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December 27, 2019 was the last time I went through customs between the US and Canada. This is very unusual for me as I typically cross several times per year. Here are some of recommendations for the next time you get to explore Canada.
Waterton Lakes is directly North of Glacier National Park in Montana. Together, they are the Wateron-Glacier International Peace Park. Whether you are looking for hiking, biking, wildlife, boat tours, backpacking, restaurants, or classic hotels, this is one spot not to miss! Click here for more details!
If you are looking for somewhere out of the way and more quiet than Banff, Cranbrook may be a place to check out. The town has a classic small town feel and the anticipate of being on the edge of Fernie and higher mountain passes can be felt! Slow down a bit, grab some lunch and enjoy!
The Trans-Canada Highway through British Columbia and Alberta offers views, nice roads, minimal traffic, and adventure. Some of the highlights are Revelstoke, Banff, Yoho National Park, and the most amazing railway tunnel that I have ever seen. You won’t be disappointed!
These are just the hot spots on the West Coast. When the border opens again, I will start here as I head towards the parts of Canada that really hold my heart, Ontario. Cheers to 2021, hope for normal times, and the chance to explore Canada!
Are you looking for a place to stretch your legs while traveling I-94? If so, the Painted Canyon Trail at Teddy Roosevelt National Park is a perfect choice. Here are 8 reasons that the Painted Canyon trail makes a perfect stop on your next road trip.
1. Easy off – easy on highway access.
Finding the trail head is as easy as stopping at a rest area. You can see the visitor’s center from the highway and the trail head basically in the parking lot.
2. You may see a Buffalo.
Signs of Buffalo are everywhere from the parking lot and the picnic area to the trail and surrounding grasslands.
3. There is potable water adjacent to the trail head.
A drinking fountain and faucet are located near the trail head. We filled our water bottles, rinsed our dishes, and washed our legs with soap after finding poison ivy on the trail. By the way, there is poison ivy near the trail entrance. The trail is wide enough to avoid walking through it but it was too late by the time we realized it was there.
4.The Painted Canyon Trail forms a loop.
My favorite trails tend to be circles. I enjoy completing the loop rather than walking in and back or deciding where to turn around. This trail loops back behind a rock wall that hides that parking lot and highway. We felt as if we really went for hike into the wilderness!
5. The trail is well marked, easy to follow, and interesting enough to be fun!
6. The distance is just right for a hiking during a road trip.
We often find our road trips sidelined by long hikes that are beautiful but take all day. It is not uncommon for us to find that we have driven only 100 miles by the time dinner rolls around. It takes a while to drive across the country when you are doing it a 100 miles at a time! The Painted Canyon Trail is 0.9 miles and takes 30-45 minutes. Even our 5 year old easily made it in less than an hour.
7. The views from the trail really are better than those from the highway or the parking lot.
The hike is worth it when the views are better than from the van! Here is a view from the trail.
8. Take this trail to escape the wind at Teddy Roosevelt National Park!
The wind was blowing pretty strongly when we started the hike. Within a few minutes, we were removing our sweatshirts and complaining about the heat. As soon as we got back to the trail head, the wind was howling again. If you are feeling worn down by wind, take this trail and enjoy still canyon air!
We drive from Oregon to Ontario and back each summer. Typically, we spent several weeks on the road and explore everywhere from British Columbia to Colorado. This year is different. We are in Colorado, halfway to Michigan. Here are some reflections from the first half of our trip: 8 things to consider when traveling during a pandemic.
1. Camping is more complicated than usual when traveling during a pandemic.
The first night on the road: Campground #1 was closed. The local Walmart did not allow overnight parking. Campground #2 was full but we drove in anyway and the camp host pointed us towards a spot that was open due to a cancellation. We felt so lucky! In the morning was drove to the day use area and it was pretty much full. We were able to snag a spot to the side and hike in an area away from the river.
The second night we were in Utah. I cannot speak to the situation at Utah State Parks because we arrived in Ogden around 10:30 and Utah State Park campgrounds close and lock gates at 10 pm.
We broke one of our own unwritten rules and ended up at a KOA. Again, we were lucky! It was barely occupied, clean, spacious, and had affordable tent sites for our van. It was pouring rain and we were lucky to be self sufficient.
The third night we opted to stop driving at around dinner time. We were at Dinosaur National Monument and stayed at the campground. It was easy and great. The hosts came over to welcome us, which would have been great if they had been wearing masks. Overall, it was still a hit!
2. Be prepared to be amazed and scared.
We left a highly mask and social distancing compliant town in Oregon in order to travel and see our families. It turns out that the rest of the world is going on with their lives and not necessarily very compliant.
I was almost immediately shocked by the lack of masks compliance. We haven’t been in any stores or even gas stations but I have been watching people go in and out of places as we drive through. We spotted 1 mask the entire time we were in Utah. Eastern Oregon was the same. Steamboat Springs and Summit County Colorado were a bit better but, overall, I was horrified and a bit scared.
3. Bring more food and drinks than usual.
I packed food and drinks for weeks. This includes snack size bags of chips, M & Ms, Diet Coke, Gatorade, and all the provisions that you would usually run into a gas station to pick up. We have not been in a gas station or store and do not intend to change that.
4. Consider a camping conversion that includes a toilet.
Again, we have not been into gas stations, campground bathrooms, stores or restaurants. This is probably self explanatory.
5. You may feel guilty at times.
I find myself feeling like I need to justify why we are traveling.
During a remote work meeting while on the road, I felt the need to explain why we chose to travel and every precaution we are taking. I did not do that but I still want to call the people in that meeting and tell them all about it.
It is easy to find myself reviewing these points in my own mind in order to justify this trip.
6. You may find yourself judging others while traveling during a pandemic.
I find myself judging other people behaviors which is kind of funny because they could be judging me as I drive by with my out of state plates.
A playground full of mask-less adults and kids without social distancing while driving through Salt Lake City had me judging them for sure. I am aware that this is neither appropriate nor helpful.
7. Empty parking lots are more appealing than ever before.
CD and the kids spent two hours in a National Forest Service Parking lot in Utah. I was on a phone call and they set up hammocks and cooked lunch. They were happy.
I cooked lunch on a our camping table in the parking lot of an abandoned department store in Idaho. We ran laps to the lamp post and back. It wasn’t our usual picturesque lunch at a park or splash pad but it was okay.
8. You will wonder if traveling during a pandemic was the right choice.
This is impossible to know. We will just do our best to keep clear minds and hearts.
We have been home since mid-March. Our pandemic projects include sour dough bread making, teaching home school, and continuing work on our Sprinter camper. CD’s progress with the Sprinter has been the most successful of the three.
Roof rails are installed, LED lights are wired to a dimmer switch, cedar tongue and groove is in place, and two new cabinets are ready to be filled.
Writing guides for each of this projects will take a me a bit of time but while I work on that, CD offered his top 5 tips for our diving into a Sprinter camper project.
1. Accept gaps in wood spacing or make custom pieces.
CD chose to custom cut each piece of wood. Time was not of the essence.
2. Realize that your Sprinter is not square.
No matter how square things start out, your van is not square.
3. Create things with wiggle room.
Plan on fine adjustments and be flexible.
4. Consider both your ideal end product and your acceptable end product.
Decide which of these you are working towards.
5. Be honest about your timelines.
Realize that your acceptable product will likely take as long you thought your ideal product would. Set out to make your ideal product and you may end up with your good enough one. If you are set on your ideal product, plan to increase your time spent ten fold and have plenty of extra wood on hand.
Have Fun With Your Sprinter Camper!
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