Wednesday, August 06, 2014

A Short Trip to the US (1): Crossing to Montana

This last weekend's first scheduled plan was to hike Ptarmigan Trail and reach its tunnel in Glacier National Park, State of Montana. The Lady encouraged this trip way before it started but was not aware of the detail. She wouldn't mind she said later on. I talked to M. C. and he agreed to join us at the other side of the border.
We headed south on Highway No. 2 on Sat. morning and I guess it was around 12:15 PM or so when we saw the line at the border. The US border crossing station at Alberta-Montana is called Peigan while it is called Carway at the Canadian side. I was not expecting a long wait but it was proved to me that I was wrong, later! We waited approximately 02:30 but when we reached the booth we didn't even spend 5 minutes. There was an African-American officer who asked a few simple questions and let us go. He even didn't stamp our passports! I guess it is not a norm when you cross to the US or vise verse, from ground.
A good plan would have been arriving around at the most 09:00 AM. Had we done that, our waiting time would have been probably reduced to 10 min.!
Cars are waiting for their turn to be inspected at Canada-US or better to say Alberta-Montana border of Peigan
The area around the border at both side is beautiful and mostly occupied by the Native people of Blackfeet, as far as I know. That's what they are called in the US and in Canada they are named Blackfoot.
Anyways the motel that I had made a reservation for was only 35 min. away from the border in the small community of St. Mary. We found it with not much difficulty and settled in. Due to the limited season in the area, the motels and hotels are either very pricey or beat up. Soon it appeared to us that ours fell under the second category(!) although we should have known by just considering the price. We had reservation of a room with King Size Bed and upon arrival we realized that the was on the main floor. Considering the building was old and made of wood, we decided to change to Queen and a bit less expensive but we hit each other a few times during the night!
The other thing that we soon learnt was our mobile phones both being out of service! None of the companies of Bell and Fido, apparently provide their services in Montana although when we were going back and before crossing back to Alberta we received ridiculous text messages welcoming us to the US!
I had to call M. C. to see what their plan was for that night and there was no damn phone in the motel but one in the office. I asked the lady and she, most likely a Native American, directed me to public phone but I guess that was because she though I wanted to make a long distance telephone call. I found out later that Verizon was the only company covering that area.
East Flattop Mountain looks over St. Mary Lake is seen from the motel
I then went to the community and I realized that there was a pay phone by one of the grocery store/gift shops but I had to pay $1 to make a short telephone call! I dialed M. C.'s number and I got the machine without a ring. I left a message and went back to the motel after getting a bottle of water.
You have to be prepared in advance otherwise you end up paying excessively for water and other essentials. It's understandable that the business season is short and they have to get everything from miles (as it's the unit of long distance in the US) away. We got a medium Plum Tomato for $0.89! A gallon of water, which equals to 3.78 Liter was almost $4 and the prices are all in American Dollar!
We decided to drive around a bit and see what was around so we took US 89 and headed south. The road goes to Browning which is a Native American town, mostly and I had heard from M. C. that he was scared when he had stopped there to get something from a grocery store. With that in my mind I strolled down the road and stopped a few times for photographs. Once after a turn I saw an old truck and when we got closer I saw a Native girls behind the wheel who seem not to pleased by seeing us. He gave us an evil eye look and I passed her. I had her in my rear-view mirror and I was waiting for something bad to happen. US 89 in that part is a one-lane, very narrow road with not many turn-outs. After just a few kilometers I saw another Native fella on an ATV coming out of the bushes while talking to a some sort of radio or maybe a mobile phone. The truck behind us pulled over and joined him after that. Apparently they were in contact. I thought to myself: We are in the middle of nowhere with no access to telephone and police and emergency kilometers away. If anything happens to us, we'll be finished! So I turned away and drove back to St. Mary! I made another telephone call to M. C. and they came over and we discussed tomorrow's plan. 
The night sleep in the motel started finely. It was absolute quietness and peace. That was the thing I liked about the place. The bed were not comfortable but the other good thing was that there was no jerk assholes around to disturb the peace. 
(Photo, top: You see this welcome sign shortly after passing the border. The lands around are all belong to Native Americans and you even can see their Tee-pees there)

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