2012 Nakusp HU Trip – Day 7

21 August 2012 – We got up, ate our oatmeal, packed up and hit the road. We’d gassed up the night before coming in through Jasper so we were able to get rolling right away.

At the entrance to the highway waiting to turn left out of the campground, we witnessed one of the stupidest moves by the rider of a CanAm Spyder (a trike with the 2 wheels up front) that I have seen. Because there were two of us on two bikes I was waiting for a gap for both of us to roll into without going like bats out of hell. I guess I was waiting too long, because the idiot on the Spyder, two-up and wearing shorts, tshirt and flip-flops, went screaming around us on the left and whipped out onto the highway, turning left and narrowly missing getting clipped by a car coming south. Picking his sorry ass up off the highway after getting splattered was not how I wanted to start the day, so I was reluctantly glad he made it without getting smoked, but were both fervently wishing he’d get a brain.

Our goal for the day was to get to Clearwater, BC where there was a KOA Campground that I had made a reservation at. Just before the town of Jasper we took a left onto Highway 16 heading west to Highway 5 in BC where we’d head south.

South on BC Highway 5

Since it was pretty close to lunchtime and we both needed a bit of break, we stopped at Valemount for trail mix, a bio break, and some gas for the bikes.

We cruised on down the highway eventually paralleling the North Thompson River …

I “let” Louise lead for while, and while it looked like it could almost rain any second at times, it didn’t rain at all on us during the day. It did however rain late in the evening while we were at Clearwater.

Would it rain?

BC Transportation was busy fixing the highway at various points along the highway, causing the usual slowdowns …

The flagman cometh …

As is often the case, we had to stop for a few minutes waiting for oncoming traffic to clear past. So we took pictures of each other …

Still stopped – see the speed on the GPS? 0.0 kph

By mid-afternoon, we reached Clearwater. First we stopped at the gas station to fill up with gas, and we had burgers at the A&W for a late lunch/early dinner. Then, after much searching and checking the GPS, we found the KOA right across the alley from the gas station.

Campsite setup

Since we were so early we had time to do some laundry, have a shower and relax reading. Also Louise wore a skirt!

Waiting for tea!

Later on we went for a walk then went to bed early. More highway tomorrow!

2012 Nakusp HU Trip – Day 6

20 August 2012 – We had done most of the packing the night before, so we had breakfast and packed up the bikes and headed out of Grande Prairie in the rush hour. Wasn’t too bad.

We were heading south on Highway 40 – the plan was to get to Jasper for the night where we’d camp in Whistlers Campground across the highway from the Wapiti Campground that we stayed at on the way north a few days ago.

Heading south …

Here’s the highway ahead and Louise behind me …

This is one of my favourite shots – it was an over the shoulder blind photo while I was riding along at like 100kph – it turned out almost like I was aiming it!

Over the shoulder blind shot of Louise behind me

So we rolled down a somewhat familiar highway, seeing as it had only been a few days since we were heading north.

Some curves, but mostly straight …

The scenery was pretty cool, not spectacular like the Icefields Parkway was, but with rolling foothills and forest everywhere it seemed very remote.

We stopped in Grande Cache for gas …

It was still really hot, but getting cloudier …

Because we weren’t too hungry we just decided to eat some trail mix and chug some water. We chatted with some other bikers on older bikes heading north to Alaska. They were just kinda winging it though, neither bike was really the kind of bike you’d think of taking to Alaska and with what they had packed on their bikes, they made our bikes with our loads look like giant enormous pack draft horses instead mules. Oh well, we’d be a hell of lot more comfortable …

After a couple of more hours riding, we stopped for more water and bit of a break for Louise. It was getting more and more cloudy and I started to suspect that we might get some rain before we reached Jasper.


Trail mix and water – yum yum

Bit of a “hero” shot …

Eventually Highway 40 crossed Highway 16 – the road between Edmonton and Jasper, so we turned right onto 16 and just past the Jasper National Park gates we ran into our first bit of rain. It wasn’t very hard, not enough to make me stop and put the thumb wiper on my glove, so we just motored on. The rain stopped before we got to Jasper although it continued to sprinkle on and off.

