Our Journey Across The US Border

One of the great things about living in Okotoks is that it gives you the opportunity to enjoy some fabulous road trips.  This time, we decided to head down across the Canada/US border into the US state of Montana and over the next several posts, we will share the story of our journey. 

We began our road trip to Helena, Montana early on Boxing Day morning.  We had a good clear day and watched the sun come up over the mountains as we drove.

After around 3 hours of driving, past High River, through Nanton, Claresholm, Fort McLeod and Lethbridge, we reached the border.  We waited, not sure quite what to expect, as this was our first border crossing by road.

We sat in a line, with about 5 cars in front of us and waited for our turn.  It was finally our turn to drive up to the booth and once there, the border guard asked to see our passports.  He was not particularly interested in our Permanent Residence (PR) cards. We were asked a few questions, such as the purpose of our visit, our length of stay, etc.  We were asked to pull around the corner, go into the office and fill out the I94 green forms, the same ones that you would fill in if you were flying to the States from the UK.

The process was fairly slow and we were probably there for around an hour, which considering it wasn’t that busy, felt a little frustrating.  We filled our our forms, were finger printed and photographed (just as you would be at a US airport) and then, upon paying $6 (US, not Canadian) each, we were good to go.

We drove over the US border, via road, for the first time in our lives.

The road we would spend the next four or so hours on, stretched before us.

The landscape close to the border was quite stark and it reminded us of Drumheller a little bit.

Although we had been driving for several hours, we had a bit of a double-take at this road sign…had we taken a serious wrong turn somewhere?

 Some of the sights on our journey.

The last 30 miles of the journey towards Helena sees you passing through the mountains.  The road is in good condition and has two lanes in either direction, but it is very windy, with some steep rises and falls in gradient.

Finally, we arrived at our destination.  We were greeted with a very stylish hotel lobby and a lovely big hotel room.

We’ll publish more about our trip over the days ahead.


Christmas Day 2009

It was a quite beautiful Christmas Day here – brilliant sunshine and a clear blue sky – with little by way of wind, so the low minus temperatures, once you have a layer or two on, were absolutely lovely to take a walk in, so that’s what we did.

From up by Okotoks Junior High School, the views across town and towards the mountains were magnificent.

Then we made our way down to the walking paths along the Sheep River and strolled along.
By the time we had returned home, the lake behind us had become very busy with Christmas Day skating and Hockey…
Okotoks is a beautiful place to call home, especially on days like this.
To our readers from all over the world, thank you for spending another year with us.  We look forward to sharing more of our lives with you in 2010 and for those working with Eamonn in relocating to Calgary and surrounding towns, we look forward to meeting you or meeting you again over the weeks and months ahead.

We Never Tire of Those Mountains

On the drive down to High River this morning it was hard to keep our eyes on the road.  The sun was just coming up, making the mountains look pink.  It didn’t last very long and unfortunatley the photo doesn’t really do them justice.  It was one of those “so lucky to live here” moments!


Snow Storm – The Aftermath

After the amount of snow that had fallen yesterday, it was understandable that there would be some consequences today.

Snow drift on our covered front porch.

 This is our drive taken from the bonus room window.


Drifts from the front of the house…actually, this is after clearing away most of what was a snow drift about two and a half feet tall!
And the Shovelling begins!
Snow piled up afer shovelling – one side.
Snow piled up – both sides.
A sprinkling of snow on the road!
Kids off Sledging.
Our neighbours used to have a basement window here!
This is our poor tree, we can’t see anything of its trunk!
Snow drift in the back garden.  We would estimate that to be about three feet high.
The lake is probably well on its way to being deeply frozen now!
And finally, we can’t tell you the number of vehicles we have seen in this situation…

Brutal Weather Today

Well in our time here to date, today is probably one of the worst storms we have experienced.  A weather warning has been in place since yesterday. The wind and snow started early this morning (around 9am), and within a couple of hours visibility was poor on the highways and deteriorating rapidly. As conditions were one of the most extreme we have experienced, we decided to take a short film.

We were told that some schools have been closing and the local police are encouraging people to stay off the highways.  The Christmas parade, due to be held in High River this evening, has been cancelled along with the Festival of Lights in Airdrie.

The snow is blowing around so much that the houses at the other side of the lake are no longer visible!

The windows of our house are so covered in snow that we cannot see out of them properly – this has never happened to this degree before.

The following highway alert has also been issued:

“R C M P in the Calgary area are asking motorists to stay off of the highways. The Queen Elizabeth Highway 2, northbound and southbound is closed between Calgary and Airdrie because of a motor vehicle collision. Highway 2 at the highway 7 intersection near Okotoks is closed due to a multiple vehicle pile-up.”

We just hope all our friends take lots of care and get back safely today/tonight.


Once Upon A Christmas at Hertiage Park

Each year Heritage Park puts on its Christmas event.  As there has been a lot of work and upgrading of the park during this year, we thought we would go, not least because we wanted to see some of the changes and new additions.
This picture shows the entrance with its new “ice” rink which is comprised of a synthetic material which is a close alternative to ice. It will never melt or become lumpy.

Also new are shops, restaurants, a train station (restaurant) and the new gasoline alley.
Gasoline Alley used to be housed in the red barn in the park, but the collection has now grown and it is housed in this huge building.
Here are some of the new statues which are really lovely.
One of the many old style vehicles you see driving around.
There are horse and carriage rides around the park.  Here, the horses are just passing the Prince House, one of our favourites in the park.
This is the tree inside the house.
And of course, the lovely Wainwright Hotel.
The perfect place to post those letters to Santa.
And carol singers, dressed in traditional dress.
This picture shows the beech twig they used as a Christmas Tree in years gone by. There wasn’t always a plentiful supply of trees in these parts.
Big red barn that used to be Gasoline Alley.
Grain Elevator with remnants of the Chinook Arch that bought us such mild temperatures on the day.
Reservoir, just starting to freeze.
What a nice way to get in the mood for Christmas!