25th Anniversary Tour - Day 50

08/05/2006 04:18:40 by Administrator

From: Libby, Montana
To: East Hope, Idaho
Mileage: 84

Along Route 2 heading west out of Libby brings you to Kootenai Falls hiking area. There are two short trails one which leads to a swinging bridge and the other to the falls. Both hikes led to beautiful views of the falls and white water. After exploring and taking photos we were back on the bike for just a short jaunt on route 2 until our turn off onto route 56.

Route 56 snakes through the Cabinet Mountains following the Bull River; it is a fairly quiet route with minimal traffic. The temperatures were in the 70's and the skies were bright blue. Just another stellar ride though the mountains! We stopped for a picnic lunch at Dorr Skeels, a USFS campground on Bull Lake. Each of the tent sites had lakefront. Put this one down in the book to return to some day it was beautiful.

It was a shame when Route 56 came to an end. Our next road was route 200, which was moderately busy with no shoulders. Adventuring Cycling does try to divert you to side roads where possible, and we recommend taking their advice. We crossed into Idaho without a sign but we knew something was different when the road surface went from potholes and moguls to smooth flat new pavement. Idaho we love your roads! Just after crossing the state line we met three cyclists heading west from Sandpoint, ID to Glacier. Joe, Rocky and Nick (Rocky's 17 year old son). We discussed travels for a while and Joe extended an invitation if we needed a place to stay in Seattle but both of our schedules are off. Thank you for the kindness. We are overwhelmed with how many nice people we have met in our travels.

The end of our day brought us to the Sam Owen Campground (USFS). The campground was full but while looking for the campground host a gentleman stopped us and offered us the use of the tent pad in his site. Fred and his wife Karen are retired and on the road vacationing in their 5th wheeler. Fred has done some long distance touring along the Pacific Coast highway and knows the feeling of "no room left at the inn". We eventually did find the campground host and were able to procure our own site, right at the waters edge on Lake Pend Oreille! The campground host (Joe) allowed us to share his site, which was very large and had a nice grassy knoll. After a swim in this pristine lake and a quick bite to eat we sat and watched the sunset from our own bench.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 49

08/04/2006 04:12:30 by Administrator

From: Eureka, Montana
To: Libby, Montana
Mileage: 68


We think we found Cycling Heaven on Route 37 from Eureka to Libby. Cycling heaven is 65 miles of ospreys, bald eagles, mountains, Lake Koocanusa, Kootenai River, and a quiet road. Our eyes and brains hurt from trying to enjoy all that was around us. We found ourselves not saying anything for long stretches, just lost in our own thoughts. These two photos are all we need to explain.

We met a fellow teacher, cycling across on the northern tier. Fred Brown is biking, with his wife Gania following in a motor home, across America from west to east. You can read more about his adventures at: http://web.mac.com/fbrown5/iWeb/Bike%20Trip/Welcome.html

We took a rest break at the Libby Dam. Libby Dam is the culmination of years of effort on the part of both the United States and Canada to develop a flood control plan for the Columbia River basin. Lake Koocanusa was named by using the KOO in Kootenai River, the CAN in Canada and USA. The Kootenai River is the third largest tributary of the Columbia River, contributing almost 20 percent of the total water in the lower Columbia. The dam stands 422 feet tall and about one-half mile long and creates a reservoir (Lake Koocanusa) which provided the backdrop of our canvas today.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 48

08/03/2006 04:10:59 by Administrator

From: Fernie, British Columbia
To: Eureka, Montana
Mileage: 53

Stellar ride again, we wonder if the people living in this area could ever take all this beauty for granted. As we rode out of Fernie it was pretty crisp, probably about 40 degrees. Two mountain bikers passed us on their way to work at the ski resorts located on the south side of town. Both were in shorts and T-Shirts, where as we were bundled up. Our excuse, all of that hot weather must have thinned our blood. Blue sky and temperatures in the upper 70's followed us as we continued on route 3 traveling southwest towards Montana, and after Elko where we turned south onto route 93. Most of today's riding was flat or downhill except for a climb out of the Elk River valley where route 93 departs from the Elk River. We've seen very little wild life along this route maybe because it is so busy. We passed a roadside turnout that did in fact confirm that there are big horn sheep, moose and bear in the area. Maybe it's best that that they are not down near the busy road.

Again, route 3 was busy but didn't start picking up traffic until mid morning; by then we were close to route 93. Route 93 was smooth, wide shoulders and LITTLE to NO traffic, until the border crossing. It is amazing how much you miss the quietness when you are on the bike. Riding through the Rockies, what more can be said. Trees, river, mountains and rock cliffs surrounded us as we rode.

At Elko we stopped at the dairy bar on the corner of route 3 and 93, basically to watch the amount of traffic turning onto route 93. There was a group of white water rafters gathering for the day, and we talked to one lady about living in this area.

