Monday, May 30, 2016

Checking back into the blog this morning it became apparent that when publishing the blog Sunday morning we forgot to press "share" and the post made yesterday shows Sunday for the date.

All seven of us headed down to Calgary Sunday morning for brunch at the Calgary Tower restaurant high above most of the city. The tower was built in 1967 by utilizing a continuous pour of concrete for 24 days. That little piece of trivia is for all the engineers reading our blog. The restaurant revolves around the tower giving the diners a 360 degree panoramic view of the city and the Canadian Rockies in the distance. Don't forget to check out Angie's blog for additional information on our adventure.  We try not to duplicate her with our blog.
Here is a view down through the glass floor.
A view of the downtown business district.
Yours truly.
How do you get this darn credit card to work?
Let us have it and we will show you!
After checking out the observation deck below the restaurant we made our way up to claim our table. The views had us entertained until our food arrived. Here is a shot looking away from the city proper.
Paula decided not to have breakfast and ordered a burger. When her choice arrived we were all quite shocked at the height of the burger. Seems the staff has a sense of humor and makes their burgers to imitate the tower.
After exploring the historic district we all returned to our vehicles and separated into girls in one and boys in the other. The girls had a little shopping to do and us guys decided to make our way over to the site of the 1988 Winter Olympics. If you checked Angie's blog you know that Tom and Craig challenged each other on the luge run. Of course the luge run had no ice on it and the cars are wheeled. Tom and Craig wanted to take Van and I over and shame us with their skills. They may have shamed me but not Van. Here is a shot of the course from the chair lift and a shot of Van. He is going to kill me for posting this photo of him in the goofy green helmet.
Today is a travel day and we are continuing the journey north.
Thursday we spent the night at a nice little city park campground in Claresholm, AB and I was lazy and did not take any photos. This is a small town that does not even have the proverbial Walmat but does have Roy's Place. What is Roy's Place you ask? It is a local restaurant where you can purchase a cinnamon bun large enough to make your eyes pop out. Check out this tiny URL:
If that don't light your fire then your wood is wet. Actual it is large enough for four people and Pam and I managed to have breakfast twice from that single bun.

We left Claresholm on Friday morning and stopped at a Costco's in Okotoks where we dazzled the locals with our parking skills. You an't had any fun until you try to squeeze four large motorhomes towing cars into a Costco parking lot like the one in Okotoks. From google maps it looked like there would be plenty of parking but as luck would have it everyone in Okotoks evidently decided to go to Costco last Friday. When we left we had to make a sharp right turn in front of the main entrance and I waved at a little girl who stared in amazement. Leaving Okotoks we got separated due to traffic lights and ended up taking slightly different routes to our next destination. It all turned out to be a non issue as we all arrived at the campground within minutes of each other.

We arrived at Bow RiversEdge Campground mid afternoon on Friday and plan to stay here for three nights.

This is a very well kept campground in Cochrane AB located about 30 kilometers north of Calgary. The sites are small but we managed to squeeze in. Check out our site and notice the Aspen up against the living room slide. Even with the narrow site the other side of the coach has a nice lawn area compete with fire ring and picnic table.

This campground is beside the Bow River with a scenic walkway along the river.

Friday evening everyone was invited over to our coach for hotdogs and buffalo sausage links that we had purchased at Costco. After the meal and some socializing everyone went back to their coaches and I took the dogs for a walk. As I was down on the river I received a frantic call from Pam telling me I needed to return and get the WiFi working. She was having a vision problem with her right eye. She has a friend who had a detached retina and did not seek medical attention for two days. She has nearly lost all her vision in that eye and Pam was concerned she could be in the same situation. A few calls around town had us going to an Emergency hospital in Calgary at 10:30 pm local time. The Emergency doctor diagnosed the problem as a posterior vitreous detachment and arrange for Pam to see an ophthalmologist at another hospital at 8:30 am the next morning.

We arrived back at the campground around 1;30 am and I was up at 5. Not much sleep for an old dog like me but there were a few opportunities for a nap during our five and half hour visit at the eye clinic. After being examined by three different doctors, the last being a retina specialist, the conclusion was that there was no immediate danger to the retina and Pam could continue to travel. The recommendation was that she should check in with an ophthalmologist when we reach Alaska to make sure the condition is stable. Remember we do not have medical coverage in Canada and all the medical service is out of pocket. Murphy strikes again! We will be covered in Alaska and may be able to recoup some of the cost incurred in Calgary when we get back home.

It is Sunday as I write this and we are about to visit the Calgary Tower for brunch. More on that later.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Thursday morning brought us to the Canadian border where we crossed without any ado. We were all worried about how that would transpire and had visions of our motorhomes being strip searched along the side of the road. It was early and we were almost the only travelers crossing the border. Afterward, at the next rest stop, we compared questions and it seemed each coach was asked different questions. The one common question was "do you have any firearms"? We had disposed of or frozen all fresh meat and vegetables at Shelby but non of our coaches were boarded for a search.
One surprise most of us had was a text message from Verizon as soon as we crossed the boarder saying "welcome to Canada". Here is a photo of some of us all worried about what kind of bill we would receive from Verizon.
Guess you got to pay to play. Turns out the cost is $2 per day when you activate your phone and that includes your data plan. You must call Verizon to arrange that service.

Pam knows that I like to take candid photos of unaware suspects and had previously warned Angie. I tried that and Angie quickly turned to face me.
Angie was setting up to take all our photos in front of the dinosaur so I handed her my camera so we would have a shot. This morning while off loading the pictures from our camera I noticed Angie had turned the tables on me. See photo.

