7-23-04  Calgary, Alberta to Jasper, Alberta

        I slept well, the first time I’d pulled 9 hours since the start of the trip.  The bike was ready at 11 AM, and I walked over to pick it up and settle the bill.

        I had impressive service in impressive facilities, the largest in Canada.  Kristen (who wrote the service, booked my room, and took my money) was a big help.

         While I was in the shop, I bought a pair of rubber pullovers for my shoes.  The weak point in my gear was still the boots, and every attempt to waterproof them  had so far failed.

      As I was pulling out, a lady on a BMW F650 rolled in.  She was the wife of husband and wife I had met in Kalispell two days prior.    The husband’s bike was out on the road awaiting a tow.  He had blown a shaft seal.  She had rolled in for an oil change.

       She said her husband was retired and could stay on the road, but she needed to get back to Ontario for "board meetings". I didn't ask her what she did.  I wish I had. 

      On the way out of Calgary, I almost ate it.  A car ran a red light and turned left in front of me.  The driver never saw me until my head was almost stuck in his passenger window.  I jumped the brakes, skidded to a stop, and got a quick look at a thin-faced jerk, with dark glasses and dark hair.  He had that surprised look and pissed-off grimace of someone who knew he'd screwed up but didn't think it was his fault.  He sped away without slowing down.  I resisted a quick urge to chase him.

          It was an easy ride to Banff National Park.  I stopped in Lake Louise for lunch.  It was still 2 to 3 hours to Jasper, so I  pre-booked a room at the Lobstick Hotel, sight unseen.  The cost was high (stemming from luxury or demand?  Demand.  I again ended up  with a basement room).


          The drive time for the day was 9 hours, extended by stopping every 10 – 20 miles to pull off and take pictures.  The ride was great.  It was cool on the approach to Banff and got progressively warmer.  I actually sweated through some of the miles midway in the ride.

Banff river

          There was just sooooo much...... scenery!

          I took many pictures of mountains, rivers, and waterfalls.  I passed by tourists photographing goats browsing by the side of road.  Goats were the only wildlife seen, seemed plentiful, and were not particularly shy.

Banff mountain

          Another stop; another great view.  A crow perched on a sign pointed across the valley to Bridal Veil Falls.


          The falls were impressive, even from my distant vantage point.

Bridal Veil Falls

          My next stop was to view the Columbia glacier. The face was caked in dirt, and a gravel rubble field extended to the parking lot.


          There was a fair amount of activity on the trail running alongside the glacier.  The trail eventually leads to the topside of the ice.


          While I was riding out, I turned around and snapped a final photograph.  The contrast between the upper, fresher, younger portion and the lower, older portion was sharply defined.

Glacier long view

          At some point, the road swung next to a roadside park.  In the park was a small pond.

springs overview

          The sand on the bottom of the pond was composed of grains of pink quartz.  Bubbling springs created interesting swirls and patterns as the water flowed  upwards through the sand.


          I have to admit I stayed longer than I intended to.  The park was almost empty.  The sun was shining, the air was warm, and staring at the boiling sands was a peaceful waste of my time.


          A short while later I stopped again, to photograph Mount Hardisty in late afternoon light..

Mount Hardesty

          The back end of my day ended with my arrival in the town of Jasper.  The entire ride for the day was, in my opinion, one of the finest experiences motorcycling can offer.  There was no rush - to - get - somewhere!   It did not rain.  I took my time, and just poked along through seemingly endless vistas.

          Jasper is a nice town, but has been "vacationized" for the masses.

          I had a lasagna dinner at a restaurant owned by Chinese.  The lasagna had a definite Chinese influence.

      Jasper is a train town.  There were an old steam engine on static display, and a train parked on a side track at the station.  I could see sleepers, a dining car, and a lounge hooked together.    According to the waiter at the Chinese/Italian restaurant, the train runs as an overnight excursion from Vancouver to Jasper.

Jasper locomotive

            The Yellowhead Highway passes through Jasper, and was my western turn towards a connection through Prince George to the Cassiar Highway.  Jasper sits on the western edge of Alberta, near the British Columbia border.

          The extended daylight was apparent even at the western edge of the time zone.  At 10 PM, the town was still active. Dusk occurred around 10:30 PM.  It was fun.  There was a tendency to stay active later.  

Town of Jasper

"But it can't be time to go to bed, Mom.  The sun is still shining."