Just past Jasper was the Whistlers Campground where we were going to camp for the night. Heading into the campsite, we found a long line up of motorhomes and fifth-wheel rigs ahead of us. By this time the sun was out again and it was pretty hot just sitting there not moving very fast. Eventually though we were up to the checkin booth, behind some folks from Ireland if I recall correctly. They asked a couple of questions about bears and elk that had me laughing out loud – silly tourists!

Anyway, we checked in and setup camp …

The tent is too big for the site!

… and shortly after, we had some “food in a bag” from MEC. Louise had brought along some spices and thank God she did, otherwise it’d be tough to finish enough of the food because it’s so so bland.

After dinner a fellow riding solo on a Honda ST1300, the Honda equivalent of my bike, came over to ask about the showers and to have a wee chat. A nice guy, he was from Vancouver Island just tooling around for a couple of days. We only chatted with him that one time, we went to bed pretty early and he was on the road earlier than us.

Before bed, though we went on a short walk around the campsite just to walk.

I have no idea what Louise is looking at here …

We had stayed in Wapiti Campground a couple of kilometres south and on the other side of the highway. There was no comparison between the two campsites – Whistlers, where we were tonight, was no where near as nice as Wapiti. Next time we come through Jasper we’ll definitely be staying at Wapiti. The main differences were in the amount of tree cover and access to washrooms – Wapiti was way better.

Anyway, we crawled into sleeping bags early and slept the night away …

2012 Nakusp HU Trip – Day 5

19 August 2012 – Since we had time and nothing else to do but wait and talk we figured out the options.

There was no way Louise wanted to ship the bikes and she didn’t want to cut my trip short by heading straight home. So we figured if we have to ride 3 days to get home, we might as well ride the three days to Nakusp, then we could rest up for a few days before heading home over 2 days. So I modified the plan and figured that we could head back to Jasper, then to Clearwater, BC., then Vernon, BC, and then Nakusp.

While it looks like Louise is going to cry, she’s actually just making a sad face

Finally released from the hospital at about 5am, we headed back to the hotel to sleep for as long as we could and we’d just take it easy for the rest of the day. I had already called the hotel to get the room for an extra night – turns out that the hotel had already earmarked our room for someone else, so they had to do some juggling to make everything work. I have to admit I did use the “sick wife card” to get the guy to do what I wanted – which was to not move rooms.

Later on in the early afternoon while Louise snoozed, I got bored and decided to go clean the bugs off the front of the bikes. So I popped down to the lobby and asked the front-end folks if I could borrow some rags, a bucket and some detergent.

After a few minutes of calling and to and fro, they came up with an old bucket, some rags and some detergent. There was no obvious convenient place to fill the bucket with water, so … I filled it up in the bathroom and went on out to the parking lot to wash things up.

It was blazingly hot outside in the sun, but I did manage to get the bug guts off the bikes and they looked a lot better.

Later we had dinner at the Five Guys Burger and Fries a short walk up the road. It was the first time I’d been to one, but Louise had been to one in Calgary before and knew what to do and expect. It was a good burger, not the best ever, but pretty good. On the way back to the hotel we stopped by the Starbucks for a triple vente extra-hot latte for me and a Chai Tea latte for Louise.

Now by this time, Louise was feeling much better, still in discomfort most of the time, but only in pain if she twisted or stretched or something, so we were feeling pretty confident that we’d be ok riding on as long as we took it easy.

Day 6 loomed ahead.

2012 Nakusp HU Trip – Day 4 & 5

18 August 2012 – There were two things we wanted to do today – get another bolt for the VStrom’s front-end, and ride to the Dunvegan Bridge a couple of hours north of Grande Prairie. The third thing we did today was completely unplanned and nearly ended the trip!

Riding light, we first went over to the local Home Depot to get a second bolt for the VStrom’s front-end. I had gone over the night before after dinner, but I bought the wrong size.

I should have taken the remaining original bolt with me, because I wound up going back twice before I got the right bolt. With the right bolt in hand, finally, we started on putting them both back in.

With everything shipshape again, we headed north for the bridge. Along the way, I spotted this teepee in a parking lot in the midst of a bunch of industrial buildings on the edge of town.

Not sure this is original, strictly speaking

The road north was pretty straight and actually looked like it could have been east of Calgary – rolling prairie farm land. Once we got close to the Peace River valley though, the scenery changed.

