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Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Friday, April 25, 2014
|I was up at 5:30 and it was pretty cold outside. (29F) It was cool inside as well. My furnace wasn’t working today either. hasn’t been working for 4 days now. Typical cheap RV-stuff they mount into the trailers. It just gives a click when I turn it on and that’s it. So I have been using electrical heaters, which has kept me warm, but something needs to be done. And quickly!|
So the reason why I was up that darn early was that I was looking towards my first day at work. They had handed me a program involving pickup at a Calgary Hotel and with a few other destinations within Calgary before heading it off to the City of Lethbridge. I had actually worked all evening yesterday plotting out the necessary route, where to turn and where not. Calgary is a big city and prides itself with lots of one-way roads. So it’s not like you just can go anywhere you want. Good maps and first of all a working GPS is a must.
Speaking of our trusty old Garmin lady. Of course she had her day off today. At least so it seemed as the darn thing wouldn’t even connect to any of those satellites. I kept trying and trying and only AFTER I had arrived at the hotel it all-of-a-sudden sprang back to life.
My group was delayed out of the hotel as well so I had plenty of time to play aroudn with my Smart phone. That is until the battery got dangerously low – so I quit. I need a car charger!
When we finally got going it was like the destination had no address. Really they ain’t any! They live and work in a vacuum.
But one of the girls knew a little and we got where we should.
Where do you park a 38ft.bus in the city? My big concern. But even that found a solution as there actually was a gravel parking lot right beside the building. I pulled in and now they are all gone and watch the bunnies hopping around here. Did you know that bunnies actually lived in the thick of downtown Calgary. Amazing! Also some other entertainment, although repetitive, is the Canadian Pacific Railroad which runs right along here. The view I have is not bad as I’m looking straight at Calgary skyscrapers. Up there, I’m sure, are some offices of some big shots, leading the oil business, making millions every day. But hey, they don’t get to see the country, like I do.
And today I even saw the monkeys and great apes.
In the Calgary Zoo, that is. Unfortunately my phone was dead and my Canon was at home. But if YOU ever come to Calgary, go and see the Zoo. It is a must-see indeed.
After wandering around between the wild animals of the planet, (there is even a pre-historic part with Dinos) we went on to Lethbridge, a rather lengthy drive, but luckily Alberta Highways are “best in class” in Canada, so little problems there either
Dinner was at the Mocha Cabana, a Mexican-style restaurant right downtown Lethbridge. Excellent food and nice atmosphere.
So, at 8:30 I have been at it for 14hrs. and that’s enough.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Monday, April 21, 2014
|I mean it. You are too polite to tell me. Like yesterday’s screw-up when an entire paragraph of text was doubled up in my posting. I only learned about it from Bea’s comment, and I’m almost ashamed that stuff like that passed through the check. When posting this I was sitting at Mc.Donalds, this time with a small cup of coffee, and I had hit the “Publish” button 3 times and every time it returned an error. Yet there was only one other guy with a little note book in the place, so it wasn’t that the internet could have been slow by overuse. Could have been on Blogger’s end that things didn’t go through. Anyhow, this text got doubled up. But I have taken care of it and removed it. |
While I was sitting there waiting for the posting going through, my friend from Norway called on SKYPE. Have you ever tried to talk to somebody on SKYPE while being in a place like Mc,Donalds? There is not the tiniest chance that neither you nor your partner on the other end can understand a word. The noise level around you is just way over the top. So we did the “chat” which does not involve talking but is utter texting only.
I have never been so often in a Mc.Donalds location than over the last few days. I like their coffee and the price of it.
Their Banff location is quite different than anything you have seen of Mc.Donalds before. If you’re looking for that double golden arch you’d be looking for ever, cause it ain’t there. No Sir, Banff bylaws don’t allow for such signage. So when I first was looking for ANY Mc.Donalds in town, I drove by twice without noticing it, cause I was looking….right… for the golden arch.
Didn’t stay any longer in town and forgot to fill gas too. Had myself home into my trailer to get some lunch going. Cooked up some beans, added the last meat balls, and while the whole thing was bubbling on the range, I took the opportunity to throw in an Italian sausage, but which I didn’t eat yet. Cooking dry goods like beans isn’t what I have done a whole lot and because of that I called the Missus at home to receive a few instructions on how to go about that. Well, it all turned out quite good. There are more beans in the bin and I will have them some other time.
While I enjoy a 30amp power hook-up here, I have to pay the sum of $32.50/day, which, needless to say, is too much if you have to stay 6 months. So I have been looking for an alternative which is a real tricky part as I am in a National Park where certain rules apply. So the other day I was cruising around in some places and came across an “Overflow Camping” not far out of town. It’s basically a graveled area, not unlike any rough truck stop, but without the trucks.
