North to South Tour - Day 15

07/09/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Pincher Creek, Alberta
To: Waterton, Alberta
Today: 40 miles - 785 miles total

We now have a nickname for our tent, The Prince of Wales II. We are in Waterton National Park, and the wind is gusting from the west. It is always blowing from the west! (here on the east side of the Rockies) We had some very hard miles today. Sitting here watching the Columbia Ground Squirrels (cousins of the prairie dog?), the white tail deer, while we are all in the shade of the snow dotted Canadian Rockies....kinda makes those miles go away.

It's just plan beautiful here! We are under a shade tree, watching the white caps on the lake, and thanking our lucky stars! The Chinook winds were out of the south west today, and yes, that was or traveling direction today. We cycled Rte 6 today, with the Canadian Rockies on our right, miles and miles of farmland, and the wind in command. The foothills go up and down as you ride, and with the wind, you can not establish a cycling rhythm.

We had lunch/breakfast at the Twin Butte grocery store / restaurant (breakfast burritos). If you are traveling by there, stop in, you will not be disappointed with the food or the service. The Twin Butte stop was really the highlight of our day, until we spent the afternoon in and out of the shops in Waterton village and plain sitting around by the lake shore. Well almost, at the Waterton National Park's information house, an old man wanted to feel the Real Admiral's legs. He couldn't believe she could pedal SeeMore all the way from Edmonton! Since his wife didn't mine (you think he goes around feeling other men's wife legs?), Mary said go for it.

Two years ago on our trip across the US, the Rear Admiral and I stayed in the Grand Hotel (Prince of Wales) in Waterton, It was our 25th anniversary gift to each other. At $350 a night, a school teacher can only afford so much so this year we spent $21.50 and set up the tent (The Prince of Wales II). I'm just such a romantic guy! I don't know if the Rear Admiral is being kind, but she says the Prince of Wales II is just as good as the grand hotel on the hill. She must be really tired from the Chinook winds!

Tomorrow we head over Chief Mountain and back into the US. Even though it is not a "mountain pass" we been told it is a bit of a toughie.....we will see, hopefully the Chinook winds will take a day off!

North to South Tour - Day 14

07/08/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Fernie, British Columbia
To: Pincher Creek, Alberta
Today: 77 miles - 745 miles total

Our first stop was Sparwood, where we saw the largest truck in the world (again)....then went to the local grocery store for some snack food and Gatorade. Then it was up and and across Crowsnest Pass (4,457 ft) which was not very hard at all, except for the traffic and pig trucks...with their odor as they passed us.

We stayed on Route 3 for most of the ride today. Crowsnest Pass (above photo) has a couple of beautiful lakes, and there is a campground on the shores of one of the lakes, which looked very inviting. Imagine at the top of a pass, with a flat valley, full of cool blue water. Very inviting. We noticed on both sides of the Crowsnest pass (BC and Alberta) they have workers trying hard to eliminate the Purple Loosestrife which is taken over. We think it is a losing battle. At the Alberta/BC border we went though the Truck weigh station with all of the other "big rigs" . We weigh in at 22. We're not sure 22 whats but doesn't sound too heavy?

We had a picnic lunch in downtown Blairmore, a town after the pass. After lunch we passed through what remains of the town of Frank. In 1903, half of a mountain came down on the town killing over 70 people. Today both Route 3 and the railroad pass through huge amount of granite boulders. At any natural disaster site, we are reminded how we will never be in control of Mother Nature.

It was then on to Pincher Creek, a simple 27 mile ride, right? In this neck of the woods, they have a thing called the Chinook Winds. Let me tell you, they were blowing. Pincher Creek is BOOMING, because of oil and the hundreds of Wind Turbines they have to take advantage of the Chinook winds (see the below photo). So while we traveled south, we were blown all over the road....and our progress was slowwwwww. When we headed east, we barely had to touch the pedals! Too bad, the first 20 miles were not east bound!

We are here in Pincher Creek, at the Super 8. This might be one of the last rooms available in town AND this hotel is only half completed. We are not sure how they are allowed to have guests, with all the construction left to do on this building. To get up to the second floor you go up a staircase that is just framed - not drywall? Tomorrow we will be heading to Waterton, then Glacier National Park, so don't worry ....we will be back to camping and no internet.

