Pincher Creek, Canada
July 1, 2017
From Hinton to Pincher Creek mostly Highway 22 South
It is a three day holiday in Canada. It’s Canada Day! Everywhere people are in a celebratory mood. Flags, parades scheduled, hotels booked sold-out everywhere! Dang! It’s a nuisance.
This morning we had to get going before 8:30 am. For John… not so easy. Oh, he gets up early enough alright, but John has a slow morning tempo. Very meticulous and measured. In a way I am more like “oh, what the hell!” get going and probably forget something!
I digress. Had to get going because the street of our hotel is in the middle of the parade, and it will be closed. Some parade it will be though, it’s raining hard and heavy! “Ah, don’t worry, people will parade no matter what!” John explains. He is a parade kind of guy, I avoid them like the plague!
So, without breakfast… just shy of 8:30 am we were off. Destination Jasper, up in the mountains.
The road to Jasper is beautiful, magnified by a bit of rain. Wet, fresh with the smell of nature. Yes, a special wet-ground smell, unique and to my liking.
Arriving to Jasper I blew the entrance and we ended up taking the “scenic” way… bleh!! Skip scenic… food! We went straight to breakfast at a bakery and coffee. It had a thick crowd indicative of good? No! Just indicative of slow service. But not much of a choice. Jasper is a “destination” town, and on account of Canada Day it is a mob scene from the moment we entered the town. Just eat and we are successful.
Had a “morning glory muffin”. It was good, but it landed like a bomb inside me, it gave me a nasty heartburn unto the mid-day. Yeach!! John had a cheese thing (I do not recognize the pastry)… I should have had that instead, despite that I am not a cheese kinda guy.
Getting gas and exiting the town seems like a simple enough concept. No! Not when you must dodge every kind of pampered tourist who believes it is right and duty to walk slowly across the street and prevent any car from advancing. Worse, the drivers are very polite, and if a tourist as much as puts a toe on the street, Mr driver ain’t moving! Do you get my take? I believe there are too many pampered tourists… we urgently need to reduce their ranks. In comes the invention of the car piloted by a deranged Peruvian! Good luck!
Outa here! Nope. We are stuck. The train is passing through. Not “just a train”. It must have been two miles long, at least! Twenty minutes later, finally, we are on our way to Banff in the rain. Sounds like a catchy name for a song “on our way to Banff in the rain.” I like that.
The road to Banff is known as The Ice Field Highway. One word applies… stunning! Add to it the color of weather, a bit of rain and smells that go with it. Truly beautiful.
The traffic was low as most everybody is at the town (too early to be on the road). However the few drivers present, drive at the speed limit. Excellent, if you consider that driving the next 187 miles at 45 mph is acceptable. No way!! Alberto was on the lead and gave John every possible opportunity to say… Alberto you are a maniac! But he kept right along with me.
All this is okay until I am about to pass a car and not having seen the highway patrol next to it. As soon as I went by, the police cruiser turns his blue-n-red lights, and all I can say to john… “aww man, he’s gonna nail my ass to the the biggest ticket he can write”. Sure thing, the patrolman pulls out, and I see no more of him. What?! Where is he? John, do you see him? I am driving now way-under the speed limit. If he shows up, he’d. Have to prove that I am an idiot on the road (good luck on that one Alberto). Five, ten miles and no patrol. Ten more miles and I have had enough of this mamby-pamby-at-the speed-limit-baloney. And… off we went! From 45 to 70… hurray!
We descended to 4700 feet and started to climb to 7700 feet. Lakes, mountain, rain, curves and more iceberg-peaked-mountains. A dream? You bet!
Dropping to lower elevation had a huge benefit, my frozen fingers started thawing. Ahhh, such minute pleasure.
