A Travellerspoint blog

June 2018

Making Plans and Making Changes

View 2018 on mrb430's travel map.

So...when we took off on this adventure, selling our possessions and homes and hitting the road, we knew it was going to be an adventure. We knew the only thing we really knew was that we would figure it out as we went. That we would need to try different things and visit lots of different places to see what we liked and what we didn't. We also knew this first six months would not be representative of how we really wanted to travel - slowly. We've taken this time in Calgary to re-evaluate and make some adjustments. If you follow our travel map, you will see BIG changes we've made. More later on that.

Calgary is a Weird and Wonderful Place

Here in Calgary, we've been staying in the neighborhood called Bankview just off the funky 17th Avenue SW. It's a great location to be able to walk to restaurants and bars and still be in a residential neighborhood. Against all odds, we've totally gotten into the World Cup. Scott had it on for the first games this morning at 8:00 AM. We've eaten Greek, Jamaican, Mexican, and Thai along with plenty of good pub food.

The neighborhood is filled with eclectic, funky folks covered with tattoos, an older avant garde generation, and everyone in between. Truly a wonderful mix of all kinds of kinds. We've mainly been home-bodies but have gotten out a few times to walk around downtown and to tour the riverwalk and the heights.

We went to the historic Lougheed House built in 1891 on what was once a farm on the outskirts of town but is now completely surrounded by the City. It had a wonderfully fragrant garden.

Downtown Calgary has awesome public sculpture all over. Here are a couple we visited.

Fort Calgary is a cool story of a city reclaiming the Bow Riverfront for recreation and rebuilding replicas of their earliest history. It's an interesting place to learn about the history of Calgary and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. And the Riverwalk is a beautiful park. large_IMG_1726.JPG

The bluffs above the river provide a great view of the city and you can see all the way to the Rockies.

So we've been enjoying ourselves and this city break before heading back to the mountains and National Parks. But back to the changes!

Traveling in Any One Area for More than a Month Or So is Probably Too Long FOR US.

You Can Become Numb to Even The Most Beautiful Things
Any of you that did that month in Europe at some point I'm sure can relate to getting weary of plazas, palaces, and Roman ruins. No matter what I've done in the past, there is a limit to how much of anything I can absorb at one time. And we are feeling that now. We are mountain weary and forest full. Although we are looking forward to Banff and Yoho with Courtney and Morgan, we've realized that's gonna be our limit. The prospect of more mountains and forests with seventy degree days and forty degree nights, even the beautiful mountains and forests of Oregon and Washington, just isn't calling our names right now. And going to the Pacific beaches might be qualified as torture given the water temperatures!

There are Beach People and There are Mountain People

I've always known there are beach people and mountain people. My great friend Jill - mountain person. It doesn't mean you don't like both - it means if you can only own one vacation house, where would it be? Which are you? In any case, we are definitely beach people. And I'm talking warm sand, warm water, hot sun, cold beer and noodles and floaties. At some point I realized that given our current plans, we weren't going to see a beach with warm water until November! We're retired and we're going to miss an entire summer! We're tired of being cold and long for our toes in the sand. Add to that the amount of time we've been on the road, almost three months now and we decided to make some big changes! WE'RE HEADED TO MEXICO EARLY!

First, we've decided to head straight down to Fort Collins, Colorado, next for about a month with my parents. We want to spend time with them and we love Fort Collins but haven't ever been to Colorado in summer. We're looking forward to some short excursions, too. We also need to get some health stuff done. Dentists. I want to try to get LASIK done, etc. And we want to take the opportunity to regroup and regain some semblance of a routine - other than packing and unpacking everything every three days - before we head south.

Maintaining a Healthy Routine is Very Hard When Traveling

And on that point, it's been really hard for us to maintain any kind of healthy routine on the road. Those of you that like exercise won't relate but as I mentioned previously, we're pretty lazy. Without a regular routine, we always opt for something other than exercise. And the exercise we like - walking, riding bikes, yoga - is hard on the road and in the cold. We had done really well building exercise into our life in Florida but that's very much fallen but the wayside. Time to get it back!

