Jeremy and I didn’t stay too long in Banff, playing tourists for a day and a half. We did stay to enjoy Canada Day – where Canadians celebrate the unification of their provinces. As I mentioned in my last post, the locals had a very good fireworks display late in the evening (11pm). Afterwards, we experienced a little bit of the night life, visiting a couple of night clubs before calling it a night. The next morning we fueled up with coffee and hiked Johnston Canyon, enjoying the spectacular lower and upper falls. Upon finishing the hike, we headed in a Westerly direction, our intent was to visit Lake Louise. We arrived at mid-afternoon, and before visiting the lake, we had lunch at a delicatessen.
Lake Louise was stunning. The crystal blue/green glacial water is framed by forest and mountain glaciers. Saying the lake is “Beautiful” falls far short of describing how magnificent this lake is. We didn’t stay too long, as we had a long ways to drive before reaching our destination of Yellowstone National Park, Montana.
Our first stop upon our return to the States, was Whitefish, Montana, a trendy resort town. Both Jeremy and I were exhausted, so after checking into our hotel, the Grouse Mountain Lodge, we decided to get a quick bite for dinner before calling it a night. By the by, the Grouse Mountain Lodge was quite nice. They originally wanted $129 per night, but I was able to talk them down to $100. My technique is simple – I will either point to their parking lot (which in this case was relatively empty) or I will say something about going elsewhere . . . Both of these techniques wont work at a chain or franchise hotel, but will work 75% of the time at all independent hotels or what I call “Mom and Pop” establishments. Just be polite and nice about it. This hotel was quite nice, with down comforters and pillows, air conditioning that didn’t drone loudly, and excellent gourmet coffee. We went out to dinner at the Buffalo Cafe. I had the baby back ribs, which were excellent. I can’t recall what Jeremy had. Anywho, after dinner we walked around main street for about a half hour, then went back to the hotel, where we both hit the sack relatively early.
The next morning, we had a delicious breakfast at the Swift Creek Restaurant. After breakfast, we got on the road and discussed where we were going to stay at Yellowstone National Park. Jeremy had researched places to stay on the web the evening before and it was an easy decision to stay in Bozeman for one simple reason . . . Outrageous hotel rates! Specifically, regardless if you stayed in Yellowstone National Park or near there (Jackson, Wyoming), you were going to put down a tidy sum of scratch for a bed in either place. We’re talking about nightly rates of $300-$1000 per night. Hilarious. Besides, there were only a few rooms left in or near the Park, so it was quite easy to decide upon Bozeman. Now most people would say “meh” to Motel 6, right? Well, we found a brand new Motel 6, with an indoor swimming pool, dry heat sauna, nice firm beds, and free WIFI for under $100 a night. Perfect for two guys. Ha.
At the hotel, it was nice to just relax in the dry heat sauna and then cool off in the pool. After a couple of hours of that, we took showers and drove to the downtown area, which was surprisingly lively. There were a couple of sports bars/clubs that had outdoor seating, so we were down with that, especially considering the pleasant evening weather. We asked our waitress about things to do at Yellowstone and she essentially confirmed what we had already planned to visit and see, e.g., Upper and Lower Falls, Old Faithful, various Hot Springs, and see the wildlife (Bear, Elk, Moose, and Buffalo). She was quite helpful on directions and what entrance to access to the park.
The next day we woke up early and decided to get breakfast at a trendy place called, The Nova Cafe. Jeremy again had researched places to eat breakfast and this place was the best by far. We arrived at the restaurant and despite the 20 minute wait, the food was as good as advertised. I had an omelet called the “Forager,” a local and organic Garden City Fungi and portobello mushroom blend, artichoke heart, tomato, spinach and provolone cheese. Yummy! If you are ever in Bozeman, go to this restaurant, as you wont be disappointed . . . http://www.thenovacafe.com/
We arrived in Yellowstone National Park at noon, fairly early considering that we had breakfast before driving the almost two hours to the park. Jeremy took some awesome video and photos at Yellowstone with his iPad and he will forward them to me when he copies them to a flash drive or DVD. I will do a separate post of his videos and photos sometime in the future. One more comment before I close – the 2nd night in Bozeman was the 4th of July. Without a doubt, this was the best fireworks display Jeremy or I have ever seen. I was in San Francisco for the 50 year anniversary of the Golden Gate bridge in the early 80s and that didn’t compare to the show that Bozeman put on. I’ve also seen big metropolitan fireworks extravaganzas that didn’t last more than a half hour. Bozeman’s fireworks display lasted almost an hour. Wow! We both agreed that this was the best fireworks display we had ever seen. If you ever get a chance, stay in Bozeman for the 4th of July . . . You wont be disappointed!
These are the photos I took with my Samsung tablet (not nearly as good, but they’ll have to suffice for now). One other note – these photos encompass our two days at the park, as we returned the next day, before continuing onto the Grand Tetons and Jackson, Wyoming. I will do a separate post on this part of our road trip next week some time, including Jeremy’s speeding ticket. OH OH!
Enjoy the photos!