The Wapiti Campground

My days have been filled with so many wonderful activities, that the desire to write after many hours of photography, biking, hiking, and just plain fun, that I haven’t felt much up to it. Today I thought I would just focus on Callie and what a good time she is having, and when I feel up to it, write about all the wildlife I have seen and the adventures I have been on. Jasper, AB, Canada is an incredible place and the people have been so helpful and friendly and the wilderness, beyond breathtaking, that it will be difficult to leave. And if Trump is reelected, I may just move here permanently.

Pipsqueak is parked toward the end of a long parking lot with two rows of RV’s placed across and next to one another. Fred and Becky are to the left of us and we both face the Miette River that roars right past in a deep ravine within a forest of fragrant pine trees. The fast-moving rapids are many shades of blue and can be heard in a whisper from our RV window. Elk, for which this campground is named after, roam through the forest and calmly stroll past tents and campers, while the bull elks bugle their mournful calls early in the morning and later at dusk. It is a really nice campground with hook-ups so we don’t have to depend on batteries and propane. My only complaint is the tepid water when taking a public shower. It never gets to anywhere near hot enough, and you have to keep pushing a button for 3 minutes, and I am being generous here, worth of flow. The restrooms though are clean and heated, which makes for a better experience when trying to dry off in the cramped stall in order to get back to the comfort of the RV. The nights have dropped into the low 30’s and snow is expected Thursday and Friday, but yesterday it actually got to a balmy 69 degrees.

Callie is asking for several walks a day and the two of us can cross over to a grassy meadow right behind the RV that has benches and big rocks for her to climb upon. She loves being up high so that she can survey her surroundings and take it all in from a different perspective and a higher vantage point. She looks up at me frequently while walking by my side on her leash and I swear she has a huge smile on her face! The sun actually came out in force both yesterday and today in between mild rainfall and many wildflowers are still in bloom. Callie loves soaking up the warmth and didn’t want to come back inside today. It won’t be long though before summer is over and fall and winter hit with a brutal force. I can already see the aspens turning golden yellow that are sprinkled in between the pines on the mountainsides.

We will be staying in Canada for one more week before heading to Washington State. We plan on driving back down the coast on our return voyage. There is still so much to cover about elk, moose, bighorn sheep, magpies, glaciers and more, but it will have to wait for another day.

Squirrel Nutkin

It is another day in paradise. Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, in spite of the rain, is a paradise to Callie and us. It is so cozy in our 24′ Class C RV and our little “Squirrel Nutkin” is snug as a bug in her bed on the front driver’s seat. She is buried under a quilt that my mother made and is snoring away this morning. To give credit where credit is due, the term squirrel nutkin was first coined by a famous English writer, Beatrice Potter, who wrote children’s books about Winnie the Pooh.

Callie has asthma that developed after she was kenneled for several weeks when we went to Maui on vacation. The stress of being boarded triggered a cough that was not diagnosed properly for many months. It took a vet in Morro Bay, a Dr. Stephens, to figure it out and get her on prednisone. She may also have a food allergy to chicken, a common food source allergen, and is now on a salmon limited ingredient diet to control her itchy ears.

I have found a quick remedy to her asthma attacks is by getting out the brush and brushing her. She seems to hold her breath and starts to purr in ecstasy while being brushed, and the coughing stops. It has actually worked every time and I highly recommend it for those of you that have pets with asthma. I have been able to reduce her steroid consumption and only start a series of it when all else fails. Taking steroids has its side effects, and it is best to try and limit the use of prednisone if at all possible.

Banff National Park

Once we left Las Vegas in our quest to meet up with Fred and Becky in Banff, Alberta, Canada, there has been one adventure after another. Long days of being on the road made for an especially sweet reunion because Fred was able to secure a campsite for us in the Tunnel Mountain Campground. This is an incredibly popular area for camping, and we were very fortunate to have a place to rest and recover from after the arduous task of several days of travel.

And spending just one night in our campground, restless, hyperactive Michael decided that we needed to drive in to see Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. It has been many years since I have been here, and Becky has never been, so we all piled into the Tracker, aka rattletrap, but only after driving into town to purchase a new battery; the 1991 Geo Tracker wouldn’t start this morning, but that is another story for another time. Once that was taken care of, and because I won’t bore you with the details, off we headed along the Canadian I Highway and the 45-minute drive to take in the sites.

