Back on the road again.

7 Sep

The past week has been a time for settling in and settling down after an unexpected return to the UK.

On the 2nd August we heard the sad news that my Mum had passed away. We arranged storage for haRVey and flights home.

We had been staying in Mountain Shadows Campground between Radium and Invermere, Rhoda and Joe who were running the campground accommodated our needs at short notice making what was a difficult time much easier for us, for which we were very grateful. haRVey stayed on at the campground and we were able to return to him at the beginning of September.

While the Columbia valley is very beautiful I was more than ready for a change of area and after a couple of nights in Radium and a great cup of coffee at Kicking Horse Coffee (local coffee roast house) we headed off towards Kimberley. We had intended to have a look around the town before stopping at the Riverside campground overnight however on arriving at the outskirts of Kimberley we found the whole of the town centre road network dug up for major overhaul. Not just resurfacing, not just one road, but the whole of the town centre and in places excavated to around 18 inches deep. At a stop sign I just had to take a photo but did not realise I had been spotted by the stop/slow board lady (we call them lollypop ladies) who was posing with her lollypop (see web album!). We decided to give the walk in town a miss and went straight to the campground.

A quick stop in Cranbrook next day for provisions then overnight in Mount Fernie Provincial Park took us back towards the Rockies all be it the southern Canadian end, they still loomed larger than life above us. The giant truck in Sparwood gave us a quick stop point next morning to take photos especially for Kai (Dad might be interested too!) then on through the Crowsnest Pass which we had expected to be much higher and mountainous than it was. An area grown up around the coal industry, remnants of past excavations had left scars on the mountains and historical landmarks including those of the disasters both underground and above.

We pulled into Pincher Creek Veterans Memorial Park campground and thankfully found a shady spot for the night, the afternoon temperatures still reaching the high twenties are enhanced by the engine heat to produce an internal temperature well over thirty degrees, this becomes rather uncomfortable and we are getting a little weary of these high temperatures, however we realise the downside of getting cooler days is the fact that Autumn is just around the corner.

With check out time around lunchtime we made best use of our morning by walking into town and visiting the local Kootnai Brown museum where we were able to view reconstructed homes from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, with artefacts relating to families and individuals who had shaped the local history. I found it fascinating that so much local personal history was laid out for anyone to pick up, look at and read. One exhibit, a family house reconstructed with very personal family history contained inside but shared with everyone, what a wonderful way to preserve the past and pass it on for others to enjoy in the future.

Waterton Lakes National Park was our next destination and with the last long week end of the summer on the horizon we had hoped to find a site from Thursday over until Monday, the townsite campground was well placed for us to walk and visit various places of interest so we were disappointed to find we could only stay one night due to all the sites being fully booked for the week-end. One day we will learn that long week end equals book ahead! The campground was dotted with deer and the grassy areas were well fertilised by them, luckily the individual sites were gravel and clean. Having set up we felt we had to make the most of what time we had and set off for the lakeside trail and into town, there were deer everywhere, a bit like The New Forest has ponies Waterton has deer! It was also very windy but we continued our walk up to Cameron falls where the water cascades through a narrow passage of rock strata 1.5 billion years old and falls 80ft to the roadside below.

Not being able to stay as long as expected we had hurriedly looked for our next stop and my choice was Payne Lake just twenty miles away. The landscape of those miles was typical of that we had seen since leaving the mountains behind, we are in the Prairie’s now, not totally flat, but there are no surprises around the corner, there are no bends in the road just gentle undulations. Payne Lake was located in a shallow valley around a mile and half off the main highway, another feature of the area is that any side roads are gravel but this was a well made gravel road and haRVey did not suffer too badly. The campground was spread around the lake sides and after a little indecision, we set up, side on to the lake in a lovely position to have around a 180 degree view of the water and in the far distance the Rockies.

We were just settling in when we had a visitor, Robert was outside when a lady, very out of breath hurriedly appeared at the side of haRVey, followed by her husband they were out walking from their RV which was parked over the other side of the lake and as they began walking back over the dam wall, almost came face to face with a black bear. Our site being the nearest safe haven they quickly made their way across to us also passing on the information to a truck heading towards the camp rangers site to alert him of the occurrence. We could not see the bear; they however were quite shaken by their experience. The Ranger arrived (no Yogi and Booboo jokes please) and drove around for a while not spotting the creature then he suddenly sped across to just behind the back of our site, blasting his truck horn loudly. After a few minutes he came across to let us know that the bear had been eating berries in the bushes across the road but just behind our site! This was not the young bear that had been in the area a few days earlier, they estimated it was a 500lb bear (very big). We still did not see him but hoped he had gone for the duration of our stay at least.

The lake was a very tranquil spot, there was a short walk on either side probably no more than half a mile each way, a pair of white pelicans paddled up and down and from time to time flew across the water we also spotted on a telegraph post an Osprey who liked to use the top as a dinner table and seemed to have a good source of food in the lake below. He was far more capable a fisherman than the human variety we observed who try as they might did not seem to catch a great deal other than weed.

After a two night stay we pulled out on Sunday morning and drove a very straight seventy five miles to Lethbridge where we are presently parked at the Bridge View Campground just outside town. We have a few things we would like to do here, one being to visit the mile long, 300 ft high, 100yr old trestle bridge but hope to move tomorrow to the site nearer town to enable us to walk to the park and the Japanese gardens. The weather has turned cooler, still warm in the afternoon but not the high heat we had been experiencing and early mornings are cool enough for us to need heat at breakfast time. High winds seem to have bought the seasonal change we knew was not far away and we are looking at our options for the last few days in Canada before we head into the States before the high passes become subject to winter conditions.

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