July 30, 2014 samantha

Waterton and East Glacier

Our day began with the harmonious thought that we would pack our bags, gather ourselves together and drive 20 minutes down the road to an exceptional pullout on a hill top and eat a relaxing, nutritious and warm breakfast cooked up in our tag-a-long camper. Oh, how sadly our dreams crumble.

15 minutes down the road, my mother finally got through to me via flashing headlights and intermittent phone calls, that she had left her purse at the hotel. I, on the other hand, was sweating it as I realized that my previous confidence in our gas levels was sadly mistaken. We both turned around, frustrated, but on our own separate missions and headed back into town. Meanwhile, Dia (the marvelous owner of the Stardust Motel), had happened upon my mother’s purse, and knowing that we had intended to breakfast a top the turnout, came barreling down the road to catch up to us and safely deliver my mother’s purse to her. Sadly, she could do nothing about my gas and, so, we headed back into town.

DSC01384A mild setback to what was going to prove another beautiful and adventurous day on the road. By the way, we did still have that breakfast, albeit 2-hours later!

We arrived in the town of Waterton, inside the National Park, and left the camper behind to venture forth in my mother’s trusty minivan. We headed out to Cameron Lake to see the pristine beauty of a glacier fed lake. This lake is referred to as a glacial basin and the aquamarine color is stunning. There is the opportunity to rent boats – kayaks, paddleboats – to venture over to the far side of the lake rather than hike. Honestly, while it was fantastic to rent a few paddleboats and get out on to the lake, it would have been so much easier to do the one-hour hike around the lake to the glacier melt.

Curious what it is like to be on the lake in a paddle boat? Watch this:

Not so relaxing, charming and peaceful anymore, is it?

DSC_3498After having worked up a fabulous appetite, we headed over to the Prince of Wales Hotel ready to enjoy our High Tea. While my niece and nephew had a notion about how “tea times” worked having grown up among the Brits, this was all new territory to my son. Thankfully, he embraced and quite enjoyed the tea having a chamomile tea familiar to home. Honestly, I didn’t think they had brought out enough dainties, but midway through I knew we would be alright!

DSC_3485So, we sat there being served by the sweetest young Asian woman, eating our pastries and finger sandwiches, sipping our tea and listening to the rising swells of piano music playing behind us. We viewed out the cathedral high glass window to a spectacular view of the Waterton Lake and craggy mountains beyond. What a treat! Then, of a sudden, we heard a family across the way saying as how they had not met anyone else from Uganda, their home country. My niece, Margaux, lit up and couldn’t wait to catch their attention and let them know that was her home country, too. It was such a neat coincidence to top off our day.

DSC_3497However, the day was growing long and we still had miles ahead of us to get to Browning by that evening.  Of course, we coulsn’t leave without the kids doing some death defying Frisbee throws on the back lawn of the Prince of Wales. We got some great candids, soaked up the just warm sunshine, then headed out to pick up the camper and get on down the road.

We traveled down Highway 6 with all of its twists and turns through high mountain landscape of low scrub trees and occasional stellar views of far off mountain peaks. My son finally pointed out what I had noticed I while back, there were stains all over the roadway. I put two-and-two together and came up with free-roaming cattle. I guess they have nothing better to do, but to mosey out into the highway and urinate. And….guessing from all the urine stains, they haven’t had rain up that way for quite some time OR there were an awful lot of cattle hidden in the scrub bush just off the roadside – we could spot them from time to time.

20140728_181054The custom around these parts was to free-range livestock. Cows didn’t thrill me much, but I absolutely loved when we could come upon some near-wild horses. It seemed they had been pretty busy in early spring as almost every band of horses we saw had several adorable foals among them. I was in heaven and drove with even more caution as the horses proved to prefer the roadside rather than the scrub trees.

We continued on towards the Chief Mountain border crossing. It’s a very odd feeling that occurs upon approaching a border. Maybe not everyone feels it, but I certainly do! When you are crossing over into another country, there is a feeling of giving up one’s identity (which when travelling in some countries is actually a wise thing to do), feeling your rights being stripped away.

20140728_174409However, upon approach of a border leading into your own country, there is the feeling that you might not make that last 50 yards, that you might somehow be stopped, that you might not be welcomed back. Perhaps this is all my own fanciful thinking, but it is what goes through my mind. And, having once been accepted back into my home country, my being swells with pride and I am reminded of how fortunate I am to live here.

Passing through St. Mary’s, MT, we had driven the total circumference of Glacier/Waterton National Parks. What an adventure! I am glad we took the time to go up and around to Waterton. It seemed to be to be less touched upon, perhaps due to its remoteness. While there was civilization here and there, there was no doubt that the wilderness ruled which lent a sense of awesomeness to the experience. Don’t miss it!

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