Monday 24 September 2018

Yellowstone Trip Part 8 - Helena, Montana to Pincher Creek, Alberta

After leaving our Super 8 Motel (after an exciting breakfast of egg disks, super gristly bacon, and waffles- I actually just had toast) we headed onto I-15 which was a pretty nice road, considering that it was an Interstate highway. There were a fair number of bugs that squashed themselves on my visor but there were good curves and changing scenery as we motored along the road.

After the interstate, we took 287, which was a smaller highway, and we were blessed with more of the same, wonderful curves and interesting scenery. It was, however, quite windy. At Choteau, we took 89 and, again, enjoyed the road. There was nothing spectacular (which is why I don't have any photos of this part of the ride) but there was good scenery and it was an enjoyable ride. We would have had great scenery but there was a lot of smoke in the distance, obscuring the majestic mountains.

Smoke in the distance on a rural Montana highway
At Browning, we took the 464 diversion , which was an old highway, and then rejoined 89 at Babb. We took that until we hit 17 and saw a corner of Glacier National Park. We had originally planned to go through the park but the smoke looked pretty thick and I had already done that last year - it is much more spectacular when there isn't a bunch of smoke covering up the mountains!

We crossed the border back into Canada at a little border crossing called Chief Mountain. The border guard was OK - not too crabby - and a lot friendlier than the guard on the way down. We also entered into Waterton Lakes National Park and decided to stop.

I rode through Waterton Lakes on my bicycle several years ago but didn't recall going into the actual townsite. This time we did, and it was very nice.

We stopped for a beer at a restaurant and then went for a walk.

We saw a deer unfortunately trapped in an enclosure that was meant to keep it out.  it did not look all that concerned as there was plenty to eat.

We also went onto the dock and had a great view of the lake..

The rest of the day, we headed north on Alberta Highway 6 until we got to Pincher Creek. We were pretty tired by the time we got to the motel. There was a promising restaurant called Luigi's which was recommended but, when Dale saw the cooks outside having a smoke, he nixed it and we ended up having a bland dinner at Boston Pizza. As we walked back to the motel, the smoke was thick in the distance.

But we were home - well, sort of!

Waterton Lakes Prince of Wales Hotel - we did not stay here...

Tuesday 4 September 2018

Yellowstone Trip - Part 7 - West Yellowstone to Helena, Montana - 370 km

Thanks to Dale's internal and external alarm clocks, we got up really, really early this morning. How early? It was so cold that there was a build up of frost on my seat. How cold? It was 2°C. when we carefully made our way to McDonald's for our breakfast.

Fuelled by an Egg McMuffin, we carefully set out for the Prismatic Lake. It was really cold. I mean, really cold. I could swear that there was black ice on the road and we kept pulling over to let cars past because we were going so slow. It was a white knuckled, thigh clenching ride.

We finally arrived at the Prismatic Lake and, surprise, it wasn't packed! That's because it was shrouded in clouds. In fact, we had hit thick fog two or three kilometres from the lake and it was pea soup until we arrived at the parking lot.

We wandered around and then sat for close to an hour as the fog slowly lifted. Unfortunately, even when it had finally lifted, there was still fog coming from the lake as there was such a temperature differential between the water in the lake and the air temperature. We did, however, see a hint of colours in that mist.

When we left, an hour later, the air, and the road, had both warmed up considerably. A biker couple that we met in McDonald's during breakfast suggested going through Bozeman rather than the park - in fact, there were reports of snowfall in one of the passes north of the park!

We took highway 181 which was a bit rough to start. As we approached Big Sky, we say a forest fire, including the helicopters battling it, from the highway.

After Big Sky, the road improved immensely with good twists and turns. This was our favourite part of the day. At Bozeman, we went on Interstate 90 which very windy - as in the wind was trying to blow us off the highway - and the traffic moved rather fast. During one part where there was construction, and there was just one lane each way, a motorhome decided to tailgate me which was frustrating as I had nowhere to go! So rude!

Our route from West Yellowstone to Helena
Finally, we got off the interstate and ended up on the quieter 287 and 12 to Helena.

Near our bed for the night, the lovely Super 8 in Helena (which had the same horrid breakfast the next day), we found a highly rated Mexican restaurant. We were extremely excited! We walked there and, of course, it was closed for renovations. We ended up going to Albertson's and I bought some baked chicken and a bottle of wine and ended back at the room watching 'Man vs Food' (Food won everytime!).