Day 1: Saturday, 5th.
It’s the beginning of my vacation, and coincidentally, the beginning of a long trip across the United States. We have just received the passports recently, and were excited to, at last, to be able to travel as freely as any other Canadian. We packed up in the morning and left around 10am. A long shot from the 8am departure, but at least I’m awake and ready for a long day.
The road to the border was routine. Around noon it started raining hard. I looked at the weather radar and it looked like the rain wasn’t going to stop anytime soon.
As SK was driving, I called the HI-hostel in Montana. The host didn’t have any problems with cancelling the booking in case if they turn us back at the border.
The border was quick and easy. The officer asked to roll all windows down, glanced inside, confirmed that there’s just the two of us, and asked where we’re doing.
“Um. We’re going to the United States” said I and realized how weird that sounds.
“What city in the United States?” the officer asked. I’m sure he was used to it.
“Er. Los Angeles.”
“Purpose of travel?”
“Where are you staying.”
“We’ll be camping”.
“Uh-hm”. He glanced into the computer for a bit and handed our passports back.
“Have a nice trip Alexander”.
Wow. That was it. No stamping the passport, no checking for Visas, just like that.
The road resembled nothing of the Good American Roads I’ve been thinking about. It was a regular 2-lane road, full of cracks. The only thing different was the speed limit signs in Miles, and “no passing” signs at the beginning of each solid yellow divider line. Also, the speed limit immediately became 70Mph, and 65Mph at night, 55Mph for trucks and everything with a trailer. Finally, no more tailgating long-haul trucks.
The phone switched to AT&T network as soon as it received some reception. The first pesky roaming notification warning showed up, that would continue to pop up every time it caught a new tower. Along the way saw some snow on the ground and in the air. Just like on our trip to VI last September, it was snowing in the mountains.
Took Hwy 49 that’s closed in the winter as a shortcut. The road speed limit is unusually fast for this kind of road, there were quite a few sharp turns and potholes. I really liked that when a warning sign said “35Mph”, it really means that you’d better be travelling no faster than that. The road resembled a mix of the road to Bella Coola and any generic road on the Vancouver Island, with sharp turns, hill on the left and long drop on the right.
Arrived to East Glacier Park Village, Montana late at night. The hostel ended up being a store and bakery on the main floor, and rooms on the second. Across the hostel was a car rental and gift shop.
The next morning as we had breakfast we chatted with an older lady, who highly recommended to see the Grand Canyon, as it’s just something spectacular.
Road notes: (in this section I’ll post little snippets that I wrote each day before bedtime, worthy for memory but not long enough to edit)
Long trip from Edmonton to East Glacier Park Village, Montana. Booked hi-hostel while still in Canada. Downloaded 400mb of maps. Rained all day and night. Border was very quick and easy. Getting used to miles. Phone switched to AT&T. Very scenic mountain road, especially hwy 49 that’s closed in winter. A mix of Bella Coola road and Vancouver island. Hostel also had bakery in it. Almost all private rooms, and 6 dorm beds. Dudes are cool. One had an antique fully mechanical camera with glass slides. His photos were amazing. I think his flickr was Mik Mike. His day job is a statistician. Another is a software developer. Says he goes to Moscow in February, afraid he looks like Snoden. He said there are hostels in Moscow, too.
Some dude traveled from Chicago on Amtrak. Said it was $160 from there.
An older guy from England, and a bearded from someplace UK too.
Tiny kitchen, they had a balcony though, so we had supper there. Next day an older lady highly recommended to see the grand canyon, says it’s very much worth it. Next to hostel is a dollar-a subaru car rental and gift shop. Also a spoon shop with world’s largest purple wood spoon (maybe).