|from Wausau, WI to Ellensburg, WA|
However, after losing an awning during a severe thunderstorm in Minot, ND, and our subsequent month's long efforts to replace it, we were forced to skip Canada. This time we were hoping to rectify our missing the chance in 2010. We also targeted parts of southeastern Oregon, western Utah, and eastern Nevada, areas we had somehow neglected in previous travels west. Whether or not we would do anything in California was still up in the air.
We had agreed to another interpretive work volunteer position at a different state park: Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, AZ. But we were not formally due to arrive at BTA until mid-October so we had what seemed like plenty of time to play along the way.
This would be our third trip (and Tom’s fourth) to the PNW. In September 1996 we had flown to Portland, rented a car, and spent two weeks exploring the entire Washington coast and much of the Oregon coast (as far south as Coos Bay for a fall shorebird festival) as well as visiting many vineyards along the way. We were eager to get back.
On July 23, we crossed over into Minnesota on Hwy 2 around 12:30 P.M., and arriving at our first overnight, Ogston’s RV Park not far from Saginaw, MN by mid-afternoon. With a fair amount of daylight left, we drove several of the roads in the Twig, Minnesota area and skirted parts of the Sax Zim Bog, a popular hot spot for wintering owls. As this was not winter, unsurprisingly, there were no winter owls. But is was interesting to see what the landscape looked like sans snow.
|Larimore Dam Recreation Area site|
|site at Lewis and Clark SP, North Dakota|
|Fort Peck COE site|
|Fort Peck Interpretive Center|
The park's impressive Fort Peck Interpretive Center, was dedicated to the history of the construction of the Fort Peck Dam and Lake, the Charles M. Russell NWR, and prehistoric dinosaurs. In fact, for those with a paleontological bent, North Dakota has fourteen separate museums collectively known as the Montana Dinosaur Trail. Several were located along Hwy 2.
|Fort Peck Interpretive Center; power plant in background|
|Trails West site|
We regretted missing Banff and Jasper National Parks in 2010 so visiting this time was part of our plan. However, the more we talked with other RVer’s and making inquiries as to available parking RV sites, we became more and more discouraged and dissuaded. Part of the problem for our not making reservations (often such reservations have to be made a year in advance) had to do with not knowing precisely when we would be leaving Wisconsin owing to not knowing how long the RV repair would take. Plus, we knew how crowded these parks can be even if we did have reservations. Ultimately, reluctantly, we decided to take another pass on these Canadian crown jewels.
However, not all was lost. We were confident about seeing Glacier National Park. And there was another option for another national park in Canada we had been contemplating. But first, we had to find a place to park near Glacier and as we had been discovering, unreserved RV sites were scarce.
|our sites at Mountain Meadow View|
Now. The name “Mountain Meadow View” might conjure up scenes of sprawling mountain meadow views. And true enough - the view from the office and general store/cafe area offered just that. The RV sites, however, were buried in the woods on steep slopes. No views of meadows or mountains. The interior roads were narrow, dusty, and twisting (and honestly, not very well marked). It took a good deal of agile parking skills to eventually balance our RV in our assigned site. The other site we were offered for our third night, we were assured, was their “longest pull-thru".
|Avalanche Creek and Lake|
|Hidden Lake Trail and Hidden Lake Overlook|
Waterton Lakes National park was established in 1895. Glacier National Park was established fifteen years later in 1910. Due to the two park’s adjoining one another, in 1932, the Canadian and United States governments linked the two parks to become the world’s first international peace park, the Wateron-Glacier International Peace Park, eventually adding the title of World Heritage Site in 1995. The joint effort has given rise to several wildlife recovery programs supporting the wolf and trumpeter swan.
|drive to Waterton Lakes|
|cruising and docked at Goats Haunt|
|strolling Waterton and making friends|
Remember - during our stay at the Mountain Meadow View RV we had to move our RV to a second site for our third night - the so called “longest pull-thru” site. Unfortunately, the site was occupied the morning we needed to move and we didn’t want to wait around for some late risers (not everyone is like us). But ,we also needed to vacate our site before heading back into Glacier since someone else was supposedly coming in later in the day (as it turned out they didn't!). The temporary solution was to move our RV down to the large parking area in front of the the office, leave it parked so we could go off into Glacier, then move the RV into the new site later in the afternoon after it was vacant. That seemed to satisfy all concerned.
The “longest pull-thru” site? Well, it was indeed long. However, it was narrow and on another steep slope. Adding to the difficulty was that actually ‘pulling through’ would be impossible since the turn at the bottom of the site (the 'pull-thru' end) was too tight.
The morning we left, Tom had to back our RV completely out of the narrow ‘pull-thru’ site (uphill - thank goodness for 4WD) in order to exit the park. That said, the staff at the park were very friendly and accommodating. We were fortunate to have been able to find a place to park given the high season and not having any reservations. The park was quiet (although the roads were dusty). We even had a gray fox saunter through our site barely six feet away. Unfortunately, though, not having reservations would be cause for further headaches and frustration down the road.
|road down to and our site at Twin Canyon|
|local brews in Bonners Ferry|
The distance to our next destination, the Yakima River RV Park in Ellensburg, WA, was short. It afforded us time to bird the Kootenai River shoreline in the morning before we had to depart (Lots of Lewis’s Woodpeckers, a bird we don’t get to see all that often). We wound our way back up the hairpin gravel road to Hwy 2 and then we were off to Ellensburg to reconnect with some dear long time friends.