It's also hard to maintain a healthy diet. Again, those of you that prefer salads won't be able to relate but we are in the land of beef and potatoes, fried food (I never knew cheese curds were such thing!), and craft beer. Ummm - I know what I'm going to eat. Cooking at home helps but that isn't always an option. So we're looking forward to a month in Fort Collins, where it's warm and beautiful and easy to find exercise options and eat better, and then 5-6 months on the beach in Mexico. La Paz, where we're headed, has a Malecon (beach walk) right outside our door and the locals walk it every morning and evening so we'll have good role models! And there's fish fish, fruit, and vegetables in the markets.

We Want Time to Be a Part of a Community

Finally, as compatible as we are, and we are amazingly compatible, we miss being a part of a larger community. We've decided we want to try the approach of staying somewhere long enough to find our favorite markets, bars, restaurants, and yoga studios and to meet the people that work in them. We want time to get involved in projects in the community and to meet friends. So rather than the "long road trip" approach, we're going to try the "hub and spoke" approach. Get a home base cheap enough to allow for short trips out to other areas and then come back "home". Most of the U.S. isn't compatible with that at a price we can afford. In fact, staying our budget oaths road trip has been difficult. In Mexico we are renting beautiful, two bedroom houses, some with pools, right on the water for $50-75/night! Now that's affordable!

When we thought about it in our planning, we thought maybe three to four months would be good, so this is will be longer but that's the way it's working out. We have to stay in North America with Cadeau, we want to be warm, and we have a budget. So Mexico here we come until sometime next year. But first, Banff, Yoho, and Fort Collins and Colorado. Stay tuned in!

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Posted by mrb430 18:59 Archived in USA Tagged canada Comments (4)

Heading to the City!

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As I write this, we are traveling through the grasslands of Alberta on our way to Calgary where we will stay for a week. Looking forward to being in a city for awhile and doing some "city stuff" before heading out to Banff and Yoho with Morgan and Courtney.

Glacier to Waterton

We are moving on from Waterton Lakes National Park. If this place isn't on your bucket list, it should be. We had a disappointing trip up from Whitefish to Waterton. The Going to the Sun Road is still closed due to the heavy snows this past winter. So that was a bummer. And the day we drove up was rainy, cold, and dense with fog. As a result, we didn't see any of the East side of Glacier, including Many Glacier, which was definitely something we wanted to see. Instead we drove a curvaceous, switch-backy road through dense fog. It didn't help that cattle and horses roamed freely, sometimes just hanging out in the middle of the road, or that there was construction on the road that resulted in places with no pavement and deep ditches filled with water. We were SO glad we were in Ruby. I felt really sorry for people in their rental cars. At times, you knew there was a tremendous drop off out to amazing views but all we saw was white fog as thick as pea soup. In a way it was pretty fascinating, exciting, and beautiful but definitely not what we had planned. There were a few breaks where we could make out a few of the mountains.

But momma said there would be days like this...


Our first day in Waterton continued to be overcast and rainy with the fog settled low over the mountains. It was amazing because you just knew these awesome mountains surrounded the lakes since you could see their bases; it was just a waiting game to see the full view. But the lake was calm, which made for some spectacular reflections, and we saw the historic tour boat coming up when we were on the hill by the Prince of Wales Hotel for a stunning shot (IMO).

Waterton Townsite
Within the National Park is the Waterton Townsite. It has an interesting history starting as a Canadian Railways Town prior to the National Park, a mining town, and finally a recreation destination. There are historic buildings and cabins throughout the town as well as a campground. Herds of deer roam the streets, and can apparently be very aggressive!

In the off season, bears and cougar do as well. Kinda glad we missed that!

It's a great place to walk around and the lake trail takes you to where Cameron Creek empties into the lake.

Cameron Falls are just a few blocks from downtown and quite magnificent. This short clip has a view from the top and the bottom.

Yesterday the sun returned and it was a gorgeous day with light winds.

Touring About
First we went down to Lower Cameronn Lake and the Maskinonge Wetlands. There are beautiful views back up the valley, over the marsh, and out into the grasslands.

Check out this short clip for a 360 view.

Next we went out to some viewpoints we missed on the way in. This one of the entire range was spectacular.