Here is a photo of the group minus Angie. If you would like to follow Angie's blog go here:
We have never seen a farm tractor on the interstate in the US but it must be a common practice in Alberta. Here we are passing a large tractor that would consume more than one lane.
Our first sight seeing stop after entering Canada was the "Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump" A rather graphic name for an attraction but the name says it all. Before the availability of  weapons with the power to stop a Buffalo, the plains Indians in this region became skilled at herding Buffalo over a cliff. This would often smash in the head of the Buffalo and those that were not killed in the plummet could be finished off with a spear. This seems gruesome but was necessary for the Indians to survive the hard winter. Every part of the Buffalo was used for either food, clothing or tools. The Indians prepared the Buffalo meat so that it would not spoil during the winter.
 This is one of the cliffs that was used for the hunt.
Here we are hogging the parking lot along with one commercial bus.
Today, Friday May 27, we will continue our journey to Dawson Creek and who knows what our Master Guide and Navigator Angie will find.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

We had a busy two days in Billings Montana repairing Van's truck and stocking up on items that might be scarce as we travel the Alaska Highway. Billings is the site of the first KOA and the company's headquarters is located here.
Just in case you don't know, KOA stands for Kampgrounds of America. This KOA has a very nice Putt Putt Golf course complete with a replica of a river boat.
The campsite they had us in was not to shabby either.

We left Billings this morning for Shelby Montana. It was a scenic drive as shown in the following photo taken through the motorhome window by Pam as we motor down the road.
We are all parked for the night in a city park campground about 50 miles from the Canadian border. This was planned because we want to get to the check point early and are not sure how long it will take to clear customs.
Pam and Angie seem happy and I will probably get in trouble for posting their picture.
My mind and body are tired and the clock says 10:38 PM. Of course it is 12:38 back home so off to bed I go.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The day to start our journey finally arrived on Wednesday, May 18. Our caravan started out with about 8 RV's a year and a half ago, but for various reasons the number has dropped to five. Besides Pam and I, we have a couple from Florida, Tom and Paula, one from Georgia, Craig and Angie, one from Oregon, Rich and Joan, and Van from North Carolina. Van's wife Sandy under went emergency back surgery at the last minute and decided to take some time for recovery before joining us. We hope she will flying into Anchorage and join us later.

Craig, Angie, Tom and Paula started the trip on May 1 in Nashville and continued to St. Louis and up the Mississippi River towards the headwaters. They ended the Great River Road tour in Minnesota and then headed west for Billings, MT. Pam and I met Van at the Flying J at Watt Road on Wednesday morning and hit the road at a tiring pace in an effort to catch the others before Billings. We achieved our goal Saturday afternoon when we arrived at the Red Trail Campground in Medora, ND. The last leg of the journey from Fargo to Medora was brutal due to a constant South wind at 25 MPH gusting to 37 MPH. If you have never driven a 40 foot motorhome you may not understand the difficulty of driving with that intensity of wind. Imagine trying to carry a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood under those conditions. The couple from Oregon is scheduled to meet us in Dawson Creek, BC on June 1st.

Pam, Van, and I spent our first night in Benton, IL and hit the road early on Thursday, May 19, for Kellogg, IA and the Kellogg RV Park. Pam and I knew what to expect at the Kellogg RV Park because we had been there once before. The campground is nice for an overnight stay and the people are wonderful. The campground is an addition to a family owned combination fuel stop/restaurant. The theme is Iowa's Best Burger Cafe as can be seen form the photos. Of course we walked over to the cafe and had a burger for the evening meal. The burger was good but we don't think it will win any national awards.

One of the attractions at this stop is the storm shelter. Here is a photo of Van looking to the sky ready to open the shelter.
Speaking of weather, we have been very lucky on the trip so far and seem to be one step ahead of the bad weather. As I write this we are in Billings, MT and the news is reporting storms and tornado warnings for the area we just traveled through two days ago. Just before we arrived in Billings they had severe thunder storms with some hail damage. Guess we need to count our blessings.

Friday morning we continued our way West until I-80 intersected I-29 and proceeded North on I-29 toward Fargo, ND. Soon we crossed into South Dakota and could not help but notice the speed limit signs. South Dakota and Montana both have 80 MPH speed limits on the interstates. It is doubtful that we will be pulled over for speeding in our motorhomes.
Fargo was a little to far for us to drive in one day and we stopped in the small town of Summit, SD to spend the night at County Line Campground.
Summit South Dakota is one of those towns that thrived in the days when transportation and highways limited travel and no one had thought of Fedex or UPS. As seen from this photo of downtown Summit, it is obvious that the town is now a bedroom community and folks must travel to a larger community to purchase most of their needs.
Looks like Van and I both decided to take pictures at the same time.

Here are our coaches as we prepare for departure on Saturday morning and the final leg of the journey to catch Craig, Angie, Tom, and Paula.
We made it to Medora, ND in the late afternoon on Saturday and did not have much time for site seeing as we were leaving the next morning for Billings.

 We are four RV's strong now and here we are at a rest stop in Montana.
We arrived at the Billings KOA mid afternoon on Sunday May 22 and plan to stay here for three nights. This is the largest town in Montana and has all the merchants we require to purchase necessary items before heading into Canada. Pam, Van, and I can use the downtime to rest and chill out after the tiring four day journey here.