The Ice Field Road switched to a regular highway. Faster pace but less attractive. Along the highway we see a lot of people crossing the highway on foot! Holy Smokes! What is it? I could see, and John calls it: “Its a huge grizzly bear! Across the highway and behind the highway cyclone fence, you could see this enormous bear. It’s wild and it’s free to roam. This ain’t Teddy the bear, this wild thing will eat you given half a chance! and these idiots believe the silly fence will keep from that bear?” Darwin at its best! – I make no further comments.
We passed the small town of Canmore. Had a “clam Chauda” – kind of thin, and a bit salty. But when you are hungry… it is best to eat first and complain later. I never did complain but I should have had John’s potato soup. It seem to have more substance and I was hungry.
Back on the road. This time it is highway 22. A posted sign warns “Gust winds – drive carefully”. You have got to be kidding! Steady crosswinds of 45 mph, I can handle steady winds. The wind-gusts that was a fair warning! No kidding!. The wind-gusts come with a bonus-force And you either lean the bike a lot or be blown from the freeway! Three miles of this and John takes the first exit. “Is everything okay John?” – “no! I am scared shitless!”. Two minutos later, back on the freeway, we were in the same predicament: scared shiftless but better composed. You see, it is not a choice. We have to get through the windy area by hook or crook. Twenty miles later, a little pale but better Motorcycle riders the road turn south and the wind for the moment is behind our backs.
Soon we exited the road through a clover-leaf interchange with the appearance of wrong data (read that Alberto is lost). We wanted south but now we are heading north. Grrr! Luckily no harm done, a bit of dirt riding and we were able to cross over to a gas station to top it off. Now we are back on track! South on 22.
“Look where we are headed Alberto” – What do you mean?, I asked. “The sky, Alberto, the sky”. It had turned black with clouds, and it looked as if it was dowpouring heavy. It is a long ways away though, hmmm easily twenty miles away, it might clear by the time we get there,
As we are heading toward the storm we see a bit of “domesticated life”, yep a good size cow walking the middle of the road. The poor thing had escaped the wire fence not knowing how to get back. At this rate it would end on someone’s hood. Poor thing.
And the sky kept looking ominous, a sprinkle starts, the sky rumbles loudly and a rope of lightning hits the ground. Wow! Not that far! The rain is now heavier but the sky is breaking just above us. Black and heavy to the right, black and heavy to the left… a bit of sunshine above us. The rain is less but not si the lightning. Can a motorcyclist survive being hit by a lightning? The question hangs there in my mind (no earth contact!). Ten minutes later the rain, the lightning and the cow are long gone memories. Highway 22 comes to an end switching to highway 3 south to the town of Pincher Creek. The signs indicated many motel facilities. “Alright!, I called”. John, how much further south you want to do today? We stopped to look at the map concluding that this was good enough because the US is not that far and we’d likely come to the border customs guards after they are closed. No point.
Argh! Have it again! Canada Day is still an issue. Dumpy-no-where-town and the motels are all sold out! Even Motel 8 is sold out! Inquiring we find a place. To the rescue comes Jay-Deep, a Punjabi Indian and his facility. The place looks a bit less than nothing, but Jay-Deep with a smile shows his place, apologizing that it has only a shower stall, no tub… “I’ll take it!” . Surely a humble place, but it’s a roof! But more, I like the motel because of Jay-Deep, nice cherry fellow.
Next, dinner. We have not eaten since the horrendous “clam chouda”. Walking the town, which is little with many boarded-up shops we find not one but two Chinese restaurants, side by side! Not the same owner? Strange. Ahhh, today’s dinner… One of the best! This one can cook!
On the way back to the Motel, we saw our second patrolman… had to go make friends, and friendly he was! almost arresting John! Nah! He was a good sport doing a bit of acting at my request and John playing the best arrested-victim ever to grace Hollywood. All for the camera. Bunch-a-hams!
Walk back to the motel and it was not ten minutes (I think) and i was out! John beat me to it though, I could hear his steady-snoring across the room.
Thank you for reading
THE ICE FILED ROAD – AND HIGHWAY 22