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 DC's Awesome Return to the States Trip (with many pictures) 
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Post DC's Awesome Return to the States Trip (with many pictures) • Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 12:43 pm
In case the thread title didn't tip you off, this thread details my latest trip to Montana and Wyoming, which also marked 10 years to the month since leaving the United States. In here you will find tales of adventure. Laughter! Expressions of true love. :P The pictures were all taken by moi except the ones I'm staring in, (obviously) and have not been manipulated in anyway except to change the size. At the request of certain members of my family I've blurred them out of a few of the photos. Shall we begin?


July 27th - The Beginning

Nothing much was planned for this day except crossing the border smoothly and getting to Helena, MT at a decent time. After a quick stop at Tim Hortons for bean water we were on our fantastic journey. As you can tell I was in awe by the beautifully changing scenery surrounding us.

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Seriously though the landscape was pretty cool, changing from mountains to foothills to flat then smaller mountains. I didn't take any pictures at the border for obvious reasons. I'm sure there are pictures of our van and license plate stored in a database somewhere. :P

I honestly didn't think Montana was going to look that different from southern Alberta to be honest, so I was quite surprised to find it more hilly and....deserty. Mind you there wasn't any actual desert, it just felt that way. There was still a good deal of foliage though as the following pictures will show.

My aunts (whom was traveling with us in a different car) wanted to stop by a place called the Gates of the Mountain before we reached Helena. This is where our touring began.


The Gates of the Mountain

It is worth noting that almost everything touristy in Montana has some connection to Lewis and Clark. If they didn't discover it, it's named after them. If it's not named after them there's something major related to them. Makes me wish I learned about them in school...kinda.

The Gates of the Mountain is situated at a bend in the Missouri River. Lining this bend are many docks for a variety of boats and of course the obligatory visitor centre.

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The primary attraction here is taking a ferry down the river in between the mountains and then heading back upstream. As you can guess this makes for some pretty nice pictures.

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This one is my favorite of the tour. It's also the first time I'd seen a bald eagle (that I could remember anyways)

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Our ferry was steered by a tour guide named Jim who provided commentary and pointed out much of the history surrounding the mountain. The boat itself wasn't too large, enough for 30-40 people. We sat at the very back.

My view from the boat:

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From the front:

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There were more pictures but I think you can get the gist of it. After this tour it was almost 6:00 in the evening, so we headed straight for our hotel and looked around for some place to have dinner.

*disclamer* The following is not a paid advertisement on behalf of the establishment, simply an outpouring of genuine appreciation for the service. *end disclaimer*

Alright so everyone here needs to eat at this place we found called Montana City Grill. Seriously, the only thing I could think of the entire time I was eating there, was this Channel 101 video (Warning: Rated M for language): http://www.channel101.com/shows/view.php?media_id=2665 Why? Because they have to be adding something in their food for EVERYTHING to taste good. The ribs were the best I've ever eaten, (which is saying something) the fries were good, Julie's fish and chips were good, the soup and everything else my family ordered was good. Maybe I'm just used to getting crappy service and sub par food at some of Calgary's restaurants, but this was some seriously good BBQ. Mind you the price reflects that but it's worth it.

*cough* Anyways.... :shifty: we couldn't really do much except roll around like a ball after that meal, so we called it a night. :P


July 28 - Rocks and More Rocks

In planning this trip to Montana two places were recommended by tourist forerunners: The Mineral Museum in Butte (Pronounced "bee-you-t" I got it wrong at first, go figure.) and the Lewis and Clark Caverns somewhere in the middle of Montana. Please note that neither of these locations are in the immediate vicinity of Helena. So we piled into the car and got ready for another exciting day of driving.


The Mineral Museum

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This place is actually located within Montana Tech which has an AMAZING view of the city and surrounding mountains. Geez why is the University of Alberta so boring? Even our "view" of the river is blocked by high trees and buildings. I kinda envy the students of Montana Tech for being able to look out their classroom windows and see this:

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That's outside their mining engineering faculty building. You know what my faculty building looks out to? A parking lot. :L

Anyways, back to the museum. Rocks and minerals are pretty cool and all, but after you see hundreds of them it can get kind of boring. My sister had a blast (Amy loves rocks) and I passed the time posing for random pictures.

