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Old 05-27-2010, 05:40 AM   #29
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The Idaho Potato Museum (one sign said with grandiosity "Idaho World Potato Museum") in Blackfoot is located with the Chamber of Commerce in an old Oregon Short Line RR depot. It's kind of hard to take this seriously. The potato masher collection of about 100 potato mashers just about all look the same—what can you do with a potato masher? Some have long handles for some serious mashing, some are round, some are all wood and look good for mashing heads as well as potatoes.

The world's largest potato chip looks kind of sickly and has cracks in it. The poster of Marilyn Monroe dressed in a potato sack standing in a field of potato plants is a nice touch. We now have the poster in the trailer bedroom. There's lots of information about the history of potatoes and various pieces of farm machinery for potato growing and harvesting.

But it's fun, it only costs $2.50 with AAA or if you are 55 or older and you get a free pint of home fries too. The world's largest potato is outside and probably concrete, and it comes with sour cream and butter (also concrete) on top.

After the Potato Museum, we went to Idaho Falls and Best Buy and returned the Verizon Air Card. It's supposed to work on my Mac (a 4 1/2 year old Powerbook), but it didn't, froze the computer for a while and has left some other bad stuff I'm trying to get rid of. Bummer.

Then off to Great Falls. The drive mostly is through mountains. We crossed the Continental Divide at the Montana border and then two more times before and after Butte. Much green all the way and it looks as the area from northeastern Idaho to Butte has been logged long ago and turned over to grazing. No trees except high up in the mountains, still snow capped. There are some well treed mountains north of Butte and some beautiful canyons on the way to the state capital, Helena. After Helena, the mountains give way to hills and by the time we got to Great Falls, it was getting flat.

It's been cloudy all day, some showers and more predicted. We covered 425 miles today, one potato museum and one electronics store. But all in all, a very pretty drive. Tomorrow we try for Calgary and possibly Canmore, just before you enter Banff NP. We've had mostly 60's, but in Calgary tomorrow it's supposed to be in the 40's and 34˚ Friday morning with a little snow. Not much snow, but snow all the same. About an inch expected in Banff, but the weather gets better towards the north. I have to check this again before leaving.

I am having problem uploading photos as this CG's wifi doesn't have enough bandwidth.

Gene

Photos:

#1: world's largest potato
#2: potato masher collection
#3: just north of Montana state line—it looked better in person
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Old 05-27-2010, 10:04 PM   #30
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A cloudy and rainy day—fog too—as we drove across a green and hilly Montana prairie towards the border. The crossing took about a minute and then we were off for Calgary. With the weather report being snow today and tonight in the mountains, we decided to stop at Calgary. Just north of Ft. MacLeod it starting snowing and about an inch of slushy snow was on the shoulders and grass. It changed to rain as we got into the Calgary heat envelope. We missed the turn that would take us around the worst traffic—it was rush hour. The signs were unclear. We ended up taking Alberta 1 (TransCanada Hwy) and going through a lot of stop and go traffic. Calgary has more than 1,000,000 people and the traffic that goes with it.

We are camped at Calgary West Campground, a bit rough around the edges. The wifi has good bandwidth, but you have to go to a seedy game room to use it. 4" of wet snow predicted tonight and a bit more in the morning, so our plans to go to Banff, Lake Louise and then north toward Jasper will wait 'til morning for a decision. I think it'll melt fast and the predictions are for the temp. to stay around 32˚-34˚, but we'll see.

Calgary has some nice neighborhoods and a lot of parkland. We were last here in 2006, ate at a good Chinese Restaurant and walked around the city in the morning. I'd rather be in the mountains than a city, so I hope the weather breaks.

In 3 1/2 days we've traveled 1,200+ miles and we're still a long way from our destinations. We're still tired, though not nearly as wasted as we were when we left home. The weather has been windy, cold, foggy, rainy, snowy and one sunny day. I won't say it can't get worse because it can.

Gene
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Old 05-28-2010, 02:05 PM   #31
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If it weren't for the butter and sour cream, the "world's largest potato" could pass for a big propane tank. We'll keep our fingers crossed about your weather. I can only recall Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy singing under beautiful blue skies, so it'll probably get better.

