As we were loading up our vehicles for the trek home, we couldn’t help but notice the U-Haul parked in front of the hotel. It was advertising the Athabasca Sand Dunes in northern Saskatchewan. Wow! We had just visited the Athabasca Glacier, Athabasca River and Athabasca Falls a few days earlier in Alberta. We will have to save these sand dunes for another day.
The drive from Gothenburg, Nebraska back to Oklahoma is not that exciting, especially compared to the sights of our trip thus far. But it was a comforting feeling getting back to the rolling plains of the Midwest.
Our route home took us directly through Cawker City, Kansas, which is a favorite of our family. It is home to the Largest Ball of Twine in the world. Nobody in their right mind would drive past that landmark without stopping…
Throughout this trip, there was a decent amount of passenger switching between vehicles. However, when we stopped at the Kansas Welcome Center right across the Oklahoma border, we said our goodbyes to each other, and got back in our respective cars for the final drive home.
Words will not be able to express the gratitude owed to KK and PK for facilitating this trip. Their visit to Canada several years earlier inspired their desire for the rest of us to see it as well. I am a firm believer in “See America”, but you have to hand it to the Canadian Rockies – it is a must-see on any traveler’s bucket list.
Trip Odds and Ends and Highlights:
Our vehicle drove 5,500 miles on this vacation over 15 days – a road trip by anybody’s definition! KK and PK drove their truck for 123 hours!
KK purchased a “Glacier National Park” selfie stick on our first day in that park. It turned out to be a spectacular purchase since it allowed us to always get a family photo at our various landmarks. Some people may scoff at these, but I think I may need to purchase one for myself.
I have never seen as many RV dealerships in one place as we did in Billings, Montana. There was a huge one every mile. No offense to Billings, but that part of the world is not that populated. Not sure what is going on there…
Stephanie’s refusal to bring long pants on this vacation was a constant source of amusement to KK. He brought this up routinely.
No vacation is really complete without a homemade song. Grateful for Mallory and Marissa coming up with one which talked about the leading cause of death at Glacier National Park. The catchy part of the song “It’s not Bears!” was repeated over and over as a catchphrase throughout the trip.
Ellery started referring to our family as her people. It was not uncommon for her to ask “Where are my people?” “My people” was also a popular catchphrase on this trip.
A friend with acquaintances who worked at the Many Glacier Hotel told me a story that there is a caretaker that lives in the hotel throughout the winter to keep it maintained. One winter when the snowdrifts were as tall as the roof of the hotel, there were mountain goats that were walking around on the roof. One mountain goat fell through the skylight and is currently the stuffed mountain goat in the lobby. Crazy stuff!
To the lady we overheard in Glacier National Park call the sighting of a moose and a bear “a twofer”, we thank you. “Twofer” is now in our everyday vocabulary.
Canada was quite the change of pace. The entire population of Canada (about 36 million) is less than California. In fact, the population of the province of Saskatchewan is roughly equal to the Tulsa metro area – little over 1 million. Canadians are not in a hurry to get anywhere. That is not bad quality, but when you’re driving cross-country, it does get in the way of travelers.
I really enjoyed the time I spent in the vehicle with KK and PK. From learning about prairie potholes, to hearing KK’s best 3 memories of playing dances back in his high school and college years, it was a fun education.
Back on Day One of this trip, Stephanie got irritated when she got a jug of water out of the ice chest when she didn’t need to. She told us “Well that sucks!” and that phrase lived on throughout the trip. In fact, at many of our scenic destinations, Mallory and Marissa would tell us it is time for a “this sucks!” picture and we would document what a terrible time they were having. It is the little inside jokes that come about during a trip that make it memorable, and that pretty much explains why we write this travel blog…so all the nuances of our trips can live on.
Long Live Northern Exposure!