This one was pretty cool. I want a rock like that to put at the top of my walking staff. :shifty:

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I think this is a mineral tree or something...

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I should mention that this is not a very big museum, it just seems big. It's one large room with a vaulted ceiling and two lofts, that's it. However even a museum this small managed to have a gift shop, where my relatives spent MORE TIME in than looking at the display cases. Seriously all together I think they spent about 400 clams on rocks or bottled rocks or shaped rocks. Oh and fossils, there was some of that too. I didn't buy anything because, hey what am I going to do with a piece of octagonal fluoride?

After this bout of spending madness it was time to head for the Lewis and Clark Caverns. Remember when I said Montana loves those two explorers? Such is the case here as they neither discovered the cave nor entered it, they simply passed through the area. 8S


The Lewis and Clark Caverns

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That was taken by the entrance. I like how it turned out so I'm putting it here. :P To get to the cave entrance we had to hike about a mile up the mountain from the visitor centre. We were lead through the L&C caverns by a tour guide named Jim (Again). After taking a quick poll of our group it turned out we were the only non American tourists there. We weren't the furthest though as there was a family from Texas. :D

While Jim did provide us with stories along the way, nothing really stands out in my mind so I'm just going to post the pictures I took. I used only the lighting that was set up in the cave. Flash tends to ruin cave pictures. :L

Light from the surface:

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A quick pose on our journey to the centre of the earth:

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Cave Formations (Note those aren't colored lights for the last two. That's the natural color of the formations)

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After this tour we headed back to Helena for dinner. I would also like to mention another food observation of mine. In Canada we're use to seeing a picture on a menu and expecting smaller. If you actually get the same size it's a good day. :P In the US everything is larger. EVERYTHING. The following picture is SINGLE scoop of ice cream I ordered for dessert.

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Also you guys have five dollar Dairy Queen Blizzards. Do you understand the ramifications of this? Five Dollar Blizzards. I haven't seen that since 1993.


July 29th - Yellowstone

So far our group consisted of my siblings, dad and two aunts. However at this point we wanted to go visit Yellowstone, while the other half wanted to shop for clothes. So myself, dad, younger sister and brother were the ones that woke up at 6:00 AM to make the exciting trip to Wyoming.

Yellowstone Park

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The primary attraction of Yellowstone is the Old Faithful Geyser, which I'm sure everyone here knows about. This geyser goes off every X minutes to the delight of the HUNDREDS of people surrounding the area to watch it. A few things to note about the following pictures.

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We got a place in front of the teeming crowds that swarmed the area. The first thing to note is that there is no boundary whatsoever to stop anyone from running to Old Faithful and jumping over the geyser. I asked Julie how much she bet me to run up the hill and yell "Hall and Oates!" right as the geyser went off. She declined to bet fearing I would actually do it or something.

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The geyser actually going off. Applause all around. I notice the staff show no elation to such a clockwork precision of nature as they had seen it a MILLION times.

My siblings were ready to call it a day at this point, however my dad wanted to go see the Morning Glory pool, which was a 2.8 mile walk away. I thought this wasn't too big a deal, we'd done 5 hour hikes in the Rockies before. This was a fairly level paved path designed for tourists. However, Peter and Julie were not amused and all the words I could write about their feelings on the matter can be summed up in one picture:

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Along the way:

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The Morning Glory:

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Walking back to the car it turned out our timing was such that Old Faithful went off again. This gave us another opportunity to take pictures, this time at our leisure and with us in them.

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Yellowstone Village

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Back at the hotel I wanted to walk around to do some shopping seeing as I had purchased NOTHING in the entire trip so far. Yellowstone Village was very nice as we could walk directly from our hotel from shop to shop. This would prove to be my undoing as the shops had such interesting wares at incredibly cheap prices I spent all my money here. :P

Here are some of the things I acquired from the most interesting set of stores I'd ever seen:


The Atlas of Mysterious Places

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Out of print, hardcover and pretty much something I would read on Wikipedia for fun. The bookstore I got this at boasted 50000 titles. Walking into the store I would have to say that figure is closer to 75000 titles. 0_o


A Wooden Chest with Metal Overlay

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This thing looks like something I would find in a Zelda game. I found this at an antique store for 20 bucks. But of course what's a chest without something in it. Mainly a...