That’s the Peace River down there in the valley …
and you can just see the top of the bridge on the left side.

I managed to get some pictures of the famous Dunvegan Suspension Bridge while riding up to it and across it.

Having crossed the bridge to the other side, we rolled into the parking lot of the Dunvegan Provincial Park …

We took off the gear, well I took off my suit but Louise left her riding pants on, and wandered around some. There was a trailer in the parking lot that sold pop, hamburgers, hotdogs, ice cream and COLD WATER!!! We got some cold water and it was good. I was talking with the woman running the thing and it was quite an interesting conversation.

It only looks like the trailer was in a little clearing in the woods – it actually was right in the parking lot.

There’s a museum/interpretive centre right at the parking lot and so we decided to take a look inside. Turns out there was a video presentation that was starting right away, followed by a guided tour of the old buildings that were still on site. The preso was kind of interesting – it went through some of the native legends and early history related the to Peace River in general and area around Dunvegan.

The guided tour was pretty interesting too. We went with a few other folks and were led through the grounds and in and out of the various buildings. Considering how old the buildings are, they are in great shape.

This is one of the oldest buildings there, the St. Charles Mission was first built in 1867 …
In fact, it’s in such great shape today that its almost livable!

There’s a few more pictures of the various buildings and interiors on my Flickr site – Dunvegan Prov Park

The bridge itself is quite famous for being the longest suspension bridge in Alberta.

We made a late lunch early dinner picnic in our barefeet, then headed out on the road back to Grande Prairie. Once we got back, we decided to go to the hot tub in the pool area. After a few minutes in the hot tub, Louise jumped into the cold pool for a swim and that’s when the trouble started.

She started getting chest pains that steadily got worse as the evening went on, eventually by 11pm, Louise asked me to take her to the hospital! So we climbed onto the FJR two-up and headed to emergency. We found it easy enough, parked the bike and went in to start the triage process. Normally you go to emergency and wait and wait and wait … unless of course you present with chest pains! Or a bone hanging out. But chest pains get you wheeled right on in and hooked up to machines. So Louise was in and hooked up well before midnight.

Now once the hospital has you in, they are loathe to cut you loose. They ran some tests, then waited around, ran another test, waited for the results from that, then the doctor came by and asked all the same questions the nurse and the technician asked. Now they all wrote the answers down, at least that’s what I assumed they were scribbling. Maybe they were just doodling to make the doctor ask all the questions again.

Anyway, it turned out that Louise had pleurisy which is inflammation of the lining of the lungs and chest that leads to chest pain (usually sharp) when you take a breath or cough. Not so serious, but it was certainly painful for Louise.

So we had some choices to make and since we had nothing else to do while waiting, we talked them through. Our original plan was to take another week going through Dawson Creek, Prince George and down to the Okanagan on the way to Nakusp. Than plan was now out the window – there’s no way we could leave in the morning and carry on the trip as planned.

We could arrange to ship the bikes home and fly home ourselves.

We could ship Louise’s bike home and fly her home, while I continued on alone.

We could ride straight home, taking it easy over three days.

We could ride straight on to Nakusp, taking it easy over three days.

Stay tuned for the next instalment …

2012 Nakusp HU Trip – Day 3

17 Aug 2012 – Once upon a time, wild animals ruled these parts. Elk, wapiti, moose, wolves, cougars and so on. We thought those days were long gone, that the relentless march of civilization had pushed those magnificent animals far back into the wilds.

Well of course, if you’ve been in the mountains you know that’s not exactly true. The various wild animals get pretty used to having man around. Sometimes we leave out food, or eliminate predators, and sometimes, shelter!

Taking shelter

This young elk (I think it was an elk) was wandering around the eastern edge of the campground when I went to the bathroom in the morning. We passed by each other with a few yards between us, each of us giving the other the eye. At some point, maybe while I was in the bathroom, (can’t quite recall now), a woman must have got a little too close or didn’t give the guy enough of the hairy eyeball – and got charged by the young fella! There was some hollering and running around. No one was hurt but I suspect the woman ran back to her fifth-wheel and cowered, while the elk took refuge from the crazy humans in the cooking shelter. I tried to get as close as I could to get the picture, but he was giving me the hairy eyeball as I crept stealthily closer. So I just took the picture and backed away before he decided to take a run at me too.

