Today's the big day!

After 7 weeks on the road, I'm finally going to get some Indian food today - and, just because we are in Montana, I"m not talking about buffalo and moccasins, but actual Samosas and Tandoori.

We are in Missoula, Montana after spending 2 nights in Glacier National Park. Glacier is a beautiful park, but other than it's famous "Going-To-The-Sun Road," which is a 10 mile road hewn into the side of the sheer mountain side in the 1930's, it pales in comparison to the sights of the Canadian Rockies. Jasper and Banff National Parks set new standards. You gotta see them.

The road between Jasper and Banff - about 200 miles - is called "Icefields Parkway". Midway is the Columbia Icefields, which is a glacier high in the mountains. It has become one of the most popular sites in Western Canada. There are arctic vehicles that are essentially half tourbus, half snowmobile that take you from the mainroad up into the glacier, onto hundreds of feet of ice and snow. Very cool - both cosmically, and thermostatically.

After leaving the glacier, a little further down the mailroad, we saw a young black bear eating berries on the side of the road, waterfalls, tremendous views - just what the tourist brochures claim you'll see!

We spent 2 days in Banff - it's a pretty touristy town with lots of nice shops and restaurants. We made on contribution to the Canadian economy - buying fleece and goretex jackets and some souvenirs. We ate dinner at the Banff Springs Hotel - you've probably seen a picture of it somewhere. The hotel looks like a giant castle with 800 rooms and suites, nestled in the North Woods. We ate at the Waldhaus which was in the woods behind the hotel, which Cordula confirms was an accurate representation of a German forest house from her childhood - down to the music, food and smells. The schnitzel and the spaetzle was ausgezeichnet!

On the way south, we passed through Fort McLeod, Alberta, famous for 2 things: 1) it was the original fort of the original Royal Canadian Mountain Police, and now an interesting museum, and 2) outside of FortMcLeod is a UNESCO World Heritage site - home of the best named thing we've seen: "Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump".

This is like something you read about in grade school. It is the place where the Indians led buffalo in a stampede over a cliff, where they fell to their deaths and then salvaged the buffalo for meat, skins and utensils. This site was used for over 10,000 years until only about 120 years ago. Because it was used so recently, there is a lot of anthropological information available and even some photographs made by explorers from Europe who only opened up the area in the 1880's.

There is a world class 7 story museum on this site, built into the cliffs - you can hardly tell it's there until you are on the inside. Head Smashed In was named for a young indian brave who was watching the buffalo come over the cliff many moons ago, and then decided to stand between the falling buffalo and the cliff, much like you might stand behind a waterfall. Well, he got a little too close to the falling buffalo and hence, the name.

After a night in the town of Fort McLeod, we made our run for the border. It does feel good to be back in the US. Crossing into the States on Sunday was a different experience from going into Canada. We crossed at a little border station just north of Babb, Montana (pop. about 17). The border patrol didn't even look at passports or any ID or ask us about drugs or guns - but he sure was obsessed about reviewing the paperwork we had for the dogs - rabies & vet health certificates, etc. On the other hand, we could have had 10 more dogs in the back - he never even actually looked at the dogs, so who knows.

Speaking of dogs, we got to check out the veterinary system in Kalispell, Montana. Shasta had some signs of "female problems" and indeed, the vet said that she had an infection - to be cleared up with some antibiotics. We stumbled into this vet from the Yellow Pages, but it turned out that he was amazing. He had a widespread reputation (backed up by many articles and photos from the local papers) for taking on the most challenging cases. The number of different species he had worked on was up to 102 - including open heart surgery on 5 week old puppies, lung surgery on a pet goose that had been attacked by a bear, creating orthotics for a dog with a broken pelvis, snakes, wolverines, elk - you name it.

Even though we are in Montana, we've seen no signs of the forest fires other than articles in the local newspapers. There's no smoke in the air, no fire engines running down the road. Depending upon who you talk to, it's either been overblown in the media, or not emphasized enough. Montana is a very big state, and very nice. Too bad it's so darned cold here in the winter!

Well, that's all for now - we'll let you know how Indian food in Missoula turns out. We think we're about week away from home and are still planning to head back out around October 1 for another few months.

- Cordula & Steve.