Jul 16th

        As usual, by the time I opened the door and stepped out the campground was empty. The place had been packed when I closed the door last night but I guess they were all just passing through. Rita and I drove into town looking for lunch and a couple of grocery items. Lunch was found at a Kentucky Fried Chicken. A much cheaper lunch than the usual restaurant fare we have been doing. We were disappointed by the grocery selection we found at a Canadian Wholesale place before finding a mall with a grocery store. The mall contained the typical number of closed stores but the grocery selection was adequate. We found a glass place that did repairs but they were unwilling to work on the camper. They felt that after the original star had started to run that the window needed to be replaced. They would have to see the camper and do some research before they could give me a quote but the last camper windshield they did was just over $1,300. I decided after giving it at least a quarter second of thought that this was something I would handle when I got back home. Back at the campground I was unable to get any of my internet access numbers to work. I think my phone card may have run out. We were getting so close to the states that I decided to just wait until we hit Montana to worry about it. More leftovers for supper and then some Deep Space 9 before heading off to bed.
 

Jul 17th

        I didn’t get much sleep last night. About 12:30AM I was awakened by a muscle twitch that would not allow me to go back to bed.  It did not subside until after I had breakfast about 6AM. Then as suddenly as it came it stopped. Back to bed for about an hour and a half before it started again. It stopped again shortly but it was time to get up anyway. A little extra caffeine while be required today!  I started chatting with the guy next door while getting the camper ready for travel. He had been with the tour group that got stranded in Chicken AK by the forest fires. We had heard the story about this group when we were in Denali Park and again when we stayed at the Tundra Lodge in Tok on the way out of AK. He said they had been with a “Tracks to Adventure” tour group of 24 units that had just come across the Top of the World Highway into Chicken when they were stopped by the fire people. They learned at a meeting that night that the fire was all around them and that the safest place for them was Chicken for at least a day maybe more. Then at 12:15AM a siren blew and they were told to be ready to travel in 15 minutes. The weather had changed and it would be safer to leave – now. Still in their PJs the group was led 65 miles down the road to Tok where they spent the night parked in a gas station. We have not had that kind of excitement on our trip and that is OK with us!. The road south to our next stop in McBride was fairly easy driving by comparison to our earlier travel days. We did encounter some construction and we had to wait 20 minutes for a pilot car to lead us through. The town of McBride looked quite small as we passed by on the way to our campground just 9 miles east of town. Our site was all grass and bordered a golf course. The sites were extremely wide and the place was beautiful. They have a legally required sign posted in the office that warned that the water should be boiled before drinking but we had been assured by the people that everyone there drank the water and it was fine. We tried it and it was fine as far as we could tell. Byte, our big cat, was the only one of us that wouldn’t drink it but he is very picky about his water. There was a small cafe located with the office that we planned on going to for supper. Since we were only staying one night we didn’t want to unhook the Jeep and go to town to find food. Rita and I sat at the picnic table next to the camper watching the golfers and consuming our few remaining beers before walking over to have a burger. Having gotten very little sleep the night before I only needed a little TV before I was ready to turn in.
 

