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Old 07-06-2009, 10:08 AM   #15
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This all sounds better and better each time I look at the posts. Insight from all of you that live in Canada is especially important. This gives me the incentive to do the maintence on my trailer to get it ready for the long haul.
I plan on relaxation and taking my time while up there and just taking it all in. I'll plan for a lot of sightseeing and lots of travel and camping but if an area strikes me as the perfect spot I might just hunker down and plan the next few years visits as Gene mentioned. I guess that is one of the benifits of the way we travel.
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Old 07-06-2009, 05:57 PM   #16
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Well, one thing often leads to another, they say. While looiing at my routes this afternoon I decided to take a look at MT. , for camping to and from my Canada trip.
I came across the Kootenai River area while searching Corps of Engineer campgrounds.
It looks like a beautiful area and boasts of trout filled river with the largest one taken was a 33 pounder. Sounds like the perfect camping and fishing spot and with mountain views. Then I see the nearest city and it is Libby, MT. I search google on the city of Libby and find a nightmare of information about the Grace asbestos mines in that area and a lot of people getting cancer from the asbestos dust in that area.
Is anyone from MT that can tell me if that is an ongoing problem or has the EPA made the company clean it up? How about the river and fish are they polluted as well?
I hate to see this kind of abuse of land and people by a rotten company.
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Old 07-06-2009, 10:46 PM   #17
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I wouldn't be concerned about asbestos if you are just travelling through. The asbestos fibers are only dangerous when they are inhaled--they lodge in the lungs and can cause cancer and other respiratory ailments. I doubt that there are any issues outside of the immediate mine sites.

After I wrote yesterday, I was thinking that you might want to consider a two or three day stop at Yellowstone. When I was a kid in the 70s, my parents had a 74 Lincoln and we towed the Argosy over the Beartooth Pass--now that was exciting!! Dad cursed the gas mileage that whole trip (if I recall it was about 8 mpg (US gallon). I'll never forget the switchbacks going up the pass, and then looking back at the valley floor below. Yellowstone was "way cool"!

My uncle from the prairies was towing his trailer as well, and he was literally sick with anxiety. My stubble-jumping relatives seem to get nervous when there is no road shoulder, and a 1,000 foot drop-off....
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Old 07-22-2009, 09:51 PM   #18
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Change your money at any Canadian bank. A US bank will look at you as if you are from Mars.

The Canadian bank will give you the most up to date exchange rate. They will also charge a small fee.

Most Canadian businesses will accept US dollars but their exchange rate will be somewhat of a hit and miss affair. Please keep in mind, no one is obliged to take US money. If they chose not to, don't get mad. Hardly any US businesses take Canadian or foreign currency.
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Old 07-23-2009, 08:56 AM   #19
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If you enter Canada on a weekend, most banks seem to be closed, even on Saturday. There aren't as many bank branches in Canada either, unlike the US where they overbuilt. We have traveled more than 1,000 miles in Canada without seeing a bank, or being there when they were closed, and relying on credit cards to pay for everything. Since they are more likely to be downtown, and it can be hard to park a TV and trailer there, getting money exchanged can be a challenge.

On our last trip we entered Canada with about C$15, used US currency at a campground in western Ontario where they gave us too much Canadian money in change (neither of us were sure of the exchange rate, though I checked later), so we then had about C$30, and for then next 4 days never went to a bank, used Canadian cash sparingly, and mostly used a credit card. It used to be credit cards had the best exchange rate, but I think that advantage may have disappeared as credit card companies keep looking for all sorts of ways to increase profit. I seem to remember reading Visa had added a 1% charge for exchanging money.

I don't know about US banks near the border, but our local bank doesn't exchange Canadian money for US (I'm not sure they know Canada exists), so we just keep it for the next trip.

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Old 07-23-2009, 09:27 AM   #20
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Hey Gang!

I just caught up with this thread. Fun to read everyone's impressions of our banks, campgrounds, etc.

Quote:
Skip Banff and camp in Jasper NP for a few days
Yup, nothing to see in Banff, couldn't agree more Just move along folks, leave it to me

I think that banks may seem to be a rarity up here because the use of debit cards at businesses, restaurants, etc. is pretty much universal. In Calgary, they've been closing down a lot of small neighbourhood branches because people aren't using them and they're too expensive to operate. I'm not sure how the US banking system works but if your bank has a decent exchange rate policy that might be another alternative for you. Personally, I can't remember the last time I carried cash - maybe 2-3 years??

