Thursday, August 30, 2012

Going-to-the-Sun: Day 3


The third and final day takes us from Cranbrook BC home to Calgary. The weather was great for driving as we headed north on Highway 93/95 towards Radium Hot Springs. This is a relaxing drive with enough twisty bits, hills and valleys to make it interesting and not too much traffic.

Somewhere north of Kimberley

Another great vista.

Approaching the hoo-doos just south of Fairmont Hot Springs.

It is amazing how much the stretch between Fairmont and Radium has developed over the past number of years. There's even a Tim Horton's at the Windermere turn-off! Highways 93 and 95 take their own routes from Radium Hot Springs. Highway 95 heads north to Golden BC and Highway 93 turns east as it heads towards the Continental Divide and into Alberta; this is the route we took. There's along climb from Radium out of the Columbia Valley that starts in earnest just past the world famous Radium Hot Springs swimming pools. We didn't have time to stop for a swim... we'll just add that to our "places to visit" list.

Heading through Sinclair Canyon between the town of Radium and the hot pools.

Castle Mountain in the distance where Highway 93 joins the Trans-Canada.

HIghway 93 is another great stretch of highway that I always enjoy. Traffic was fairly light and the
weather very comfortable. There's lots of places to stop along the way but we chose only one as we had to be home at a specific time. That stop was at the Great Divide which forms the Alberta/British Columbia border for much of southern half of the provinces.

Which way do we go?

red ford festiva
At the Great Divide straddling the provincial border.

As we crossed from British Columbia into Alberta we also moved from Yoho National Park into Banff National Park. Our plan is to drive right through, saving Banff for another time, and stop in Canmore for a quick lunch. One of our favorite places in Canmore is the Rocky Mountain Bagel Company. It's a big step up from a typical fast food restaurant and a lot healthier too. They have two locations, one on Main Street and the other on the Bow Valley Trail. 

After lunch we continued our eastward trek down Highway 1, the Trans-Canada Highway.

Leaving Canmore.

Lots of room with the two boys in the back!

E and I hamming it up for the camera
Only 10 miles to go! Eastbound on the Trans-Canada Highway approaching Calgary.
Although this trip has been the shortest of our recent road trips to date it was no less enjoyable. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is a stunning experience from both driving and scenery perspectives.

Would I do it again? With no hesitation. Next time, and there will be a next time, we'll take more time to enjoy the stops along the way.

If you are anywhere close to the north west corner of Montana I would highly recommend you add this drive to your itinerary.

A couple of stats to close out the trip...
Distance travelled: 1240km / 770 miles
Average fuel consumption: 39 mile per US gallon / 6.0 liters per 100km.
Average hotel cost: full price one night, second night free on points! 

Watch for more travel adventures. We're already discussing our next big road trip!

Going-to-the-Sun: Day two.


After a comfortable night in the Columbia Falls Super 8 we headed south. We spent some time in Kalispell then headed back north towards Whitefish, but not after buying four cases of Cherry Coke to bring home! We did see a couple of Festivas in Kalispell. One looked to be in fairly good shape but I wasn't able to grab a picture. The other one appeared to be in need of some TLC...

One of two Festivas spotted in Kalispell MT

We arrived in Whitefish right around lunch time so we stopped at a little place called Cafe Max Soup Company. The service was quick and friendly, prices reasonable and most importantly the food was excellent! Worth the stop if you're in the Whitefish area. 

From Whitefish it was time to make our way to the border. We filled up with gas in Eureka and figured out that we got about 50 miles per imperial gallon on the previous tank (that works out to about 40 miles per US gallon or less than 6 liters per 100km). Our border crossing was uneventful with the usual questions being asked, although we didn't get the $10,000 question this time.

I commented to Sharon that with most of the driving being on secondary highways with their lower speed limits I was finding the drive more relaxed and less stressful... none of the 80mph stretches of interstates we encountered in Utah last trip!

Welcome to BC!
Ran through a bit of rain on today's drive but nothing too major. Our destination at day's end was Cranbrook. We arrived around four o'clock with an on-going discussion about where to have supper. It was decided that we head to the hotel first so while checking in I asked for a recommendation. ABC Country Restaurant was the very quick reply so that's where we went; after the boys went for a swim. We again found the service to be quick and friendly, prices reasonable and our burgers tasted great. So there you go... two restaurant recommendations in one post.

After we ate we went for a stroll along the shores of Elizabeth Lake, a wildlife reserve just on the outskirts of town.

E, I and Sharon

E and I investigating the environment.
... getting a closer look.
Not sure what these are but there's sure a lot of them.
Leave a comment if you know what those little critters are. One of our guesses is some kind of shrimp.

Looking south-west over Elizabeth Lake.

We all enjoyed stretching our legs after a few hours in the car. We returned back to our hotel, watched a couple of episodes of "Texas Storage Wars" then headed to bed to rest up for the last leg of this relatively short road trip.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Going-to-the-Sun road trip day one

MONDAY AUGUST 20th, 2012

The primary purpose of this relatively short road trip was to drive the famed Going-to-the-Sun Road in Montana's Glacier National Park. It's a stretch of road that I have wanted to drive for quite some time and it was well worth the wait.

The first part of our journey took us down familiar roads south from Calgary to Nanton on Highway 2, the major north/south route in Alberta. We headed west from Nanton along highway 533 to join up with Highway 22, also known as the Cowboy Trail, at Chain Lakes Provincial Park. From there we continued south to Highway 3, the Crowsnest Highway and then west again to Crowsnest Lake Bible Camp where we dropped off our daughter for 10 days. After a short visit we turned east on Highway 3 back through Crowsnest Pass where we ran into some heavy rain and then south through Pincher Creek towards the Canada/US border along Highway 6.

