Monday, July 28, 2014

Mary – 07-15-14 Banff Trip – Buffalo, WY

Down to four hours of driving per day …. a much better pace for me. We saw so many horse ranches and beautiful open pastures in the rolling hills. There were beautiful plateaus and mountains along the way. We saw at least two massive coal trains coming from Gillette, WY, where we attended our most recent RVing Women’s rally. While there we toured the coal mining operations including loading coal into train cars. Along the way, we also saw an older wind mill that was powered with a big solar panel. Interesting to see the old west technology alongside the modern solar technology. Didn't catch a pic, darn.

Bentley isn’t so crazy about riding in the RV. Roads are bumpy, which makes things shake and rattle inside. He stays right with me the whole time we’re on the road – about 98% of his time is lying at my feet in the cab. He is managing to get a lot of loving by staying right in front of me. He gets lots of petting and back scratching, which feels as good to me as it must to him.

It was raining off and on as we pulled into our RV Park. We setup and took showers then headed across the highway to the Bozeman Steak Restaurant for dinner. Bentley had to stay home because of the rain. We ate at the same restaurant and recalled it was good the last time we stayed in Livingston. We weren’t quite as impressed this time – will definitely order steak the next time. Rain was really falling as we walked back to the RV. Fortunately, we each an umbrella and it actually was a good feeling – playing in the rain.

Bentley and I checked out our neighbors in the RV park.

We got up early this morning after a good night sleep. The rain had stopped and the temperature was a cool 54°. YES! Conni walked a couple of blocks to pick up some breakfast. Started up the crock pot with one of Shirley’s yummy chicken crock frozen meals.

We crossed into Montana with more of the lovely rolling hills and, for the first time this trip, snowcapped mountains. Lots of horses and cows with newborn babies. Conni pointed out three particularly beautiful horses and then a palomino. Something didn’t seem quite right with the palomino. As we got closer we both realized it was a cow. Gave us a good laugh.

Feeling blessed to still be able to travel North America … such a fabulous country.

Mary – 07-12-14 Banff Trip – Amarillo, TX

We arrived early in Amarillo. Bentley waiting for Conni to check in. 

Thankfully, we arrived just in time to miss the crowds at the Big Texan Steakhouse. We had a fabulous prime rib (after sending back a tough one) and, of course, one of their amazing slices of carrot cake, which we brought back to Figment to munch on for a couple of days. Yum!

We learned the last winner of the 72oz steak consumed was a 22 year old girl who weighs 120 pounds. She ate not just one, but 2 in

15 minutes. Wish I had seen that. Wow!

Conni – 07-25-14 Banff Trip –Banff, AB (Norquay & Sunshine)

Went out looking for wildlife again today. No luck. Don’t think we’ve ever been here this long without seeing something interesting. Maybe it’s too cold? It’s been about 40 in the mornings, with a high around 60 most days. Maybe a day or two it hit 70. We wanted cooler weather, but another 10 degrees would be about right. 

We drove up to two ski resorts. The first is Norquay, which is just out of town. It’s a short route with sharp switchback roads and is really beautiful. It affords a really pretty view down on the town of Banff, but today was totally overcast, so no clear pics. Typically, we see mountain goats along this road, but not today.

Next, we drove several miles out of town to the Sunshine Ski Resort.

Ran into a lot of busses leaving there from taking hikers further up the mountain to see wild flowers and animals. Had some hot chocolate, which hit the spot. It was very active here compared to Norquay. Lots of people working on putting in new cabling for the ski lift for next winter. Check the size of the cable! Also, they had some gondolas that were just frames now. So, lots of work ahead for them.

Conni – 07-23-14 Banff Trip –Banff, AB (Golf Course)

Today, we took about an hour or so drive along the golf course. Part of it was definitely meant for Jeeps only, so we were lucky. Only saw about 2 cars the whole drive.  Didn’t see any animals, which was a real surprise. Saw probably hundreds of trees which the elk had used to get rid of their velvet though. Part of the drive was along the Bow and Spray Rivers.

Figment – 07-16/17-14 Banff Trip – Livingston to Great Falls, MT

Nice drive today. The road was a little less bumpy, mostly. I’m an old hand now and have been this route before, but it’s really beautiful. Lots of rolling hills and mountains in the near distance. A few horses here and there, but mostly lush rolling pastures.