Zelda Style Metal Key

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I considered giving this away as a HT prize, but decided to keep it. Also after placing it in the box I notice how absurd it is to keep a single key tucked away all by it's lonesome in a giant chest.


????? in a Box

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I already had the box seen in the picture, what I bought is inside it. Yes there is a reason I'm posting this picture. No I'm not telling you. :P Quarter is for size reference.


And finally the most amazing of them all:

A Dagger with Matching Sheath

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Some of you may remember the thread I had a while back where I bought a knife called the Valdris. Well in keeping with my collecting weapons, I acquired the knife seen above from an old man in a cave. :P Seriously though this shop was selling this surprising heavy and sharpened to a point knife for 30 bucks. It was actually the first thing I bought on my tour of bankruptcy, I just like showing it last because it's AWESOME.


July 30th - Great Falls

This day wasn't too exciting. We left Yellowstone in the morning and headed to our hotel in Great Falls. Here are a few pictures I took along the way.

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Basically we met up with the other group and the boys milled around while the girls went shopping for more clothes. Oh we did stop by the dam in Great Falls for a bit.

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And for dinner I went to an Applebees for the first time in my life. Not a bad restaurant though I still prefer Swiss Chalet. :P


July 1st - The Return

We packed up around 9:00 AM on Canada Day and headed back to Alberta. This would be an uneventful write up except that we had to stop numerous times for Julie to use the bathroom. One of these times occurred right after we crossed the border at the visitor centre for tourists coming into Alberta.

And so it happened that we stopped at our province's own visitor centre on a sunny Canada Day. The place was decorated with streamers and they were giving free donuts to everyone who stopped by. A good number of fossils on display around the room (Alberta is known for having a number of dinosaur fossils in it's badlands. Oh and oil.) But as we were about to leave something caught the corner of my eye, resulting in the last picture of the entire trip.


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Fin. :P

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Hylian Swordsman
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Post Re: DC's Awesome Return to the States Trip (with many pictures) • Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 1:25 pm
Now I want to go on a trip like this. D:

Anyways, glad you had fun, DC. :)

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Post Re: DC's Awesome Return to the States Trip (with many pictures) • Posted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 6:16 pm
I have a picture like the last one exept its me and my sister running away from a ww2 bomber.

very interesting looking trip.

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Post Re: DC's Awesome Return to the States Trip (with many pictures) • Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:15 am
Man, I would buy knives on trips, but, you know...can't get it back into the country. Also, our university has a nice geology museum. Plus...what's in the box?! TELL US!

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Post Re: DC's Awesome Return to the States Trip (with many pictures) • Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:09 am
These are all very informative pictures and I'm glad you've taken the time to show us. Now let's cut the crap of me being all overpolite and tell us what's in that box. :evil:

Or I will totally start a rumour... like

'Hey guys, I bet it's an engagement ring for Tetromino when they first meet D:'

Or something to that effect. :P

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Post Re: DC's Awesome Return to the States Trip (with many pictures) • Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 1:26 pm
The last picture made the whole thread worth it.

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Post Re: DC's Awesome Return to the States Trip (with many pictures) • Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 5:47 pm
Zeldaeinstein wrote:
Now let's cut the crap of me being all overpolite and tell us what's in that box. :evil:

Or I will totally start a rumour... like

'Hey guys, I bet it's an engagement ring for Tetromino when they first meet D:'

Or something to that effect. :P



I think I have to agree with ZE here. Anyways beautiful pictures, too bad you didn't com farther south. Also, why are the pic's with Peter in them blurred out?

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Post Re: DC's Awesome Return to the States Trip (with many pictures) • Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:03 pm
He was being a weenie and didn't want pictures of him on the thread.

No it's not an engagement ring. >_<

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