I have never seen a place as gorgeous as the Canadian Rockies.
The mountains don’t achieve the same elevations as dozens of Colorado peaks, but the surrounding lands are much lower. Thus, these Rockies look nearly as spectacular as any place I’ve seen in Colorado, but this part of the world has two distinct advantages over my favorite state:
1. Beautiful, vast and numerous lakes, rivers and reservoirs adorn the countryside everywhere, often surrounded by those gorgeous mountain peaks. By comparison, Colorado is pretty dry.
2. So few people here compared to…well, nearly anywhere in the US.
We started out in Banff, AB this morning and had breakfast at a Cajun place (?) called Touloulou’s, where the service was polite and very slow but the food was fantastic. Jeff Hutchinson enjoyed an enormous apple fritter style waffle that looked so good I had to take a picture of it.
After breakfast, we rode to Lake Louise, which was the most crowded place we’ve seen outside of cities in Canada. Just before arriving, we pulled into a parking area where we lined up the bikes for a group photo. None of us had a tripod, so we perched my camera on top of a motorcycle helmet and a seat pad; I turned on the self-timer, hit the shutter release and sprinted back to my bike — it turned out okay, I think, but you can judge for yourself.
Lake Louise affords a breathtaking view, so I took lots of pictures and we asked another tourist to take a group photo. It’s not good but I edited as best as I could and included it here. Then we strolled through the iconic Fairmount Chateau hotel on the lake, too.
We then found the most circuitous route possible through the mountains to wind up in Castlegar, British Columbia, where I am writing this from the Sandman Hotel. Along the way, we rode hundreds of miles along enormous reservoirs, rode a ferry across Upper Arrow Lake, spent hours going faster than the legal speed limit and did not see one cop (Mountie?) anywhere today. In addition, we were delayed three times by construction projects — the kinds of delays where you have time to take off your helmet and take pictures. So I did. Not once did I run out of gas due to these events, so I am now 4-1 in surviving construction delays!
The weather was perfect — we enjoyed temps around 75F degrees, with mostly sunny skies and just a few raindrops here and there. We sampled some local cuisine, chatted with a few, always-friendly residents and found that nearly every motorcyclist here waves at you when you’re riding vs. the 50% or so who do the “biker wave” in the US.
I have tried numerous times to find a mapping website that would easily allow me to illustrate the routes we’re taking so I can post a travel map on this blog. Suffice to say it will have to wait until I return home — as much as I like my iPad, I need a computer to create the travel maps.
This is my last night in Canada, my home and native land. Tomorrow morning, I split from the group; they’re heading west to return to Seattle, while I go southeast, towards Billings, St. Louis, Atlanta and — if the weather reports are accurate — Hades. I hate leaving this gorgeous country and I’m sad that I will have to park my bike soon and return to the life of a working man. But I’m excited to see my perfect wife, eager to get back to work with my amazing team and wonderful job and really happy to have these amazing experiences.
So, for the most part, the scenic part of the ride is over. I should experience some beautiful country tomorrow as I make my way through Montana; I won’t be on the interstate again until late afternoon. But the signature part of the adventure is over, for now. I’ll be back soon to the Canadian Rockies — next time with Penny, hopefully with “the boys” and sometime soon, I hope, on a motorcycle.
My next update should be from Billings, MT. I’m looking forward to doing laundry, sleeping in a house instead of a hotel when I stay with my mother in law and eating a home-cooked meal. Life requires balance and it’s time to start moving towards the reality side of the scale.
Goodnight from Castlegar, BC.
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