Day 11: They’re Here! Hooray!

Another slower news day…since the reason we came to Calgary was partially so Greg could make a run at the World Handball Championships, it is only right that I allow my champ to rest up for his big matches.  His first one was scheduled for 8:00 pm, so we spent the day doing the kinds of pre-game activities that will yield his best results…eating and resting.  Suddenly, my travel blog is turning into a food blog, as it seems most of my news is all about the fabulous restaurants Yelp has led us to here in Calgary.  Delicious lunch at No/Ta/Ble, where the chicken and salad was to die for.  Then dinner tonight at the CattleBaron, which sounds like it would be all about the beef.  The beef was wonderful, Greg tells me, but my warm Salmon green salad was scrumptious. Yelp reviews promised me that, even though the fish shouldn’t be that great because Calgary is land-locked, because the restaurant is close to an airport, the fresh salmon can fly on over and still tastes great…I was not disappointed. (Don’t know how we went from the Starvation RV Diet, to the Eat Ourselves Into a Food Coma Diet…but I’d better get it while the goin’s good, because as soon as we hit the open road again, there will soon be NO TIME to stop and eat :/  )

Between our eating frenzies, we started our 3rd audio book.  Remember our friends Fritz and Diana from Day 5 in Moran, Wyoming?  Well, they told us that the audio book The Boys In The Boat was a good read/listen.  Well true to form, I fell asleep after about the first minute.  So, I’m sure it’s quite good.  Only the best books and movies put me right to sleep…

My version of a sleeping pill. I'm sure it's very good, if I could just stay awake.
My version of a sleeping pill. I’m sure it’s very good, if I could just stay awake.

A little while later in the afternoon, we learned that Greg’s opponents for his second match in the 60’s doubles division, ALSO forfeited! Huh?? What is up with these people?  So Greg and Merv will play tomorrow in the finals for this division, without ever playing any early round matches.  (They had a bye in the first round because they were seeded 2nd in the tournament.)  I asked Greg to confirm this:  He’s never played in a tournament in which he had a bye and 2 forfeits bringing him to the finals.  Tomorrow’s opponents had to fight their way through the first 3 rounds, while Greg and Merv will come fresh to the finals.  It will be very interesting to see what happens.  I know you are sitting on the edge of your seats to find out the outcome. 🙂  Don’t worry…I will post the breaking news as soon as I get it!!

Here comes the highlight of my day….my sister Joan and hubby Kent are on their way as we speak to fly from LA into Calgary and join us in the glamor tram for our adventures through Canada.  I am beyond excited to see them (wish Marcia and Bryan could have made the trip too 😦  …As soon as Greg is done scouting tomorrow’s competition, we are whisking away to pick them up at the airport.  Whoooppppieeeee! 

Try to get some sleep tonight.  I know it will be hard to get shut eye, with your minds racing about tomorrow’s tournament! HEE HEE! You will know as soon as I know!!

Day 10:  Let’s Play Already!

 After yesterday’s forfeit in the 60’s doubles games and the auto-win for Greg and his partner Merv, Greg’s more than ready to play!  Today, he will be playing his first 55’s doubles match with his partner William at 8:00 pm tonight.  Right now, we are waiting for his opponents to show up…it’s 7:30 and still a no show.
We had a nice relaxing day leading up to game time.  We had a leisurely morning, did some research of the activities we’d like to do while we’re in Calgary and then grabbed an early lunch at a great place called 4th Spot.
 Then we went over to the club to scout out tonight’s opponents. While Greg scouted, I took a nap in the RV.  Man that felt yummy.  I enjoy a good nap now and then and there has been no time since we hit the road a week ago.
News flash.  The opponents just showed up!  Looks like we have ourselves a game!!
While I wait for the match to start, I’ll fill you in on the rest of the day.  After scouting/napping, we did a little grocery shopping to stock up on our necessities.  Found our way to Safeway.  We discovered that things run a little differently here in Calgary.  For example, the shopping carts are locked up. (Hmmm! That’s weird. How are you supposed to shop?) The whole idea of supplying your own shopping bags is gaining traction back home in California, but supplying your own cart?  Now I’ve heard of everything.  Being the problem solvers that we are, we quickly found a friendly Safeway clerk to clear up the locked shopping cart mystery.  Ohhhhh…I see.  It costs a quarter to unlock.  Evidently the cost of a quarter is a deterrent to anyone who might want to steal a shopping cart (?)  Speaking of shopping carts, we haven’t seen any homeless people here in Calgary.  I wonder why….must look into that one.
Glad we had a quarter!  But then again, Darrell the box boy quickly came to our aid and offered to use his makeshift retrievable quarter he wore as a necklace around his neck.  Darrell seemed to want to be our friend, helping us to the RV with our groceries and not in a hurry to part ways after the groceries were loaded.

