So in the end the border crossing went pretty well. We (Matt) picked the slow moving line and it was slow moving because the agent there wanted to hear all about your life. Not that he really cared in our opinion but rather because he was doing a really good job at asking question and getting a dialogue going. End result is if your story isn’t together, he’s going to catch you. The positive thing with all that is that if your story is great, he’s letting you through.
The other great piece of information we got from him is pretty massive. It turns out that “technically”, a Canadian citizen could spend a full year in the USA. The only catch is that you must exit and re-enter the country at the 6 months mark. He said that for as long as they don’t believe you’re “living” there, which I think means working illegally, you can spend a lifetime in the USA if you’re able to sustain yourself and have a believable story.
Believe it or not, the drive across the USA was a drag. There’s a lot of nothing going from Sault Ste. Marie to Glacier National Park. Did you know that the state of Montana has less than 1 million people? It also appears that before a few years ago, their highway didn’t have a speed limit. But in any case, our goal of saving gas was achieved. We were able to fuel up for as low as $3.24 a US gallon in North Dakota. Do the math however you want, it’s pretty awesome.
One more thing we learned. Not all wines are created equal. Some products sold as “wine” here has very low alcohol percentage. We thought we scored a crazy deal on a rose for $4.29 a bottle but it turned out that it was more like a “cooler” (or grape juice) with an alcohol content of only 7%. Well we drank it anyways 🙂
We finally made it to West Glacier on Tuesday and made it our base camp for the last two nights. Finding a place to sleep was somewhat of an issue as it isn’t clear whether you are allowed to sleep in your vehicle in parking lots. In the end we picked the main parking lot at the information center and thankfully, no one came knocking.
Yesterday we did the Highline trail. Not so much elevation gain for as long as you do it the right way. It’s about 11 miles or 17.7 km long. After 7 miles, there’s a chalet and it’s a great stop before the last 4 miles of very unscenic descending landscape in very active bear country. It was a bit of struggle for Elaine as an old pain/injury came back to haunt her. Somehow she has pain in the knees, mostly when going downhill. It’s apparently very painful and her knee wants to give out when the pain hits. She pulled through the 2000 ft descent and celebrated it with two Advils and a beer 🙂
The park has a free shuttle system, which means that you can leave your car at the information center and they then take you to wherever you want to go along the Going-to-the-sun road. Obviously it’s a great way to save on gas and since that’s where we are sleeping, we are right there to catch the bus in the morning. The drive from the visitor center to Logan Pass takes over an hour. We have made a few friends along the way in that bus. People on vacation really like sharing their life stories with random strangers on the bus .. We love it!!
Today we did Mount Reynolds. The elevation gain was 2500 feet / 762 meters and the distance traveled was 5.5 miles each way. Its height is 9125 feet / 2781 meters. It’s interesting that only about 7 people summited that thing today, plus two more who turned around at the “crux”. It’s safe to assume that no one else did it as we had a “late start” of 10 am at the trail head and that we joined back with the tourist trail at 4pm. Our thoughts were that it’s super accessible and a bit mind blowing to see so few people going up it when there are hundreds if not thousands of people who stop by the visitor center where the trail head is located. The mountain stands out from there and we knew it was something we wanted to get up on as soon as we saw it. Elaine’s knees also held up pretty good which was a relief. The views were great and although windy, the weather turned out better than expected.
Budget day as of Wednesday August 27th. We have converted all the USD amounts either from using the amount that was charged in CAD to the credit card. For the amounts that weren’t posted to the credit card yet, we used an exchange rate of 1.12.
August 21 – August 27 : Weekly & Totals since we left 9 weeks ago.
Fuel: $727.57 / $2106.76
Food: $105.75 / $644.67
Fun: $63.52 / $599.38
Total for the week without fuel: $169.27
Total with fuel: $896.84
Total spent since the beginning: $3350.81
Total budget: $15160.55
Budget left: $11809.74
M & E