Scenic Boat Ride
We took the historic M.V. International, the 91 year-old boat that tours Upper Waterton Lake (the same boat from yesterday's picture). It takes you across the U.S. border to the bottom of the lake. We took TONS of photos. The light wasn't great but here are a few of the best.
The Prince of Wales Hotel. It sits on a small bluff out in the lake. It's huge but looks so tiny in context like in the pic below.

The international border.


Like I said, this is a bucket list place for sure! Right up there with the Tetons!

Up next, fun times in the Cowtown! Be sure to subscribe for updates to the blog and follow us on Instagram @arrradventures.

Posted by mrb430 12:04 Archived in USA Tagged waterfalls lakes canada wildflowers Comments (0)

Old Dogs Don't Want to Learn New Tricks

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After 2 1/2 months on the road and 9,000 miles, we've come to some realizations about ourselves. In hind sight, as always, they seem too obvious to even write down but maybe you'll be as amused as I am that it took us this long to accept what we all know about Scott and I.

We Do Not Like the Cold

We have now reached Canada and as I write this I am in leggings, a long sleeved under shirt, a wool sweater, wool socks, and my GoreTex jacket. Scott has on jeans, wool socks and hiking boots, a long sleeved shirt, heavy fleece jacket, and a down vest. It's June 18th people!

We keep asking ourselves - well, how did we get here?! The answer, of course, is we planned a trip to the Northwest and while intellectually we knew we were headed to colder climes, and we packed accordingly (thank goodness), neither of us really acknowledged it. I can't tell you how many times Scott has said, "I know I packed it but I never actually thought I'd have to wear it"!

The scenery is breathtaking.

We're glad to have made the trek up here to see all of this but we aren't staying. After we meet the girls in Banff, we're going South! We've rearranged our trip to hit Colorado next and forego Washington State until later.

National Parks are for Tourists

Strictly speaking, we are, of course, tourists. But we aren't on a two week whirlwind tour of the Parks so we don't need it spoon fed to us. The National Park roads have their place. They're easy and they have convenient pullouts at the beauty spots. But they lack spontaneity and make sight seeing feel somewhat obligatory. I mean they made that pullout just for us how can we not stop at it (along with every other tourist on the road)?

We definitely prefer to make our own way and stumble on beauty spots and stop if we want to take them in. That's how we found spots like these.

Hiking is Hard Work

Now I know what you're saying. If we'd get out of Ruby and go for a hike in the National Parks, we'd enjoy it more. Two problems with that. 1) Cadeau isn't allowed out of the parking lots and 2) we don't really like hiking. When we embarked on this trip, I thought - oh, we'll start hiking, we'll be outdoors people, we'll get active and get tons of exercise! And here we encounter why I named this blog post what I did. We like the pace of our lives and really aren't inclined to change it. Given the choice of sitting at a cafe or bar and looking at the mountains or going out and huffing and puffing up a trail into them, the choice for us is obvious. Now mind you, we like walking and walking in the woods counts. But there's a difference between walking and hiking!

Mornings Are the Best Time to Get Out and Get Active - NOT!

Which leads us to the next obvious observation. As I've mentioned before, in the afternoons the clouds often build on the mountains and can result in a rain shower and a cloudy afternoon. So, you might say, you need to get up and out early to enjoy the day before that happens. Right you are. Except we like to wake up late. We like to sit over coffee for hours. Getting moving before noon is pushing it most days. I think the most wonderful thing about retirement is banning the words "should" and "ought" from our vocabulary and replacing them with "want" and "like". As in "we should go drive the Going to the Sun road" becomes "I'd like to go see if we can find that lake". And we did.

Besides, sunset at 11:00 PM is not conducive to "Early to Bed, Early to Rise". This was the view from our house at 11:00 one night.large_IMG_0906.JPG

And this was a sunset walk in the woods at 9:45.

So to summarize, we are basically fundamentally lazy. We like sleeping in, chilling out, off-road adventures, and staying off the beaten path, unless it's a nice walk around a lake or through he woods. And, we want to be warm again. Hot would be okay, too!