That’s something we’ve really noticed about Canada.  The people here are super nice, very layback and very present.  Everyone is super willing to slow down and engage us in conversation.  That’s a quality we really appreciate.

After shopping, we tried to find a new restaurant, other than Van Gogh’s.  But the highway had an unexpected detour, we got a bit lost, and short on time, so back to Van Gogh’s it is, for the 4th time in 3 days.  We are such regulars!
We've eaten here so many times, it only seems right to give our spot a special feature.
We’ve eaten here so many times, it only seems right to give our spot a special feature.

With just a little time to get back to the RV campground and settle the doggies in for the evening, we had to eat quickly.  Greg’s partner picked us up at the RV park and drove us to downtown Calgary where tonight’s match is taking place.  Downtown is such a beautiful, clean city.  Glad we got to see it!

A few observations while I’m waiting for the match to start.  Being in a familiar place where you instinctually know how to get from Point A to Point B, is a peaceful, comfortable way to exist.  The opposite is also true…never knowing exactly where you’re going when you turn on the ignition is consistently, mildly stressful.  But I keep reminding myself that we are on an adventure, and inherent in that is confronting the unknown.  I hope, when we get home, I remember the simple blessing of familiarity with my surroundings (which is kind of interesting given the fact that we just moved to a new neighborhood. Guess we’ve adapted more than we think!)
Match update.…Greg and his partner lost their 55’s doubles match.  They played well, but it wasn’t enough.  The scores were 21-10 and 21-13.  Even though it’s never fun to lose, at least now he won’t have to play at 10:00 pm tomorrow night.  Now he can focus on his 60’s doubles match at 8:00 pm tomorrow night!
Our sister and brother are coming in tomorrow night!! Super excited to see them!!

Day 9: Bring it on!

Here in Calgary, the main focus of our adventure is the World Handball Championships…On the first day of the tournament, Greg and his doubles partner Merv (from Canada) were slated to compete in the 60’s doubles at 2:00pm.  So we departed our home sweet RV park home about 11:00 to go get a good lunch  (Van Gogh’s Grill for the second time) and give Greg plenty of time to warm up and be ready for his match.  We arrived at the venue about an hour early, Greg parked me and the doggies in a spot right next to a park and headed off to play.  I had some work to do, so I planned to take my front seat in the gallery closer to 2:00.  Meanwhile, Merv’s wife Colleen, who’s also a crazy dog lady visited me in the RV as well as another handball wife, Chattan.  It’s nice to meet some of the other wives that are along for the ride.  Unfortunately, Greg’s competitors ended up forfeiting the match, due to injury (?) or scared ? (haha)  Either way, even it was a win for Greg, he didn’t even get to play today.  (But Greg’s quite pleased that he didn’t make any mistakes today!  Flawless handball!) We are shortly on our way to go out to dinner at…you guessed it…Van Gogh’s Grill…with Greg’s 55’s doubles partner William, from Albuquerque.  A little social time, a little strategy “chalk talk” and another delicious meal.  Three times in 2 days at the same restaurant, should tell you how delicious was the food.  I’d better watch it, or Greg’s going to put us back on the RV starvation diet! Tomorrow we have a free day in Calgary before Greg plays in his 55’s Doubles match with William at 8:00 pm tomorrow night. Until tomorrow….

Day 8: Calgary or Bust!