Back at the campsite, we got things packed up and got ready to leave.

Ready to roll

The plan for today was to get to Grande Prairie, but at midday there was some doubt – more on that later!

So, into Jasper for some gas and then we headed east …

Heading towards Hinton

… toward Hinton, where we’d turn north on Highway 40 …

North on 40

Heading north, Louise and I switched places, with her leading. This doesn’t happen often so when it does happen, it’s worth a picture from the bike!

Louise in the lead!

At some point in the late morning, just south of Grande Cache, we spotted a plume of smoke ahead. We thought maybe it was a small fire, but when we got abreast of it, it turned out to be the … smoke … from a pulp mill or a saw mill or something. Whatever it was, it wasn’t a fire.

Fire? Nope – pulp mill

So by lunchtime we rolled into the town of Grande Cache and stopped for gas first, then looked for a place for to eat. There was some tension as we looked for a place, which I attribute to the fact that Grande Cache has … a federal penitentiary. I guess somehow we just couldn’t shake the unconscious feeling that we could be jumped by escaped convicts at any moment.

Anyway, we found a place to eat, looked very grande and modern on the outside …

Bighorn Grill

… but on the inside it was all early 1990s cafe diner kitsch. Decent food and service though.

No don’t! I have bad hair!!

Oh well, if you must …

To quote a famous Scottish actor, “Bad hair never looked so good!”

As we were getting back onto the bikes after lunch, Louise said she was having trouble turning the handlebars to the left. I figured that a pebble had got up inside the handlebar assembly and that it would fall out out on the road right away. Boy was I wrong.

It turns out that there are two things Grande Cache is known for, one is the federal penitentiary, and the other is … Grande Cache Coal. The coal mine is just north of the town and it turns out that this coal mine is the reason that the town of Grande Cache exists. It’s pretty a cool facility – it actually spans the highway and everything is black with coal dust! There’s a coal conveyor belt that carries coal from the mountain on the NW side of the highway across to the processing plant on the other side.

Eventually Louise insisted we stop and check things out – the bike just did not want to turn to the left and the entire front fairing was vibrating. We pulled into a rest stop / garbage bin area at the side of the road and got out the tools.

After peering and poking and prodding …

I figured out what had happened. There are two bolts to the frame that support the front fairing/dashboard assembly. Both bolts had vibrated out and fallen away, one somewhere down the road and the other bolt had fallen in between the forks and the lower triple tree assembly, binding when the handlebars are pushed left.

Since we had the one bolt remaining, Louise and I put back in, held things together and tightened it down real good’n tight.

I’d have to pick up a new bolt in Grande Prairie.

In all the miles we’ve put on all the bikes on the highway since 2007, this was probably the worst mechanical issue we’ve ever had – knock on wood. There’s been some electrical stuff that failed, like Louise’s push-to-talk button last year, but this was the first time I had to really break out the tools and fix something that could have stopped us.

Anyway, with the one remaining bolt tight, we chugged some water, got the gear back on, and headed on up the highway again.

We carried on, determined to find a campsite in the city of Grande Prairie. It became pretty obvious that we were getting closer to the city – the volume of traffic on the road, especially trucks, increased dramatically. I had the GPS programmed to direct us to a campsite on the edge of town. Well it turns out that the city of Grande Prairie has grown significantly faster than the GPS maps. The campground on the “edge of town” turned out to be a subdivision now! After some riding around, seeing more of Grande Prairie than we needed to, we decided to get a room for a couple of nights at a fairly new Holiday Inn back on the highway.

We found out the next day that there was a municipal campground 2 minutes farther up the highway. Oh well, as it turned out, we were better off in the hotel anyway. Our room was nice, we had a shower, then went for dinner, leaving the bikes right outside the front door.

2012 Nakusp HU Trip – Day 2

16 Aug 2012 – Neither of us slept too well – too hot, then cold, and it wasn’t until 5am or so, that I pulled up the comforter for warmth. So we got up, got ready, and headed off to breakfast at Craig’s Wayside Diner, right next door, where breakfast was really good.

