Crossing into Alberta, I fell in love. Beautiful, open fields of grain (not amber waves, though), farms nestled amid rolling hills, gentle rises and falls in the road – pastoral in the grandest sense.
We passed through Grand Prairie, a huge and growing city with modern architecture butting up against mid century and older buildings – a beautiful and eclectic mix. While we would have loved to stop and explore, we were itching to get to the border.
We passed through Grande Cache, a smaller, sleepy town not much more than a couple of blinks on the highway.
We stopped in Hinton in a large mall parking lot where overnighter’s were welcome and which happened to have both a Safeway and a Walmart (dozens of other RVs and trucks also enjoyed the space.
We tried and tried, but could not find any legal camping spots that would hold the short bus in the National Parks of Canada to our south. We were able though, to make the decision that Alberta was definitely worth coming back to, though next time we would plan a little in advance or come early in the season so we could actually camp here.
So we headed south, through Jasper National Park, past Lake Louise, almost into Banff National Park, before taking a right onto Route 93 into Kootenay National Park. The entire drives was oohs and aahs, and we stopped quite frequently, though we avoided the REALLY CROWDED parts around Lake Louise and the Icefields. We were spit out at the end of our tour at Radium Hot Springs, back in British Columbia.
We looked around but didn’t have much luck with boondocking spots until we finally gave up at Jaffray, BC, where we overnighted next to a Shell gas station. That night, it got dark – really dark! We were thrilled. I was so happy to see stars again I actually danced a jig. I guess, when I can see them every day, I kind of take them for granted. Now, it was like meeting up with old friends as I looked for my favorite constellations. This far north and west they are in different places in the night sky, but they are still comforting as ever.
In the morning, we crossed back into the US at Roosville. The border patrol agent, about 70, was so completely no nonsense that, if we didn’t answer a question with the answer he wanted to hear, would repeat the question. Again and again. And he didn’t ask specific questions, he asked very vague and general questions that could have a thousand different correct answers. So, it took a while but eventually we were allowed back in the country.
We had no idea where we were going. We needed gas, we needed internet, and we needed food. We should have stopped in Eureka, which appeared to be a lovely little town, http://welcome2eureka.com/ but we had become so used to going and going, I’m pretty sure we forgot how to stop. We made a detour about 15 miles down a gravel road looking for a campground and never found it. We gave up and settled in Columbia Falls for a night at a full hookup private campground that charged $46/night. Ack!
It really isn’t the money. We would gladly pay $46 a night (and have) for a site in a beautiful location with all the amenities and space – just a little bit of space. For us, this spot wasn’t worth the money.
So we pulled out the next morning and headed east on Montana 2. We found a lovely little boondock spot right on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. We stopped.