We knew we were in trouble when we passed the overflow parking lot for Lake Louise filled up to capacity. With spirits high and a real sense of adventure just percolating below the surface, we found ourselves ground to a frustrating halt with all the other fools who didn’t think the warning signs applied to them either. After a long wait and a very slow crawl, we were escorted right back out to the road because all of the parking lots, surprise, were also filled to capacity. With mounting frustration, we drove back down the mountain and around to the Morain Lake entranceway just as they were putting roadblocks up. Michael braked hard and I rolled down the window and we all flashed a pleasing smile as I begged to be allowed in. Fortunately, the attendant took pity on our souls and moved the barrier aside, closing it back up again quickly after we raced through. We were the last car to be allowed in and zipped back up the road without anyone in the rearview mirror. With renewed hope and new vim and vigor, we gleefully sped along to the lake with raindrops pinging down on the windshield of the car. The rain just couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be hail, sleet or snow and acted very strangely, to say the least.

At the top of the road and just as we were going to park the car, the Tracker sputtered and stalled and Michael had to roll it back as he popped the clutch to get it started. Talk about stress, he did manage to park the car though with a sigh of relief after several nerve-wracking attempts! We thought that it would be the end of our troubles and jumped out of the car with a newfound urgency and gleefully raced over to the lake with dark clouds building and a spattering of sunshine dazzling the mountainsides and lighting up the glaciers that somehow held on to impossibly steep and jagged cliffs.

Moraine Lake is a glacier-fed body of turquoise blue water that allows people to canoe, kayak, and row boat over on the calm and glassy surface. There were so many people around though, that it was difficult to take any decent photos without having strangers photo bomb your images. We somehow managed anyway and Becky got a decent photo of me and Michael, and I got one of them. I decided not to wear my neck brace today because I am totally sick of it and it has been 7.5 weeks. I hate selfie sticks by the way and refuse to use one! We had fun anyway and would have stayed much longer except that storm clouds formed once again and it started to rain, ever harder this time. Everyone raced for cover as we ran to the car and piled in again only to find out that the car still had difficulty starting. Long story short, we barely made it back to the campground, and only to Fred and Becky’s doorstep, before the car died for good. Michael probably flooded it this time and we are going to give the vapors a chance to evaporate before trying again later.*

It is a lovely evening out and I can hear squirrels chattering and scolding one another as I write. Fred and Becky are going for a walk and Michael is asleep on the couch. Tomorrow more rain is expected and the temperature is going to drop. Today was in the low 70’s and quite comfortable in spite of the rain. Needless to say, Banff is spectacular in spite of the crowds, and there really isn’t any place like it in the world. We hope to stay here for several more days and then we will pack up and head on to Jasper.

* Michael had to take the Tracker into Mountain Men Mechanics in Banff to try and diagnose and fix what ails it.

Lost Wages

The running joke about visiting Las Vegas is that it is called, “Lost Wages” because gamblers lose their life savings and wages to the casinos. In my case, if and when we do hit the gambling casinos, I would rather spend the money on chocolate.

We made it to The Oasis RV Resort, Saturday, late afternoon, after an uneventful drive of about 4.5 hours. A heat spell hung over the city the first couple of days and 109 degrees made the side of the RV that was facing the sun, super hot to the touch and I had to hang a quilt over the window to keep it cool enough inside. The air conditioner was working overtime, trying to keep the cabin comfortable. Fortunately, yesterday and today are cooler.

I have been going over to the pool where pine and palm trees are planted, and birds are resting in the shade of their branches during the heat of the day. I discovered an Inca Dove, American Robin, Great-tailed Grackles, and of course, Rock Doves which are commonly known as pigeons. They are all urban dwellers and somewhat accustomed to human contact, but aiming a camera lens at them, always seems to spook even the bravest bird to want to take flight. I have to talk and coo quietly to them and try to reassure the birds, that I am not a predator.

Callie is back to being walked on the leash and does quite well until she sees a pigeon. Then she squats down like a sphinx and stares at the potential meal with her tail swishing back and forth. The birds aren’t used to seeing cats on leashes and come over and just out of reach of her to get a closer look. This drives her absolutely crazy. A soft chatter emits from her chest and she can barely contain her excitement at the possibility of tasting pigeon. I have to shoo them away before disaster strikes.

Tomorrow we are getting up extra early and will be pulling out to make it to Twin Falls, Idaho Wednesday evening. Our friends, Fred and Becky will meet us in Jasper on Friday or Saturday, so we have some long days of travel ahead of us. Callie doesn’t mind at all, and is thrilled to be back on the dash watching the road whiz by for miles and miles. Canada, here we come.