traciwentling

Inspiration Day

Days 13 & 14: Honeymoon Lake to Jasper and 3rd Day Off

Elk and our day to “cook”

Last night was another low sleep night for me because of the two young couples who wanted to talk all night right outside my tent. I drew the short stick and got the closest spot to the neighbors. The men chopped firewood till 11:00 and then they all set around a campfire chatting long after the children were tucked away in bed. I couldn’t comprehend what they were saying, it just sounded like gibberish and it kept me awake. For some reason they kept needing to get in their car and the door opening and shutting was a tad annoying. Oh well…because we had an easy day of only 30 miles. Sue led the whole way at her own pace and I stayed back and kept an eye out for wildlife. We actually saw a herd of Elk right outside of town. I caught this pictures of a baby nursing.

Baby elk and her momma

Baby elk and her momma

It’s our night to cook, but Wally asked me yesterday what I thought about eating out as a treat since tomorrow is a day off. I was so excited to not have to cook, that I almost got teary eyed! Our responsibility included going into Jasper and finding someplace to eat for around $20 per person; to make reservations; and then to shop for breakfast and lunch and carry it back out to the Whistler Campground which is about two miles south of Jasper. While we did this today, everybody else showered and did their laundry. This is all good because perhaps tomorrow the laundry mat in town won’t be so over-crowded.

David...SUCH a nice guy

David…SUCH a nice guy

Supper at the Jasper Brewery and we are bedded down in Marmot Meadows with several youth church groups and elk wandering around. I just took a picture of a couple of elk about 100 yards outside my tent! All food is in the provided bear boxes so let sleeping commence.

Day Off

Sue and I were up early to make coffee and lay out breakfast and lunch. Although we could sleep in, everyone was up pretty early. Perhaps the smell of coffee helped? An early hike to the washroom treated me to a close encounter with a large male elk with his fuzzy antlers. I have a feeling this herd of elk are more tame than wild because of how close they will allow us to come to them.

We now sit at the coolest laundry mat I have ever been in. There are showers we could use; six computers; and a coffee shop all on premises. The washer and dryers are high efficiency and fairly new. We actually feel like the clothes might be getting clean. There are lots of plugins and electronics are plugged in all throughout. When I finishing with today’s blog, Sue and I are going to wander about the town with nothing else to do. What a GREAT feeling!

I want to thank my best riding buddy for helping me figure out the flower setting on my camera; for allowing me to use photos so that I can post pics of myself; and for whatever else I should be thanking her for. Sometimes we might get cranky about things, but it doesn’t last for long. This is a hard physical journey and we are in it for the long haul.

Sue and Mr. Green Jeans

Sue and Mr. Green Jeans

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Day 12: Rampart Creek Campground to Honeymoon Lake Campground

Jasper National Park

Flower of the Day:  The Alberta Rose

Flower of the Day: The Alberta Rose

Um...Sue got distracted...

Um…Sue got distracted…

The definition of a glacier: glaciers form where more snow falls in winter than melts each summer. As the snow gets thicker and heavier, it compacts into dense glacial ice that slowly flows downhill.

Water flows to three different oceans from this area. On the British Columbia side of the Icefields, meltwater flows into the Columbia River and eventually into the Pacific. On the Alberta side, the Saskatchewan River flows to the Atlantic Ocean and the Athabasca River feeds into the Arctic Ocean.

We are on our second day riding the Icefields Parkway. This stretch of road has been designated as one of the 50 top bicycles rides to do before you die. It was 36 degrees when we woke up and it warmed up quickly as we began to climb to the Columbia Icefields Center. It was a brutal climb topping out at 9% at one point. Mostly it was 7% and 8% but it was that for about 12 miles. Mark and Nelson are the strongest riders on this trip and they are also usually some of the first out of camp each morning so they lead way and have taken it upon themselves to scout out the designated campground and stake us out a spot for all 12 of us. It is a great feeling to know they will have that all figured out by the time we make it in.

Looking back...

Looking back…

I was really looking forward to seeing just what the Columbia Icefields were all about, and as I got close, I was just amazed at the scenery. The visitor center was filled to capacity with tourists (mostly Chinese) coming in on touring busses. Touring busses, oh my… Evidently they are not allowed to cross the centerline because they ride right down the lane of traffic and give us bicyclists absolutely no extra room. It wouldn’t matter if we could ride consistently on the shoulder, but because the shoulder is so badly deteriorated, we just have to ride on the highway some of the time which makes for tight riding.