North to South Tour - Day 13

07/07/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Skookumchuck, British Columbia
To: Fernie, British Columbia
Today: 83 miles - 668 miles total

We are in Fernie, again, two times in two years! But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Today was more of route 95/93, more logging trucks, more campers, and more noise(above photo). We had an early start, on the road by 8 a.m., remember Canada doesn't wake up fully until 10. In Wasa, you ride by Bill Nye (the science guy?) Mountain. After Wasa, we rode into the town of Fort Steele and had a Gatorade and gorp at the gas station/ camp ground. We then cycled the Wardner Fort Steele Road for 20 spectacular miles. This road started out with a steep climb, and ended with a steep climb. . . but in between was a flat quiet road with The Steeples (more Rockies) in the background (right side) and cattle ranches on the left and right. We even saw our first mountain blue bird! This is a road made for cycling!

At Jaffray we stopped for lunch at "The Perk". They have hundreds of hot and cold drinks, fresh baked goodies, and a great selection for lunch. This place is EVIL, unless your burning calories on a bicycling ride! At lunch we had tandem huddle, SeeMore and the Rear Admiral were ready to go for Fernie. I wasn't, but the more I drank my white chocolate expresso frappe the more my legs were jumping at the idea. So we were off!

There was a big climb in Elko, but after that the climbing into Fernie was very easy. We even found that tunnel again (you were right again Dad, there are tunnels through the Rockies). Route 93 goes south to Montana in Elko so the road into Fernie is Route 3. One day I hope they close the road from Elko to Fernie to all motor powered vehicles...just for one day. Then this part of Route 3 would be a cyclist dream! Riding up through the Rockies until you see the Three Sisters (more mountains) and Fernie, WOW! But until that day comes, fighting truck and car traffic takes you in and out of paradise.

We are here in Fernie, living large in a hotel room. Wow has Fernie grown in the past 2 years. I think I remarked last time that this would be a great town (population 5,000) to put roots down....I guess a lot of people are reading this log! There is an Alpine Ski resort so most of the new construction is vacation condos. We hope it doesn't grow too much, It is a very nice town just as is!

North to South Tour - Day 12

07/06/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia
To: Skookumchuck, British Columbia
Today: 62 miles - 585 miles total

Go ahead, try to find Skookumchuck!

We climbed up out of Radium Hot Springs, into Invermere (9 miles on busy 95/93). Invermere is a very nice little town, population about 3000. We got new sunglasses for the Rear Admiral, wouldn't be a bicycling tour unless she loses her sunglasses at least once! We visited the grocery store, and got stuff for a picnic lunch. We talked to a number of locals, all very fun and out going people. Invermere is located on the hills on the north side of Windermere Lake (see top photo). It was fun exploring Invermere, it has a lot of things to offer.

We then rode the quiet West Side Road out of Invermere for 16 miles of bicycling joy! Lake views, mountain views, and a mixture of cattle ranches and summer/winter get-a-ways. SeeMore even crossed a cattle guard or two! We played hide and seek with the rain all day. Towards the end of West Side Road, we experienced our first liquid sunshine of the day. Not too bad, just enough to turn your shorts from a sold color to polka dotted. After West Side Road, we then cycled 14 miles on Columbia Lake Road, following the ......yup....Columbia Lake. We had our picnic lunch (bottom photo) overlooking the lake, with the Rockies in the background and a bald eagle flying by at eye level. How can we make a living doing this?

After lunch, it was dodge-ball with the rain on highway 95/93. We were very successful until about 2 miles outside Canal Flats, when it started to lightly rain. We raced into Canal Flats (out running two local Canal Flats Golden Retrievers!) and finding shelter under the porch of the local building supply store. Then Mother Nature turned the faucets on full. So we waited out the storm for 45 minutes. Route 95/93 is pretty busy but we are getting use to the noise level.

We are here in Skookumchuck, living large in a hotel room. As I am writing this, the Rear Admiral is not asleep (it's after 7:30!). We had dinner over at the local restaurant/gas station/food store/fishing equipment establishment. Try the Shook burger, and see if you can finish the whole thing. Thank goodness the Rear Admiral was there to help me with mine!