Back at the motel, we packed up and then I spent half an hour looking for the remote for the GoPro camera. I was sure I had it when we left so I kept looking. Eventually I found it lying on the bed where it had fallen out of the charging stuff bag. Now that I’d found it, I attached all the GoPro stuff to the bike and finished packing everything else. Finally we were ready to leave.

Canmore to Jasper – Bow Valley Parkway to Icefields Parkway

We stayed on the TransCanada Highway until just past Banff, where we turned off and rode the Bow Valley Parkway, otherwise known as Highway 1A to Lake Louise. This used to be the old highway to Lake Louise and nowadays pretty much the only traffic it gets are hikers and tourists heading to Johnstone’s Canyon. And talking about tourists, there were frikkin idiot tourists doing the stop in the middle of the highway to get out and get a picture of the bear, goat, sheep, gopher, butterfly or whatever. Never mind that the bear, possibly a Grizzly Bear, might get pissed and try to eat them. Even a tour bus driver decided to get in on the non-action – stopping in the middle of road. Actually, for all the stupid tourists that get out of their vehicles to tempt fate with the wild animals on the side of the road, I cannot recall ever hearing about a stupid tourist getting eaten by a bear on the side of the road. I guess if the bear or moose or elk or whatever is down by the side of the road in the first place, it’s probably OK with the people being close and staring at them.

Anyway, being motorbikes we were able to slip through the stopped cars and carry on, eventually stopping for gas and a bio break at Lake Louise. While we were there, we started chatting with a couple riding two-up on a cruiser, that the couple had trailered in from Saskatchewan for a few day trips around Banff National Park.

Fueled up, we headed out again, following the Icefields Parkway north – where the scenery is amazingly dramatic.

Scenery along the Icefields Parkway

Looking north along the Icefields Parkway

It seemed that almost everywhere one looked, the vista and scenery was amazing – there’s been plenty written about this highway but you really have to see it with your own eyes to truly appreciate it.

By lunch time we were pretty close to Saskatchewan River Crossing which is about halfway to Jasper from Lake Louise. Lunch was soup and a sandwich from the cafeteria side of the restaurant. This place hasn’t changed much since the 1970s I think …

Sask River Crossing Cafeteria

View SW from the Sask River Crossing parking lot

More great scenery!

Back on the road again, we continued on up into virgin territory for both of us. I had been through Sask River Crossing back in the early 1970s, with my Mom and Dad and brothers in Dad’s converted 1960 school bus. I think we had come up the highway, then headed east from Sask River Crossing through Nordegg and on to Rocky Mountain House and back home to Hanna, but I have never been north of Sask River Crossing. Well, except for the Columbia Glacier area, but that’s only a few kilometres north of the Crossing. We’ve been there a couple of times, but no further north.

Anyway, we passed glaciers on the left …

Stark rocky ridge on the right …

And mountains straight ahead …

Later in the afternoon, we rolled into Wapiti Campground, 5 minutes south of Jasper, where we set up camp.

Campsite at Wapiti

Once we’d cleaned up a bit, Louise and I went into town 2-up on the FJR to see a bit of Jasper and get some dinner at the local Greek restuarant.

The official steam engine …

Jasper Park Administration Building

Then it was off to bed and sleep …

Our home for the night

2012 Nakusp HU Trip – Day 1

15 Aug 2012 – After a few days delay, we headed off on our big 2012 trip which eventually will take us to Nakusp, BC for the annual Horizons Unlimited gathering there.

In the early afternoon, we got the bikes packed up and headed off. First we stopped at the Bossi Construction offices, so we could say goodbye to Robert.

Along the way, both Louise and I had the same idea – stop in Cochrane and have an early dinner with my Dad. I called him from a gas station and we met at the local Smitty’s, where everyone knows my Dad’s name! Since I had the Aerostich, I set it up in the classic pose …

I had made a reservation for a cabin at at a off-the-beaten-path place in Canmore for the night. It was pretty rustic for sure.

Since we had already eaten dinner back in Cochrane, we just went to Starbucks for a latte, then Safeway for some water. Back at the motel, we hit the bed. Off to Jasper in the morning!


