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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default Planning 2016 Summer Trip - Montana

    It's been touch-and-go for the past 9 days. We had our summer trip all outlined, some of the reservations made, and were starting to get excited about it. Then, disaster struck inside the kitchen. Our 8-year-old kitchen had a pipe develop a leak. The leak itself did about $10K worth of damage, most of it (thankfully) covered by insurance. But knowing how long it takes to order new cabinets that will actually match the ones that were not affected, we started to worry about losing our planned vacation.

    To top this all, our younger daughter, who lives close by, is expecting her 2nd baby this summer. So our vacation has been carefully planned to try to be home for the birth of our 4th grandbaby, as long as the baby doesn't come too early. It was also planned to avoid certain festivals in the areas that we're planning to go to.

    Now it appears that things are going to work out. Whew! So, now I can start asking questions that some of you may be able to answer.

    First question: Glacier National Park is very adamant that your vehicle cannot be longer than 21', or wider than 8' (including the mirrors), to drive Going to the Sun Highway. How is that measured? I'm thinking that a standard Super Cab Ford pickup with the fold-out mirrors will be okay. The length is just over 20' (so we're pushing it), but not sure about the width. Our mirrors are permanently mounted. I just don't know if we should go to the trouble of trying to measure the width.

    Second question: Does anyone have any experience with the Canada/US border crossing at Waterton Lakes NP (AB), or into Idaho from BC? Both hubby and myself have passports -- I just got my very first one -- anything else I should be thinking about? No kids or pets are traveling with us.

    Third question: If you were going to Waterton Lakes for a day visit and a short hike, where would you stay for two nights? Mountain View AB? Or is there a better choice? (In the park hotel seems a bit high for our budget, frankly.)


    Donna

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,269

    Default

    1. No problem. You are just under 7 feet wide. You may want to fold the mirrors in.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Border Crossing and a Place to Stay

    I was going to say that I have never had a problem crossing the Canadian border anywhere along its length from Maine to Washington and then I remembered a couple of incidents, one of which resulted in my being refused entry and the other resulting in a limited visa. But the first was the result of an overzealous border guard and my own youth (fortunately I just drove to another nearby crossing and had no problems) while the other was an unfortunate bit of forgetfulness on my part during my days as a medical technologist (I carried hypodermic syringes in my glove compartment for occasional house calls). But other than those incidents (and even including them) I have always found both the Canadian border guards and their U.S. counterparts to be professional, courteous, and friendly - particularly at the smaller crossings. In short. This is not something I would lose any sleep over. Just smile and answer any questions they may have and you should be on your way in very short order.

    As for where to stay for a night or two near Watertown Lakes, I'd probably be looking at one of the three mid-range motels in Cardston about 30 miles east of Watertown Park (the town). Yes that's a bit of a drive, but the prices are quite reasonable and 30 miles really isn't all that far in the scheme of things.

    AZBuck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    Glacier NP website says that the measurement must be with the mirrors out. If they aren't, we aren't driving legally anyway. With a camper shell, the rear-view mirror shows not-much, so we'd have to rely on the side mirrors. I'm just wondering if they just blow you through because they know trucks from experience, or if they make you drive into a painted rectangle on the ground and see if you fit, or something.

    Our last trip into Canada was before 9/11, which is why I asked that question. I remember being asked how much liquor we had inside the trailer (a bottle of wine), how much food we had (we said a week's worth, but there was probably about 2 weeks of canned and paper goods), and when they boarded the trailer (where there was a big dog crate, with our dog inside it) they asked for the dog's rabies shot verification, which we had. They also asked about guns (none, we knew they were illegal) and camera gear, of which we had probably a little more than the average family. However, everything was etched with our name on it, so they had no further questions about that. (Can't help it if we were, are still are, shutterbugs.) Going back into the US, not so many questions.

    Thanks for the comments about Waterton and Cardston. Definitely something to think about. I priced Mountain View and it's almost as high as the Prince of Wales hotel in the park itself.


