Saturday, October 31, 2015

Conni – 08-10-14 Banff Trip – Helena, MT

Helena, the capitol city of Montana, has a population of approximately 30,000. One of the first things we noticed was how clean the city is. The main street is Last Chance Gulch, named after the gulch where gold was discovered in 1864.
One of the most beautiful buildings we saw was the Cathedral of St Helena. It is Gothic style and opened in 1914. Unfortunately, it was closed when we were there, so our only pictures are from the outside.


The next most significant building we saw was the state capitol. Again, it was Sunday, so we were not allowed inside.

We also visited the West Residential section, known as the Mansion District. There are many tree lined streets with stone walls. Most houses in this area were built in the last quarter of the 1800’s. As you can see from the pictures, the architecture is varied.

Check the architecture of the Original Governor’s Mansion.


Conni – 08-09-14 Banff Trip – Gates of the Mountains, MT

Today we drove about 20 miles north of Helena to take a 2 hour boat trip on the Missouri River thru the Gates of the Mountains.
The area was explored by Lewis & Clark in July, 1805. Lewis named the area “Gates of the Mountains” since each bend of the river seemed to be closed off by stone walls, only to open like giant gates to reveal more passage on the river. 
The whole area is pristine and should stay that way since the only entry is on the river. The guide talked just about non-stop, so there was much to learn and see.

We sighted several bald eagles and ospreys.
 We also saw a huge osprey nest that has been in progress for many years. In August, the ospreys leave for South America, then return and continue to build on the nest from the previous year.

We also saw pictographs from Native Americans, but really couldn’t tell what they were depicting.
Sir Bentley joined us on the boat ride.

Conni – 08-07-14 Banff Trip – Great Falls to Helena, MT

This drive is one of my 3 most favorite in North America. It’s around 90 miles between the two cities, with approximately 70 just being gorgeous.  Most of the trip follows the Missouri River and some of it goes between narrow and high canyons.
Here’s some pics to give you a taste.

I was also lucky enough to see a bald eagle flying near its nest (with a baby atop).

Conni – 08-04-14 Banff Trip – Glacier Park

Glacier Park encompasses over 1 million acres. Today we crossed the park on the Going-to-the-Sun-Road, the only road that bisects it. It is 53 miles long and goes over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass at 6646 feet. The two lanes are very narrow and winding, so passing is virtually impossible.
Of interest, per Wikipedia: “The road is one of the most difficult roads in North America to snowplow in the spring. Up to 80 feet of snow can lie on top of Logan Pass, and more just east of the pass where the deepest snowfield has long been referred to as Big Drift. The road takes about ten weeks to plow, even with equipment that can move 4000 tons of snow in an hour. The snowplow crew can clear as little as 500 feet of the road per day.”


There were lots of wild flowers, including one that reminded us a little of the bluebonnet.


There are over 200 waterfalls within the park. Of course, we only saw a few.

The main attraction, of course, is the glaciers. While there are many, most have been lost to warming and that trend continues.

Of course, there are many lakes and rivers too. Bentley enjoyed some of that really cold water. Well, maybe Mary enjoyed it more. Hard to tell.


Probably half of the road was under construction – read: dirt. This caused us to take a different and longer route back to St Mary. All of it was beautiful.

Conni – 08-03-14 Banff Trip – Many Glacier

We camped in St Mary, MT and took side trips to Many Glacier and then the Going-to-the-Sun-Road thru Glacier Park. Many Glacier is actually an area to the north of the Sun Road. The route has several lakes and rivers and includes the Many Glacier Hotel, which is the largest in the park and was built around 1915.


Conni – 08-02-14 Banff Trip – Toward Glacier Park

OK, this little trek was a mistake. When we left Ft MacLeod, AB, our intent was to take IH15 in Montana to Glacier Park. We started out on Hwy 3 by mistake and decided to just take it to Waterton Lakes National Park, which is the Canadian portion of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.
This route actually saved us a couple of hours or so and we had more beautiful scenery, to boot.

Mary – 07-31 / 08-02-14 Banff Trip – Bob & Francoise

Our wonderful friends, Bob & Francoise, from Edmonton, came down to Banff to visit.

As you can see, it was just a few days after Mary's fall in the campground. The glasses are hiding another bruise under her left eye.

On our drive down Tunnel Mountain to have lunch at Tony Roma’s , we were all treated with a bear sighting.
Later today, they treated us to dinner at the Keg. I think it was the best steak I’ve ever had. Good food, great company – awesome!

The next day we all packed up and headed to Ft MacLeod. I rode with Francoise and Bob rode with Conni in Figment. It was fun having some one-on-one time with them both.