It’s seems like forever since I saw Joern and it’s so amazing to have him in Canada and ready to travel through BC with me. We had a great day exploring Vancouver. We visited Stanley Park to see the totem poles and also went to the science Park. I have never been to one and thought it was great, we enjoyed acting like kids again. They had a fantastic t-rex exhibition which I found particularly interesting. We wrapped the day up with a great meal at a really nice Japanese restaurant with Rich and Evey.
The t-rex and big kid playing sciency stuff
Great day topped off with a great meal
After picking up Joerns bike we hopped on the ferry and headed over to Gibson to visit Mike and Gail, who left Switzerland to retire back in Canada 2 years ago. It was great to see them and WOW what an amazing location, absolutely stunning. I’ve known Mike since 2007 when we met at Credit Suisse and he is one of the very few colleagues I have that has crossed the barrier into becoming an outside of work friend.
We had a lovely evening with Mike and Gail which started off with a BBQ and a couple fo steaks to die for, then ended up with us watching to sunset from the beach while Joern and Mike acted like skipping stone.. Boys. The day was topped off with a sighting of a a seal and a wild sea otter. Perfect I think.
We very reluctantly left Gibson, hoped back on the ferry to Vancouver and headed straight up to Whistler and then on the Lillooet for the night. BC is certainly living up to it’s reputation as a beautiful place.
The last time I saw my school friend Evelyn was in Munich in 2003. Evey moved to Canada in the mid 70’s when we were in junior school. We have remained friends since the 1st day we met on the 1st day of school at the age of 6, and have managed to see each other every 10/15 years or so since then. It’s been totally awesome catching up and it feels like we saw each other just yesterday.
We spent the morning visiting the Fisherman’s Warf at Stevensons, very nice place with interesting museums about the fishing industry back in the early 1900s. We topped the morning off with coffee from Starbucks of course.
Joern arrives tomorrow and we will start our journey through British Columbia. We’ll be travelling for a month and I’m so looking forward to travelling with Joern again. I do have no idea if / when I’ll do more blogging … I’ll see depending on my time / mood 😊
Heading north west to Canada the landscape change dramatically from flat hot plains, on the East of Washington. To large hills, around Winthrop, to massive stunning mountains. Breathtakingly beautiful views along the scenic route north and in perfect weather.
What a gorgeous little town and well worth the trip. Again, I felt like it was sending me back in time. I just loved everything from the pretty calm Homestream park (where I sat and watched a friendly deer for ages) to the Shafer museum (great museum, so interesting. Explaining about mining and life back in the 1800s) and the cutest little town of Winthrop, just stunning. I’m so glad I stayed here for two nights so that I could explore.
Homestream park: I spent ages watching this little deer do her thing, munching away at leaves and then checking me out, deciding that I’m ok and continuing to munch on. So sweet. The park had some very interesting information to read and was so calm, quiet and pleasant.
Some lovely natural sights on the walk to Winthrop town center.
Shafer Mining museum, certainly worth a visit.
My exploring got me into Winthrop town center, it was a very pleasant walk from my hotel and I’m glad I didn’t take the bike.
Such a cute town and so many little shops, restaurants and bars to see, even the gas station was quaint.
I really didn’t want to leave Montana; it is the most amazing state I just loved it and honestly want to come back and spend even more time here. I have loved every US state, they are all great in their own way, but Montana surely stole my heart with its beauty.
Idaho: I blinked and almost missed Idaho as I really only went the small stretch that borders between Montana and Washington. I took the scenic route which was lovely and similar to Montana. Which is why I was surprised, no shocked when not long after entering Washington.
I did stay in Idaho though, in Sandpoint and finally got to see Walmart. I know that sounds strange but you see Walmarts everywhere and even in Europe we know about Walmart in the US but I still hadn’t been to one so I decided as the hotel was in walking distance, I needed to visit one. WOW they are friggin huge. I did have to laugh though as I kept looking at the staff imagining what goes on behind the scenes. That is because I absolutely love the US sitcom Superstore it is hilarious, and I’m now convinced it’s based on Walmart. It was a fun, strange touristy outing. On the way back to the hotel I went to another large store, hmm can’t remember the name. It was like a Home Depot cross outdoor store as it sold everything from lawnmowers, garden supplies, camping equipment and guns. The US can be strange. I mean you can buy a lawnmower and a rifle in the same store…I laugh, it’s weird. Anyway, I wish I had the courage to just take pics of strange people because I really saw a character that I must mention. Picture this TALL, thin, mega mullet, long (but extremely well-trimmed and cared for) beard, VERY dirty dungarees and very clean cowboy boots and a chest holster with what looked like a Glock (but I’m no expert so could be wrong) Now none of that is strange part. The strange part is that this guy way dressed like this and buying meters, I mean about 5-6 meters of very tick chain. My imagination ran wild, but all in fun as he was probably the nicest, although weirdest looking, person I had seen so far in the US.