Mike
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Old 05-28-2010, 02:48 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
A cloudy and rainy day—fog too—a

...I'd rather be in the mountains than a city, so I hope the weather breaks.

In 3 1/2 days we've traveled 1,200+ miles and we're still a long way from our destinations. We're still tired, though not nearly as wasted as we were when we left home. The weather has been windy, cold, foggy, rainy, snowy and one sunny day. I won't say it can't get worse because it can.

Gene
Thanks Gene for the great vicarious road-trip. I would love us to be there with you. (I'm so jealous that you have one of those Marilyn Monroe Potato posters on the bed room wall.) We are usually so focused on the next destination that we don't pause long enough to take in these sorts of low-brow treats...

I'm afraid the skies are pretty gray here & it's been pouring rain. I'm sorry to say that some if it looks like it's heading your way. Tomorrow (Sat) is supposed be kind of lousy but the forecast is is improving after that. The Icefields parkway should be a lot better Sunday & on.

I know you've been there many times but if you're staying in Banff, the Tunnel Mountain Campground is a good choice. (It has nice fully serviced sites close to the townsite with good views to Mount Rundle). If the weather aisn't cooperating, the Banf Center for the Arts has a wonderful Pool, Sauna etc. in the Sally Borden Building. Although it's open to the public, very few tourists know about it as it seems to be a well kept local secret. Great facility with unlimited hot water...you can almost forget about the weather as you loll around in the hot tub looking up through the glass roof at the sleet.

I'm looking forward to your next installments. Jane & I are cheering for you.

Have a great trip!

-evan
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Old 05-29-2010, 10:48 PM   #33
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Yesterday morning (Friday) there was about an inch of wet slushy snow on the truck, but none on the road. The temp was rising. We drove toward Banff NP and at Canmore, last town before the park, went looking for a supermarket and a gas station. We saw an exit sign that said Safeway and gas and got off the expressway, but when we got to the bottom of the ramp, no sign saying which way to turn. You can guess which way we went—the wrong way—and it took several miles to find a place to turn around. Canada's road signs are sometimes lacking.

This time we did find Canmore. Suddenly the Safeway appeared and I managed to find a space to park in an otherwise packed parking lot. Then to a gas station—down a few blocks was an Esso so I pulled in a narrow driveway and picked the available pump. But when I was committed, I saw the sign, "No Trucks". It was invisible until you were in the place you shouldn't be. The space was about 8' wide and the trailer is 8.5'. I got in far enough to get gas. After filling up (it took a while, the credit card wouldn't work), I backed up trying (and succeeding) in not hitting a giant transformer and a delivery truck. I then saw a place behind the gas station to turn around so I wouldn't have to back into the main street. Trailers can be a challenge. We left Canmore before we had more challenges and went on to Lake Louise. Things got better.

There's a very nice campground with electric there and apparently a bear problem. We saw no bears, but after a while another Airstream pulled in nearby. A very nice couple (Dick and Peggy) from Grand Marais, Minnesota, had a similar trailer ('05 Safari LE FB) and we spent a lot of time trading stories. We were in Grand Marais a year ago. They have put heavy gauge vinyl on their rock guards, front panel and propane cover to protect against rocks, a clever idea. They also were on their 3rd trip to Alaska.

Then we went to Lake Louise. I may be the only person not too impressed by the lake since I've seen lots of mountain lakes in the Colorado Rockies that look pretty amazing. It still is largely ice covered. The Fairmount Hotel at, I think, the north end of the lake has been substantially enlarged and dominates one end of the lake. I try to ignore it.

Today we drove up the Icefields Parkway. This is a spectacular drive with many glaciers along the way. The contrast between the black mountains and the white ice and snow is stark and arresting. Midafternoon we arrived in Jasper and found RV parking near the RR station and went looking for lunch. We found what I thought was a mediocre Chinese restaurant, but Barb thought it was good. After all these years of wedded bliss, we don't always agree. After lunch, we started west on the Yellowhead Hwy.

