Monday, March 14, 2016

August 3, 1974 The Big Country, The Expo74, The Seattle World's Fair Site, The Amethyst Mine and The High Spots

Dear Mother,

"It has actually been raining most of the day and I think the grass looks greener already. I've been sewing today and am tired so I thought I'd start my letter and rest a bit. I'm still trying to finish Pat's pantsuit and have cut out Ann's. She called yesterday and said they might come home next weekend so I'd sure like to have hers done by then so I can see if it fits. Her school will be starting the end of August, I guess.

B found lots of school work waiting for him so he's up to his ears already. I spent most of yesterday on the laundry and ironed a bit today.

We had a wonderful trip and just stopped where we wanted to. This sure is a big country and so is Canada, of course. There really isn't much difference in the landscape. Their far west is like ours with the same mountains and beautiful scenery. They have a midwest--flat and full of wheat and their lake country is like our Minnesota. All cars have to stop at the border of course, but it is so easy to go back and forth. They ask you where you live and how long you plan to stay in Canada. They didn't even ask to see our drivers' license or any citizenship papers. We heard U.S. news every evening in our motels and read the news in daily papers. I told B it would be nice if all countries got along like the U.S. & Canada.

We had only a general idea of where we were going when we left home so we read the travel guide about places along the way and watched the map closely to see what interesting places there were along the way. There are so many, of course you have to choose. The badlands of S.D. were real impressive. The weather has eroded soil away until rough mountains & rocks are left. The Indians named it because it was bad land to travel through and it is desert-like. A dry hot wind was blowing and signs at the museum warned against rattlesnakes so we didn't do any walking around except in regular parking and marked areas.

The museum is an information center so you can learn about the badlands and what can live there--plants, animals & birds. This place isn't too far from Yellowstone National Park but we resisted temptation and didn't drive into it.

We stayed at the Expo less than half a day and went on to Seattle.

The Fair site has been made into a permanent park so the buildings are used for public meetings, plays, concerts and such. One building was full of shops of all nations--they had the usual souvenir junk as well as some beautiful things. Japan had one shop that sold only pearls. In the same building were food shops of all nations that sold lunches & dinners or snacks. We had a Japanese dinner that evening. It was a really fun place to look around. There were gardens & fountains where you rest or just sit in the sun and watch the people. That's as much fun as anything.

Vancouver was a beautiful city. We stopped at the information center for visitors as we went in and the man gave us a city map & suggested things to see. There was a beautiful park with a scenic drive along the water and thru the woods. The zoo has a pair of white whales and we'd never seen anything like that before. They were trained and we saw them go thru their tricks at feeding time. Their hide is really white and they are beautiful animals--from arctic waters. Vancouver has a Chinatown but it wasn't any different from the one in Chicago. We ate lunch there and bought some fruit. There was wonderful fruit everywhere and we had some in the car all of the time.

Glacier National Park is really only part of a park that is half in the U.S. and half in Canada. It's real name is the International Peace Park. It was formed by glaciers long ago and there aren't any real glaciers in it now but there are lots of deep snow banks that look like glaciers. It was cool but the sun was hot. The snow was melting so there were lots of waterfalls and the wildflowers were everywhere. I had never seen most of them before. There is a road built across the middle of the parks which winds thru the mountains and then circles around the south end of the park. It is called the Road to the Sun and we drove the whole way. Lots of other people were there too to see the gorgeous scenery. That night we stayed in a little cabin inside the park and on the banks of a lake. It was a beautiful, peaceful place. There wasn't a T.V. or radio and we didn't miss either.

North of this park is another Canadian park built around Lake Louise. That too, is a heavenly spot. We stayed there one night in the old hotel. Our room was in a new, modern wing but the hotel lobby was in the old part and very interesting. The furniture was ancient and that night there was a roaring fire in the fireplace. The room was big & one side was full of windows which looked out over the lake & mountains. When we finished supper & walked thru the lobby there was a row of old rocking chairs (12 or 15) in front of the windows & all filled with people of all ages just sitting & rocking. There is an elegant lodge there too and we walked thru just to see it. It was like the castles in Europe but not as interesting as the old hotel.

For two or three years I've wanted to go to Thunder Bay to see an amethyst mine that I'd read about. It was back off the main road on a rough dirt road but well worth the trip. There were piles of this beautiful lavender rock everywhere and you could see it in the rocks along the side of the mine. It was just a big open ditch that had been blasted out. It was discovered by accident when blasting was being done for utility lines of some sort. This has been only a few years ago and now it is a thriving business. I bought one little piece and a cut stone to use in my jewelry. You can pay so much a lb. and pick up all you want of it and there is lots of it. I didn't want any of the big rocks.

When we called you we were in a little tiny town called Cache Creek. It was the last stop for supplies during the gold rush days and isn't much bigger than it was then, I guess.

At Butte, Montana we went to see a huge copper mine. They get some silver & gold out of it, too. There were places built for visitors to stand & look but the hole of the mine was so big & deep the men looked like ants. It was worth seeing, anyway. We wanted to see a gold mine that is open to the public and still working but got to the area too late in the day so didn't even go to the town. That was in Montana, too, I think.

We crossed lots of wide open country where there didn't seem to be much of anything but there were herds of cattle, horses & sheep. We saw wild deer grazing with the cattle or just in herds to themselves. There were lots of oil wells pumping in this barren looking area, too.

These are the high spots but we saw so much in such a short time that I can't remember it all.

I must get to work. B has gone to the office and I have lots to do.

Hope your back feels better and that it is cooler there now."



NOTE: That's the trusty green Buick, FB4020.

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