Run to the Hills 2012 – Day 4 (July 22, 2012)

July 22, 2012 – By 10am or so most of us had gotten up, had coffee and breakfast, then got packed up. Most of us were heading home, but there were a few lucky dogs who were continuing to ride around. There was a pretty large contingent heading back to Calgary that were ready at the same time so we headed out together.

After, gassing up at Pincher Creek, we continued on up to Highway 22 (AKA the Cowboy Trail) …

… to Turner Valley & Black Diamond. Instead of taking the usual and boring route from here to the city, a smaller number of us took some backroads north to 22X and then on to home.

Run to the Hills 2012 – Day 3 (July 21, 2012)

July 21, 2012 – This was by far the best day of the trip – it was the partial circumnavigation of the south edge of Glacier National Park in the US, followed by doing the Going-to-the-Sun highway west to east through the more northerly part of the park. I also managed to get some culture in during the evening!

Most of the VStrom guys were looking for some more adventure today and one of the guys had identified a long stretch of gravel road up in the mountains. So most of the crew went that-away. Trent and I were the only ones going south – one of other guys wanted to come with us, but hasn’t got a passport which he needed to cross the border.

So by about 930am or so, Trent and I had entered the US at the Chief Mountain Border Crossing.

We were going to stop first at St. Mary for gas, then head south on Highways 89 and 49. It looked really twisty on the maps and I had heard that the road and views were pretty scenic. We’d hit US Highway 2 which runs along the south edge of the park, before heading back up north to West Glacier and western side of the Going-to-the-Sun Highway and Logan Pass.

Most of the road south from St. Mary was nothing special, but when we turned onto Highway 49, I began to suspect that it might be pretty cool. There was very little traffic on the road and so where it was open I used the whole road to crank through the twisties, until I popped up over what I thought was a little rise while in the middle of the road to suddenly see pickup truck coming right for me! Yikes – I cranked the FJR over to the right hard to get back over onto my lane, and decided to slow it down a bit for the rest of the way. We stopped at a scenic overlook for a drink of water and some pictures.

I had managed to get my GoPro camera working for the run over Highway 49 and I managed to get some pretty cool video, once I have it edited, I’ll post a sample.

We carried on, eventually reaching the freeway, Highway 2, that runs around the south side of the park. We did a quick stop for a bio break, otherwise we carried on …

… eventually stopping for lunch at the West Glacier Restaurant.

One of the things that really struck me on this particular day was not being able to talk to the person I was riding with, while riding. Trent and I, obviously talked lots while stopped for lunch or whatever, but since Trent doesn’t have radio or Bluetooth comms, there was no talking. I really missed talking to Louise and I actually felt a little lonely and sad that I wasn’t riding with her.

Stopping at the gas station in West Glacier, dodging RVs and other forms of tourists, we fueled up and headed back in to the park proper, rolling thorough the Park Gates east towards Logan Pass.

Trent and I stopped at Bird Woman Falls to take a few pictures …

The next stop was at the Logan Pass Visitors Center. The weather, while still sunny, wasn’t as nice up here as it was lower down. The wind was blowing and it was a bit chilly. We did a quick wander about, then went back to the bikes and carried on.

We made it back to the campsite around 430pm after an uneventful return from the US. Since we were staying at the Crooked Creek Campground, I went off in search of the crooked creek. I found it. Small, and likely pretty crooked …

And now for the cultural experience – while in town the other days getting supplies, I had noticed a sign advertising a musical event …
… A celtic music festival! In Waternon! Excellent!
Since it started at 7pm, I figured I’d roll into town for about 6pm, get some dinner, then head over to the church. I had an excellent lasagna at a little restaurant in Waterton served up by a rather indifferent waitress, then rode over to the church. Paid my $10 and walked into a full house! And the band had already started in on the first song, so I just took a chair at the back of the church and enjoyed the music. Since I was in my motorcycle jacket, boots, and carrying my helmet – in a small town – I really stood out and almost everyone in the audience turned to watch me as I slid my helmet under the chair and sat down. Thankfully the band didn’t miss a note.

The players were pretty good, a bit rough in places, but the fellow on the acoustic guitar was really really good and I enjoyed watching him play. I stayed to end, took a couple of pictures …
and some video, then zoomed back to the campsite. Some of the guys were a little nonplussed at my cultural and musical tastes, but since I like being eclectic and eccentric, it all fit.

