadian and US flags at Logan's Pass, the highest part of the Going-To-The-Sun road

Can you spot the big horned sheep?

Ah! There he is!

He came to visit us at the car park

Snowy Logan's Pass in the middle of summer

Abbey cools down in the snow at Logan's Pass

Looking back to Logan's Pass

My first ever mountain goat sighting!  And what a spectacular location!

Mountain goat family up close

Glacial spray cools us down in our un-airconditioned car!

Hot dog sleeps on esky ('cooler' for any non-Australians out there)  Note the self made air conditioning ... a wet towel in the window!

We were happy to be held up by construction with this amazing view!

Cold glacial river

Mum quite fancied these tour buses that were everywhere on the Going-To-The-Sun road

Why, hello!

Spectacular views everywhere

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Hanging around in Waterton ...

Waterton is probably my favourite national park in Alberta.  It is so quiet and still compared to the hustle and bustle of Banff and Lake Louise (Jasper is another favourite of mine).  I also love the fact that there are no foothills, the Rocky Mountains just pop up out of the prairies, making the scenery all the more dramatic.  Mum and I had two nights staying in Waterton (at the cosy and quaint Bear Mountain Motel) which meant that we had plenty of time to wander around the lake edge and explore the surrounds.

The beautiful Waterton Lake

Bear Mountain Motel - 1960s style rooms!

Mum outside our room

View from our room (Mt Bertha)

Aggressive deer in Waterton!

A fox on an early morning walk in Waterton

A dog on a rock in the early morning sunshine

Prince of Wales Hotel, Waterton

Friday, 27 July 2012

There's a bear in there ...

On Mum's first trip to Canada, she was pretty excited about the possibility of seeing a bear.  This time, she wasn't fussed, thinking that there are some animals that it's perhaps best you not see in the wild.  Well, whether she wanted to see them or not, there they were ... all SIX of them!  Now, you'd consider yourself lucky if you saw one bear on your trip, let alone six bears in the one day!  Luckily, we only saw one (Number 1) on foot, that was at Cameron Lake early in the day before our hike to Wall Lake.  The others were all spotted from the safety of the car, one on the way back from our hike and the other four in the evening on the best bear-spotting-road in Waterton (Red Rock Canyon road if you're interested).  In the excitement of it all, the photos I took aren't fabulous, but hey, we saw SIX bears in one day!

Bear Number 1

Bear Number 2 (blink and you'll miss it!)

Bear Number 3

Bear Number 4

Bear Number 5

Bear Number 6, a super big grizzly

(as well as noticing the bears, you should have also noticed the very pretty wildflowers that were in full bloom everywhere!)

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Wall Lake hike ...

On the first real day of our road trip (we had arrived in Waterton late the night before), we set off on a mosquito infested hike to Wall Lake in the Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park in British Columbia.  Yes, it did feel pretty cool hiking from one province (Alberta) to another (British Columbia)!  The hike itself was pretty easy (only 220 metres of elevation gain) for a medium-length (12km) hike but it was hot with hundreds of mosquitoes out to get us, which added a challenge to the walk.  The hike up to Wall Lake was pretty boring but the actual lake was very pretty (and chilly as Abbey discovered when she took an unexpected dip) and provided the perfect stopping place for lunch.  As we headed back down the mountain, we were encouraged by some fellow hikers to take the detour to Forum Falls which turned out to be a life saver for our hot, sweaty and mosquito bitten bodies as we cooled ourselves off under the spray from the falls.  The Wall Lake hike was to be our only 'real' hike of the trip as dogs are not allowed to hike in the national parks of the USA, but it was a good start to our road trip in the Rockies.

Cameron Lake, Waterton

Hiking from Alberta to British Columbia

Abbey was very keen to hike (perhaps because the mozzies weren't bothering her!)

Babbling brook near Wall Lake

The 'wall' of Wall Lake (and icebergs in the middle of summer!)

Hanging out by Wall Lake

Healthy snacks for the dog during our lunch break

Enjoying a 'shower' at Forum Falls on the way down

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Mother/daughter road trip ...

Road trip earrings (apologies for the dark photo)

One mother, one daughter, one puppy, two Canadian provinces, three American states, eleven days.  This was the plan for the latest Davidson mother/daughter/dog road trip.  It's been a trip I've been planning for a long time, combining the Going to the Sun Road in Montana and a visit to wine country in the Okanagon Valley.  Half way through the trip, as we were strolling along the main street of a small town in Montana, we came across some 'Road Trip' earrings in the local jewellery store.  Intrigued, we entered the store, met the artist and emerged with two pairs, which we diligently wore for the rest of the trip.  We had a fabulous time with a lovely balance of sightseeing and relaxation.  Over the next few days, I'll share the stories from our journey and the lovely pictures that will serve as a wonderful memory of a wonderful mother/daughter/dog road trip.  May there be many more to come!

Our road trip loop - Calgary to Waterton to Columbia Falls to Sandpoint to Osoyoos to Revelstoke to Calgary

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

100 years of Stampeding ...

This year, the Calgary Stampede celebrated its 100 year anniversary and there were celebrations galore all across Calgary.  As we were departing on our road trip on the Monday, we only had one day (Sunday) to get our stampeding fix.  We began with a Stampede breakfast at Heritage Park then hit the Stampede grounds where we watched the rodeo from the way-up-high seats (often called the 'nosebleed seats' here) before wandering the grounds to check out the other agricultural exhibitions as well as the cattle penning event in the Saddledome.  In the evening, we watched the chuckwagon races before calling it a (long, long) day and heading home.  I was not sure of what Mum's reaction to the rodeo events would be given that they had shocked me the first time I'd seen the events, but I was surprised ... after just a few minutes, she was well into it and by the end of the rodeo, I'm sure she fancied herself as an expert commentator!

Mum meets some of the cowboys at the Hays Stampede breakfast

Mother and daughter stampeding

Calgary Stampede Show Band

RCMP Musical Ride

More Musical Riding ... I would love to do this!

Introducing the cowboys and cowgirls of the 2012 Calgary Stampede

Handstanding off the horse

Another graceful dismount

And yet another one

That man needs an elastic band to hold his hat on

Cowboy helpers stand by ready to help out when the cowboy is ready to jump off


Love the red shirt on the roan horse

Going ...

... going ...

... gone!

Calf roping

Got him!

Love the cowboy names!

But, Kaycee Feild was my favourite!

Barrel racing - I would love to give this a go!

The rodeo clown always provides a few laughs

Close call

Oh my, what big balls you have!

A more flattering picture of the above bull

Wild pony races

Calgary Stampede girls

Beautiful horses and carriage

And finally, the chuckwagon races to finish the day off