Columbia Icefield

Columbia Icefield

Closer look at the Columbia Icefield

Closer look at the Columbia Icefield

Another Icefield at Columbia

Another Icefield at Columbia

Sue and I got separated on the climb and about five miles from the Icefields it got dang cold. I didn’t want to stop for fear of not being able to get going again. Yes, it was THAT steep. In fact, as I was watching my Garmin just a few miles from the top, I was gaining a foot of elevation with each pedal stroke. I did stop twice right before the visitor center to take a couple of pictures and then pulled into the parking lot looking for Mark and Nelson’s bicycles because I assumed they would be there warming up. Turns out they had pulled into the bus parking lot and were parked on the other side of the building, but I found them inside and we visited for just a bit before they were ready for the second 30 miles of the day. I didn’t sit by myself very long before everyone, including Sue arrived and everybody was just frozen and exhausted by the climb. A cup of Java, a bowl of soup, and we were all recovered enough to go on. It helped that we all knew we would now be descending down the other side of the pass. Sue and I layered up, but as soon as we were just a few miles on the other side, it was like we moved into a new Eco-system, because it warmed up significantly even though we were still descending.

Ready to go but waiting on Wally for map meeting

Ready to go but waiting on Wally for map meeting

It is Friday and it is a Canada holiday weekend. The campground only had three small spots left and we have all set up our tents in close quarters. There are the sounds of children everywhere, the smell of campfire fills the air. This is another primitive campground, but the lake is gorgeous and the surround mountains are amazing jutting out an at angle. I haven’t seen anyone swimming in any body of water yet on this trip, as the water is just too cold. Speaking of water, almost every body of water I have seen so far in Canada is as clear as looking though clean glass. The ditches are remarkably clean too. I don’t know if you want to know this, but the pit toilets are cleaner than what I have experienced in the States Equivalent campgrounds.

We crossed over into Jasper National Park today and will ride out of it tomorrow. What an awesome day!

Honeymoon Lake

Honeymoon Lake

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Day 11: Lake Louise to Rampart Creek Campground

Banff National Park

Flower of the Day:  Indian Paint Brush

Flower of the Day: Indian Paint Brush

This morning it was 30 degrees when we woke up. It was so SO hard to crawl out of the sleeping bag. When it gets this cold I also use a silk mummy sheet which adds another layer of warmth inside my 32 degree down sleeping bag. But this night, even with my wool pajamas and socks and wool cap on my head I was still a bit cold all night. I should have gotten up and put on my riding tights. I could have put on one of the two coats I brought. But no, I was too lazy, or too cold to get out of the sleeping bag to try to find more clothes. Instead I just stayed a little chilly and tossed and turned all night. I was wide awake at 5:00 a.m. got up then to put on my riding clothes and to layer on everything else I brought. Then I climbed back under the covers and laid there until 6:00 when it’s time for everyone to get up. Little or no sleep didn’t seem to hurt me today as I felt strong and am getting my climbing legs. Every five miles or so I would stop and remove one layer of clothing until a was riding in shorts and my normal long-sleeved riding shirt.

Bridge for migrating animals to cross busy highway

Bridge for migrating animals to cross busy highway

We had to ride just a mile or so on the Trans-Canada Highway, but then we turned north and rode 60 miles on the famous Icefields Parkway. We climbed Bow Pass with a 4% to 5% grade reaching the summit at 6,785 ft. Tampering the beauty of the scenery is the shoulder of the highway that suffers greatly from frost heaves. A bicyclist had better be on her toes and completely aware of the dangers at all times. Of course I’m always on the lookout hoping to see wildlife, or as the Canadian signs put it “animale sauvage”, but no such sightings again today. Some of our ridemates saw Big Horn Sheep and just before turning into this campground, they saw a black bear and a grizzly on the highway.

Typical every corner scenery

Typical every corner scenery

Ho hum...another mountain stream

Ho hum…another mountain stream

The most beautiful scenery I have ever seen in my whole life, was seen today at Bow Pass. Once you get to the official summit on the highway then you turn up a road to the left and ride another half mile or so to begin a hike up to the true summit. I removed my Garmin (mostly to make sure it didn’t get stollen) and held it as we hiked to the top. The grade was 30% in many places. Some people started up, but had to turn around because it was too difficult of a hike even though it’s a paved path. Sue and I and Vicky and Wally made the hike to see the most beautiful lake (Lake Peyto) on this planet. Wow! Wow! Wow! The color of the water is my new favorite color. I hope you can get the essence of the beauty we witnessed today.

Lake Peyto at Bow Summit.  Elevation 6,965

Lake Peyto at Bow Summit. Elevation 6,965

Bow Lake

Bow Lake

This campground we are staying tonight is considered primitive with nothing extra other than pit toilets and a water hydrant. This is more than Wally was expecting though as he announced this morning that we might have to use water filters to get drinking water. This means, of course, no showers tonight. The ranger told us to be very careful to put all our food waste and dish water down the pit toilet and to use the bear boxes. So all the company food, our utensils, our personal toiletries including Chapstick and suntan lotions, tooth brushes and paste (anything that has a scent) has to also go in the bear boxes. With the news about the bears on the road coming in, Sue and I were extra specially careful to make certain we don’t have anything in our tents.

