Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Canadian Rockies

With about 900 miles remaining between me and my destination I am anxious to get underway today. Tyler has requested a "sleep in" day. I haven't awakened him earlier than 06:00 on the entire trip. But he claims to need the rest. He has until 08:00. The Mule will be packed and have her nose pointed north by 08:45.

On the day before yesterday we left out of Great Falls, Montana at around 07:30. We had a bit of a scare with the alternator not regulating early-on in the day but I never did find the cause and running the headlights on high beam keeps the voltage down to a livable level. It almost has to be a loose wire at the back of the alternator; it comes and goes. I will deal with it more fully when and if necessary.

We got to the Canadian border at Sweetgrass, AB, at about 10:30. For whatever reason we were chosen to join the select group of those who get searched. We were there for 2 hours and 40 minutes. Most of that time was spent waiting. The actual search took them about 20 minutes or so. They had the Mule pretty well unpacked by the time they decided there was nothing to find. They never searched the car proper, only our bags and part of our camping equipment. I have no idea what they thought they would find but I was certain that I had nothing to hide. It was merely inconvenient because I had an appointment with one of the Brickboarders for early afternoon and the delay put us way behind.

We alit at Dale Walmsley's home. I met Dale in virtual space on the Brickboard and on Turbobricks. We had arranged to meet on my way to Yellowknife to socialize. I will stop again on the return leg to pickup some parts Dale has for me. Dale and his wife Beth opened their home to us, fed us, and generally made us feel welcome. His sons are sociable teens; a rarity in my experience. We had a great bar-b-que dinner. Conversation about Volvos and alternative country music filled the evening. It was a most enjoyable visit. I tried to hang with Dale and Tyler until the very end of the evening but found myself nodding by 23:00 and so retired.

We left Dale's house at a few minutes after seven. I kind of rushed Tyler out the door because I knew that Dale had to get to work and with us bending his ear he was not going to make it work on time.

We headed out toward the mountains and made good time. We stopped to wash clothes in Canmore, AB. Canmore appears to be a center for tree huggers, extreme sports addicts, and pot heads. It does have a lot to recommend it to the traveller and I recommend you spend at least some time there should you travel this area. We washed our clothes, exchanged money, bought groceries, and had lunch at a delightful micro brewery pub; the Bear Claw. It claims to have been named among the 100 best micro breweries in the world. I don't know about that but they do have a fine Pilsner on tap. Try the Thai salad.

I am sitting here trying to think of a way to describe the experience of driving from Canmore to Jasper. Words will not convey the absolute majesty of the scenes that appear in the windshield around every bend in the road. Pictures cannot capture the magnitude and awe inspiring vistas. We saw a black bear, several elk, mountain goats, big horn sheep, geese, ducks, eagles, and a little gopher looking guy that ran with an unusual gate wherein he popped his head up to get a better look at where he was going. We saw glaciers (plural). We drove up hill and down, through snow and sun, sometimes at the same time. The woods and lakes alone make the trip worth the time and effort. But the mountains are the stars of this show. A seemingly endless array of shapes and colors and textures and just plain beauty presented for over 100 miles, one after another. By the end of the day you become saturated and desensitized to the beauty. When every nonchalant glance in any direction provides beauty before only read about the mind closes out the splendor of it all just to process more mundane tasks like driving.

We probably had an average speed of about 30MPH. It was worth it. If ever you get a chance to visit the Banff area do it without hesitation. You will not be disappointed.

This morning there is a perfectly flat gray overcast sky. It is raining, has rained most of the night, and looks as if it may be with us all day today. We are in Hinton, Alberta. This was about as far as I wanted to go yesterday after leaving Dale's house and getting super saturated with the experience of the Canadian Rockies. Today will hopefully be a mileage day. One day and a wakeup until Yellowknife.

BTW, for those interested in the gas log: I will update the spreadsheet in Yellowknife. Tyler has been keeping a running tally in his spiral notebook but I haven't been able to get that information over to the spreadsheet. I should have time to do that in Yellowknife.

Stay tuned. More to come...


Blogger Dale said...

Wonderful to have you two spend some time with us. Glad to hear you enjoyed the Icefield Parkway as much as I hoped you would. The rest of the trip won't be quite so spectacular but the weather should be better. Look forward to seeing you again on the return trip.


June 10, 2008 7:25 PM  

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