Monday, July 13, 2009

Dodging grizzly bears, eating steak and Guinness pie - our Canadian adventure

Prince of Wales Hotel, Waterton National Park
Photo credit: Professor X

When last we left our intrepid explorers, they were protecting pancakes in the mountains of Montana. This next installment has them journeying north, into the land of Bob and Doug Mackenzie.

The United States' Glacier National Park and Canada's Waterton National Park jointly form the Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, a UN World Heritage Site. The black helicopter crowd will be happy to learn that the world hasn't ended as a result. There are still a few kinks to be worked out in the seamless transition to one world rule, since visitors need to pay separate admissions to the two parks. Urgh.

I'd always wanted to check out Waterton, but it didn't fit into our itinerary during our past visits. The Canadians have a spectacular lodge, the Prince of Wales, which sits atop a rise, surrounded by mountains, overlooking sparkling lakes. Here's a shot of Yours Truly and Super Son, pretending we're staying there.

Prince of Wales Hotel, Waterton National Park
Photo credit: Professor X

In fact, we were staying at the St. Mary KOA, for about one quarter the price, with our very own fire pit well designed for roasting marshmallows and making our clothing smell very smoky. But it is good campfire smoke, not yucky cigarette smoke, so that's okay. And we had an awfully nice view, don't you think? Plus the people who worked there were splendid.

Photo credit: St. Mary's KOA Photo Gallery

On the drive up to Waterton, we spied a bunch of folks pulled off to the side of the road, looking into a field. We stopped too to see what they were watching. A medium-sized cinnamon-colored bear was frolicking around. Professor X said it was a grizzly. We were very excited. It ambled off and we moved on.

After we admired the Prince of Wales Hotel and its gorgeous views, we decided against the high tea, because it would have been about $26 per person. Instead, we drove into the little village below the Hotel in search of a nice meal. We found it at Pearl's Cafe. Professor X and I had the best steak and Guinness pies EVER. There was a ton of delicious meat, and the sauce was lovely. The crust was a flaky puff pastry. They were just $8.95. Yay for reasonably priced chow! Then we drove around Waterton Village and spied several Columbian ground squirrels, which looked sort of like prairie dogs, and a few mother deer and little spotted fawns.


Except when Super Son observed in his best educational nature show voice that "scientists have observed prairie dogs engaging in sodomy. I wonder if these squirrels are the same?"

Daring Daughter was instantly inquisitive. "What is sodomy?" my sweet one queried. Thus followed a short explanation by Mama, as Super Son howled in protest that I should not speak of such things to one so young. I pointed out that he brought up the term and I believed in spreading knowledge. Professor X backed me up, telling him that it was better if we told his sister instead of keeping her in the dark, leading her to seek a vocabulary lesson from her new teacher in the fall. That would have been some fun, eh?

A bit of hiking in the park and then it was time for the drive back to the US. We were on twisty roads, not speeding but moving briskly, when, as we rounded a bend in the road, we saw a large brown bear lumber across our path. He scurried into the brush and was gone. We decided to heed the countless warnings to not pet the wildlife, but looked wistfully into the forest before heading south.

Before bedding down for the night, we drove the road to Many Glacier Lodge, a great old lodge with more amazing views, and watched the sunset before heading in to dinner. The food in the pub was okay, and as is typical of many national park lodges, way overpriced, but we enjoyed buffalo and elk sausage, potato pancakes with huckleberry sauce, caesar salad and burgers.

We successfully avoided numerous bicyclists throughout the day. To commemorate the accomplishment, I composed a limerick:

There once was a girl from Chicago

On a cross country trip she did go

Dodging grizzlies and cyclists

Whilst on roads with turns and twists

She was truly a driver gung ho!


Just a Plane Ride Away said...

Ah, don't you love conversations with your children? They are always so enlightening ;-)

And really, it's so nice of you to post while on holiday. Thanks for sharing your vacation with us!

PS Hurray for Professor X and his fine camera work!

Lisa said...

Your trip sounds so delightful. By bad influence, I assume you mean that frank conversation with your children. I just hope that you took out some crayons and drew illustrations to add to the fun!

I'm glad you're enjoying your trip, grizzly bears and all!

kyooty said...

The internet is a small world. I got an email today from a friend, and her daughter is working about here....

Fantastic Forrest said...

JaPRA - It's selfish, really. If I don't write about it, I'll forget everything. This is what happens when you get old. Prof. X thanks you, but modestly points out that the subject matter of these shots make it impossible to take bad pictures. :)

Lisa - I am not as advanced as you in the art of frankness. When we convene in GA, you must teach me the ways of the crayon.

kyooty - those live webcams kick butt! Thanks so much for sharing the link. We saw all those places. Looks like the weather has gotten grey and rainy since we left... it was blue and beautiful when we visited!

phd in yogurtry said...

Such breathtaking photos! I am seriously longing for some fresh, cool mountain air!

stephanie (bad mom) said...

I so wish you would have waited to let your girl inquire at school about sodomy; we'll have much less scandal now that you-know-who is moving on.

Sigh. Thanks for showing us how beautiful the world still is out there; carry on.

Anonymous said...

Nice limerick. Guess there aren't that many words that rhyme with Arkansas.

Bee said...

I'm a bit disappointed that you didn't work the word "sodomy" into your poem. Never mind. I'm glad that you aren't grazing cyclists.

The view of that lodge and the mountains makes me want to yodel. LOVE steak and Guinness pie. We will see if we can best that pie when you visit England next summer. He he.

Miss Healthypants said...

You guys really remind me of my husband and myself--especially the whole "fascination with bears" thing--we get so excited at the prospect of possibly seeing bears in the wild! :) So that must have been really cool for you guys.

Also, I didn't know you were from Chicago (my home base)--did you grow up here??

Fantastic Forrest said...

Miss H - indeed I did. It was only when I got married that I left the Windy City for the east coast, as Professor X pursued the holy grail of tenure. We have gone back to visit, and are impressed with many of the changes in the city since our time there. But the western suburbs where my family lived have grown almost unrecognizable!

Miss Healthypants said...

Hey, just had to tell you that my hubby and I saw 3 black bears in our recent trip the Shenandoah National Park!--we were sooo excited! :) (I have a pic of one of them on my blog.)