Crowfoot Glacier

Crowfoot Glacier

I have a rash on the back of my neck. I don’t know what that’s about. Other than that, everyone seems to be healthy. It’s 9:00 p.m. and the sun is still beating down on the tents. It sure stays light a long time up here. Oh, one more thing, we surpassed 500 miles today 😎

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Days 9 and 10: Kootenay Park Cabins to Lake Louise and a day off

Rivers and Mountains…Mountains and Rivers

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Castle Mountain

Castle Mountain

The Bow River

The Bow River

Bow Valley Parkway

Bow Valley Parkway

When we were having our map meeting this morning, we noticed that we would be passing by the Storm Mountain Lodge and we began early tossing out ideas for what we were going to be ordering for B2 at about 22 miles into the day’s ride. I just couldn’t be more excited about possibly pancakes, pig, or perhaps a waffle with strawberries or or maybe even French toast if made correctly. Sue normally goes for eggs or omelette, hash browns and toast and she always wants some fruit. Anyway, by the time we climbed Vermillion Pass out of Kootenay National Park and into Banff National Park; by the time we crossed the Continental Divide exiting BC and entering Alberta; the famous lodge had stopped serving breakfast for the day. DANG! We had to settle for chicken sandwiches with cranberry sauce on homemade buns. It was a very expensive lunch, but the place had a wonderful cabin-like ambiance on the inside and with beautiful hanging baskets and hummingbird feeders hanging right outside the large windows. The stop was delightful.

Looking out the window of the Storm Mountain Lodge

Looking out the window of the Storm Mountain Lodge

I got to see my first glacier today. It is named the Stanley Glacier. This pic was taken about 5x zoom. These others are simply sights of the day. Ho hum…

Stanley Glacier

Stanley Glacier

Nope, didn't see one

Nope, didn’t see one

Today we had to cross grizzly guards. Yep, just like a cattle guard is supposed to keep cattle where you want them; such is the purpose of a grizzly guard. Evidently the Banff National Park Campground is sitting in the center of grizzly habitat. So, to keep the bears out of the tent area (where I am sitting and typing at this very moment) it is surrounded by an electrical fence and with grizzly guards across the roads. It is actually kind of frightening to ride over because the iron cross bars are spaced much further apart than a cattle guard would be. You’ve got to hang onto the handlebars and roll over perfectly perpendicular or otherwise, the front wheel will drop in and you’re a goner!

Grizzly Guard

Grizzly Guard

Electric fence to keep the grizzlies out of the tenting area of the Banff National Park Campground

Electric fence to keep the grizzlies out of the tenting area of the Banff National Park Campground

This picture was taken one mile from Lake Louise (it’s a lake and a village) and I was wondering if we would make it in time. We ducked under the canopy at the coffee shop the moment it began to pour. Who was sitting there enjoying a piece of pizza? but our fearless leader, Wally. We went in to warm up and enjoy a cup of Java and watched it rain while we chatted about various people, places and things. After about an hour, it quit raining for the moment and we jumped on the bikes for the mile ride out to the campground. We no more mounted the saddles and it started pouring again, but we were committed and made a beeline for our designated spots (crossing the grizzly guard at break-neck speed, I might add)!

Wondering if we'll beat the rain

Wondering if we’ll beat the rain

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Nelson, me, Mark

Nelson, me, Mark

And now, a word from Sue:

It happened quickly. We were told on Day 1 that the orange knives, forks and spoons were part of the group gear and NOT now or EVER to be used as our own individual cutlery (that’s what they call it in Canada). On Day 9, Traci walked through the center of camp eating peanut butter off an orange knife, flaunting it in front of Wally and the rest of us. We were aghast because normally, Traci follows the rules. BUT, her fall from grace was swift and final when she proclaimed the orange knife was duly confiscated until the last day of the trip. THEN she had the audacity to waive it in the air as she continued to walk daring us all to try to take it from her. Traci, you are no longer Wally’s favorite.

Ps: You never share the potato chips and I did NOT have a mini crisis! Back to you Traci

We laughed about it for 15 minutes or more from the insides of our tents pitched close enough to visit through the soft walls. You can bet she will not let this one go… I’m STILL Wally’s favorite. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

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Tents set up, showers had, supper eaten, time to call it a day and a very good day it was. Tomorrow we have our second day off. Lots of rain in the forecast. Lots of dirty laundry to be washed. Bikes in need of serious cleaning. Blogging to get caught up….

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Day 8: Fairmont Hot Springs to Kootenay Park Lodge

Shiny and new barbed wire.  Not sure what it has to do with things, but it caught my eye

Shiny and new barbed wire. Not sure what it has to do with things, but it caught my eye

We have been riding for several days in what is called the Kootenay Rockies Region. If today’s ride could have been any prettier, well…I’m just not sure it is possible. The mountains we see to our left are the Columbia Mountains and to the right are the Rockies. We’ve ridden alongside the Columbia and the Kootenay Rivers yesterday and today. The Kootenay was muddy yesterday down at the town of Canal Flats but since entering Kootenay National Park, it was beautifully clear.

Steve, Sue, Richard & David

Steve, Sue, Richard & David

Every time a new mountain vista appears up ahead, we think it’s prettier than the last one. Sue takes a picture of me climbing with it in the background and then we switch around and I take a picture of her. It’s really quite hilarious how many similar photos we have taken in the past few days. I actually deleted about 20 of them just tonight.

