SUN CHASERS: ALBERTA, MONTANA, IDAHO

And...we're gone! The Jackson's have left the country!  Good bye freezing cold Canada, hello...slightly less cold USA.  So, it's finally happened, we're on the road traveling South to find warmer weather for the winter.  It's been a long time coming, although it only feels like a short time since we were last in California.  

We left late on the 27th and slowly made our way South to the border, reaching Montana just after dark.  Our first day of driving we made it as far as Great Falls, MT.  I would have liked to make it to the border a little earlier so as to see a little more of Montana before night fall but I guess that just wasn't in the cards.  This time around we're traveling a little slower.  With Casper in tow our fuel mileage has taken a hit, so I try to keep our speed between 90-100kph.  I won't elaborate on out first day of driving, it was uneventful and mostly just a grind.  We encountered strong cross winds, dense fog and blowing snow the whole way to Great Falls.  At 11:30pm, about an hour outside of Great Falls, MT we pulled into a rest stop for some shut eye.  The temperature was -3*C.  

 Somebody is ready to go!

Somebody is ready to go!

 Alison doesn't like it when I take pictures while I drive, that's why she's holding the steering wheel just out of view.

Alison doesn't like it when I take pictures while I drive, that's why she's holding the steering wheel just out of view.

The next day would prove to be far more interesting.  Montana is a beautiful state and it was a treat to see it completely covered in snow; however, I think I'd prefer that it were a little warmer.  We stopped in Helena, the state capital for some coffee.  After a caffeine and wifi fix we ventured into town to see if we could locate the two large steeples we had glimpsed entering the town.  A few minutes later we found the large Catholic church.  Before eating breakfast in the church parking lot we did a walk around of the church.  Alison found an open door so we gave ourselves a quick self-guided tour of the inside.  I'd never been inside a church that elaborate before, quite a spectacle.  After our little tour we went into Casper to have breakfast then shortly after hit the road.

 Alison takes any opportunity to get a little dancing in...

Alison takes any opportunity to get a little dancing in...

 That nun moves pretty quick!

That nun moves pretty quick!

 'Elaborate' may be an understatement.

'Elaborate' may be an understatement.

 Breakfast in Casper is a cold endeavor, but that doesn't mean it's not cozy.

Breakfast in Casper is a cold endeavor, but that doesn't mean it's not cozy.

Before reaching the Idaho state line we stopped off at a frozen reservoir for a bite to eat and some play time on the ice.  We've been eating up all our left over food from our house, so ham and cheese quesadilla's were on the menu.  It's no steak dinner, but it was warm and filled us up.

 What's on the menu? Ham and cheese quesadilla's with a topping of frigid air.

What's on the menu? Ham and cheese quesadilla's with a topping of frigid air.

 It's good to jump around, helps circulation.

It's good to jump around, helps circulation.

 Rad, dude.

Rad, dude.

Crossing into Idaho was exciting as it was the first state line that we could actually see (Montana was in the dark) and it made it seem like we were actually getting somewhere.  Idaho, in short has some pretty incredible views.  Not knowing what to expect as we traveled, it was a thrill to find a desolate and foreign landscape as we turned off the I-84 at Dubois and headed SW along the mountains towards Crater of the Moon National Park.  Had I not known, I would have thought I was in Alaska again; it was almost as though we were driving through tundra.  

 Entering Idaho...or Alaska, I'm not sure, I may have misread the sign.

Entering Idaho...or Alaska, I'm not sure, I may have misread the sign.

 We saw a lot of this.  And this was on the 1-84, it became even more desolate once we turned off at Dubois.

We saw a lot of this.  And this was on the 1-84, it became even more desolate once we turned off at Dubois.

 "Woah guys, stand pretty, we're getting out photo taken!" - Horse

"Woah guys, stand pretty, we're getting out photo taken!" - Horse

We managed to reach Craters of the Moon just before dark and get a mere glimpse of the landscape.  It'll be put on the list of places we need to go back to for sure.  After that it was darkness till we reached Twin Falls.  We refueled in Twin Falls, drove another 40 mins to a rest stop just outside of Boise and then went to sleep for the night.  The temperature was -11*C, a slightly less comfortable sleeping temperature.

 Temperatures were in the area of -15*C on this section of road.

Temperatures were in the area of -15*C on this section of road.

 I've seen similar pictures taken on the Dalton Highway in winter.

I've seen similar pictures taken on the Dalton Highway in winter.

Some observations I have from our travel thus far:

  • traveling in the cold is scenic but far more difficult than in a warmer climate.
  • insulation is something that I will never take for granted again.
  • keep your water inside your heated cab otherwise it'll freeze while traveling in the winter.
  • rest stops suck for sleeping.
  • towing a trailer is great, but not perfect, having a pass-through cab would be better for cold temperature travel.

Yesterday was spent in Boise, Idaho.  We made our way from our rest stop getaway into the city where we dropped off Casper at a friends place then went and rented some snow shoes.  From the ski shop we drove into the mountains to Bogus Basin.  An hour and a half of trudging through the snow and soaking up the sun we had loosened up our stiff joints and worked up a good sweat to counter all the seat time we'd had in the two days previous.  

 These were the warmest temperatures we've seen since we left, 3*C, and at the top of a mountain no less...

These were the warmest temperatures we've seen since we left, 3*C, and at the top of a mountain no less...

 I told Alison to look back, this was her interpretation.

I told Alison to look back, this was her interpretation.

 I'm taking up extreme snow-shoeing.

I'm taking up extreme snow-shoeing.

 A happy travel-team.

A happy travel-team.

Today after a lunch visit with friends in downtown Boise we hit the road again and drive to Utah.  Hopefully it's a little warmer there.