Washington: As I was saying earlier Washing caught me by surprise as it’s DRY and HOT as hell. Phew I was not expecting that. Mostly flat with some rolling hills and very interesting rocks that look like they had accidently fallen from the sky just randomly on the open Plaines. I’d love to know more about the archaeology behind them. Once again the little towns off the beaten track were worth travelling through and Davenport was one of them. I wished it was the end of the day when I got there because I’d have loved to stay in the Wild West Hotel, just for kicks.
I went to see the Coulee Damn, even though I was melting and just wanted to get off the road, but it is certainly a mega structure in the middle of nowhere and worth seeing, very cool.
Twisp: I stopped very briefly in Twisp to look around and pick up some groceries as I was heading about 10kms up the road to Winthrop, and staying in a self-catering place for 2 nights. The grocery store was certainly unique.
What do you do when you are a big game hunter and want to show of your trophies?… you put them in your grocery store of course! Or maybe his wife just banned them from the house, or maybe he has so many his house is full. Just to be clear I have nothing against hunting for the pot. I eat meat so cannot criticize anyone hunting for the meat they eat (although I couldn’t do it myself) I also understands that certain animal populations have to be controlled (I hate this, but it is a fact of conservation) I can’t however for the life of me understand trophy hunting, and never will. I also know the two lions this guy had may well have been part of a canned hunting organization. I could be wrong but will never know. I’m going to be honest I can shop in a store and see animal heads on display if they are animals you can eat, but lion and hyena…and then of course there were the elephant tusks…OK I’m outta here sorry, not for me. Call me judgmental, ok fair enough I’m judgmental, but I have to wonder just how hard it is to shoot a skunk.
I headed out the store and onto Winthrop where I was staying for two nights, and I’m so glad I did.
I had a great rest day, catching up on organising pictures and my blog while Justin and Lisa went white water rafting. I’ve done it before and once was enough, I’m definitely not a fish.
We went to get the best and largest burritos from this great roadside restaurant with a lot of character. Justin also took me to see the Hungry horse damn which is very pretty.
We topped the evening off by watching The Guardian, great movie.
I was obviously very sad to say goodbye the next morning as it’s been so awesome to see my USA based family, and who knows when I’ll see them all again. They have really settled and integrated into the US and are very happy and successful there. I’m so proud of them, and my brothers two boys have grown into the two most amazing young men.
There is not really much to say about Glacier National Park except that it is stunning
As the pass is still closed we had to hike up, 16km round trip in 4hrs and 15 mins with a grade of something like 6% all the way, and the most spectacular views. We also got to see a very friendly hory marmot and some beautiful big horned sheet. There were also a ton of little Richardson ground squirrels that kept us amused they are as active and funny as prairie dogs. We unfortunately/fortunately didn’t see any moose or bears ☹ (I have this I want to and don’t want to see bears wish since we were on foot, but we did have bear spray)
I found a tree I could relate too 🙂
Below is the Hory Marmot we met, he was seriously very old and thin and begging for food. It broke my heart but you just can’t feed the wildlife in parks. He was lovely to see though, just so sweet.
Leaving the park and heading home we saw these horses having a jolly time eating the plants out the dam. I just love seeing so many horses in Montana especially the paint horses (cross breed of spotted and quarter horses) and also appaloosa (of which you don’t see many)
I must say that hands down Montana is the most beautiful state I have ever visited. Every state in the USA is beautiful in their own way from the flat wetlands and cost in Florida to the rolling hills in Vermont, the prairies and Badlands in South Dakota and mountains in Montana. Every state is stunning, but Montana tops them all.
As I need to be in Vancouver by the 14th July I didn’t waste time on my trip so far. This means that when I got to Columbia Falls I had some extra time on my hands. I decided that instead of rushing though spending just one night, or two nights which I do about once a week in the location I want to visit, I would spend a few days in Columbia falls and not get to really see the area and spend some time relaxing. So I rented an RV (it was bigger than I expected and you could honestly live in it) I rented it off AirBnB and it
First item on my agenda was to have a well needed massage, my body was very grateful for that. I also did my laundry and then explored the surrounding area, so pretty. I also spotted two beautiful huge elk on the side of the road, they were both female.
One of the cutest or should I say strangest little towns in the area is Hungry Horse. I think there are only about 4 or 5 buildings in the this tiny but kinda worth seeing, purely for amusement value, and to take a picture of the little red hungry horse.
The highlight of my trip to Columbia falls is that my nephew Justin and his girlfriend Lisa came to visit me. AWESOME, I haven’t seen Justin in 6 years and it was just so fantastic that they flew in to visit me. It was great to be able to spend time with him and to get to meet Lisa.