Today we left the U.S. to drive to Calgary, Canada (for only a week), where Greg will compete in the World Handball Tournament…We’re pretty excited for this competition.  Our day was dedicated to getting across the border and making our way to Calgary.  I had some anxiety over whether or not we could easily cross into Canada with the girls.  No problem!  All of our papers were in order (honestly, we could have passed through without even mentioning the dogs.  It’s always good to be prepared though…the opposite could have also happened and anyone who knows me, knows there would have been an international incident if my doggies could not pass through for any reason.)

We found the venue where Greg will play tomorrow at 2:00 PM, got him registered, got the lay of the land, and grabbed our linner/dunch at a cute place nearby called Van Gogh’s.  Now we’re tucked in for the night at our campground and we will turn in early so Greg is ready for his first big match tomorrow.

Short post tonight.  We’ll hopefully have more to share tomorrow.  To everyone we love in the U.S…take good care of yourselves. God bless America!

Day 7: Brrr…Glacier National Park

Today’s blog post is dedicated to our moms and dad, who faithfully read our travel journal every day!   We’re glad you are with us, even though we are miles apart!

This morning we were once again up at the crack of dawn so that we could get a jump on the day.  Of course, there were those necessities we had to take care of before we hit the open road!

It didn’t take us long today to reach our destination: Glacier National Park.  Our first stop was the Visitor’s Center, where we learned that we could not drive our RV to the east side of the park, like we had planned.  The roads became too steep and narrow for an RV… so Plan B, drive as far as we could, hope we can find a parking spot and take a shuttle to see the sights we hoped to see. The doggies are getting used to us leaving them safely behind in the RV, although this sign gave us some concern about their safety today.


The sights we saw were certainly spectacular!

Like nothing like we’ve ever seen…and worth bearing through the cold temperatures!  Up at Logan Pass, it was in the low 40’s.

Brrrrrrr!  (Sandy did not pack right!! I wrongly assumed that, in the month of August, I needed mostly summer clothes.  So, if you wondering if I just really love my beige coat or if I have limited options, it is the latter…although I do love my CAbi jacket.  Isn’t it cute and practical?)


We learned from our shuttle driver that, centuries ago, Glacier National Park had more than 150 glaciers.  Now, there are only 25 left, and eventually they will all be gone.  So glad, we got to visit before they are extinct.   So much to see…one day really doesn’t do it justice.   But we have learned a lot in the short time we were here.  One interesting fact is that the workers who are employed by the national parks (same thing at Yellowstone and Glacier National) are here for short term contracts.  So people from all over the country and the world, sign up for 3-4 month contracts, so they can enjoy hiking/camping in these world renowned locations, and then they move on to their next temporary gig.   Sort of a vagabond lifestyle.  So these are just free-spirited people in search of adventure…working as waiters/shuttle drivers afford them these opportunities.  We enjoyed getting to know these people and learning about their lifestyles.

After our day at Glacier, we learned we had to backtrack to the entrance we came in this morning and drive around the park to reach our home for the night in St. Mary, Montana.  Our RV couldn’t drive a more direct route because of the steep/narrow terrain, so we stopped for linner/dunch at the Glacier Grill outside the park entrance and drove through the indian reservation of Browning, and made our way to our ultimate destination, St. Mary KOA RV park. At this point in the day, we’re typically anxious to end our day, and this drive made it a little challenging… at least 10 miles of our drive was on a dirt road under construction. Ugh!! I gotta hand it to my hubby, who is an expert driver.  He has not been unraveled by challenges like this and when a cute little calf decided to cross the road right in front of us, Greg handled the obstacle with great aplomb and skill. (Wish I had a picture to show you the cute little calf who waited for us to stop, kicked up his heels then trotted across the street, as if he had a crossing guard giving him the go-ahead.)

We are settled in and none to soon…the sky promises a fabulous light show!! Front row seat to see the power of mother nature!

Hmmm...batten down the hatches!!
Hmmm…batten down the hatches!!

Tomorrow we leave the U.S (for a week) and head for Canada!  Can’t wait!!