Drinking beer then ensued.

Since some were drinking rum and stuff, there was some laughter, loud laughter and such. So much such, that the campground manager came by to ask us to tone it down – at 10pm! What! Apparently, there are some Pincher Creek, Milk River and Fort Macleod residents who have semi-permanent sites at this campground and we were disturbing their peace. So we toned it down a bit and revelry continued on till after midnight.

This had been a great day, great riding and roads, excellent company, some celtic music, capped off with drinking Alexander Keiths Pale Ale with fellow riding buddies, swapping stories and telling lies. Great fun. Too bad I had to head home the next day.

Run to the Hills 2012 – Day 2 (July 20, 2012)

20 July 2012 – I woke up when I woke – no alarm clock. I had a pretty good sleep, but as usual the little travel pillow I’ve been using is barely adequate – even when bulked up with my fleece jacket. So I’m looking into a new one for the big trip in August.

After a breakfast of PopTarts, instant oatmeal, and a couple of cups of coffee, I was ready to ride – somewhere – although the weather looked a little dicey with clouds all about and the forecast calling for some rain later. The rest of the group was kinda slow in getting ready as well, but eventually there was some consensus – we’d go for a ride around Waterton, up to Cameron Lake, and then to Red Rock Canyon.

By this time there was 9 bikes all lined up and folks getting ready to roll …

The first stop of the day was at the only gas station in Waterton, since a good number of the folks who arrived later in the day yesterday didn’t stop for gas before coming to the campsite, including me – the last time I filled up was at Pincher Creek, 45 minutes away to the north.

From the townsite, we headed up the Cameron Lake road which ends at the north end of the lake. The south end of the lake is actually in the US, just across the border. We hung around the lakeside and some of us took pictures. Being a somewhat dull day with heavy overcast, the view wasn’t as spectacular as it could have been, but it was still awesome scenery.

We took up a fair bit of the parking lot with the bikes …

Eventually we pulled out of the parking lot and headed back to the main road, but first we stopped at a wide part of the road for a staged group picture …

Blood or oil? What's your call?

Blood or oil? What’s your call?

As we all started to pull out, I noticed some red stuff below “Smurph’s” (Scott’s) bike. It looked like blood, so called out to “Smurph” to see if he was bleeding. He stopped and checked himself out and no, he wasn’t. Next thought was oil seeping out of the rear shock, so “Smurph” stopped his bike and a few folks started checking out the underside of the bike. There were a few more red drips found, but it was still unclear what it was. BigDan checked out the first drip more closely and figured it was in fact blood. There was a rabbit roadkill further back the way we had come, and “Smurph” figured he might have added insult to injury and hit the dead rabbit again, splashing some blood onto a fender or the skid-plate. But checking out the underside of the turned out to be a possible lifesaver – the bolt holding the center-stand onto the bike was loose and was ready to let go! If that happened at speed, it could have caused a catastrophic crash. So I believe that I saved his life.

With Scott’s bike fixed up and with no other apparent issues, we gathered up and continued the journey back down the road to main park road. Back at the main road, we went up the road to the Red Rock Parkway for a fast zip up to the Red Rock Canyon parking lot. That road is a lot of fun on a bike, but it really sucks when you get stuck behind some road whales (RVs). We made it to the parking lot and agreed to head right back to town. When we got back to the main Waterton road, BigDan (who was in the lead) decided to go to the Prince of Wales Inn for some more photo opps.

Prince of Wales Hotel, Waterton, AB looking roughly NW

A few of us decided to get some lunch while we were here. This young fellow …
Bar Manager at Prince of Wales was the Bar Manager and graciously allowed a large of number of adventure bikers to crash his swanky bar. At first we were in a small anteroom off the main bar area …
… but we became too many to fit as more and more of our group wandered in. So we took up about half of the available chairs! The meal itself wasn’t all that great – not bad – just forgettable. But the views down the lake were very easy to look at.

After lunch we pretty much all headed back to the campsite. A few of the guys zoomed off to Pincher Creek to get some junk food, while the rest of us stayed to keep the entire site from blowing away in the storm that rolled in! Later we all ate junk food and BBQ hamburgers, drank some and went to sleep.

Hopefully the weather next day would be better …