We kept getting whiffs of a sweet WONDERFUL smelling flower this afternoon. I thought it smelled something like Jasmine. Memories of my beloved Grammy came back as she used to have everything Avon sitting on top a built-in dresser in her bathroom. As a child, I would stand on the edge of the bathtub and one by one, remove all the lids and smell each and everyone until I decided what I wanted to smell like for the day. My favorite was the white powder with the big puff inside. She never made a fuss over the mess I made with it. I was definitely her favorite 😎 ANYWAY, we learned later that the scent was coming from a little purple wildflower that just started showing up in the ditches. We found a wildflower guide at a restaurant and determined that it is a Northern Sweet Vetch. Even though Sue didn’t agree that it smelled like Jasmine at all, we both just ooo-and-awed every time we rode past a nice big patch of it.

Northern Sweet Vetch

Northern Sweet Vetch

Our first 20 miles was easy. We stopped at a scenic overlook where three of our ride-mates were enjoying the view. We arrived in the town of Radium Hot Springs and waited outside the grocery store while Mark and Nelson bought the next round of groceries. I used this time wisely and took my tent, rain fly and footprint out and laid them on the hot sidewalk to dry. I didn’t have to leave them there long, but I kept having to apologize to people who had to walk on the grass because I was using the sidewalk. I thought it seemed like an awfully busy area when I finally realized that next door was the Visitor Center. Good grief. I packed the dry tent into it’s proper place in the rear pannier when the boys came out with sacks and sacks of groceries. Sue carried four packages of pasta and I grabbed cans of something, the mushrooms, and a bag of lettuce.

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All loaded up and at the next block, we turned right and immediately entered the Kootenay National Park. In only a few blocks the climb went from hard to OMGosh, what have I gotten myself into hard!?! The sign said that it was 10% grade but everybody’s Garmins said it was 11%. Whichever was correct, the sign or the Garmins, it mattered little as even 10% is BARELY doable carrying approximately 60 lbs. Gratefully, after only a mile or so, the grade lessened to 7 and 8%, leveled off for about a half mile, and then finished at 8%. Seven miles of this to the summit along with flashing signs saying “Bears on Road Do Not Stop”. Here we are on bicycles climbing at 3 or 4 mph. If a bear wanted to have us for lunch, there was not a thing we were going to be able to do about it. When I got to the top, four of the men were already there and were all discussing the climb. I pulled up huffing and puffing and announced “THAT will separate the men from the boys!” They all burst out laughing. Sue arrived a few minutes later and we put on our coats for a chilly drop down the other side of the mountain. About half way down, we stopped for a scenic picture or two and Sue noticed Bernie the Bug on my helmet. It’s a darn good thing I didn’t know he was on my head and that’s all I’ve got to say about that!

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All insects/bugs come big in BC!

All insects/bugs come big in BC!

Just a few miles down the other side of Sinclair Pass

Just a few miles down the other side of Sinclair Pass

Another few miles down the mountain and I saw a momma bear and her two cubs on the side of the road. Awhile later, a young man from Belgium on his bicycle came riding up behind us and said they were on the highway. They were black bears, not grizzlies.

Since Sue and I were carrying much of the staples for supper, Mark and Nelson couldn’t start supper until we arrived in camp at almost 6:00. Maybe on long hard days, we should be carrying breakfast items rather than supper, eh? (Don’t forget we are in Canada).

The cabins tonight were quaint (and heated). I’m going to guess they were built in the 20’s. They are not very well maintained, but the sheets were clean on the beds, so we were happy enough. Sue saw a mouse run out the front door when we went in, so we thought better of leaving any food out in the tiny kitchen overnight. Slept okay, but truth be told, I sleep better in my tent on most nights.

The girls' cabin

The girls’ cabin

This fire burned in 2001 in Kootenay National Park.  The quaint Kootenay Park cabins were spared just on the other side of Highway 93

This fire burned in 2001 in Kootenay National Park. The quaint Kootenay Park cabins were spared just on the other side of Highway 93

Enjoy the pix!

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Day 7: Fort Steele to Fairmont Hot Springs

OMGosh, it is our day to cook!

Husband and wife hoeing by hand

Husband and wife hoeing by hand

Today started out mighty early when I woke up as the sun was starting to rise before 4:00 a.m. I had stayed up late the night before writing about our day, but I couldn’t access the campground’s wireless in my tent, so I wasn’t able to upload my pix to wordpress. So, since I woke up so early, I gathered my things and headed to the main building where the bathroom/shower was (oops, they call them washrooms here) and hid out and got Day 6 posted. Back at the tent at 6:00 and Sue and the rest of the gang were beginning to stir. We have two hours to break camp, eat breakfast and fix our own lunches. Map meeting at 8:00 and one more trip to the bathroom for chemical application (that’s what Sue and I have taken to calling applying Chamois Butter and sun screen) and we are on the road usually by 8:20. You would wonder why it takes two hours, wouldn’t you? We are not super rushed, but yet, there is a lot to breaking camp such as drying the condensation on the rain flys, and packing up the panniers so they will close properly (and the weight evenly distributed). We pump our tires about every three days which has to be done before the panniers are mounted onto the bikes. We certainly have lots of daylight up here. It will be 10:30 before it’s too dark to see.