    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,269

    Default

    As long as your mirrors don't stick out more than 8 inches farther than the regular factory mirrors you are fine. Click the thumbnail:

    Image2.jpg

    Last time I went to Glacier, they weren't checking.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    Next Canadian question: does anyone have a specific app to recommend for dollar/CDN dollar conversions? I'm wondering which ones keep up with the day-to-day fluctuations of the value of the US dollar. (As of a couple of days ago, $1.00 Canadian was .77 American.)

    We're going to try to avoid buying diesel on the Canadian side, if we can help it. We'll probably try to drive from East Glacier Park, MT, into Waterton, through Canada, and into the US and fuel up at Bonners Ferry. I did notice, however, that Gas Buddy does have Canadian fuel prices listed.


    Donna

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Forget about comparing.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    .... does anyone have a specific app to recommend for dollar/CDN dollar conversions?
    For me, there is nothing worse than checking the conversion daily. It makes for a more relaxing holiday if you just pay what you have to, and forget what it would have cost if.........

    Lifey

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,269

    Default

    Just browse to xe.com with your phone, it will load a mobile optimized site.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    162

    Default

    Hi, Donna:

    I agree that there's no sense being preoccupied with the exchange rate, since the only rate that matters is the rate being offered at the bank where you change your dollars into loonies. That close to the border, you'll do fine. Deeper into the interior, the rate tends to be less favorable. And you should definitely avoid buying fuel in Canada--the price difference is painful.

    I crossed the border between Waterton and Glacier last year when I returned to the US after driving to Alaska. On the US side, the border was almost like a drive through window. We handed over our passports, answered three or four basic questions, then the guy said "welcome back" and waved us through. We never even got out of the car. I entered Canada six weeks or so earlier at Sumas (Abbotsford) east of Vancouver, which is a much larger crossing. At that one, I was selected for some extra attention, which involved parking my Jeep and walking into a building, where they asked me quite a few questions and checked my name in their database. Seems that if you've ever had a felony conviction, or a DUI, the Canadians won't let you into their country! Fortunately, I've never had such problems, so they smiled and gave me back my passport, bade me welcome, and sent me on my way. Nobody so much as peeked inside my vehicle at any of the border crossings on that journey, and everyone was extremely polite (especially on the Alaskan border--some really great folks up there).

    Cardston is a good bet for lodging. I personally stayed in Lethbridge, which is even further, but that was only because we had friends there (and it was free). Going to the Sun Road was closed much of last summer because of the smoke from the fires. I was lucky enough to arrive on the first day it was officially re-opened, so I at least got to drive it. Sadly, it was still so smoky that you could barely see the mountains. And nobody was measuring vehicles. Just be careful when you're passing--the point to the regulation isn't so much about the width of your truck. It's about the lack of width of the road!

    Rick

    If you're interested, here's a link to a gallery of my pictures from Waterton Lakes. Once it loads, each frame will advance automatically--or you can use the left and right arrows to move faster or back up:

    http://www.rcquinn.com/?bw_pt_galler...-national-park

    And here are some pics from Glacier NP, most taken off Many Glacier Road (which was not plagued by smoke). The gallery starts with some pictures of horses, a herd that was grazing alongside the road when we drove into Montana:

    http://www.rcquinn.com/?bw_pt_galler...l-park-montana

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    I would agree with others, there's not much point worrying about the daily exchange rate. It really shouldn't change all that much while on the road.

    When I was in Canada for a couple weeks last year, I rarely used cash. Plastic is taken pretty much everywhere - and having a card with a chip will be nice - although you'll confuse clerks because it will make you sign instead of using a pin, because the American banking system insists on staying a step beyond the rest of the world. If you have a good card where you don't get slammed with a foreign transaction fee (Capital One is a good one, BoA told me there was no fee, but actually charged me 3%, Discover has no fee, but also gives a lousy exchange rate) it's generally the closest you'll get to the "market" conversion rate.

    For changing cash, we only did it twice, and actually we got our best exchange rate of the trip at a tiny bank, in a tiny town, at the northern most point of our trip. It was actually quite a bit better than from the major bank we stopped at while exchanging money in southern Ontario.

    BTW - when are you planning to make this trip? I'm also thinking of heading to Montana/Alberta this summer, probably in August.

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