Now comes the best part. It’s one of three of Mama Conni’s favorite drives. It’s the road between Helena and Great Falls. Unfortunately, there’s just not room for me to pull over and let them take pictures. I heard we’ll be stopping in Helena on the way back though. I think they have a little side trip in Gully Jumper planned so you can see what it looks like too. Anyway, it follows a river and goes thru close canyons.

We arrived in Great Falls and our campground was having a Airstream rally. Lots of chrome! Never knew they also made Class A (no longer) and Class B rigs. So, naturally, while the Mama’s were gone, I got in some visiting. I must say they’re pretty cute, but I outshine them all.

Mary – 07-13-14 Banff Trip – Lamar, CO

Trip thru the Panhandle and OK corn and oil fields was the bumpiest road ever. Mark Highway 287 off the map!
Not much to say about Lamar or the campground other than how nice it was to have a short driving day so we’re getting a little less exhausted.

We will pass through Denver tomorrow with a hope to stop at Bold Leash Designs (BLD) to order Bentley’s mobility harness. Very excited to get it and get him through mobility training. The timing for his assistance to me is perfect. Unbelievable, at least to me, I gave in and purchased my first cane in San Antonio. Ugh.

Bentley’s favorite riding spot – floorboard, with head under my seat. Notice my feet on dash.

Conni – 07-17-14 Banff Trip –Great Falls, MT

Wellll! Wouldn’t you know? Don’t know what’s up with this, but I was having some breathing problems and it looked like it might turn into an asthma problem, so off to the Doc in a Box. Actually, was a very nice facility right across from the hospital. Wonderful doc gave me steroids and antibiotics to ensure I wouldn’t get into Banff and end up in the hospital with pneumonia again. And, he probably spent an extra 20 minutes or so telling us about a lot of places to visit in WY on our way back. So, all medded up and ready to hit the road for Canada tomorrow.

Mary – 07-11-14 Banff Trip – Midland, TX

I had recently reconnected with my aunt, Bobbie, after many years of estrangement. Bobbie is my mother’s younger sister and only sibling. She’s 88 and living in a retirement apartment. It was wonderful to see her and reminisce and catch up on cousins and nieces and nephews and 2nd cousins and great nieces and nephews.  She is doing pretty well & feisty as ever. Love her. Forgot to get a snapshot, but hope to fly over for a visit in the fall or winter. We got up early Friday and headed toward Amarillo.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mary – 07-09/10-14 Banff Trip – San Antonio, TX

On the way to San Antonio, we were surprised by acres of marshmallow fields. Who knew? Put a smile on our faces.

The first two nights were spent in San Antonio for Mary’s Neurologist appointment on Thursday, July 10 and Bentley’s mobility training (actually, Mary’s train the trainer training) with Laurie, his service dog trainer. Unfortunately, Laurie was going through a rough time and wasn’t able to meet with us for training. It may have been for the best because I was pretty tired and enjoyed the rest. On Friday morning we finally started heading north for Banff, Alberta. Yippee.

Mary – 07-09-14 Banff Trip - Home

We had a little bit of a rough start on our vacation this year. We are going to Alberta, Canada; planning to leave on July 9, 2014. Conni retrieved our passports on Friday, July 4th only to discover they had expired late last year. We were able to get an appointment at the Dallas passport office on Monday afternoon and pick up our passports on Tuesday. With neighbors signed up to look after things at the estate, the house locked up and Bentley onboard, we hit the road on Wednesday, July 9.

Mary – 07-14-14 Banff Trip – Cheyenne, WY

When we reached Denver we found our way to the suburb of Aurora where BLD is located. I had talked to the owner, Katrina, a couple of months ago about the best time to order Bentley’s mobility harness. I decided to wait until he turned 18 months and x-rays confirmed his bones and plates were fully developed and set. It was very nice having the experts do the measuring for us since we were getting different numbers every time we tried.  Katrina custom makes the mobility service harness (MSH) and I think it helped her seeing him in person. She was so impressed with his beauty and build, she asked if she could use him to model her infinity harness. He did a very good job of posing – not something he does for me. As thanks, she gave us an infinity collar AND a new leather collar. It is beautifully made. This was a two hour delay, but well worth it to me. We’ll pick up the harness on our way home so they can do a perfect fitting and teach me.

The RV Park in Cheyenne had a small BBQ restaurant on the grounds. The food was good and the location was perfect. We try not to unhitch the toad (Jeep) during the one night stops.