Day 6: Exploring Montana

Today's travel route.
Today’s travel route.

This morning we decided to have breakfast in the charming town of Gardiner, located at the northern entrance to Yellowstone, before we headed north.  We ate at Rosie’s Bistro, had a delicious big breakfast, served by Joyce, then with full stomachs, we hopped on the highway to head northwest to Flathead Lake in Polson, Montana.

We hit the road and while I called home to check in with my mom, we came upon a family of elk on the side of the road…”Oh mom, hang on for a second, I have to take a few pics of some elk we’re passing by.”  You sure don’t see that everyday!

A family of elk by the highway
A family of elk by the highway

After a short while, we made a pit stop in Bozeman, to see if Greg could brush up on his handball (his big tournament is right around the corner) at a local athletic club there.  Shucks!  No one there available for a quick pick up game…so we did a few errands while we were in town…grocery shopping, replenish dry ice, fill up our water gallons etc.  Bozeman is a really nice city and it has maintained its small town charm.  We hopped back on the highway and hoped to see a lot of beautiful scenery on our drive.  Sadly, everywhere around us was very smoky so we couldn’t see much from the highway.  A recent thunderstorm here started the fire and with heavy winds, there are still 55 fires burning in the area.

The air was thick with smoke for most of our drive.
The air was thick with smoke for most of our drive.

Once we headed away from Missoula, the smoky air cleared up and we were greeted by beautiful Flathead Lake.

Flathead Lake, Montana
Flathead Lake, Montana

We arrived!! We’re staying at a very nice KOA campground that overlooks the lake.  Greg cooked us a nice dinner and we’re all relaxing for a bit before we decide between going to a Blues Festival overlooking the lake, OR doing a couple loads of laundry at this very nice facility.  It cracks me up how my perspective has changed in one short week…I get excited if our campground has grass for the girls and if it has a laundry facility!  Shangri-La!! Ours has both! Tonight is a banner night!  Until tomorrow….

PS. Greg wants me to update the list of wildlife we’ve seen so far…today we saw elk, deer, antelope and a bald eagle!

Day 5: Bison, Bison and More Bison!

Today we awoke early, and set the wheels in motion to get an early start to make the drive to Yellowstone National Park. Remembering the sage advice from our San Diego “besties” Fritz and Diana, we wanted to arrive to see “Old Faithful” before the throngs of humanity descended upon her.

Driving through rainstorms, we made our way to this spot we thought would be the pinnacle of our day. We walked up to find our viewing position of this famous geyser just seconds before she blew (we were so happy about our timing, as she wasn’t predicted to go off again until an hour and a half later.) Of course, it was exciting to see the sheer power of mother nature in action and we had to wonder, “When will this massive volcano/earth quake blow again?” Hopefully not in our lifetime, nor our kids’, nor our grandkids’..overwhelming when you think of what COULD happen!!

Mother Nature in all her glory!
Mother Nature in all her glory!

At the advice of a nice park ranger, we opted to travel in an south/eastern direction from “Old Faithful” in hopes that we would we would encounter wildlife that we normally only get to see on the National Geographic Channel.

Sure enough, we were not disappointed!! We encountered hundreds of Bison…far off in the distance, on the roadside, and, best yet, walking down the highway right next to our vehicle.  There were lots of caution signs to keep your distance.  We definitely heeded the warning!  They may look docile, but looks are deceiving!

We traveled through the nature/wilderness and enjoyed every inch of this unspoiled, natural land.  Our final spot for the day was Mammoth Hot Springs, which is a large complex of hot springs on a hill of travertine.

Traveling through the town of Mammoth Hot Springs, was well worth our while, as we came upon an elk. Check off another one on Greg’s list of animals he wants to see!

Just hangin' out in the town square.
Just hangin’ out in the town square.

After all our excitement, we traveled to our RV camp/home for the night, outside the north entrance to Yellowstone, in the town of Gardiner, Montana.  Our spot was right next to the Yellowstone River and was everything we had hoped for…green grass, easy entrance/hook-up, and a spectacular rainbow/lightning show to boot.  It’s been a great day.  Thank you Lord!!

