The previous long days bought me some play time today to ride through Banff and Jasper. I took Route 1A north to Lake Louise, taking advantage of the many photography opportunities through Banff. I then merged back on to Route 1, heading to the Icefields Parkway for more spectacular views. I got to see the Bow Lake Glacier, more of the Canadian Rockies, and the Columbia Icefield. Those were some really impressive glaciers, even with their steady retreat. The weather got very cool, enough that I turned on the electric jacket, while being up in the mountains. From there I scooted up to Jasper, maxing out at 2074m elevation along the way. A quick lunch in Jasper and I’m back on the road heading to some friends’ place in Kamloops, BC. The ride was very smoky thanks to all of the forest fires burning throughout the province, to the point where I could actually smell the wood smoke.
I pulled in to the farm at about 7:30 PM and had some delicious beer, tasty lasagna, and great conversation with old friends I hadn’t seen in a long, long time.
I slept in today, but not to worry as I only had 70 miles to ride. After some coffee and donuts at Timmy’s, I topped the tank off and headed for Banff. The ride was great and the weather definitely warmed up. At one of the photo spots outside the park I ran in to a pair of bikes from North Carolina, had a good chat, and then rode in to the park. Hotel rates were as high as I’d expected, but I wanted to stay in Banff so paying for the convenience was justified.
After unloading the unnecessaries from the bike I scooted over to the Banff Gondola and rode up to the top of Sulphur Mountain. The views were spectacular! It was a little hazy thanks to all of the fires in British Columbia, but still well worth the trip up. Many pictures were taken before my empty stomach insisted on being filled. And what better way to fill it than poutine at 7500 feet elevation? I can’t think of one.
I then headed back to the hotel to drop off the gear and walk over to the post office to mail a post card to Reese and do some shopping. I found some neat stuff in The Bear and Butterfly, and they directly support the park so it was money well spent. After that I went over to The Bison for some local beer and food. I had a most excellent meat and cheese board and a couple really tasty local beers. The first was a Gopher from Big Rock, a nice hoppy lager. The second was a pilsner from Grizzly Paw, very malty and quite delicious.
After that I made my way back to the room and am off to bed. Tomorrow is going to be a long day, hopefully the last of them, as I ride the Icefields Parkway and head over to British Columbia to meet some friends.
A chilly Canadian morning greeted me as I packed the bike back up for the ride to Calgary. I skipped the hotel’s free breakfast for a visit to Tim Hortons for some coffee and Timbits. It was well worth the trip.
Following my caffeine and fried dough detour I got on Highway 1 and headed for Calgary. The ride was pretty uneventful, mostly just miles and miles of cultivated fields. I did have to dodge some rain through western Saskatchewan, but stayed mostly dry. The bike’s odometer rolled over 60,000 miles on the outskirts of Calgary.
The one bit of excitement, if you can call it that, was getting pulled over for speeding coming in to Calgary. It was totally my fault, I missed the sign indicating that the speed limit had dropped from 110 kph to 70(!) kph. The cop was good though and let me go with a stern talking to and a good set of directions to help me avoid the city center and find a hotel.
Dinner was some tasty barbecue at Big T’s BBQ where I also enjoyed a really good beer from Big Rock Brewery, a local brewery.
I’m heading off to bed now, tomorrow is going to be interesting. I’ll be in Banff for the next two days being a complete tourist.
I got up early this morning and headed over to the local O’Reilly to see about the headlight. They loaned me a meter which I used to confirm that the stock connector did in fact have power. So after purchasing and installing a halogen bulb and doing some minor modifications to ensure that the HID ballast was completely disconnected, I hit the road for the border crossing in Portal, ND.
Crossing in to Canada was a lot different than the last time, in 1994. I had to go inside and went through a rather thorough interview, including financial data and names and phone numbers of friends I’m planning on staying with in British Columbia. After they were satisfied I got on SK-39 to Regina, SK. The weather was better, with much less wind to fight, but it was cool enough that I contemplated turning on the heated jacked liner. I arrived at the hotel in Regina at about 2:30 PM, got checked in and unloaded the bike before heading over to the RCMP Heritage Centre. It’s a nice museum with lots of really good exhibits covering the entire history of the RCMP.
After that I grabbed some dinner and settled in to review the route to Calgary tomorrow.
I got to bed early last night and got up a little earlier this morning to get moving sooner. After a great breakfast at Nolan’s Ironman Cafe, I fired the bike up and made the short hop through the last of Nebraska and in to South Dakota. From there I got on SD-18 and took it west to SD-47 north. I stayed on SD-47 most of the way through the state, fighting a 20+ mph crosswind the whole time. I cut across to US-83 just south of Selby, SD. That pesky crosswind didn’t give up, even as I crossed in to North Dakota. I had to get back on an interstate where US-83 and I-94 share the same road, but only for a few miles until US-83 split back off in Bismarck, heading for Minot. The crosswind started easing off, more hard gusts with a lighter sustained speed. It was still hard going, and I was definitely getting tired, but Minot was getting closer. I finally pulled in to the hotel at around 6:30 PM, got the bike unloaded, and got some food. Tomorrow I try to fix the headlight and then cross in to Canada…
After a good night’s sleep I started troubleshooting the low beam on the bike. It didn’t take long at all to determine that the reason why it’s not working is thanks to a shattered bulb. That’s annoying as HID bulbs aren’t stocked at auto parts stores. I’m going to run on high beams for the time being and will see if the stock low beam socket is still live. If so, a new halogen bulb will be installed for the time being.
After that I loaded up the bike and pointed the wheels north. This last bit of I-35 and I-135 are the last bits of interstate I’ll be on for a while. I’m heading pretty much due north through the middle of Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas.
The ride was pretty uneventful, thankfully. The temperatures steadily dropped as I moved further north, making the riding much more comfortable. North of Salina, KS, I-135 turns in to US-81 and the scenery gets much more interesting with small towns and farm land galore. I stayed on US routes and state highways through to tonight’s stopping point, Spencer, NE. I pulled in to the parking lot of the Skyline Motel at around 7:45 PM, got the bike unloaded, and walked down the street for a late dinner. This should hopefully be the longest day of the trip, clocking in at about 530 miles.
The first day of the longest trip I’ve taken yet started late, partly due to circumstances beyond my control and partly by choice. It’s hot outside, really, really hot. I decided to start a little later to avoid the worst of the heat. The plan was to get to Perry, OK, about 240 miles north of home, to shave some distance off of the run to Regina, SK. I made good time, and starting late worked out well. I did a lot of night riding, but the temperatures were way down. I rolled in to the hotel at around 10:30 PM. The bike ran great, but I did have one problem. The HID low beam bulb is not lighting up. It’s too dark to troubleshoot so I’ll look at it in the morning.