Destination Banff, Glacier, and Yellowstone National Parks: Notes Along the Way
I always take a notebook or notepad with me when I travel. I usually write about a day’s events after I return to the hotel, but sometimes I’ll put down thoughts on the bus or when there’s a break along the way. I don’t trust my mind to remember everything I’ve seen or heard over a busy day.
I also keep a small spiral notepad in my camera bag so I can jot down information about where I took a photo. I find it valuable, especially when I return home and begin sorting through the hundreds of images I’ve taken at various stops along the way. So, here are some of my scribbles from my recent trip to the Canadian Rockies, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and other places before and after:
- An American Airlines cancellation delayed the flight to Calgary one day. My wife and I were concerned because we had to take a COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours prior to our departure. We took ours on a Tuesday afternoon, so we were ready with our negative results. While our good neighbor to the north didn’t require testing, our tour company did because it apparently didn’t want travelers spreading the disease to other passengers. It was an inconvenience, but it made sense. But we were looking forward to the tour of Calgary.
We made it to Calgary International Airport after a 3.5-hour layover at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Everything was going smoothly through customs until we encountered a 20-something security guard near the exit. Before arriving in Canada, we had to complete an online ArriveCAN questionnaire on our reason for visiting, where we were staying, and how long we would be in their country. The security guard asked us what we were doing in Canada (“tourists”), where we were going (“Banff”), what we were going to do there (we gave him a perplexed look and said we were with a tour group), and then he asked where we were staying (I probably rolled my eyes, began pulling out travel papers and wondering if he was aware of ArriveCAN before he waved us on). I wasn’t about to let him spoil this trip by getting us off on the wrong foot.
- During our time in Banff, which is Canada’s first national park, I didn’t see any graffiti on buildings, bridges, or walls. Anywhere. I don’t recall seeing any in Calgary or during the drive to Banff. Nice and clean. Disheartening images I’ve seen on trips to other places in the world have been the defacing of structures in Rome, London, Budapest, Buenos Aires, Athens, and cities across the U.S. It’s ugly.
- We saw quite a few bicyclists along the highways, heading to scenic spots and wilderness areas. Our tour guide said that bears refer to them as “meals on wheels.”
Wildlife overpass on Trans-Canada highway
On the Trans-Canada highway, we saw animal overpasses and underpasses that provide elk, bears, deer, and other wildlife safe passage through areas and reduce the chances of encounters with motorists. There were also game fences from the highway to deter wildlife from reaching the highway. A study reported by The Wildlife Society found that fences offer the best way to reduce roadkill.
- I learned that the caribou, Canada’s majestic deer, is on the endangered species list.
- A highway sign in Montana: “Hate speeding tickets? Raise your right foot.”
- Two of our 31 travelers feel sick and tested positive for COVID-19 during the trip. They were quarantined for five days in the hotel, one in Missoula and the other in West Yellowstone. It made me wonder how many folks may have come down with the virus after they arrived home?
- The only complaint I heard on the tour was the bus going too fast, especially around photographic spots. I wish we could have stopped at entrances to the parks so we could take photos of welcome signs (I like to use them in photo books I make after trips).
- Our return flights from Jackson Hole to Chicago to Lexington, Ky., were uneventful, thank goodness.