Other things to add to your trip list are Kananaskis Provincial Park which is just south and adjacent to Banff. It used to be part of Banff NP until WWII when they excluded this part to allow for resource development as part of the war effort. Unfortunately, it never made it back into the NP system but the province has done a great job of operating it as K-Country. Anyway, there's tons of great hiking, fishing, climbing, etc. and it's nowhere as busy as Banff and Jasper. There's also a good RV park (www.mountkid. which you can book online. However, we've found that as long as you're not looking for a site on Friday-Saturday you should have no problem finding a spot pretty much anywhere - there are lots of campgrounds.

Oh, and don't be alarmed by the signs that read, "You Are Now In BEAR Country". ...You haven't actually left Canada for a different country and you don't need a special passport or visa - LOL. The number of tourists that ask that question at the park gates would astound you. However, you ARE in bear country so keep a clean campsite and make lots of noise when you go hiking (we also never hike without bearspray) otherwise you may have a more exciting visit than you planned on!
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Old 07-23-2009, 10:12 AM   #21
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I live on the US side of the border, about a mile from the crossing. All of the local US banks exchange Canadian $s. As you get closer to the border you will find that the availability of exchange increases.

John
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Old 07-24-2009, 12:05 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Relentless View Post
I live on the US side of the border, about a mile from the crossing. All of the local US banks exchange Canadian $s. As you get closer to the border you will find that the availability of exchange increases.

John
I live 81 blocks and a mile north of you John.

As for exchange rates/banking hours: we find exchange rates are better at the banks than you'll get at most restaurants and stores but it is worth asking. Some places are very generous with their exchange rates they offer to US customers wanting to use US money and in those cases you will find it worthwhile to keep your Canadian bucks for other purchases. Be careful though as many outlets see the exchange rate as a way to bump their profit margins by being chintzy with their rates they offer.

Most banks in Canada are now open Saturdays as are most Credit Unions - in Western Canada at least. Perhaps not in small towns but certainly in the larger centers.

Rest stops - not as frequent or convenient as those south of the border, and I can't remember the last time I saw a Canadian rest stop where there was coffee available. They are well signed though and the ones we've used have been clean and appeared to be problem free. But, that said, do not leave your car or trailer unlocked for any reason if you are not there with them. There are always opportunists looking for a cheap couple of bucks.

Banff - nice place for a quick walk through but heavily visited by European and Asian tourists so parking is difficult, getting around is slow, and Jasper/Kananaskis/Wateron are all very nice and not nearly as crowded.

Enjoy your visit.
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Old 07-24-2009, 09:30 AM   #23
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Thanks for all the tips so far. It's good to converse with so many people with similar interests. Adding the extra info like you guys do helps a lot.
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Old 07-24-2009, 11:27 AM   #24
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One more question: The weather in September. What is it like in Alberta and BC?
AAA books are OK for some things but I find they often miss the mark on weather.
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Old 07-24-2009, 11:34 AM   #25
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Having traveled through BC, Alberta, NWT and Yukon in September, the weather is good and we didn't run into any snow. Here's the address for the Canadian weather people and they may have info on averages, plus you can use this to check weather reports while there (or here too).

Weather - Environment Canada

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Old 07-24-2009, 12:46 PM   #26
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Gene, That helps, thanks!
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Old 07-24-2009, 07:49 PM   #27
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Most banks in Canada are now open Saturdays as are most Credit Unions - in Western Canada at least. Perhaps not in small towns but certainly in the larger centers.
Even if there is no bank open (and you need to have cash), the Canadian ATMs will accept your US debit card and give you Canadian cash, 24/7

Or did I miss when someone said that already...?
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Old 07-26-2009, 02:40 AM   #28
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Bluto,

You'll find September/October weather to be beautiful in Alberta and BC. Days are mild and generally sunny in early fall, and the nights can get chilly. In the mountains, you could find frost in the morning, but not so much at lower elevations. We in BC usually snicker at Calgarians when they get that first freak snowfall coming out of the Rockies in September (it always melts the same day, so don't let that scare you off....) The mountains are beautiful in the fall, with the leaves changing color and all that! And...the kids are back in school, and all the overseas tourists have gone home by then--very quiet. But you have to keep in mind that some campgrounds will be closed for the season by October.

As for exchanging currency, there is generally no problem even farther north where I am (Prince George). All merchants are quite used to exchanging US funds, as are all banks here. The banks are probably the best place to exchange, as they have set rates, etc, whereas merchants can set whatever rate strikes their fancy. Best to go online periodically to check the official daily rate, then you have something to compare the merchant's rate to. Good luck with planning your trip!
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