Day 4: Close Encounters

The trip from Flaming Gorge, Utah to Moran, Wyoming was an easy one…we did get to see lots of antelope, a badger and flocks of canadian geese and the trip was smooth sailing.  We arrived at our RV resort just after 8:00pm.  Let me just say this about RV “resorts.”  I have a slightly different definition of “resort” than the one thrown around by the RV community.  The Grand Teton RV Resort had a spectacular view of the Grand Tetons, but other than that, it’s mostly a big lot with a bit of grass and electricity/water hook up and lots of mosquitos.   But trust me, after a long day on the road, the grass for the doggies and “hooking up” so we can take a shower is truly devine.  (Funny how one’s perspective changes in such a short time.)

When we awoke this morning, we were so grateful that we didn’t have to hit the open road to get to our next stop. Instead, we had a day to explore the gorgeous Grand Tetons at our leisure.  We drove a beautiful scenic route around Jenny Lake and String Lake, and stopped for lunch at the Jenny Lake Lodge.

With our tummies happily full (Greg has released me from the RV Starvation Diet), we went out to board our Minnie Winnie to move on to our next stop.  Well wouldn’t you know it, another tourist, with less than friendly manners, decided to box us in with his red suburban, making it impossible for us to leave.  After a short time, the restaurant maitre d’ came out with the culprit car owner so he would move his car…the man looked very large and very scary, was talking loudly, in a thick foreign accent, to someone on his cell phone and did not offer even one ounce of contrition.  Actually, he seemed annoyed that he had to move his car.  Of course, Sandy, who doesn’t know when to be quiet, tried to command an apology from him.  Greg wisely summed up the situation…and came to the conclusion that the thug was probably mafia and our best bet was just to exit the situation.  Hrrumph!  Some people!! :/

A lovely lunch at Jenny Lake Lodge - before we met up with the Russian thug.
A lovely lunch at Jenny Lake Lodge – before we met up with the Russian thug.

Not to be sidetracked from pursuing a good time, we journeyed on to our next stop: a horseback ride through the gorgeous mountains, overlooking the valley.  The Russian thug was soon forgotten and we had a lovely afternoon on horseback.

Afterward, we contemplated hanging out in Jackson Hole, but it was so crowded, we decided to instead return to Moran, where we went for a second night to a cool little restaurant called the Hatchet Grill.  The staff there was super friendly, the food was great, and it felt like true Wyoming, complete with a wild horse than meanders up to the patio to eat whatever the patrons can spare from their plates.  Tonight, we sat next to a super nice couple, Fritz and Diana, from San Diego, and we discovered that we even have mutual friends…Small world!!

Tomorrow we leave for Yellowstone National Park. Our best roadie friends, Fritz and Diana, told us to get an early start, as they witnessed at least 1,000 people crowding in to catch a glimpse of Old Faithful.  By the way, before I go to bed tonight, I will be sure that Greg has his bear spray ready to go…Yellowstone has had big bear problems lately!  Check out this link, if you can “bear” it!  Grizzly Bear Attack

P.S. Greg just gently corrected me…the restaurant horses weren’t wild, they were just free grazing…oh well.  My version makes for a more fantastic story, so I’m sticking with it. 🙂

Day 3: The Ones that DIDN’T Get Away!

Today was nothing short of spectacular!  I suggested that we go fly fishing while we’re out here in God’s country, and Greg jumped on it and planned today’s awesome excursion.  Honestly, I never thought much about fishing.  I know a lot of people enjoy it (especially my husband) but it never really hit my radar.  I’ve been fishing once in my lifetime with Greg at the Gorge in California, and my trophy for the day was a ziploc baggie :/ But in all the years that we’ve exposed the kids to a variety of hobbies like fishing, I myself never joined in…until today!  And let me say…the whole experience was thrilling.

Greg hired a guide, a good ol’boy named Dano from Old Moe’s Fly Fishing, for a float trip on the Green River below the Flaming Gorge Dam.  After a few short lessons on how to “nymph,” which is fly fishing with the bait bouncing on the river bottom (as opposed to dry casting on the surface), he took us out for a half day on his boat.