Hoodoo's (sandstone mountains)

Hoodoo’s (sandstone mountains)

Today, we rode steady and fairly hard in order to get to camp by 3:15 p.m. We set up the tents as fast as we could and emptied the panniers and headed to the grocery store about a mile uphill into the town of Fairmont Hot Springs. All the guys (and Dee) that had beat us here rode with us and even helped us shop and then carried all $288 worth back to camp for us. What a crew! Sue got the stoves started and I began browning hamburger for the sloppy joes. Sue set out crackers and cheese for an appetizer and prepared the sweet corn for boiling. One of the guys (Richard) had his tent set up very near where we were cooking and he watched and whenever he thought he could help, he volunteered to do it. The greatest thing he did though, was bring out his container of 100% Deet and sprayed us down to save us from being carried off by the mosquitoes. Yes indeed, the little suckers were out in full force and effect! Sue got a bite on her forehead that looks more like a bee sting to me. The bump is huge! You may be wondering what in the world we bought to spend $288, but first of all, the cost of groceries are much more than in the States. Secondly, remember that we were buying for supper and for tomorrow’s breakfast and lunch. It all just added up…and…up…and…up and we ended up being $40 over budget. We were hoping to get fired from grocery buying duties, but no such luck.

Most everyone was very kind and complemented us on supper and Nelson pitched in and washed the dishes while Sue and I packed everything up into the bear bags. We have all the food stored in the outhouse along with our own toiletries in order to hopefully keep the bears away. We heard upon checking in on arrival, that bears were coming into camp at night. This is the first time since beginning seven days ago that we have had to worry about bears, but this will probably be the practice from now on.

The ride today wasn’t difficult, but we did have about a ten mile an hour headwind all morning. During the afternoon, we were blessed to ride beside the Columbia River. The highway had a good shoulder and we moved right along stopping for pictures whenever we wanted. At one point, Sue said she needed to stop to put on some Chapstick because her lips were burning up. I keep a tube in a front frame bag so I can apply on the fly, but Sue had to dig deep to find hers. While I was waiting I said, “there is nothing like the application of Chapstick to change or improve your outlook on the day”. Sue began laughing at my over-seriousness of the subject. Oh, I should tell you that when we say Chapstick, we don’t necessarily mean actual Chapstick. We use that term loosely to cover all forms of lip solvent.

The Columbia River

The Columbia River

It is cooling off quickly and I’m off to bed. We are up early tomorrow to have the coffee ready by 6:00ish.

Happy 35th Anniversary to Dee and Tony!

Happy 35th Anniversary to Dee and Tony!

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Day 6: Eureka, MT to Fort Steele, BC

A great first day in British Columbia, Canada

Beauty brought to you today by God...

Beauty brought to you today by God…

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Another day of sunshine as we rolled into Canadian Customs after only seven miles. I had learned from Sue, that a person should always take off their sunglasses and I remembered as I waited my turn behind a big pickup pulling a camper. The sign said to stay behind the line until the light turned green, but I immediately forgot what it said after looking away and began to roll up to the building as the pickup and camper were cleared to go. The young man practically jumped out of his window to inform me (with a stern voice) that I had to wait for the green light! I told him I was sorry and the light turned green in about five seconds and I eased up to the window with passport in hand. This “kid” looked to be about 22 or 23 years old as he interrogated me with questions that I truly didn’t believe he needed or even wanted to know. Perhaps he was just testing me to see how I would react to them. First question, what am I going to be doing in Canada? Duh. Second question, how long will I be here? I wasn’t sure exactly what day we’d leave Canada and enter Alaska so I had to yell at Sue to ask her if she knew. Third question, where do I live? Fourth question, what do I do for a living? Fifth question, how can I afford to be away from work for so long? Sixth question, do I have any Canadian cash? Seventh question, do I have insurance in case of an emergency? Jeesh!

 

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Our first look of the Rockies.

Our first look of the Rockies.

Wally and I.  Sue snapped this one behind her back while riding.

Wally and I. Sue snapped this one behind her back while riding.

We stopped at the “Entering B.C., Canada” sign for the traditional picture and Sue and I were on our way. The first mile or so we were in the shade of a hill and I thought I might freeze because I had started out the day in shorts with no jacket, but soon we rounded a corner and got our first glimpse of the Canadian Rockies. Needless to say we had to stop for a photo. We had a nice three foot shoulder to ride and the traffic was light for the most part with more motorcycles than anything followed by motor homes and campers. After awhile the route took us off the highway to some wonderful back roads and we were ecstatic seeing and enjoying the scenery without the noise of traffic. We came into a little town where they were having a Farmer’s Market. All our ride mates ahead of us were already there. All those behind us stopped too. Some filled up on fresh apple strudel and Sue and I bought some Rainier Cherries. One of the booths was Happy Spoke and the two gals running it were bicyclists and quite the artists. I took a picture of stained glass chain rings hanging from a wheel. Too cool we agreed!

