Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Deer, Bears and Goat Haunt - OH MY!!

Well - Sunday was a lazy day, indeed - BUT, I learned a lot!!

After a late start out of ‘Magic’ (due to the blog update for FIVE days) - we headed to the Bayshore Inn - yet again! By now John, the bartender, knows what we want to drink and exactly how we like it - tea with ice no lemon, water no ice, etc. etc. Lunch was accompanied by the ‘Tiger blow-out’ at the BMW Championship as well as getting the blog update posted (OK we confess - one of the draws of the Bayshore Inn is an internet connection!). I know - you are thinking that we are in this beautiful country full of scenery and animals and all we do is sit in the bar, use the internet and watch TV. But - we have finally learned that we need to be ‘on the hunt’ either early morning or at dusk - and today was to be an ‘animal spotting day’.

So - we planned our day around a 4 - 6PM boat cruise of the Waterton Lakes hoping to see bear and moose around the lakes as promised by the cruise brochure. The weather was absolutely beautiful for this cruise! All the crew were talking about how lucky we were at this time of year for sunshine and warm breezes. And, we again lucked out with a very knowledgeable young man, who has lived in the park area all his life, as our guide.

About half way to the opposite end of the lake we passed the 49th parallel. Anyone know the significance of this? It is the border between the US and Canada. So - on this cruise we passed from Canada back into the US and back to Canada again on our return. This parallel is marked on both sides of the lake with an ‘International Boundary‘ marker at the lake level and again at the top of the surrounding mountain. The parallel line is ‘marked’ by cleared growth from the marker at the lake level to the marker at the top of the mountain. An international patrol actually goes out and clears this parallel every 12-15 years (as needed) to maintain the clearance.

International Boundary Marker

Cleared 49th Parallel

Now, when you get to the end of the lake you disembark and have the opportunity to visit the US ‘Customs and Immigration of Goat Haunt’ (the ridge above is a local hangout/haunt of the goats). Remember I said we passed from Canada into the US while on the boat. If you plan to go into the back country hiking, you must pass through this customs and immigration check point (if ‘just visiting’ off the boat and returning immediately to Canada on the boat, you do not have to technically go through the check point). So, there is no ‘sneaking’ into the US by hiking in! As you can see below, I had to beg and plead with the customs agents not to detain me - but, just give me a stamp in my passport!! And, a great stamp it is of a goat - what else?!?! Perhaps you had to be here, but the whole set up of this ‘out post’ customs and immigration check point on a hiking trail out in the middle of no where was fascinating to me. I must say - the agents here were VERY friendly and really good sports when I started the stamp thing - as after I got mine there was a line up of everyone off the boat to do the same thing!! As you all know - I am ever the trouble maker!!

Goat Haunt Customs Office

Begging for a customs stamp

Finally.. Kerplunk

Goat Haunt Custom Stamp-Cool!!

Back in the USA .. for just a minute or two.

You might have guessed by now that our whole reason for the cruise - to see animals - was a bust! Not one animal sighting. But, the whole 49th parallel and “Customs and Immigration of Goat Haunt” things made the cruise worth every Canadian dollar. AND - we got a picture of the Bayshore Inn from the lake so you can see our haunt for the last few days.

Our watering hole and reliable internet connection - the Bayshore Inn

Well, it was now about 6:30 - just the right time to head up into one of the canyons for bear or moose sightings. AND, just on the edge of town what did we see - ONE HUNGRY BEAR!! YEAH!! We were soooooo excited to see this guy - we watched for over an hour as he worked his way down the line of berry bushes - he eats over 100,000 berries a day!! The bucks didn’t seem to care that he was there - and he didn’t care that they were there. Everyone was just out for dinner.

This young buck had rubbed its rack raw

Ummmmm.. berries

Damned tourists .. I can't even snack in peace

One more picture and I'm gonna roar!!

Boy, did this sighting make our day! We did finally drive out the canyon and saw another bear - 2 in one evening. But, the ‘berry bear’ was the best!!

Whew - after all this excitement we needed a good nights rest as Monday was another travel day.

Up and out early this morning on our way to Banff. When we left the park area and hit our first little town we needed two things - diesel and food (we had eaten all our meats and vegetables cooking on our little grill). I never thought I would be so excited to find a Wal-Mart Super Center:-)!!

We are now in the Banff National Park, which is beautiful. Upon arrival, what has now become the usual set-up routine, was completed. This includes: unhook the tow car (32 KBUS), level Magic, hook up water, electric and sewer, put slides out, put out BBQ and all ‘set around stuff’ inside, clean the bugs off the front windshield, etc.

Bug Duty .. an every travel day occurrence

Then we were off to investigate the townsite of Banff and visit the information center - always our first stop. This is another ‘cute’ town - kind of a cross between Park City and Vail. It has the charm of PC but bigger and newer - not as big as Vail but with some of the ‘Vail shopping’.

Welcome to Banff

They even have a Starbucks (the first we have seen since leaving PC), which excited us for the internet connection! (As the national park campground is great - but, no internet!!) Knowing this, I ran home to write this report so it could get posted tomorrow.

Now - off to bed because Gary is getting me up early for our drive to Lake Louise tomorrow. Hope you enjoyed our last couple of days. More soon -

Elizabeth & Gary

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