Tuesday, August 21: Waterton to Great Falls
We woke up, packed up our stuff, took our last trip in the old time elevator, and checked out. When we had checked in, the general manager had offered to throw in the cot for free, but it appeared on the bill. I mentioned it to them at checkout, even though it wasn’t much, and they took it off.
My basic summary of the Price of Wales is that it is really neat to visit, but I wouldn’t recommend staying there or eating there.
Following my own advice, we drove down to Waterton and had breakfast there. It was cheaper and faster than at the Prince of Wales, and probably better.
Mike wanted to drive a surrey around. It is a four-wheel bicycle like contraption. There is a bench seat that holds two people (or two and a child), with two sets of bicycle pedals. There are two steering wheels, but only one does anything. There is a basket seat in front for really small children. Finally, there is a lever on the working steering column that runs the brakes.
Of course, Mike wanted to drive.
While Mike and I rode the surrey around, Amy did the laundry.
I found that it was not that comfortable to sit on the seat and pedal, particularly if I leaned against the back rest. I had to scoot forward so that I was more over the pedals. Then I found that it was more comfortable to hold on to the frame rather than the other steering wheel.
It took Mike rather some time to get the hang of it. In the mean time, I had a rather harrowing ride, with the surrey swerving into the other lane or onto the sidewalk. Later on, Mike got better, unless he got distracted during a turn and stopped steering.
I got a short turn steering in the middle, but it didn’t last that long. It was only a minute or two after I started that Mike started asking for his turn again.
Waterton is relatively level, but when driving a heavy contraption like this, even a small hill was rather noticeable. It was a lot harder to drive this than a normal bicycle. It went faster than walking, but not by that much. It was certainly no faster than jogging, and I think rather less. On the other hand, it also took more energy to move than walking.
Waterton is not particularly large, so we ended up covering most of the streets multiple times. At one point we saw a few deer in the middle of town grazing. Later on, I had to grab the brakes to stop us when the fawn crossed the street right in front of us.
After the hour was up, we returned the surrey, walked over to the Laundromat, and found that Amy was almost done. When the clothes were done, we headed out from Waterton. On the way out we stopped at Red Rock Canyon.
We first hiked the loop around the canyon. We didn’t find that very impressive. There is a stream which has cut a somewhat deep and narrow canyon through a layer of red rock. There is a very short trail that goes up one side, over a bridge, and down the other side. We hiked this, but the views were not that good. Strangely, there were “pull outs” where the fence curved inward. However, these locations didn’t have views that were any better than anywhere else. Maybe it was better in the spring, but in late summer we could barely see the water. We were rather confused.
Rather than returning to the car, we decided to take a side trail to a waterfall. Mike decided that he wanted his tripod. So I gave him the car keys and waited, while he went back to the car and returned. He had a drink from the cooler, but no tripod. When I mentioned that to him, he slapped his forehead. Then we had to wait again while he went back to the car a second time. But we finally set out on a short hike to the waterfall.
The trail confused us. We started out hiking with a side creek to our right. We presumed that this was the stream with the waterfall. But then the trail veered left, and eventually when we rounded a small hill, we found the falls in front of us on a stream on our left!
They were a pretty good set of falls, with an overlook just downstream that led to decent pictures (despite the sun being almost directly overhead), and another overlook at the head of the falls that didn’t give good pictures.
We finally left the canyon and the park between 12 and 1, with some really dark threatening clouds south of us. To get out, we had to initially drive north, then curve around to the east, and finally more towards the south. So at first, we were going away from the storm, so we were all set. But then once we turned south, we were heading into it.
It very shortly started raining, and then it started raining really hard. After that it got worse. We could see waves of rain blowing across the road.
I can’t every recall driving in that heavy of rain. I had real difficulty seeing the road, and I had to slow way down to stay on the road. A short while later, we came across a pull-out, so I pulled over and stopped the car, so that we could wait out the worst of the storm.
The rain got yet heavier, with big heavy drops that pounded the car. Then the pounding changed. We were being hailed upon! Fortunately, it was only pea sized or perhaps a tad bigger, so the car was not damaged. I think that this might be the first time I’ve been in a hail storm that I can confirm was hail.
Eventually, the worst of it was over, and we proceeded on our way. We decided to have lunch again at Many Glaciers. On the way in along the road, we stopped at a bear jam. We got some so-so pictures of a black bear’s rear end as it walked off. Just ahead of us, there was a bear just about 20 feet off the side of the road, but some rangers kept us away.
Partially due to the bear jam, we got to the Many Glaciers lodge’s dining room at 3:02. They, of course, close for lunch at 3. So we had to eat in the lounge/grill.
After lunch, we stopped at the main road (just as we did the last time) to get some grizzly pictures. This time, they were headed further up the mountainside rather than down towards the road, so they were pretty small in the pictures. Then on the way out along the road, we stopped briefly for some more black bear pictures. We finally left the park around 5 or so.
We had thought about spending another day at Glacier, but it turns out that this was a good day for traveling. There was that really heavy thunderstorm that came through around noonish. Then there were occasional showers for the rest of the day.
Halfway to Great Falls, we saw showers ahead of us, but the sun as it was setting came out behind the clouds behind us. We started seeing a bit of rainbow in front of us.
By the time I found a place I could pull off, the rainbow was very strongly developed. We could see a complete half circle, although the ends were the brightest. There was even a double rainbow, with a fainter one further out. It was one of the best rainbows I can recall seeing.
At one point, I forget exactly where, we saw a large bird run across the road in front of us. Amy says that it was a roadrunner. I can’t say myself, so I’ll take her word for it.
We got into Great Falls late, just before 9. We got a room at the Comfort Inn. It was about 1/3 the cost of the room at the Prince of Wales, and it was larger and more comfortable (although it didn’t have quite the same ambiance).
We had a late dinner across the street at Bert and Ernie’s. It didn’t look like much from the outside, but the inside was really nice. It was full of old stuff, an old safe, an antique cash register, an old copper still, and other stuff. The food was pretty good, better (in my opinion) that at the Prince of Wales, and a lot cheaper too.