As we were getting ready to head out, an older lady came over and with a broken English accent announced that she was going with us. She was joking of course, but we learned that she was 78 years old and she rides her bicycle everyday. We also learned that she is from Spain and speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian. She was quite the card as you can probably guess from this picture. Oh, and she told us her name was Amelia Bedelia. After we left, I asked Sue if she knew about the Amelia Bedelia books and she did not. I knew the first one very well and gave her a verbal book report. First Amelia “dressed” a chicken for dinner. She “changed” the towels in the bathroom. She “dusted” the living room furniture. She “drew” the drapes. Have I forgotten anything that she messed up? I loved that book as a child!

Selfie with Amelia Bedelia at the Farmer's Market

Selfie with Amelia Bedelia at the Farmer’s Market

The only place to buy groceries for supper was 30 miles from camp tonight so we all stopped in Jaffray and bungee corded sack of groceries onto the top of our panniers and carried them up and down the hills for the next 30 miles. Yesterday, we thought that it was our turn to cook tonight, but we found out that instead it is tomorrow night. Gratefully, there is a grocery store in the same town where we are staying tomorrow so that is a relief. But while we were waiting for today’s cooks (Tony and Dee) to shop for the groceries, Sue and I and others ate our lunch outside the convenience store. When it was finally time to roll, we were too full, too lethargic and too weighed down with groceries. To make matters worse, we were back on the main highway and had to climb a steep hill on a gravel shoulder. We were struggling and I told Sue that I think I lost my mojo. We both started laughing so dang hard that I thought we would certainly fall off the bikes. Maybe you just had to be there, but sometimes we just crack each other up with the stupidest things.

The little girl's name is "Bunny"

The little girl’s name is “Bunny”

Kootenay River

Kootenay River

The scenery today was fabulous. The windflowers were awesome. We rode by a 17 day old colt that was too darling for words. We rode alongside the Kootenay River and crossed the Bull River that runs a gorgeous color of slate blue/green. Sue says that glacial flour turns the water this color. I had to have her explain it to me several times because at first I didn’t know if she was saying “flower” or “flour”. But evidently as the glaciers melt they shift and crush the rock underneath into dust like “flour” which then dyes the water this color. It is so beautiful and I wish you could truly see the color in the picture like you can see it with the naked eye.

Bull River

Bull River

Wild Flowers...Wow!

Wild Flowers…Wow!

The last 10 miles was riding again on a back road with the mountains on the right and with a beautiful green meadow between them and us. On the left side of the road was various streams all feeding eventually into the Kootenay. I asked Sue which excited her the most, a beautiful mountain peak or a raging wild river. She finally decided on the mountain peak. Mine would be the river because my goodness, I get excited about any water that is actually moving from one location to another; perhaps having do with growing up in Western Kansas where the Arkansas River is just a dry bed of dust and sand.

We are staying in the tent section of the Fort Steel Resort and Campground. Our tents are set up in tall grass that is lush and cool. The highway noise is close, but we are tired and I’m sure we will sleep well regardless.

Don’t forget tomorrow Sue and I take our turns at cooking. This means we have to be to camp no later than 4:00 p.m. to unload our panniers and head to the store about a mile up the road to buy groceries for supper, breakfast and lunch the next day. We then have to cook and clean up and then lay it all out for breakfast the next day. All this means no blog tomorrow night. Cooking duties trump blogging 8-/

All is well. God is good!

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Day 5: Whitefish to Eureka, MT

Blue Skies!

 

Happy Happy Happy!

Happy Happy Happy!

Fuji Apple and Skippy Picnic 8-)

Fuji Apple and Skippy Picnic 😎

The day started out with….wait for it…SUNSHINE! Yep, and no rain while we were riding either! By the time we had breakfast, the tents had dried completely and we were on time to the map meeting. We got the sad news that one of the Davids was having health issues and would not be continuing with us on the trip. We are now down to twelve. Everyone is really bummed about losing all these new friends whom we have begun to bond.

There were a bunch of us standing around and I finally just asked Giovanni if he would please share the story behind his name change. He hesitated at first, but decided he couldn’t be rude with us all listening. He said that he was on a tour one time and there were several “John’s” so they all took a different country’s version of The name to distinguish themselves. The story was kind of anticlimactic after all the discussion, but at least we now know and we have settled in to calling him by his chosen name.

Richard, David and Steve

Richard, David and Steve

Sue leading the pack!

Sue leading the pack!

Most of the day we were on a busy highway (think log trucks) with no shoulder, but most drivers slowed down and/or moved over. When we finally were routed off the highway to ride the last 17 miles, the pace slowed and the stress left our shoulders and faces. Five or six of us somehow came together at the same time to ride this twisty, hilly, tree-lined stretch of road.

