Back in the USA

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Flag of United States  , Montana
Friday, October 5, 2007

Well we spent the last day or so in Magrath cleaning, tidying and generally making ready for our journey south to the border. Although not packed with tourist attractions the area was very interesting nonetheless. When the railroad arrived it had 1million acres of land at its disposal, which it intended to sell to eager farmsteaders; a plan that fell flat on its face when it became apparent that the area was incredibly hard to cultivate, mainly because it was so dry. However the Mormans were already skilled at irrigation and their arrival was the catalyst needed, Stirling, Raymond and Magrath were born. 

The area now prospers fed by irrigation systems, evidence of which is frequently seen as you drive around. The Japanese also had a part to play in Alberta's history as they too worked on irrigation projects and of course the railway.

However I digress: we avidly read all the relevant web pages from the homeland security site, hoping to make sure we had done all we could to make our border crossing as straight forward as possible and that any search would not reveal anything we shouldn't have on board. We ate all the vegetables we had left (and a very nice curry they made too, but I'm not sure about the addition of the cabbage!) Much to Malc's chagrin, we left our firewood for the next campers (no wood allowed) and we even - well Malc- removed the thick layers of mud that Toad had accumulated about his undercarriage along some of the local roads (no soil allowed) so we were set, trying not to pay too much attention to the looming forecasts of snow!

Friday morning we woke, and yes it had snowed - though hardly anything to worry about. However the outlook was for more throughout the day, but we decided to go for it. The minute flakes soon turned to sleet and then to rain and our drive to the border was murky and uninspiring, along a surprisingly quiet road. An hour after arriving at Coutts(Canada) that is Sweetgrass (USA) we were on our way once more. The American adventure begins again! And you know, the Montana landscape was just as murky as Alberta! It rained all the way to Great Falls which is now our base. 
 The campsite was very busy and had almost filled by the end of the day, only to empty out as if by magic the next morning as number plates from states like Louisiana, Texas and Idaho hightailed it home before the winter. I think this'll happen all over again today and then again, until there are no snowbirds left north of the border. They are all following the geese!


So here we are in Montana, land of the big sky and on Sat afternoon that beautiful blue sky opened up as it chased the gloomy clouds away. Great falls sits on the Missouri river, along a stretch that has five "falls" as the river descends about 500' The Missouri incidentally drains southwards to the Gulf of Mexico, whereas the Bow that we had followed for so long flows north to Hudson Bay. You know this traveling lark helps the geography no end - perhaps I should have done it before I tried teaching! The falls are now harnessed for power and at this time of year though the water levels are lower than in the spring, it still makes for a welcome change in the relief. 


As we stood on Black Eagle Island in the middle of the river in the late afternoon sunshine, we looked for the best canoe routes through the rapids in front of us. 

Whilst I picked out a fairly safe option near the bank, Malc went for the more exciting option straight down the riskiest bit! Nothing new there then. Oh, we have done a few little maintenance jobs on Bree -  what's so great about that I hear you say? Well, we were directed to a very interesting shop in our search for something we wanted - Big R Stores

 - a farm supplies "shop". Check out the pictures and you'll see what fun it was just wandering round. Sad aren't we?

Tomorrow is Columbus Day, a public holiday and we plan to explore a small part of - The Lewis & Clarke Trail. If you can't wait for our story, you can find out more about them at
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