Sunday, 11 December 2011

RV trip to the Sweetgrass Hills Day 3

Originally posted to Multiply September 21 2010

We started out on the parking lot behind the civic center in Cutbank. Not scenic, but at least we were not in anyone's way.
The night before we had noticed an RV dump site by the rest stop just around the corner, so we took the opportunity to 'dump and fill'. I feel a bit guilty for using free facilities without contributing to the local economy. Alas, the sad reality is that we have two choices: travel cheap or stay home. One of the main expenses this time was health insurance for a potential 10 days. You don't want to risk stubbing a toe in that country.
Just showing that not all farm buildings are in sad shape.
We decided to make this trip about exploring the place where plains and mountains meet. For starters we'd drive back to Browning, this time towards the mountains. A mountain landscape always looks different when you see it from the other direction. 
 The picture above and many of the ones that follow are all on the Blackfeet nation.
 Taking pictures from a moving vehicle is far from perfect. The tipi pic turned out fuzzy because it had to be taken through the side window. 

When we were driving North the plains were to our right. That made it harder to get pictures of the open spaces. It looks like we are just driving through mountains, but much of this time we could see rolling hills or open prairie on the right side.
We have seen a lot of spectacular country on our trips through Western North America. Browning, Montana to Pincher Creek, Alberta is one of the most gorgeous stretches we have seen. WOW. We took #89 to St Mary, and turned left onto #17, direction Port of Chief Mountain and on to Pincher Creek. The pictures don't come close to doing the place justice. 

We were close to the turn-off to the Road to the Sun that crosses Glacier National park from East to West. Instead of going into the mountains we remained on their Eastern flanks. Going down now...
In St Mary we succumbed to the lure of home-made pie. Nice restaurant with great-looking food, it was packed.

This lovingly restored vehicle was parked in front:
One stunning view after another.
Below: Chief Mountain from a distance.

I really have to learn to do this panoramic thing. We came to this viewpoint that had the most astonishing views all around. 

Looking down into the plains.
And looking the other way at Chief Mountain, up close and personal.

Some more beauty from the edge
Somewhere around here we crossed the border back into Canada inside the International Peace Park.".
Some real prairie. We are getting closer to Pincher Creek now. This is windmill country.
The plan was to follow the edge of the mountains as far North as Rocky Mountain House, turn West there and camp at Kootenay Plains, follow the Jasper/Banff road South and make a detour over Radium Hot Springs on the way home. All this is relatively close to home, but we always just pass it, or have seen it driving East instead of West.
With this in mind we took Highway 3 West till the junction with 22 North.
 It was getting late by the time we turned West again into Kananaskis country. Ranch and oil country with the mountains close by.
The map had promised a Provincial campsite, but when we got there it was closed for the season. We found another park a bit further on that was open.
At first we thought this was home for the night. Went for a nice walk in the gathering dusk.
We came across a number of messages that made it quite clear this was a day-use ONLY site. We drove on a bit, but there was nothing else. No commercial RV park, lots of public river access but it was all day use sites only.
So we settled in and once again postponed opening the bottle of Barefoot Pinot Grigio that had been smiling at us for days. Chris only indulges if there is zero chance that we will be asked to move.
Above: Aspen and rainbow, encountered on the walk.

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