North to South Tour - Day 11

07/05/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Marble Canyon Campground, British Columbia
To: Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia
Today: 58 miles - 523 miles total

We decided to stay in the picnic shelter last night, we had just gotten everything dry, and it began to rain while we were hiking. So instead of having to pack things up again, wet...we just set the tent up inside the picnic shelter. There was only about 10 other campsites taken, and there must have been 80 empty campsites. So we stayed nicely dry, and naturally I slept like a rock. The Rear Admiral is still in the "getting used tent camping" phase of this journey.

We were up bright and early, and had everything out of the food lockups when a couple from Colorado showed up we talked about hiking, biking and Alaska. They were heading up to Anchorage to visit their daughter who is an engineer for BP. They are traveling by car with a pop-up trailer, and going almost as slow as we are stopping to hike as much as possible on the way. They had spotted some wolves on their hike the previous evening. Which is a pretty rare event.

Today's ride took us through Kootenay National Park, and was pretty quiet for most of the trip (few motor vehicle but lots of birds!). We passed through a section which in 2003, saw a huge forest fire that claimed 12 percent of Kootenay National Park. You could see were it jumped across the road, there are still scars on the pavement. These mountains were pretty much in your face all day; using a fourth grade word to describe the views....awesome! The mountains are not as tall as Jasper or Banff, but still impressive enough that a lot of pedaling was done in silence and awe. We stopped at McLeod Meadows Campground for lunch, a command decision by the Rear Admiral. It's important when doing these passes that you take a rest before ascending, eating helps also.

We made it up and over Sinclair Pass (4,875 ft) for our fourth pass in as many days! Not bad, no blood vessel popping moments. Going up the Sinclair pass you can see a lot of trees dead, from the pine beetles, a plague that is effecting the forests of British Columbia. (As we later found out this is because the forest fires are contained the trees get older and more susceptible to these bugs) There are hundreds of brown acre size ovals, all over the mountain sides. This is where the couple from Colorado, saw a pack of wolves yesterday. We did not even hear a howl, except for when SeeMore made it to the top!

And then we went DOWN! DOWN! DOWN! No shoulder, playing dodgeball with the rental RVers! DOWN into Radium Hot Springs. Not fun, and something I NEVER want to do again. I will need to check the drum brakes tonight, and maybe my shorts! In Radium Hot Springs, we joined the other Canadian tourist in the big pool, which is fed by natural heated water; the hot springs makes this town famous. It was sooooo good for the legs, but it was also a crowded swimming pool. So...I'm 50/50 on whether to recommend it to you or not. If you go, make sure it's raining. It's a neat treat! You are also supposed to be able to see the mountain goats and sheep while floating in the pool. We didn't spot any while in the pool but had our own private visit with two big horn sheep along side the road, just prior to the Hot Springs. While all the other motorist were wizzing by we were able to stop and watch this pair while they watched us.

We are here in Radium, living large, in a hotel room. As I am writing this, the Rear Admiral is asleep (not even 7:30!). We have done laundry, and have devoured a whole chicken for dinner (don't worry mom, we had salad too!). I am so blessed that the Rear Admiral pedaled me through Jasper, Banff, and Kootenay National Parks. We are so blessed. We are sorry that we did not keep up with the eMails or this log for the past couple of days. When we are in the parks, we will not have Internet access.

North to South Tour - Day 10

07/04/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Lake Louise Campground, Alberta
To: Marble Canyon Campground, British Columbia
Today: 42 miles - 465 miles total

Happy Independence Day - U.S.A.

Thunder, lighting, ( I wonder how that effects those electric fences?) and rain filled night, but the trains were not a frequent as the last time we were here and inside our tent we kept warm and dry. Looks like more rain on the way so we packed up everything pretty wet. Breakfast in town with the Rear Admiral ordering her lumberjack special and my pancakes with peanut butter. Expensive? Katelyn you can forget about grad school! We debated about going to Lake Louise or not, and we decided not. Before you start yelling, (1) we have been there before, (2) you want to see glacial lakes, visit Bow Lake or Waterfowl Lake or Hector Lake. . . less people, more nature and (3) it was going to be another wet afternoon...we wanted to make camp to dry things out (before everything got wet again!). We even debated on staying another day at Lake Louise....tossed a coin, and pedaled on. Rte 1a from Lake Louise to Castle Junction was almost "auto free". What a great 16 miles of quietness. If you like cycling, ride rte 1A! At the end of 1A, I spotted a moose and sent the Rear Admiral to take a Kodak moment. Surprise, it was a mother moose with her calf. If you have to pick an encounter between a bear or an encounter with a mother moose, pick the bear. Needless to say, once baby calf was spotted, the Real Admiral jumped back on board and SeeMore's speed picked up a couple of mph.

