August, 2009

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A visit with Mary's mom in Jackson, Michigan started out our month of August.  We had driven up from our stay in Monroe, near Toledo, OH on the 31st of July and parked in our usual spot out in front of Mom's condo.  Luckily she lives on a nice, quiet, wide street and her neighbors are always interested in where we've been and where we're headed.  As always, our visit seemed too short, but we enjoyed some time visiting, playing games, doing a few small chores and especially a round of golf on a perfect summer afternoon.

From Jackson, we moved on to Elkhart, Indiana, arriving on a Sunday afternoon to find a parking space at the warehouse of Westland Sales, Inc.  Westland is the distributor for the Splendide washer/dryer combo we have in the RV.  Ours had not been operating properly for a month or so and we had talked with one of the Westland executives at the FMCA Rally in Bowling Green in July.  He suggested that we contact the people in Elkhart, and an appointment was arranged for Monday, August 3rd at 8am.  We had arrived on Sunday so that we would be organized and ready on Monday.  Tom removed the  doors and shelving in the cupboard where the washer is installed.  When the tech arrived on Monday morning, he pulled the washer out of its hole, took it apart right there in the bathroom of the RV, and replaced two parts.  That seems to have done the trick and we're back in the laundry business.

Tom and Mother both avoided the sand was a great day for golf at the Hickory Hills Course in Jackson.
Mother and daughter enjoyed their visit.
There isn't a lot of room in our bathroom hallway, but they managed to get the washer working again.

After paying the repair bill and putting things back together we drove down the road about fifteen miles to Goshen, Indiana and the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds.  Around noon, we were one of the last rigs to arrive at the 24th Annual Newmar International Rally.  We got all hooked up with 30amp power and water and settled in for the week-long gathering.  Typical of most RV rallies, we managed to fill our days with seminars and shopping the vendor booths.  Tom arranged for service calls by several parts suppliers, but unfortunately the awning techs made ours operate even more poorly...telling us to visit a dealer repair facility somewhere.  The door handle to replace our cracked one has been on back order at Newmar for months - so no luck there.  The people who make our dash air-conditioning system would only work on warranty issues and we're long since out of warranty.  Tom was able to pick up a few small parts in the Newmar Parts Department display that he has replaced, and one of the vendors helped him work out some of the problems with our Diamond Shield protective film on the front of the rig.  We toured some of the new models of Newmar products (and picked out our new "dream").  In the evenings we were entertained with musical performances by "Moose and Da Sharks" from Detroit, "Due Process" from Elkhart County, and our final night by "The Marlins" who are a national touring group out of southern Indiana.  Threatening weather moved all our large group gatherings inside, but we never had any rain until the last night...a pretty perfect week.  There were about 425 rigs at the rally and management from Newmar was also in attendance a good deal of the time.  We ran into several Palm Creek friends and made some new acquaintances as well.  We had a great week.

The Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds is a pleasant place for a gathering.
At the rally we were treated to fresh homemade ice cream made by the local Amish citizens...nobody said it had to be "hand-cranked."
Newmar Corporation president, Matt Miller, spoke to our group several times during the week.
This garden at the fairgrounds is one of Elkhart County's "Quilt Gardens Project."  There are several dozen sites around the county with each garden planted to look like a quilt block.

On Saturday, August 8 we celebrated Tom's birthday by heading west for real......from Goshen we found our way to I-80 and across the southern tip of Chicagoland heading for Iowa.  In the Cedar Rapids area on Sunday we visited Dennis and Anjela Dew and their boys Lou and Owen.  Dennis is the oldest son of our dearest friends from home, Kathy and Dennie, and the young family had just that week moved into their new home as Dennis prepares to start his new teaching position at Mount Mercy College.  They have a great home and it looks like they are in a nice area.  We wish them well!   The next day we headed into the "Twin Cities" of Minneapolis and St. Paul.  Tom's cousin Linda Nichols had scouted out a good place for us to park our large rig and she came to meet us at a "Super K."  We had a grand visit and went to lunch and a short tour of Linda's neighborhood.  It was another "too short" visit, but we continued our western drive -  right through Minneapolis at rush!!!

Anjela, Lou, Dennis and Owen at their
new Iowa home.
Tom with his cousin Linda Nichols in St. Paul.

Our next destination was Medora, North Dakota - making a few stops along the way.  One was in Jamestown where we were greeted by the "World's Largest Buffalo" at the National Buffalo Museum.  Three of their herd are rare albino buffalo...pretty interesting.  Jamestown is the home of author Louis L'amour and we visited the Frontier Town and exhibits featuring the author.  We also passed a giant Holstein and a giant metal sculpture of a flock of geese...people trying to let the travelers through the plains notice their town.  Since it was nearly 100 degrees outside we found our way to Sibley Park in Bismarck, ND that night so that we could use the A/C and on Wednesday, August 12 checked in at the Medora Campground in Medora, ND.