I had to take a pic of this stunning dog. Hard to see his gorgeous face in the picture. I met his owner in the shop and he is a German shepherd cross border collie rescue and quite a character. She was in the shop at the gas station buying him water and and snack and herself a coffee.
I spent the 4th July avoiding the fireworks and crowds in a lovely secluded campsite near one of the national parks that banned fireworks.
Heading north towards Glacier National Park I once again had all 4 seasons in the day, freezing cold rain, glorious sunshine and heat that was almost unbearable. I did enjoy the ride and scenery thought and the little towns and beautiful windy roads. One of which I had to ride twice and I missed the warning that the road was closed so 45km later and hitting a dead end I had to turn around and go all the way back and get on the interstate, this did however mean I got to see a beautiful bald eagle.
When I plan my routes, I often look for some interesting things to stop and look at. I usually can’t see everything and stopping also depends on my mood and the weather. Sometimes I’m loving the ride so much nothing will make me stop, sometimes it’s raining and I just can’t bother to sight see in the rain. Today though the weather was great and I had put the Garden of 1000 buddhas on my GPS, mostly out of curiosity. What a cool peaceful place, nestled in the rolling hills of the Montana. The garden of 1000 buddhas is a yoga and meditation retreat offering courses and day trips etc. You can however just go a visit during the day, walk around the garden, sit under a tree and just relax there. The curator of the garden was a really nice guy but the most unlikely curator of a Buddhist shrine.
that you could imagine. We’re talking serious mullet, dungarees and cowboy boots, which really goes to show that yoga and meditation are for everyone 😊
After leaving the Buddhist Garden I headed off to the bison Range Park on the flathead Reservation. Looking forward to seeing even more buffalo I was a bit disappointed that they wouldn’t let me in on my motorbike. There ae no issues riding bikes through the other national parks which have bison and bears. But anyway, it is what it is and I fortunately got to see a nice heard just down the road behind the park fence.
I stayed over in Kicking horse, the area and view of the mountains are also great. I had lunch at the ninepipes lodge and usually I don’t eat in hotels but this restaurant serves fantastic food. I had duck breast with mash and asparagus, I think I had the 2nd best meal on of the entire trip (the first being the scallops in Savanah) I also had a stunning view while eating and enjoyed one of those life is gooooood moments 🙂
I went to the Ninepipes museum. As it was one of the many roadside museums you see when you travel, I wasn’t going to go in as usually they are not that great. This one is not even on the list of things to do in Montana and ye tis one of the best museums I have been too. It is packed full of the most incredible photos and artifacts. You cannot take pictures in the museum but I managed to find some on the internet to show some of the things in the museum. I cannot recommend this museum enough.
I also met the guides who was great and she told me all sorts of stories from her family which were interesting but also quite sad. Her grandmother was in one of the missionary boarding schools. The children were separated from their families and sent to these school as a way of eliminating their traditional was of life. I only recently found out about these schools and it horrified me. Charlette the guide told me what happened to her grandmother and the trauma and alcoholism that resulted and the impact on the family, it truly broke my heart.
More deer, you really do see a lot of deer riding through this country. not only in fields but very often in peoples gardens. Many different species, but I don’t know them all.
I could ride for days no weeks (well I have) through flat wide open countryside. I find it so peaceful and uplifting. I love seeing all the herds of cows and often stop to say Hi and cows are so curious. I get a kick out of them. I also saw quite a few deer. In fact I’ve seen deer almost everywhere I’ve been.
I passed the turnoff to Custers last stand but directly after at the stop sign, I changed my mind and went back. It was piping hot after a freezing morning and I really didn’t think there was much to see there. Well, I was wrong and the stop was well worth it. I joined one of the groups for the ranger talk where one of the rangers walks you through battle. So very interesting and the through ranger was a deft story teller really taking you through the battle. I’m going to be honest though learning so much about American history and what was done to the Buffalo and First nation tribes I found it hard to have any sympathy for Custer and his solders. Although truth be told I feel saddened at the death of anyone in war, a pointless political exercise. But even so I find it hard to stomach what was done to the Buffalo and First Nation tribes. Felt similar when I went to the killing fields in Cambodia and saw what pol pot did. It made me sick to my stomach. I don’t believe in heaven or hell, but wish I did as some people really do deserve the kind of punishment they could only get in hell.
However, one needs to learn to see it, to bear witness, understand that lessons should (but don’t seem to) be learned, but then understand that I cannot do anything about the past and all that can be done is to share the stories and hope lessons get learned and live a good life for today. Reminding myself of this I left Little big horn feeling sad but not being drowned in the emotions.
Shortly after that I finally saw some cowboys herding cattle on horseback, as I mentioned I sometimes feel like I’ve really gone back in time.