We made it to McBride and the Beaver View CG along the Fraser River. Very nice setting surrounded by snowcapped mountains. After a day of more clouds obscuring the peaks along the Icefields Parkway, finally the clouds are breaking, there's some sun and temps are around 60˚.

Tomorrow we drive west along the Yellowhead Hwy. The biggest town is Prince George and the place to buy food. Then through a number of towns in central BC, moving north and west until we reach the Cassiar Hwy and go north to Yukon, the Alaska Hwy and Watson Lake. I don't think we'll have an internet connection until then. We are running about 1/2 day behind schedule (the Potato Museum and the snow around Calgary didn't help), so maybe we can catch up in the next few days.

We hope to take a day trip to Telegraph Creek from the Cassiar and see the Stikine River. We are wondering about another side trip to Stewart, BC, because the toaster museum is there. When we were in Stewart in '02, the museum was closed that day and we have been disappointed ever since. I'm not sure it is even there or what days it is open, though a Google search shows it was still around in 2009 and was combined with a cafe. This would put us further behind, but how can we resist a toaster museum? This will be a hard choice. Telegraph Creek is very remote and only 75 miles off the Cassiar, and the Stikine is supposed to be a river to see. I don't want to trade one side trip for another. Such difficult choices!

A few other things: It's light past 10 pm. The sun sets at 9:29 and dusk is at 10:19. I'm started to get hopped up on sunlight. There are a lot of "rent me's" on the road. CruiseAmerica in Canada is CruiseCanada and since it's still early in the season, they must have big discounts. I keep waiting to see one hit something, but so far they seem to be doing ok.

Gene

Photos:
#1: entering Canada from I-15 in rain fog and wind.
#2: Calgary West CG Friday morning.
#3: Animal bridge to allow wildlife to cross TransCanada Hwy in Banff NP.
#4: Lake Louise Trailer Park
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Old 05-29-2010, 11:02 PM   #34
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More photos:
#1: Lake Louise
#2: Lake Louise with telephoto. Clouds were very low.
#3: Along the Icefields Parkway.
#4: Glacier along Icefields Parkway. In 1844 it stretched across where the highway and parking lot is now.
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Old 05-29-2010, 11:07 PM   #35
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aHha! So that was YOU, Gene, that brought all that snow into Alberta!

Better watch out; the rest of the country is having a heat wave. If they get even the merest whiff of an idea that you are the culprit, you COULD become bear food!
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Old 05-29-2010, 11:16 PM   #36
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They'll drive you up on the glacier in the Ice Explorer ($49 each) and if you look on the last photo on the last post and blow it up, you can see a dark line on the left side and it then goes across the glacier. There's a small black thing in the middle and that's one of them. We ordered one for a tow vehicle—lots of power, plenty of storage room and it'll go through anything. Nice red color and I think we'll keep the maple leaf.

Next photo: the Ice Explorer.
#2: Beaver View CG. This CG has the best wifi we've had so far. Fast uploads and downloads.
#3: View at Beaver View.
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Old 05-29-2010, 11:18 PM   #37
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aHha! So that was YOU, Gene, that brought all that snow into Alberta!

I thought it was normal here. I forgot to mention all those Class C rent me's are mounted on snowmobiles.

Gene
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Old 05-29-2010, 11:50 PM   #38
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Hi, looks like they bought some new glacier busses since we were there. Come to think about it, I think it was about twenty five to thirty years ago and the busses looked old then.
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Old 05-29-2010, 11:54 PM   #39
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Hi, looks like they bought some new glacier busses since we were there. Come to think about it, I think it was about twenty five to thirty years ago and the busses looked old then.
Were they pulled by horses then Bob?

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Old 05-30-2010, 12:16 AM   #40
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Keep the pictures and journal coming. We are thinking that we may want to make a similar trip this next year. Really enjoy all that you are reporting. especially the "troubles" you find along the way. Susan
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Old 05-30-2010, 12:31 AM   #41
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Were they pulled by horses then Bob?

Gene
Hi, I think Clydesdales!

They looked like modified, old school buses with earth-mover tires. Or a bus version of a monster truck.
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Old 05-30-2010, 06:22 AM   #42
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Beautiful, beautiful photos.

Travel safe,

Maggie
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