2 pit toilets, a garbage container, and a self-registration hut is all there is of services. The toilets were still locked up and the last snow was about to melt away. Checking out the self-registration, it mentions a fee of $10/day, which multiplied with 30 days, is a lot more friendlier to my budget, than the almost $1000/month where I am right now. Yet, it is 10 times over what the winter on BLM-land in California is costing.
But I still have some time until my 2 weeks here are up.
Yesterday’s weather has been a typical April-type of weather. Sometimes the sun was out, then again we had a mighty snow shower. Finally, during the late afternoon it all calmed down and the sun came for good. Since I have been cooped up most of the day I decided to get myself out walking. I sure wish Molly would be here as she is always pestering us for going out with her. I went and explored the still closed-off area of the campground. And while I was quietly walking down the paved camp road – not another human being around – I suddenly saw a few elk cows walking through the forest. I stopped and stood behind a spruce tree – observing as the cows stepped out on the road. They had noticed me already and were standing there about 150yrds away, just testing on whether or not I was a risk to them. Finally, 2 of them walked entirely over and stepped in between the trees on the other side of the road. Another couple of them came out and then more and more. I counted a total of 9 cows, a little herd indeed. They were huge, maybe carrying calves some of them. When all of them had gone into the forest I walked on. I glanced over to my left and could see their brown bodies between the trees. They were feeding on the yellow grass. What a great experience here in the park.
Getting back from my little walk-about I met the friendly lady from Saskatchewan whose husband had moved my trailer the other day.
She promptly invited me over for a BBQ-supper. So all-of-a-sudden I was sitting in their little trailer and having supper with them. What a nice couple of RVers to meet. They have been coming here every spring for 19 years!!
So, I’m keeping up, out here, but I’m looking forward to Easter finally being over as both the library and the post office is still closed.
Thanks for dropping by again!
Sunday, April 20, 2014
Friday, April 18, 2014
|After all that excitement with elks standing around in all the wrong places, I went to town. For those of you who have never been in Banff, here is what Banff has to deal with.|
First there is the fact that the city is surrounded by Parks Canada. That severely limits future developments making Banff a place which has to deal with everything within existing boundaries. As much as Parks Canada limits physical growth it has also created a city which can easily be compared with the tourism metropolis of St.Moritz in Switzerland. Whoever comes to Banff thinks he or she is the center of the world. Watching the curbside can be quite entertaining…. But that kind of clientele is bringing millions of easy earned Dollars into town. Consequently the entire city centre is dedicated to get more Dollars out of every visitor. Fancy shops and eateries are what you gonna see along the famous Banff Avenue. It’s like being on Kurfuerstendamm in Berlin, 5th Avenue in NYC or the Champs Elysee, Paris France. “Normal” people rather stick to the back roads – like me. Traffic is simply huge. Finding a spot where to park your wheels is a challenge. I was in search for the Public Library which I found right down at the Bow River on a corner at Bear Street. They have nice and lightning fast internet.
Right across is the Post office, where I dropped a letter.
Then I had to go shopping. I didn’t need much, but being there I wandered around to check pricing on things. I was in for a surprise when looking at chicken meat. The package with chicken strips (left-overs at the butcher shop) had a kilo price of over $17.00. That makes for over $7.70/lb. We always bought chicken breasts for under $2.00 a pound in the U.S. So needless to say chicken is off the menu this summer. All other meat is almost the same as we have seen in the U.S.
Done with my shopping, I proceeded to find a coin laundry. I didn’t take my stuff in there as there was no parking around. By-the-way it’s located in the basement of a shopping mall – downtown Banff. Go figure.
But I did go down there to check it out. You remember the little slots where you put in 6 X 25cts in U.S. Laundromats? Here you’ll want tp put in Dollars instead. Six of them. Dryers are the same and big machines are $20.00. I fail to see that Canadians are making so much more money to make up for all these inflated prices. And I haven’t even mentioned gas prices which right here are currently peeking at $4.73/gal. Just so you know, in case you come to the big white north and you need to make adjustments to your travel budget. But then again the U.S. Dollar is currently 10-12% above the Canadian. A good portion of that, however, is eaten up by the bank’s exchange rate.
So will I be living of porridge with water only? I don’t think so. My latest kitchen job ended in meat balls and I still have plenty of it.
Thanks for keeping me company here!