In Grasmere we had some cheeseburgers and fries, It was a little early but we wanted to spend our last 12 dollars of Canadian. Surprisingly, we found out that we were pretty hungry, because we ate rather ravenously.

We sailed through the border crossing, first time that it was as easy to access the USA, as it always seems to be getting into Canada. The afternoon was spent in downtown Eureka (population 1950) and visiting the Tobacco Valley Museum in town. Eureka's claim to fame is logging and the production of mucic acid. Mucic acid comes from larch trees and the best we can figure out is that it is either a type of baking soda or baking powder.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 47

08/02/2006 04:09:16 by Administrator

From: Blairmore, Alberta
To: Fernie, British Columbia
Mileage: 50

Easiest 50 miles on the trip, we will see? The only two challenges on our ride today were the Chinook winds and the truck/camper traffic. We remained on Route 3 today, which has nice shoulders on the Alberta side, and questionable but safe shoulders on the B.C. side. This must be the easiest pass in the Rockies. (Dad we think we found the first tunnel) We were expecting the road to climb. anytime, around every corner, and yes we had some climbing but not like any of the mountain passes we've ever seen before!

The lady at the Pincher Creek information booth yesterday said that as soon as we crossed the continental divide the headwinds would cease, we think she was messing with us, cause the lady at the next info booth said "well where do you think those winds are coming from?"

Ready to test all wind theories we went over the Continental Divide and crossed the B.C. border, but there was no road sign marking the Continental Divide and the wind didn't stop! Crownest Pass is around 4450 feet in elevation, but there is no road sign. There were road signs for logging trucks, we saw 3, however at least 30 pig/cattle trucks passed us and left our clothes smelling a tad bit like a barnyard! We saw road signs for elk in the road, but didn't see any. We saw road signs for Rocky Mountain sheep, but did not see any.

We did see bluebirds and we were surrounded by the Canadian Rockies and lakes the whole day, so all those road signs (or lack of signs) really didn't matter very much And if not for the headwinds today, we would have probably been going too fast because it was downhill or flat for 97 percent of today. Boy will we pay for this day!

After 25 miles, we stopped in Sparwood B.C. for our second breakfast and to take SeeMore's picture next to the largest truck in the world. This is coal-mining country; it was coal mining country 100 years ago.

We arrived in Fernie (also a coal mining town) around 1:30 pm, we are not sure what is ahead of us and we are pretty tired of the truck/camper traffic so we stopped for the day. We spent the afternoon riding all over Fernie (population 5000). Fernie has mountain bike trails all over the place, nice parks, a quaint downtown, kids riding bikes safely in the streets, and a Boston pizza? Surrounded by mountains, the only drawbacks we see is that route 3 runs through the middle and (we are guessing) it is probably a tad bit cold in the winter.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 46

08/01/2006 04:07:37 by Administrator

From: Waterton, Alberta
To: Blairmore, Alberta
Mileage: 65

Well we're "officially off route". After breakfast at the hotel dining room which included views of Waterton Lake and the surrounding mountains we began our journey north towards Pincher Creek, Alberta. Using a map from the Waterton visitor center we decided that we would shoot for three major towns on our detour route. Pincher Creek, Sparwood and Fernie, Pincher Creek seemed to be the best destination for today as we did not know what to expect for climbs, wind and services. With the help of pretty good crosswinds from the south and more spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains as we rode north, we arrived in Pincher Creek at about noontime. Route 6 north was not busy at all, and a pleasure to ride.

On the way into town we met a very nice man named Pat Geale. He had pulled ahead of us to take our picture as we went by. His niece is considering a trip across Canada and he was wondering about our trip and bike. He spent many years himself wandering the waterways of Canada he appreciated our mode of travel.

Our first stop in Pincher Creek was to the visitor center to check on rates and recommendations for the local hotels. We had a wonderful visit with the woman there who shared a ton of information about the surrounding area, weather and what it was like to live in the area. Pincher Creek and its neighboring towns are also home to a major Shell oil and gas facility and several major wind plants. It is a very nice, prosperous little town.

After circling the town a bit and checking out a few of the local hotels we decided that it was really just too early to stop for the day, so after lunch we began heading west and climbing Crowsnest Pass. Now there just isn't any getting around it, if your going west and each of the 100 or so wind turbines is pointing west you better just settle in and not fight it. So our pedals spin a little more and our speed drops to about 7 or 8 mph but we still seem to move along. Route 3 has a lot of truck and camper traffic on it, but has wide shoulders. The views from SeeMore, however, were outstanding and there were several interesting historical sites at which we stopped to visit.