First we came across the World's Largest Buffalo...
...then we saw this sign.  Luckily the real buffalo were lounging in the grass on a near 100* day.
Among the herd in Jamestown, ND are three albino buffalo.
These sculptured geese were "flying " along part of I-94 called "The Enchanted Highway."

Medora is an interesting town...all of about 9 square blocks with an entrance to I-94 at each end.    In 1863 Teddy Roosevelt came to the area to hunt big game.  He fell in love with the area and invested in cattle ranches over the next several years.  Sadly, a blizzard in 1866 killed off most of the cattle, but Roosevelt returned to the area often to enjoy the country.  He began his efforts in conservation after he realized the devastation being caused to wildlife and natural resources by hunters and settlers.  Roosevelt said his experiences in Montana were what made him a good president.  The town of Medora was established in 1883 by a French Marquis as a site for his meat packing plant in an effort to revitalize the cattle industry.  It later failed, but remnants of the town remained.  Roosevelt's ranch in the "badlands" has been made into a wildlife preserve and National Park.  In the 1960s, Harold Schafer, the founder of the Gold Seal Company (Glass Wax, Mr. Bubble, Snowy Bleach) established the Teddy Roosevelt Medora Foundation which rejuvenated and now operates many of the buildings and businesses in the town.  We attended the nightly performance of the "Medora Musical" at the Burning Hills Amphitheater.  What a gorgeous setting!  Before the show we ate dinner at the "Pitchfork Steak Fondue."  We'd never cooked our steaks that way...but it was delicious.   We visited two different visitor centers at the National Park and took the scenic loop drive through the south unit of the park, stopping to take short hikes at several points of interest.  Looking at the landscape, it was hard to imagine traveling through the area on horseback and easy to understand why the call it the North Dakota Badlands.  We encountered buffalo, horses and thousands of prairie dogs on our journey.

The vast "Badlands" of North Dakota in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
One of the residents of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Medora, ND.
Roosevelt's cabin originally built on his Maltese Cross Ranch in 1863
An oasis in the badlands...the "Bully Pulpit Golf Course in Medora, ND
Dinner forks!  The pitchforks were stacked awaiting steaks and then dipped in a vat of sunflower oil to cook.  They were very tasty!
The Burning Hills Amphitheater, complete with elk perched atop the bluff.
A rousing performance was given by the singers, dancers and band at the "Medora Musical."
The Peking Acrobats were special guests.  He had 7 chairs perched on wine bottles on the stool.
The grand finale was quite patriotic, honoring the memory of Teddy Roosevelt as well as other North Dakota "notables."

After three nights in Medora we continued our westward journey, moving a little further north to US 2 across Montana to Glacier National Park.  There sure are a lot of miles of nothing but grasslands in North Dakota and Montana.  We didn't even see many cattle.  But once we got closer to Glacier National Park the scenery changed.  It became very green and more hilly.  There were a lot more trees and giant rocks!  We chose North American RV Park on the west side of the park near the town of West Glacier and close to the west entrance of the "Going-To-The-Sun Road," the main road through the park.  The day we arrived we toured West Glacier and Apgar Village, the two little towns at the edge of the park and gathered information at the Visitor Center for the park and also the Province of Alberta.  This gave us what we needed to plan the rest of our stay.

Tuesday, August 18 was our first day in Glacier National Park and we chose to take advantage the free shuttle service to travel the "Going-To-The-Sun Road."  We caught the first eastbound morning shuttle at 7am which took us all the way to Logan Pass at the continental divide in the center of the park.  From there we had to catch another shuttle to take us to the east side of the park and the St. Mary's entrance.  Along the way we exited the shuttle at St. Mary's Falls and hiked along the shore of Saint Mary Lake to the Sun Point shuttle stop.  It was a beautiful hike.  Getting back on a shuttle, we continued all the way to the park entrance where we toured another Visitor Center and had our picnic lunch.  After our meal we boarded the westbound shuttle back up to Logan Pass.  From the Logan Pass Visitor Center we took the Hidden Lake Hike...about 1-1/2 miles out a boardwalk path over fields of rock and wildflowers to the overlook of Hidden Lake.  We were accompanied by squirrels, goats and deer as well as plenty of tourists...another beautiful hike!  The road through the park was originally built in the 1920s and is a decent drive, but a gigantic restoration project has been undertaken and we did have to wait several times for one-way traffic.  The construction grants are also paying for the shuttle service which helps with traffic as well as allows all the travelers to watch the sights as they go.  It was 8pm by the time we were back to the RV...a long day!