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
|Alright, it was the big screw-up day. While I was as early as possible at the storage place to pick up our trailer and get the U-Haul truck nothing ever worked out today. They gave me this brand-new FORD pickup truck. It had a hitch receiver and I put my hitch in there, got the trailer on the ball and pulled out. I was barely out on the road when I noticed that the truck didn’t have brake controller. Ouch. As a result the trailer has no braking capabilities and shoved the truck a good part down the road towards the intersection. I just heard the gravel under the braked-up wheels and thought I better be cautious with this. I managed to get the rig onto TC1 towards Banff but 50mph was the max. without landing in the ditch. Turned out the truck, an F150 was too lightweight. I finally pulled out at the next gas station and left the trailer parked in the rear. I brought the truck back to the storage and told the small girls what was wrong. Next thing I knew was that I got a 17ft. box truck. It hd a different hitch setup but the truck was heavy and had lots of power. |
When I was back at the gas station with the new rig I backed it up to the trailer and had the hitch almost on, but then something was in the way. The truck had a steel bar underneath the ball and that bar was sticking out too far, so it collided with the tongue of the trailer and blocked the ball from sliding into the hitch. I tried it in a different angle, but no way that anything worked out.
So again, I had to leave the trailer alone. I brought the truck back a 2. time and luckily they did not charge me for this adventure.
A TOW SERVICE could be my salvation. The girls had a business card and we called the guy. He made me an acceptable offer and we agreed to meet at the Petro Station at the TC1. I took my JEEP and drove out there to meet the guy.
He never showed up!
So what now? I decided to spend the night in the trailer and call for another tow service tomorrow. Maybe I get lucky.
Monday, April 14, 2014
Sunday, April 13, 2014
|If you haven’t seen the endless grasslands of Northern Montana you might just have no understanding what it feels like to be out on the prairies. And it is the hardest thing to describe. Supposedly one must be a gifted poet to find the right words. And it will be a different description if one has been there on a warm sunny summer day versus a day like it was today when wind-driven dark clouds were hovering above, and the sun would break through only occasionally lightening up a slight rise in the terrain, throwing shadows in between, just to make the pastures come alive with eerie colours. Black angus were grazing peacefully on the open range. They are able to eat and digest this old winter-yellow grass, which just a short while ago was buried under snow. Whenever I had to stop at one of the gas stations along this lonely route #2 which runs parallel and south of the Canadian border, I had to throw on my jacket, and yet the wind did not show any mercy. Good thing the Jeep’s tank is so small and fills up fast. |
On this long and lonely highway it is a wise idea not to let the tank get too empty as it could be too far to the next station.
So I when I saw this very small Quick Shop with two ancient looking gas pumps in the middle of FT. Peck Indian Reservation on my right, I was fast to throw the wheel around. As I got out of the car an Indian fellow was just filling up his car. When he saw me opening my tank lit he told me “It’s Prepay only”. I hadn’t seen any information on the pump saying so, but I took his word and walked inside, where I was met by a young Indian lady, highly pregnant, and a white fellow with cigarette in his mouth. I always thought that smoking should be prohibited at a gas station but hey….this is Montana and who cares anyway?
I left my Credit Card on the counter and went back out into the icy blast. The white guy followed and once outside he asked where I was from. I told him New Brunswick, Canada and that I was going to Alberta.Turned out he didn’t know where Alberta was and it is just my guess that he sure never heard about the other province either. Why would it be necessary for a guy 40 miles from the Canada border to know ANYTHING about that part of the world?
Seems to me that if one lives in Northern Montana it is enough to know where to find the next gas station and the bar.
Northern Montana is the anticlimax to Williston,ND. Whereas Williston is pretending to be a major big city, the Montana prairie is wide-spread loneliness. I happened to stop at Williston to get supplies at Wally World.
I had never seen a parking lot with 90% pickup trucks. And inside Wally World 90% of customers were single men. Most of them looked like out of some Klondike movie. They were bundled up against the cold, wore hoodies and thick parkas. It must have been the crew’s day off. Yet I had seen long convoys of oil tankers coming up the road. So probably it was just the other shift having some time off.
Even though I had left Underwood, ND at around 12 noon, I made it to Havre,MT before dark. Took in at the Super8 and dropped a visit at a restaurant. Instead, I took my food supplies to my room and with the help of my little electric grill made myself 2 delicious ham/cheese rolls, toasted to crispy delight. Still had coffee in my Thermos and enjoyed a yogurt for dessert. Tomorrow I am going to make the border. I have booked a U-Haul truck for Monday and hope the RV-Park at Canmore will let me in one day early without charging hundreds of extra Dollars. If you wonder about the lack of pictures it is due to an empty camera battery. I ‘ll make sure it will be working again tomorrow.
Thanks for dropping by.