Greg's first catch of the Dano our guide.
Greg’s first catch of the day…meet Dano our guide.
Another big one for Greg!
Another big one for Greg!

With Dano’s full attention on me, coaching me every step of the way, I had an amazing first experience.  Greg caught 6 beauties and while two of my guys got away (I choked when it came time to reel them in), I successfully reeled in 3 fish; 2 rainbow trouts and 1 brown trout, and they were big too…all ranging from 18-20 inches!

Yep, a proud moment for Sandy.
Yep, a proud moment for Sandy.

That feeling when I knew I had a bite was both exciting and overwhelming. My mind was racing, trying to remember all the do’s and don’ts of what to do next. (Greg says I am totally spoiled to have that kind of a first outing.  You don’t usually catch fish that big.)  What a thrill!  The whole day I was beaming…the serenity of the Green River and trying something so new, so out of the box.  Greg’s delighted to see me so happy.  Today will go down in the history books as one of my best ever.

At the end of our float trip down the gorgeous Green River, we hopped in our Minnie Winnie chariot and made our way to Jackson/Grand Tetons and, as icing on the cake, we had no snafus on the road.  Hooray! We’ll be in Wyoming for the next 2 days.

By the way, if you’re wondering if we had trout for dinner tonight, we did not.  Once I greeted my slimy friends, took a few snaps and gave ’em a big kiss, we released them back into the wild.

Day 2: On the Road Again

Panguitch Lake, Utah - after how hard it was to find this place, we needed to snap at least one pic.
Panguitch Lake, Utah – after how hard it was to find this place, we needed to snap at least one pic.

Hello Panguitch Lake, farewell Panguitch Lake.  After allowing ourselves a little later start, we pulled out of Panguitch and headed for Flaming Gorge in northern Utah.  Shortly after leaving, traveling along a winding mountain road, we experienced another kind of thrill that got our adrenaline going.  Just around a blind curve stood a construction lady holding a stop sign due to construction just ahead.  Quick reflexes Greg!  He slammed on the brakes and we narrowly missed hitting the nice lady.  All of the loose contents in the RV cabin went flying, but thankfully no big casualties, except for a bottle of Chianti. When Greg tried to tell the worker the dangerous place she was standing, she agreed, but wouldn’t budge from her position.  Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

If the dogs weren’t nervous before, that really shook them up.  Of course, Daisy took it in stride, and Bella wanted to crawl into someone’s womb.  Poor Bella.  This trip has really been unnerving for her.  Like her mommy (that’s me) she really does like the comforts of home, especially her yard.  The poor thing refuses to “do her business” on the road.  She can “hold it” for 24 hours at a time…if there’s no grassy area, that’s literally a “no go” for Bella.

Daisy is taking it all in stride...Bella is beside herself (and always beside Daisy.)
Daisy is taking it all in stride…Bella is beside herself (and always beside Daisy.)

Other than that, the rest of the day was just a beautiful drive through the Utah mountains.  Greg especially loved seeing the Aspen tree lined mountain tops as we made our way north.  Beautiful countryside.  Once again, we found ourselves traveling at dusk, when the deer come out of hiding.  Today we saw a buck, with his velvety horns.  Magnificent!  He was accompanied by two does.  Greg reminded me that in Utah, polygamy is more accepted 🙂

At the end of our long day on the road (thank God for books on tape…we’re almost done with “Unbroken”), we arrived at Flaming Gorge.  A little dinner, a shower and to bed we go! Tomorrow is fly fishing! (weeeee!)  That’s a bucket list item for Sandy…just want to try it once!  Until tomorrow….

The beautiful end to day 2
The beautiful end to day 2
Cart Creek Bridge, built in 1962 in Dagget County, Utah
Cart Creek Bridge, built in 1962 in Dagget County, Utah
Flaming Gorge Dam...heading there tomorrow to try my hand at fly fishing on the Green River.
Flaming Gorge Dam…heading there tomorrow to try my hand at fly fishing on the Green River.