The Leitch Collieries was a site built for the Canadian Mounted police when cattle rustling became rampant in the area. Later it was used as a coal mining operation when the railroad moved westward. Not much remains of the site but hollow walls and foundations. Further up the road is the Frank Slide, which was very impressive. Frank was a small coal mining town until one night in 1903 when about 1/2 of Turtle Mountain collapsed on top of it. Today the road runs smack though the center of the landslide, with the exception of the road and railroad tracks, evidence of the slide looks as though it happened yesterday. The Rear Admiral tried to take some photos to capture it but just could not. After a great conversation with a family from Edmonton, there son has a custom built recumbent bike; we headed on up the hill.

By about 5 pm we reached Blairmore, AB and our riding limits for today. We quickly found a hotel and created quite the disruption getting the bike into the room. Bringing Seemore into a hotel is kind of like bring a horse in, especially if it isn't a straight shot to the room. It usually yields lots of questions and meeting new people so not so bad.

While at the grocery store in town we met another touring group doing the Adventure Cycling Great Parks tour. We had just enough time to exchange the basics and were invited to visit their campsite in town. Not sure who looked more exhausted but they had sixteen people to fix dinner for so we will wish them the best of travels and a good nights rest tonight.

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 45

07/31/2006 04:05:39 by Administrator

From: Cardston, Alberta
To: Waterton, Alberta
Mileage: 37

Trapped, but don't feel too sorry for us. Glacier National Park is officially off limits due to wildfires. As I write this, there are approximately 30,000 acres involved. Saint Mary is completely evacuated, the Road to the Sun is closed, Rte 83 is closed, the two port of entries from Waterton are closed. The park rangers here believe that it will be at least a couple of days before they open up the borders, no time estimates on opening Saint Mary.

So when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I am typing today's entry from the 3rd floor balcony of the Prince of Wales Hotel, in Waterton National Park. The view in front of me is of Waterton Lake, and the Canadian Rockies. Waterton Lake is what remains of a large Glacier, and is horseshoed in between these beautiful mountains.

The Prince of Wales Hotel is one of Grand Resort Hotels built by the Northern Railroad to attract wealthy travelers back in the 1920's; there are other hotels in Glacier, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon (to name a few), which were built at the height of railroad travel. Thank goodness for digital cameras, because the amount of pictures the Rear Admiral has taken today (if we had to pay for film and processing) would have me working as a bell boy for a couple of years in order to pay for them.

No amount of photos, and no amount of words can accurately capture the beauty outside our window. So I will not waste any more space, except to urge the reader to explore Waterton yourself.

So we need to detour by traveling north, through Crowsnest pass on route 3 and down route 93 to Eureka Montana to get back on the Adventure Cyclist's Northern tier.

As we have found with our journey so far. You pay for what you get and Today's ride was no exception it was extremely windy plus we had a lot of climbing (comes with the territory). The winds off the Rockies are called the Chinook winds and because of them we even had to pedal on the down hills. Today was a day for staying in the low gears. The views made it well worth it though. Simply OUTSTANDING and toss in a wolverine sighting and tons of eagles for extra fun.

Dustin and Kate we really wish you could be with us here. Close your eyes and picture Lake Louise in Baniff. This is just as pretty. Daddy keeps eyeing the map to the north and muttering "it's just up to road. . . ."

25th Anniversary Tour - Day 44

07/30/2006 04:03:46 by Administrator

From: Cut Bank, Montana
To: Cardston, Alberta
Mileage: 72

We got an early start this morning. Last night the wind was blowing 35 mph from the west, and the forecast for today was a repeat performance starting around 3:00 am.

We rode on route 213, north out of Cut Bank and had the road all to ourselves. We were the first customers at the border crossing at 9:30. All through the ride today on route 213 we had glimpses (teasers) of the Rockies, but most of all we saw buttes and the foothills of the Rockies. This was yet another great day of riding, on this amazing adventure.

At the border we received some bad news. The haze we witness yesterday and the little white dots all over Rte 213 are the result of a forest fire at Saint Mary. The white dots are actually ash, and the custom agent said it looked like it was snowing yesterday afternoon.

Here is what we know, Saint Mary has been evacuated, They are not letting anyone go south on the two US/Canada border crossing and Rte 89 is closed. The east side of the Road to the Sun is also closed. We don't know anymore but figure we will find out more information at Waterton National Park, so we pushed on.

After the border crossing we started west on rte 501, another quiet road and the Rockies were in front of us. Most of the time we road in silence, just reflecting on what was in front of us.

We are here in Cardston Alberta and there are trees, flowers, manicured lawns, and well keep homes. This is a very healthy town (population 3,750) and for good reason. In the late 1880's a section of the Mormons living in Utah decided to move up here. At the top of the hill, in the middle of town, is a huge stone church. Mary and I walked and biked to town, and as forecast, the winds began in earnest around 3:00.