The scenic drive from Pincher Creek to the border.


We crossed into the US at Chief Mountain Border Crossing. This is one of the smaller crossings that's only open from mid-May to the end of September. 

Chief Mountain and its namesake border crossing from the Canadian side.

Once across the border we were welcomed to Montana and then proceeded to St Mary, the eastern gateway to Glacier National Park.

Welcome to Montana

Map of the Going-to-the-Sun Road

At the Glacier Park visitor center

We spent some time at the visitor center gathering up some info on the drive and possible stops along the way. The first of our stops in the park was at Sunrift Gorge. After finding a parking spot we took a very short trail to see the gorge which looks as if someone just took a very long knife and cut a swath into the rock to allow the creek through.

red ford festiva
At Sunrift Gorge

I and E at Sunrift Gorge

E, me and I at Sunrift.

At Sunrift

Next stop... St Mary Falls. Only a short drive further up the road we stopped to take the short hike up to these spectacular falls!

On the road between Sunrift Gorge and St Mary Falls

E leading the way up to the falls

Me and my growing boys!

Sharon at St Mary Falls

While on our way to and from the falls we heard a lot of thunder but were spared any rain... until we headed off to our next stop, Logan Pass Visitor Center. Here's were the road started to get interesting with some drop-offs to the left and rock faces on the right. Throw in a tunnel and a waterfall and we are now getting a taste of what's to come!

Between St Mary Falls and Logan Pass

Between St Mary Falls and Logan Pass

Coming out of the East Tunnel.

As you can see in the pictures it started to rain, in some spots quite heavily, as we made our way up to the Logan Pass visitor center. This made the drive even more interesting! I initially missed the turnoff to the visitor center so I did a quick u-turn and found the entrance. Parked the car close to one of Glacier National Park's "red jammer" tour busses.

Hard to choose from so many awesome views.

red ford festiva
A Logan Pass Visitor center with a "red-jammer"

The Hidden Lake trailhead.

After a tour of the visitor center we continued our westward trek. First around the Oberlin Bend, across the Triple Arches, then the Big Bend past the Weeping Wall to the Bird Woman Falls Overlook.

We're going down there? Just before the Oberlin Bend.

Just wide enough.
Aim carefully.

Drop off just past the Triple Arches.

Bird Woman Falls
At the Bird Woman Falls Overlook

E. enjoying the view

We were all getting a bit hungry so our next stop would be Avalanche Creek Picnic area. After the Bird Woman Falls Overlook we went around "The Loop", the only switchback on the entire route! After that the road drops into the tress and follows McDonald Creek.

The West Tunnel just below "The Loop"

On the way down.

I. on the shores of McDonald Creek after our picnic supper.
Almost down... as is the sun.

We finished our meal and continued along the shores of Lake McDonald as the sun set behind the mountains. The end of this spectacular 50 mile drive came too soon as we passed through the gates of the west entrance to Glacier National Park. The rest of the day's drive was fairly typical Montana highway fare as we made our way to our hotel in Columbia Falls.

To close off this post I will say that we will be back! The driving was a lot of fun and the views simply stunning. There is so much along the route we would like to do so rather than say good-bye I will close off with see you later.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Heading out on another road trip

We're heading off on a short road trip tomorrow, Monday August 20th! This one will be relatively short at only 1200km. The primary target is the "Going to the Sun" highway in Montana's Glacier National Park which is a drive I've wanted to do for quite a while.

First stop will be Crowsnest Pass then we'll be backtracking a bit to Pincher Creek. We will then cross the border and head to St Mary MT on the eastern edge of Glacier. Our first overnight will be in Columbia Falls MT on the western border.

Day two will find us in Kalispell MT then up to Cranbrook BC for our second overnight. From there we'll be heading north to Radium Hot Springs then home early on Wednesday afternoon.

It won't be quite as cramped in the car for this trip as only our two youngest will be with us for the bulk of the trip.

View Larger Map

 Looking forward to this one as the weather is supposed to be very nice! Watch for updates and photos over the next few days!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Westiva 2012

SATURDAY JULY 14th, 2012

The 5th annual Westiva meet was held at Wedge Pond in beautiful Kananaskis country. Four Festivas made it along with a Subaru Vivio. A former Festiva owner and friend made it out along with his wife. Another owner made it out but unfortunately without his Festiva.

The weather was great for most of the day. The rain held off until after we had our ice cream at the Boulton Creek Trading Post.

Ford Festiva
Festivas and guest

Ford Festiva
The four Festivas
The white Festiva is an all original, one owner car. It's an LX so has all the desirable goodies, except the spoiler. Mine is the red one, I should probably do a post about it! The blue one has some suspension mods but is otherwise stock. It was driven from White Rock BC and won the long distance award. The fourth Festiva is from Calgary and is in what I would call rough but reliable shape. The stock headlights have been replaced with standard, large rectangular sealed beams; it has a rattle can paint job; one wiper arm is missing but it's the owner's daily driver!

Our "guest" is a Subaru Vivio RX-R, one of the Japanese Kei class cars. This little car is amazing! It has power windows, air conditioning and many more features that would normally be found on higher end cars.

Subaru Vivio

... all that plus an intercooler and only 660cc!

 Although attendance was a little lower than hoped we all had a great time talking car talk, comparing notes and enjoying some great ice cream after a 30 km cruise up to the Boulton Creek Trading Post.

I'd like to thank Richard Adrian of Interstate Batteries in Calgary for the hats and other goodies. Thanks too go out to for the gift card and other giveaways!

There will be a Westiva 2013 so mark your calendars. Saturday July 13th, 2013!! We'll be inviting other subcompacts and econoboxes to join us again. Will we see any Suzuki Swifts or Dodge Colts? Keep watching this space!