Jul 18th

        The drive off the campground was a little rocky but we got on our way early. The weather was clear and sunny causing me to stop just a few miles down the road to wash the windows and mirrors. You can really notice the dirt on the windows when the sun shines on it! We took the road through the Jasper National Park on the way to our next stop in Canmore. They charge you $12CN to drive through but it is well worth the cost. The mountains, waterfalls and glaciers are extremely beautiful. The roads were in good condition but any time you get near mountains you have the up-down-left-right stuff to go through. We had lunch in the camper at a nice little wayside where I took a couple of pictures. Near the end of the park we passed by several extremely blue lakes. I highly recommend this drive if you get the chance. The directions we had for getting to this next campground were conflicting and confusing but we thought we would be able to just follow the signs – not so. The town was packed with cars and had narrow streets. It reminded me of driving around in Aspen CO or maybe the Wisconsin Dells. Rita was shaking by the time we stopped to call for directions. Following directions from the campground office we found we had passed within a just a couple of blocks of the campground on our first round. After parking we noticed that other campers had their satellite dishes up so we gave ours a try. We eventually got a picture on some channels but most of the channels indicated we needed to contact DirecTV. Since we had already paid for all these channels I gave them a call. Their 800# does not work from Canada and they don’t list a regular number. I managed to find my daughter Erin at home in Madison WI and I had her call them for me. After a bit of back and forth the unit sprang to life. We had not had the satellite working since we left Medicine Hat two months ago. After all these weeks we have our pay channels back!! FX, SciFi, USA, HBO, ShowTime – the list goes on and on. We needed to get supper fast and get back to the TV so we hurried out to a Boston Pizza we had passed (more than once) on the way to the campground. It was after 6PM on a Sunday so we thought the chances of finding a liquor store open were slim to none but there one open was on the way. We picked up two 15 packs and wrapped them in a blanket before continuing on to the restaurant. After a great pizza and a couple of cold beers we returned to the camper. The beers in the blanket had warmed a little but a couple of ice cubes were all they needed .We watched TV late into the night while having a couple more beers before sacking out. I made the reservations for the next two campgrounds during comercials. This portion of the trip has been all about getting back to the states so we have been doing even fewer touristy things than normal. Tomorrow is a sleep late and do little kind of day.
 

Jul 19th

        I spent the morning working on my notes before we headed off to a Chinese place we had seen when we visited Boston Pizza. The place had a very limited selection of items on it’s lunch buffet but we were able to find plenty to eat. After using all of our remaining Canadian money to pay the bill and leave a tip (one heap of change) we set out to see the town. We had been through town a couple of times before (in the camper) but really didn’t have the chance to look at the stores – way too busy trying not to hit anything! Lots of shops and places to visit but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to visit one more souvenir shop. When we got back to the camper Rita started cleaning and I took off to find an internet connection. The campgrounds had over 250 sites but they only had one payphone that was equipped to allow a modem hookup. That little bit of equipment was broken – no internet for me or anyone else. I got back to the camper before it started to rain. The SciFi channel entertained me until the sun came out once again. Since this was our last opportunity to utilize the picnic table we poured a couple of beers and sat outside under the now clearing sky. The evening was filled with TV, left over pizza and leave preparations. Tomorrow we head for the border and the good old USA.
 

Jul 20th

        After completing the ‘leave’ process we headed out of the campground to drive through the streets of town one last time on our way to the freeway. The road to Calgary was easy driving and not without scenery. The path through Calgary to Route 2 was much more difficult and completely without any noteworthy things to view. After winding our way carefully through town we finally got to good roads once again. The road going south was all four-lane except for a small section before and after a little town called Milk River. The final trip across the border went smoothly – sort of. We had been worried that with so many trips back and forth through Customs that sooner or later we would be stopped for a complete search. These searches are done at random or for the slightest reason and the more times you cross the more likely it is you would be searched. The idea of having to catch and cage the cats so that strangers could dig through everything in the camper did not appeal to us. The boarder guard seemed nice enough and asked the usual questions about “any fruits, vegetables” but added in “any raw chicken on board?”. I was so surprised by the mental image of raw chicken that I didn’t even think about the “driving carrots” sitting in a bowl on the dash when I answered with a confident “nope”. He must not have seen the carrots as he let pass on through. Back on US freeways – hooray!! The campground in Shelby was just off the freeway on the north side of town. The place used to be a drive in theater so the sites were arranged a little weird. They called it parallel parking and in fact it was very similar to parking on a city street. We had a camper right in front of us and one behind us before nightfall. Luckily they were not there when I parked so I got to just pull over and stop. We got setup and headed into town to see what was there and find something to eat. After stopping at a local glass repair place – the owner was out but the people from the business next door told me he usually is around at about 8AM - we found supper at a local Pizzas Hut. It was “kids night” so the place was a little crazy but the pizza was good. We were once again in a location where my internet service provider (PeoplePC) had a local number. I took the opportunity to collect email and update JoJo’s website. The remainder of the evening was spent watching TV.

Pictures