We are staying behind the Silverado Motel in Eureka, Montana. Tomorrow we enter Canada. I’m anxious for this next phase, but tonight I am very tired and will lay down soon. But…not before a short burst of rain fell to form a gorgeous double rainbow.

A perfect end to a great day!

A perfect end to a great day!

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Days 3 and 4: Swan Lake to Whitefish, MT

Row Row Row Your Boat (or Bike)…

Day two, path over the creek to the cabins

Day two, path over the creek to the cabins

One of the cabins we stayed at Day 2

One of the cabins we stayed at Day 2

I write this blog on the first day off of the trip. We will have nine days off before we reach Denali National Park, Alaska. For now…we are in Whitefish, Montana, a cool touristy town with a great bike shop called Glacier Cyclery. Sue and I were here a couple of years ago and a young mechanic named Tyler was able to salvage a bent rim and therefore salvaged my whole trip. I dropped in to the bike shop late yesterday afternoon to see if he still worked there, and he does, but he is on vacation this week. I still remember the relief I felt when he called me to tell me he was able to fix the rim and had adjusted my derailleur for good measure. Yes indeed, I remember that young man!

They still have not fixed this grate that I rolled into in 2012 bending my front wheel rim

They still have not fixed this grate that I rolled into in 2012 bending my front wheel rim

This pic does not do justice to this intricate artwork.  It's the size of a big window on the side of a building

This pic does not do justice to this intricate artwork. It’s the size of a big window on the side of a building

Artwork downtown Whitefish

Artwork downtown Whitefish

Something to do with old equipment?  This one is for my Uncle J.B. Barlow

Something to do with old equipment? This one is for my Uncle J.B. Barlow

Yesterday was another day of cold rain. The temperature never got over 45 and again it rained literally all day. We passed through the Flathead Valley where the crops looked soaked to the gill as water was standing everywhere. I didn’t recognize many of the crops. I think many were herb fields but I don’t know my herbs. Sue’s dad told us that the Flathead Valley is one of the three most fertile regions of the world second or third to someplace in Russia and then Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. When our route took us off Highways 83 and 35, the roads got hillier end thus more difficult to ride, but oh my, we are so much more at peace. Sue and I rode on a portion of these roads the opposite direction in 2012. I asked her, “who would have ever thought we’d be riding the same roads two years later”?

Sue's wonderful parents with their fishing guide.  Taken the morning we left Dillon

Sue’s wonderful parents with their fishing guide. Taken the morning we left Dillon

No explanation necessary

No explanation necessary

When we rolled into town late yesterday afternoon, we grabbed our lunch sandwiches and stood on the entry rug of the bicycle shop and they let us devour and drip at the same time. A very kind bunch of guys who could tell we were on the edge. Okay, here is the REAL reason we went directly to Glacier Cyclery upon arriving in town: I was expecting a package. You see, back when we were in Dillon, I bought a Patagonia Nano Puff long-sleeve coat with a great hood (it may have been a tad expensive, I can’t remember for sure). I bought it to wear after getting off the bicycle on cold nights. ANYWAY, I left it at the Missoula KOA. Gratefully, it was still right where I left it in the laundry room and the kid I spoke to on the phone agreed to “next day air” it to Whitefish. I’m still not sure how much that charge was on my credit card, but I’m glad to get it back because I’m pretty sure I’m going to need it where I am going!

On the bike, I must have the right combination of clothing and rain gear because I haven’t suffered on the bike at all. I am the ONLY person on this trip who has said that. I actually get along better with the continual rain rather than on again off again. I am using a pair of neoprene gloves that are a hand-me-down from John and although they are far from waterproof, my fingers feel like they are in warm bath water. It is kind of weird, but I am very happy with them. My rain coat is a Showerpass with aqua zippers. I bought it last year because it matched Mabelline (a pretty color of blue) and once again, I am dry underneath when almost everyone else is complaining of wet clothes through and through. It was a pretty serious conversation as we all stood in the small warm campground laundry mat comparing and assessing rain gear.

By the time we made it to the campground, Sue was in a mini crisis and very near bonk. It was cold. It was wet. The tent area was surrounded by a beautiful blanket of bluegrass, but a sign said “no tents on the grass”. That meant setting up camp in the wood-chips/mud. Remember the tents remain soaking wet too. This combination was just too much for many to handle and half of the gang had already gotten motel rooms. Sue and I discussed it, but agreed we are going to have harder days and nights especially in the Yukon Territory so we put up the tents chanting to each other: “We are tough…we are tough…we are tough! A cheap $2.00 emergency blanket purchased at Walmart covered my wet floor and eventually the rain flys quit dripping inside. Next goes in the air mattress which acts like a life preserver and with my mummy sleeping bag carefully positioned on top of it, I’m snug as a bug in a rug.

Thursday

We were all worried about the couple from Juno, Alaska because Scot had an unfortunate mishap where his front pannier hit a planter in a parking lot and flipped him off his bike. An emergency room visit and X-rays reflect no broken or cracked ribs but evidently he has some pulled muscles around his ribcage and he is in so much pain that he can’t ride. His wife (of 44 years) is naturally quitting too. Hopefully they will both be able to rejoin us later down the road, but for now, we are down to 13 of us.