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Posted by mrb430 09:37 Archived in USA Tagged montana Comments (0)

Driving, Hiking, and Family in Red Lodge and Billings

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It's been a busy few days and I'm way behind on recording our adventures. Although we are now in Whitefish, and more on that later, I wanted to take us all back to Red Lodge and Billings and finish up a few things there.

Red Lodge sits at the base of Mount Maurice.
It sits at the end of town like a sentinel and watching the weather change over it, watching the sun set on it, it calls you to go explore it. Luckily for us, there is an off road trail that goes up and circles its base.

Driving the Magnificent Meeteetse Trail

The Meeteetse Trail takes off from Red Lodge these days and ends just north of the Wyoming border near Highway 72. It used to be a wagon trail all the way from Billings to Meeteetse Wyoming. It was built originally as a supply route for the army. Today, it's a beautiful 4x4 road. It initially goes up along a narrow road that circles the base of Mount Maurice and the rock palisades and then heads out into open country.

When you descend into the open range, once again you are greeted by fields of Indian paintbrush, Lupine, and Balsamroot.

Hiking to Majestic Mystic

Lake Mystic is an alpine lake that sits above West Rosebud and Emerald Lakes. The drive back into the valley, along the river , and to the lakes is just beautiful.

It's a place I've camped with family many times over the years and my favorite hike of all time. Check it out! I didn't add any audio track - this one is au natural.

You hike first along a river, then into and through Aspen and Pine forest, then up never-ending switchbacks, rising higher and higher, until you finally come to the top and over the ridge look down on the lake. It's a magnificent reward! P.S. From Scott: The reward was beautiful but the hike was a chore (that's the PG version of what I really thought). My only regret was I left my fishing gear in the car and I probably missed the best fishing we have encountered in Montana. In the end, worth the effort even if it did rain on us most of the way back. large_Bi1ODgOaS4K4swkqXmFbzg.jpg

We were pretty proud of ourselves for making it all the way!

Visiting with Family at Woodbine Campground

On Friday, we drove over to Woodbine Campground to visit with my cousin Tammy and her family and friends who were there for a weekend campout. It's a beautiful drive through the countryside to get there and the campground is nestled at the foot of the mountains, like East and West Rosebud, and there is also a waterfall to hike to. Scott, Cadeau, and the others stayed in camp and Tammy and I ventured out.

PS from Scott: Many thanks to Tammy and Jim for a great evening and the opportunity for us to see our second Moose. This time up close and personal. I think he really wanted to learn how to grill a foil pouch dinner. If you would like to learn Jim will teach you. And no, he is not a fan of Mickey Mouse, those gloves are required cooking gear!


We found this beautiful Spotted Coralroot orchid.

And this guy just happened into camp.

Revisiting Childhood

Many of you know I was born in Billings and spent my first six months of life there. Well it was in this house where my Grandma and Grandpa on my mom's side lived. He built the house and it still stands in Billings on Miles Avenue.

We also drove out to Rapelje Montana where my father grew up on the family ranch. My Aunt and Uncle, Donna and Noel, live there now and it was so fun to get to see them. Tammy was able to come out with us and we all had lunch together at the cafe in town.

This is the little house in town that my Aunt and Uncle built that they traded with my grandparents, who lived there many years. This is where I remember visiting them.

This is the school in town. It's unusual in that it is still and always was First Grade to High School. My father graduated in a class of six people, my cousin Tammy had eight.

When we were kids, we used to climb up this fire escape and slid back down.

Here are my favorite photos of being out at the ranch.

Pictograph Caves
Finally, we also visited the Pictograph caves outside of Billings. They are caves that have a rich cultural heritage for the native peoples. Most of the cave paintings have faded now but it was fun to go back. I remember having picnics here as child. I also remember one time standing in a red ant hill and having to strip down to my underwear to get them off me! Mortifying! Now it seems rattlers are the worry.

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Posted by mrb430 20:06 Archived in USA Tagged montana off-roading Comments (0)

Refreshed and Ready to Roll

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As I write this we are traveling down Montana Highway 212 from Red Lodge to Billings, our next stop. The sun is out, the wind is whipping across the basin grasslands, our traveling playlist is on, and I feel great. The last 10 days in Red Lodge were wonderful and just what we needed. Time to breathe, take it easy, live like we actually lived there for awhile. In a way, it gave us a taste of life after this crazy trip. And it made us know we've made the right choice. There are so many "Red Lodges" across this globe that we want to live in and feel the ebbs and flows of the daily rhythms of a town.