The next day we drove our car, again eastbound on the "Going-To-The-Sun Road" but made stops only in the western half of the park.  Along Lake McDonald we made several stops at overlooks and visited the Lake McDonald Lodge, a chalet style hotel that was built in the 1930s...a classy place.  We also stopped at McDonald Falls and Creek and Avalanche Creek where we took another hike through the forest on a boardwalk trail.  Continuing on up the road we took a short hike from "The Loop" - the only sharp turn on the mountain road, but when the trail began to climb along a rocky cliff with no railings, we decided we'd play it safe and head back.

Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park
A glacier-made valley
More glacial handi-work
The boardwalk at Logan Pass...we hiked out and over the smaller hill to the left of center to view a hidden lake
Some of the friends we met along the boardwalk.
Just one of the hundreds of scenic views along the 'Going-To-The-Sun Road."

After two days of hiking we took a "day off" and drove the RV from the US side to the Canadian side of Glacier National Park.  Crossing the border presented no problems and we sailed right along to the Waterton Springs Campground just down the road from the entrance to the Waterton Lakes International Peace Park (The Canadian side of Glacier).  This campground was the first one in months that allowed us to wash our rig, so we got out the brushes, buckets and rags and went to work, but only cleaned three sides of the rig because we were parked so close to the rig next to us.  On Friday, August 21 we toured the Waterton Lakes Park, driving the Akamina Highway and the Red Rock Canyon Highway and taking hikes at the end of both roads.  The centuries past glaciers have carved gorgeous valleys and sharp mountain peaks in the whole area and filled in depressions with beautiful lakes.  The quaint town of Waterton Lakes is within the park and we checked out a few of the shops, the Heritage Center and the stately Prince of Wales Hotel built on a huge hill overlooking the town, lake and mountains.  Back at the campground we experienced high winds both nights of our stay...finally bringing in our slides and putting down the satellite dish.  But in the mornings it was bright and sunny and calm.

The Prince of Wales Hotel was built by Canadians for the American-owned Great Northern Railway and opened in 1927.  It has 87 rooms and is open only in the summer.
Cameron Lake in Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.
Why did the bears cross the road?   To get to the other side!
They were strolling along as we returned to our campground after a day in the park.

Next stop....Fort Macleod, Alberta - a little over an hour north of the Glacier/Waterton park.  Here we found our way to the Buffalo Plains RV Park and were able to clean up the fourth side of the rig.  Then it was off to visit the local "must see" places in this area.  Our first visit was at "The Fort,"  the museum of the Northwest Mounted Police.  The NWMP was created in 1873 to bring order to the Canadian West.  Unlike many of the US Army Commanders of the time, the NWMP leaders were very successful in dealing with the Native Indians, settlers from the US, and the illegal whiskey trade.  "The Fort" has a village that represents how the troops lived and worked here when the post was established.  A most enjoyable part of our visit to the fort was the "Musical Ride."  This is a riding demonstration that has been a tradition since 1876.  Soldiers in full uniform ride their horses in many drill formations through the arena while music is playing.  (However, we doubt that they rode to "In The Mood" back in the 1870s!)

Another intriguing stop in Fort Macleod was at the "Smashed-In-Head Buffalo Jump."  This center is staffed by First Nation citizens and is an excellent interpretation of the life and existence of the Indians in days gone by....from the time before they had horses to ride until more recent times.  We saw films, exhibits and collections of artifacts found in the area.   Most dramatic, however, is the big cliff where the the buffalo hunt culminated with the herds of bison being led to their fateful end.  Archaeologists say the area was used perhaps as recent as 150 years ago, but also for centuries in the past.

Tom was chosen from the audience to inspect the troops and their mounts before their performance.  He kindly did not point out a muddy boot on one of the young riders.
The horses and riders performed many different drill sequences in the arena. 
First we watched a film about the buffalo hunts.  Then we went to the cliff and imagined the hundreds of animals thundering across the plains headed to their death...a sobering experience.

Getting together with friends is always a highlight in our travels.  In Calgary, Alberta we had the pleasure of a three day visit with Mary and Tedd Duncan, winter neighbors of ours at Palm Creek.  Mary and Tedd have a beautiful home high on a hill overlooking the great city.  They had scouted out places for us to park the RV, and we found the Grey Eagle Casino to be a perfect place near their home.  The casino has a huge parking lot and allows RVs to stay for three nights.  They also have a real deal for breakfast each day...$1.99 for eggs, potatoes, bacon, and toast.  (They also funded our stay in Calgary!)  Tedd lived up to his reputation and served a couple of great meals from his grill.  And, best of all, Tedd and Mary drove us all over their clean city to see various "must sees."  We visited "Heritage Park Historical Village" which is a recreation of "how the west was once."  Many of the buildings have been moved from places around Alberta and have been restored and are used for their original purpose.  We also made a short stop at Fort Calgary, the original Northwest Mounted Police post.  A highlight of our visit was a trip to the Olympic Park, where the 1988 Olympics were held.  The facilities are still used year-round by the citizens of Calgary and we watched young bikers and their bikes ride the ski-lift to the top of the hills, then speed back to the bottom and do it over again.  The ski jumps were set up for summer practice with special carpet over the surface.  The Olympic Oval ice arena is located on the campus of the University of Calgary and we watched little tykes taking skating lessons and some junior hockey teams practicing on two rinks in the middle of the speed skating track...quite a place.  The city of Calgary seems to be prospering...there were construction cranes everywhere as we drove around checking out the "Saddledome" football stadium, the Calgary Stampede grounds and the beautiful riverfront park downtown.  Thanks to Mary and Tedd we had a great visit to Calgary.