Today we climbed Vermilion Pass (5,415) which wasn't rest breaks, just good steady climbing. We did not even realize we were over the pass, until we started our descent! Again, I can not do justice when describing the magnificent views from SeeMore's seats.

We decided to stop at Marble Canyon Campground as the skies were getting pretty dark. Put everything out to dry, and hoped that it got dry before the afternoon thundershowers showed up. After lunch, and before taking the hike up Marble Canyon, we stored everything inside the picnic shelter, and locked up the food in the bear lockers that the campground provides for you.

We think Marble Canyon was named by some New York marketing guru, because there is no marble. It should have been named Dolomite Canyon, because that is what it is! We been to Vermont, we know what marble can't fool us! If you can get past the name, the hike is a treat. The canyon was formed, first by a receding glacier, then by water run off. Dolomite is carved (sometimes smoothly) as the water rapidly races down stream. It is very narrow, twisted and deep, with a lot of interesting natural stone arches. The water really rushes down these canyons and rivers, not something you would want to get too close to! While on our hike, the skies opened up and we scampered back to camp. So everything is now dry, except the two bikers!

North to South Tour - Day 9

07/03/2008 13:00:00 by Administrator

From: Rampart Creek Campground, Alberta
To: Lake Louise Campground, Alberta
Today: 60 miles - 423 miles total

Broke camp late (9:30) we were trying to give the Rear Admiral some more sleeping time, besides we only had to do Bow Pass (7,003 ft.) today. No big deal, right?

About 3 miles down the road, SeeMore's front chain lost a link. While talking to the couple yesterday about their new Seavo, I did not pay attention fully to SeeMore's chain and idler repair. I just love talking to people about their ride, especially another recumbent tandem! We were riding along when all the sudden we heard a jingling sound, then the front chain came off. I walked back to see if I could find the chain link, but you guessed was missing! I have 4 spares, and I spent a lot of time making sure this one was on right.

If you get on the road before 10, it seems like the Canadian campers love to sleep in, so you have the parkway to yourself. So far, the RVers and trucks have been no problem. We do have a wide shoulder. The only thing is the noise. The engine noise of the motor vehicles seems to vibrate off of the mountains. Besides the noise, what a way to see the Icefields of Jasper and Banff from SeeMore's seats. We are just plain "blown away". I might be bias, but because we are traveling north to south, I think we are seeing more glaciers. My theory is that most of the glaciers are north facing because they are hidden from direct sunlight....then again, I could be full of it.

Compared to yesterday's lung donating event, Bow pass was easy. We stopped one time to get our heartbeats back to normal, then about 2 miles from the top we had lunch, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Doritos! PBJs never tasted better. At the lunch break we also encounter two ladies, one in a convertible, and one in a Volvo station wagon. We had seen these two a number of times over the past two days, passing us...then at a rest stop...then passing us again. Not sure what they were doing, we were afraid to ask!

After Bow pass, we stopped at Bow Lake for a walking break. What a beautiful glacier lake, as pretty as any you will find, and quiet. In the parking lots or pull overs in the park, there are a lot of Asian tourist, and they all seem like they want a picture or video of SeeMore. He is becoming pretty hard to live with. He thinks you will see him make "Asian YouTube top 10" watched video list!

Tonight we are in busy Lake Louise campground. We are surrounded by electric fence which is supposed to keep the bears out, and the campers in. It reminds us of the movie "Jurassic Park". We had diner at the deli in town, can you spell E-X-P-E-N-S-I-V-E? Tomorrow we will join the tourists at Lake Louise. I am wondering if I will get a good night sleep tonight. Last time we were here, I did not sleep a wink. The trains run all night long and for some reason they sound their whistle as they pass the camp ground? It was pretty loud inside a camper not sure what it will be like while outside in a tent? I expect to hear them 10 fold.