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Beauty in the Land of Vicious Deer (Waterton National Park)

2010 September 6

Storm clouds on the road to Waterton National Park


This was my greeting as I entered Waterton National Park. It was not two separate words, but had become one from repetitiously saying it to every car that came to a stop outside the window of the park entry station.

Bonjour! I wanted to declare. But I realized that would soon become a bad idea the second she started speaking to me in French and I no longer understood what she was saying.

I actually took a semester of French in college. I even had a tutor. We would go over a page or two in the book and then she would quiz me. We were working on the basics. I am talking colors, objects… identifier words… we weren’t even trying to conjugate verbs yet or form complete sentences. I remember one session very clearly. We were studying objects on a desk. There was an illustration and everything was labeled with the correct word in French. We went over them, how to say them, and then she quizzed me. What is the word for book? I tried to remember, I really did. But all I could muster was, “I don’t know, but it is sitting on the upper right hand corner of the desk.” And I really thought I should get a few points for that.

I wish I knew French. I wish I knew Spanish, and Italian, German, and even Persian. But my brain has not taken well to expanding into foreign languages. It can learn a lot of things, it really can. But, it has a hard time with foreign languages… and the guitar. I also wish I knew how to play guitar, but that is a different topic completely. It is interesting to me that I have such a hard time with other languages because I really enjoy language in itself and the complexities of it. But, I have gone off topic here… back to the beauty and the beasts….

Street in Waterton Township
The gal at the park entrance window informed me that it was a holiday weekend, and that I might be able to get a camp spot since it was only Thursday but I would have to go to the campground to find out. Well… luck was on my side because there was one site left. Yay – I will take it! But, I could only have it for one night because Monday was a holiday and they were booked full with reservations through the weekend. That was fine with me.

I asked what holiday it was, but she didn’t know. She looked at me funny for even asking. I am not personally all that familiar with Canadian holidays, so I was curious what they were celebrating. I have since Googled it, and discovered that the First Monday in August is called “August Civic Holiday.”

There were signs posted on the check-in building warning of deer attacks. Keep your dog on a leash. Don’t leave them tied up outside. Deer WOULD attack. The gal at the window made a point to mention it as well. She said people laugh, but it isn’t funny when their dog gets attacked. I was taking it seriously, but now I was scared to even let my dog out to go to the bathroom if there was a deer in sight.

And you might laugh at me for that too. But I have seen how aggressive animals can be toward dogs if they think they are a threat. My family’s old dog Buck was charged by a cow that was summered in the mountains and had to learn to protect itself and it’s calves from wolves and coyotes. The last thing I wanted to see was my faithful furry companion attacked by a deer!

Waterton National Park

But despite the vicious deer, Waterton is a beautiful place. It was very peaceful. It felt good and easy to be there. Waterton is part of the International Peace Park in conjunction with Glacier National Park in Montana. The last time I was there, was in 2000 with my Grandma.

The campground was right in the township, next to the water, and had bathrooms and even showers. I was very excited about this. This was the first place I had stayed that they were both available and included. The place I stayed near Glacier gave me a token that was good for only 6 minutes. The showers here were timed as well, but not token operated. So, they didn’t run continuously while you were in the shower. That was fine with me… if it conserves water, great. I don’t mind pushing the little button when I am ready to rinse off.

We left the campground and Waterton the next morning… after all the deer had left. Well, except for this buck that walked through the campground right as I was getting ready to pull out….

Buck in Waterton Campground

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