Tom put on the skis and tried to imagine what it would be like to....
....head down from the top of the ski jump.  We took an elevator to the top of the 90 meter tower for perspective
The center of the Olympic Oval is divided into two smaller ice rinks where we watched preschoolers learning to skate.  The speed-skating tracks ring the smaller arenas.
Tedd and Mary Duncan were our hosts in Calgary.  In their "previous life" they were both middle school principals in Calgary.  Now they prefer to spend time playing pickleball and golf.
We enjoyed a picnic on the riverfront one evening in Calgary even though the "Shakespeare in the Park" had been canceled.
We shared a great meal, cooked by Mary and Tedd, with two couples we had met briefly when they visited Palm Creek, Don and Judy and Terri and Lionel.

We had visited Banff National Park and Lake Louise on our way to Alaska in 2001, but knew that they were worth another visit while in the area.  Besides, our previous visit was in April, and everything was still frozen and we were "blessed" with several inches of fresh snow during our stay.  It was a little different on this visit.  The drive out from Calgary reminded us of going west out of Denver...from rolling hills to majestic mountains.  We found a place to park the RV and drove the car into the Village of Banff and feel that it is much as we remembered...many quaint shops, galleries and restaurants...but there are also many new lodges and hotels...and great views of mountains in every direction.  Moving on to Lake Louise area of the National Park, about 25 miles away, we found an overnight spot in a campground and after exploring the actual, beautiful Lake Louise and the bright turquoise Moraine Lake, we enjoyed an evening program put on by the park rangers.

Beautiful downtown Banff, Alberta
Lake Louise
Chateau Louise Hotel overlooking the lake
Moraine Lake in Banff National Park

Heading west from Banff National Park, we left Alberta and entered the province of British Columbia.  The scenery, however, continued to be magnificent.  We drove into Canada's Glacier National Park - home to more than 400 glaciers.  We stopped the next night in the town of Revelstoke - another town with streets lined with outdoor cafes, galleries and shops.  On August 28 we arrived in the picturesque town of Kelowna.  Our first friends at Palm Creek were two couples from Kelowna.  Peter and Cathy Nichita and Bev and Don McGovern have been after us to come visit their part of the country ever since...and we finally made it.  Thanks to our membership in RPI we were eligible to stay at the Holiday Park Resort and RV Park just north of the city.  We had a great site with a very private patio but since we spent so much time with our friends we didn't actually take advantage of all the resort has to offer.

Kelowna is on the shores of a gorgeous lake in the Okanagan Valley.  There are miles and miles, acres and acres of fruit orchards and vineyards.  According to the tourist information, there are about 100 wineries within a short drive of the city.  Everywhere we turned there was a fruit stand.  Our friends made certain that we visited several wineries, walked the impressive waterfront parks, and saw the city from various viewpoints in the hills around town.  There are also many golf courses in the area, and its a popular place for vacation and retirement homes.  We stopped at the site of a mission started by Oblate Father Pandosy, known as a type of "Johnny Appleseed" and  said to be responsible for the beginning of the fruit growing in the area.  We enjoyed a fun dinner out one night at a pub where chicken wings were 35 cents each, a trip to the Canadian institution - Tim Horton's - and both couples treated us to delicious home cooked meals.  It was great to see "the other half" of their lives that we've been hearing about for the past seven winters.

Our Kelowna tour group...Peter and Cathy Nichita and Bev and Don McGovern with Tom and Mary
The recently constructed bridge over the Okanagan Lake in Kelowna.
This Geert Maas scupture along the waterfront has become a symbol of Kelowna.
Kelowna has it's own lake living creature, Ogopogo, depicted here on the shore.

We visited a lavender farm ...
...and several vineyards among the many in the area.
The Mission Hill Family Estate Winery is an impressive place....
...where we visited one of the cellars and enjoyed a lesson in tasting of wines.

Boy, have we covered a lot of miles this month (about 3000!)...but there's still more miles to go before we settle for the winter!
And...I went a little "camera crazy" this month.  If you would like to see some more photos go to