It rained all night, but by 6:00 a.m. it had FINALLY stopped and we hung a clothesline; took down the tents to hang and dry; and then headed to the laundry mat, this time to actually wash and dry clothes. It’s now the afternoon, we see blue sky, the tents are dry and our clothes are clean. Life is good.

Thursday morning sunshine activity

Thursday morning sunshine activity

Ps: This morning we woke up to a song bird singing rather than crow cawing. This is how I knew the sun was going to shine today 😎

Flowers of the Day

Flowers of the Day

Another view of gorgeous-ness

Another view of gorgeous-ness

Mabelline resting out of the rain as I have some great pancakes

Mabelline resting out of the rain as I have some great pancakes

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Day 2: Seeley Lake to Swan Lake

The two Davids

The two Davids


Hamburgers at the local bar

Hamburgers at the local bar


Hamburgers at the local bar

Hamburgers at the local bar


The rain on my tent last night was like a lullaby as I slept soundly and woke up quite refreshed. The rain was still falling so I packed up my bags while sitting in the small confines and did not exit until every bag was water-tight sealed. The cooks had already pulled out breakfast and everyone had begun to gather under the awning of the motel we were sleeping behind. It was about six feet deep so everyone was lined up shoulder to shoulder eating bagels, cereal, or oatmeal. I wish I had gotten out my camera to snap a picture because it was a colorful sight with everyone wearing brightly colored rain gear and not an ear was peaking out of shiny vinyl looking hoods. It was cold baby cold outside!

We still had to take down our tents and it was done in a rush to try to minimize rain soaking the inside once the flys came off. I strapped mine to the outside of my pannier hoping that somewhere I’d be able to take them off and dry them in the sunshine. Ho Ho Ho… It literally rained every second of today. The great thing about this Montana rain was that it came straight down unlike the rain of Western Kansas that comes in sideways. We started out with a 40 degree temp and ended the ride with it dropping to the 30’s. The only snow came late this afternoon and it was brief, however I did take a cool picture of the nearby mountainside where the trees are covered by a heavy dusting of snow.

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The Bear Grass is in full bloom and growing wild and wildly on both sides of the highway in many places. At one point Sue needed to stop to add another layer to her clothing and I took the opportunity to take the camera out of hiding just long enough to take a picture for you. At the same time the two Davids came riding by and I caught another good picture if I do say so myself 😎

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We stopped for a second breakfast (which I will refer to from now on as B2) at the Hungry Bear Cafe. I don’t know that we were particularly hungry, but hot coffee and a warm place to get out of the constant rain was just a great idea. I have taken to not putting in my contacts on these rainy days and therefore have to pull out some stylish reading glasses just to read a menu. Said glasses immediately fogged over. Sue snapped this picture of me. The camera lens was also foggy, so the combination made for a rather scary image. We had a good laugh over it, but I almost had decided not to post it for fear of frightening little children.

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One funny thing that happened today, and perhaps you would just have to be here to appreciate it, but someone had thrown a beer box out at a wide spot in the road. As I’m riding up to it, I can see it, and I see that it is green. It really looked like a Jetboil sitting there. I’m not kidding! I told Sue, “Look! Someone left us a Jetboil to make coffee!” Sue went with it and we were imagining that there would be some really good instant coffee lying there right beside it. We would make a cup, get comfortable and watch all the riders go by. Obviously, it doesn’t take much for Sue and I to entertain ourselves.

Everyone was talking about the Great Divide racers that were up at higher elevation earlier in the day, but came down to sleep in the motel for the night. Evidently it was just brutal weather up there. The rules say you can venture off the course but you have to start back up exactly where you left off. Wally said he saw one of them come out of a room this morning and he was a muddy mess. He must have come in and not even showered. He probably slept on the floor just to get in out of the rain and cold for a few hours. Once this afternoon, one of our guys spoke with a racer from New Zealand who had quit the race and was heading as far as Seeley Lake tonight.

Today’s ride wasn’t easy, but I stayed warm enough to ride. Sue was cold but she was a trooper and with quite a bit of humor, we made it here. Wally surprised us by calling ahead and got us cabins to sleep in tonight. There are three cabins and they are tiny. Along the wall is a set of bunk beds (one single and one double) and a chair in the corner. I set my tent up on the porch of one and had every intention of sleeping in it, but there was an intervention amongst my ride mates and here I sit in a bunk typing. There is no heat and I’m not quite sure about these mattresses (let’s just say they aren’t new), so for these reasons, I will hopefully sleep soundly even though I’m hearing the beginnings of what I feel will be a snorefest before long. My tent is still sitting up on the front porch, so I guess I could move out there if it gets too loud. The dang thing is so wet though and since I couldn’t stake it down, the useable space is more than cut in half.

It’s time to snuggle deep into my down sleeping bag and prepare for whatever my roommates have in store for me. Goodnight friends.

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