|four wheeling in Montana|
When one goes to Calgary, the places that come to mind are Banff, Lake Louise, and even Jasper National Park. But this time around, we simply stayed in Calgary for a family reunion.
|at my daughter Claudine's brand new kitchen|
Two months ago, my sixth apo (grandchild) Jax was born at the same time my book was launched. I could not visit him right away, as I did for all my grandkids. There was also the matter of my daughter Claudine’s transfer to their brand new 5BR/4TB home. And, of course, the Calgary Stampede attracted my daughter Trisha and her family from Seattle. There were thirteen of us, six little boys, one grown lady, and three couples. Only April and her husband, who were both in the UK, and a granddaughter, who was working in California, could not join us.
|at the Grey Eagle Casino in Calgary|
When the whole caboodle trooped to the Calgary Stampede, which we had been to before, we went to the other side of town. We picked up a friend from the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Corazon Pangcog, who was also visiting her grandkids. My Philippine Book Launch was so hectic that we could only really catch up with each other in Canada. We had a leisurely lunch at the Buffet Hall of the Grey Eagle Casino and Resort, courtesy of her son-in-law who works there!
|flowers in Red Deer, Alberta|
|colors of Red Deer, Alberta|
Another day when the boys went to ride the Luge and the girls went to the Mall, Bill and I drove to Red Deer. It is only one and a half hours away from Calgary. We visited Wayne and Val Kuffler, another couple friend from Viewpoint in Phoenix, Arizona. After an American meal Bill had been sorely missing, the couple toured us around the town with the Red River winding through it and lots of flowers and greens. The family of Val’s great grandfather, the Reverend Leonard Gaetz, was the first family that settled the city.
|view of Glacier National Park, Chief Mountain at the right|
|canola fields galore|
After a week of family fun, cooking, eating and drinking, and babysitting, we were back on the road. Our next stop was Essex, Montana where another couple friend, Bud and Bonnie Boushele, stay during summers. Driving south on Highway 2 was a joy, especially with those blazing yellow canola fields draping the landscape on both sides of the road. And when we were nearing the border, the dramatic panorama of Glacier National Park, especially the distinctive profile of Chief Mountain, graced the skies.
|at the border crossing between caraway,Alberta and Babb, Montana|
|found at the border|
The Caraway border was not so busy with just a few vehicles waiting in line. At the other side was the small town of Babb, Montana where we had Montana burgers at the Glacier Café with a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. After lunch, we drove south on US 89 and then turned right on Highway 2 which took us through mountain roads on the southern edge of Glacier National Park. It was such a scenic byway I couldn’t put down our Nikon and just clicked away!
|view from the scenic byway|
|the rustic A-frame home of Bud and Bonnie|
Little did we know that we would be in for a big surprise in Essex. For one, the A-frame cabin of the Boushele’s reminded me of my sister Ellen’s A-frame home she had loved in the Mountain City of the Philippines, Baguio before she passed on. Another reason is this: They took us four wheeling in the hills! Bud and Bonnie took the green ATV while, after a short lesson, I was Bill’s passenger in the red one!
|with Mt.Nicholas at the background|
|terrific views while fourwheeling|
We drove to see those patches of the forest leveled by strong storm winds that acted like focused tornados. Then we drove to Tunnel Creek, wished for more rain to increase the level of water, and inspected the damage to the evergreens up close. We also went to a spot with a great view of Nicholas, a peak in the remote southwestern section of Glacier National Park, in Montana that is particularly steep. With a pointed rock pinnacle, its distinctive profile is visible from many places in the southern half of the park. It is "considered the most dangerous and difficult mountain for climbers in Glacier National Park." Finally, Bud and Bonnie took us to a close-up view of their nephew’s huge brand new log cabin.
Dinner was another big surprise: huge Montana steaks with lots of sides: spinach and raspberry salad with that awesome dressing, baked garlic asparagus, potato salad and sautéed mushrooms! We all had so much to eat that we trooped to the river to shed off a few ounces. Upon our return, Bonnie surprised Bill with his favorite pie for dessert, banana cream pie! In the morning, Bonnie sent us on the road again with a large traveler’s breakfast, huckleberry pancakes, another rare treat.