But this crazy trip isn't over and we're ready to move on. My feet are itchy to walk new ground.

Before that, I thought I'd share some of our thoughts from our time in Red Lodge.

Red Lodge

It's a Happening Place
It's a really busy little town. And I don't mean with tourists. There was a music festival going on while we were there that involved the school kids and their music teachers. It seemed the whole town participated. Since our house was right by the school, every day we saw kids coming and going with their instruments. Each evening the teachers and locals that had attended the recitals would end up in the restaurants and bars afterwards. One night, they set up to play more music in the bar. There was live music in a few of the bars; different genres but all good. Town filled up almost every night with people having happy hour or dinner. During the day the Main Street was hopping. As we left town, a group of about 20 musicians was playing bluegrass in the small city park. In a few weeks, they have a singer-songwriter festival with musicians coming in from Nashville. And on it goes.

Free-range Kids
There are tons of kids. This is not some dying western town. School got out just after we arrived and summer kicked off for the kids. They were EVERYwhere! Riding their bikes, walking, playing in the skateboard park, just generally being kids and living outdoors. The sound of children playing competed with the barking dogs to provide the soundtrack for our stay. These kids don't sit inside playing video games, they are out until 8:30 or so every evening. On their own, roaming around. It was nice to see.

Proud History
The town has a little museum as well as a walking tour of historic properties and parts of the town. There are beautifully restored homes and Main street retains many historic buildings. They are very proud of their role in creating the Beartooth Highway and in Montana's commitment to getting it open by Memorial Day "even if it's only to drive up to the state line and turn around". There is local metal sculptor who has populated the town with beautiful art in the form of benches, signs, and garbage cans. Out of town his work is on ranches and roadsides.

Life with an Old Dog

As many know, this trip is about two things, me showing Scott a part of the country I grew up with and that he has never seen and us spending Cadeau's final year(s) together with her. She is an awesome travel dog. In the truck, she does two things - sleeps and [/i]FARTS[/I]! As some of you know, she can clear a room. In the truck, it's an all windows down kind of moment! Ha!

She's also developed some hip issues (yes, Ginny, you were right!) It's harder and harder for her to get up from laying or sitting and jumping up onto the bed or the couch is a thing of the past. Stairs sometimes require assistance with a hand on the butt to keep her going forward. I took her into the vet in Red Lodge. Side note I love vets that treat horses and other animals as well as dogs and cats because they have an attitude towards animals that agrees with me. I once visited one in Pocomoke Virginia and he was also awesome. In any case, we did X-rays and there are no red flags so just another sign of old age. That was a relief.

On the bright side, I now get to wake HER UP! After years of the early morning call from her to go for a walk, eat breakfast, and just generally get my butt out of bed, she now sleeps soundly until 10 am sometimes if left undisturbed. Most mornings, it's me giving her a nudge to get it up and moving. Now that's a good travel dog!

Admittedly, in someways it limits us. We can't go on all day hikes, etc. But realistically that's not our style anyway and it encourages us to off-road, an activity she can join in. It encourages us to find cafes and bars with outdoor seating, which we prefer anyway. As long as she has some shade, hope of a morsel dropped, and a bowl of water, she's happy. And we are so happy to have her with us and to spend these days with her.


I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Capitals taking the Stanley Cup while we were here. It's been really fun to search out sports bars to watch the games. We've been to all varieties. In Red Lodge, we went to Foster & Logan's Pub and Grill. It was a nice pub-type bar that willing played the game for us and in which we actually found a few other folks interested in hockey, not a guarantee out here. I can't believe we actually won it! I'm so happy for DC and wish we could have been there for the celebrations, almost.

In summary, we've seen beautiful country, enjoyed the slow pace of a small town, and appreciated the break from travel. Recommending Red Lodge to anyone, we take our leave.

Posted by mrb430 11:32 Archived in USA Tagged montana redlodge Comments (0)

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