Thursday, August 18, 2016


We had a big day today, and it turned out much bigger than planned!   We were on the road early and rode along the scenic Route 541.  It seemed we were the only vehicle on the road, the scenery magnificent and the road curvy.  We were even lucky enough to see three mountain goats on the road.  They stood long enough to admire Ellie (I'm sure that's what they were doing) and then scampered off.
We joined Highway 40 which took us through some glorious mountain country.  The highways are single laned and probably the best roads we've ever ridden.  There are no bumps or undulations, they are smooth as.  We were expecting lots of traffic as it's a long weekend, the worst possible time to see Banff & Jasper but to our surprise we only counted a handful of cars.
And then we hit the Trans Canada Highway which travels through Banff National Park and turns off towards Vancouver further along.  A lot more traffic here!
We missed Banff township altogether - the signage was confusing.  We learnt later on that even the locals can't find Banff!  We figured it would be just another ski town and we had plenty of those yet to ride through.
We stopped at a rest area and was amused that the car park could hold a hundred vehicles yet there was only ONE toilet!  
It's here we met our second Moto Guzzi for the entire journey to date.  Ed & Tannis were lovely people from Saskatchewan.  Ed had problems with his 'modern' 2008 Moto Guzzi 1200 Sport .  His bike wouldn't start and a new battery didn't solve the problem.  It was trailered to a shop and they lost two days of their holidays making repairs. We quietly commended Ellie on her valiant effort so far.  We stayed chatting for over an hour and then parted ways.
We continued along and passed through several short tunnels.  We learnt they were animal crossings.  Grassed and treed over-highway passages for animals to cross and there were also the associated tunnels underneath the highway.  Some animals prefer to go over and some under.  As a result there are very few accidents involving animals on such a busy road.  A good effort by the Parks people.
We were heading to Lake Louise and the signs indicated the road was closed to all traffic and the only option is to catch a bus from the 'overflow' carpark.  We decided to by-pass the overflow parking area because being on a motorcycle you can usually weedle your way to the top.  And that's exactly what we did.  No hold-ups at all, straight to the main carpark, 100 meters from the lake.   It was a dismal day.  The mountains were grey, the lake was grey, the sky was grey.  Thunder was rumbling in the distance and it looked like rain.  I took some 'grey'  photo's and we contemplated staying at the Chalet.  We went inside to check it out but of course it was completely booked out for the long weekend.   We could hear the thunder rumbles outside and just knew we were going to be drowned!   But, to our surprise, when we went out the sky was part blue, the snow lit up in the sunshine and we couldn't believe our eyes.  We got to see Lake Louise in all her glory. 
On the way back to the bike we got to meet a Canadian Mountie and we chatted with him for quite a while.  He's a policeman in official garb. 
We were thrilled with our Lake visit but the time came to depart and we headed back down the mountain to fuel up.   We heard the thunder rumblings again and figured we couldn't get away with not being rained on twice.  We donned our rain suits (thanks for the Jackson Racing Won-Z's Martin) and away we went entering Jasper National Park - as 'Seniors'.  We decided it was not for us to argue, paid our reduced entry fee, and away we went.
Once through the Park entrance the heavens opened up and we rode through a downpour like we've rarely experienced.  In fact, I'd go as far to say that it was the heaviest rain we've ever ridden through.  We were amazed at the Harley riders coming towards us with no face protection and no gloves.  They weren't smiling either! 
We pulled in at 'The Crossing' as we definitely needed a break.  At this point the rain had all but disappeared.  We were told the Hotel had hot soup on offer so that's where we went.  We were pleased to see a big log fire and immediately felt warmer.
We took a while to thaw out but am pleased to say that the new rain suits worked a treat.  Not one drop of water got through - we were amazed.
The girl at the hotel rang the motel section of the establishment and reserved the last room for us.  We could not believe it and were very relieved not to have to ride further north.  It was a two-hour ride to the next town!   We wandered over to the office only to discover that while one girl took our reservation, the other girl took a booking from people who were still two hours away.  Oh, the irony...!!!  Needless to say, we missed out on the room.

We donned the waterproofs again and left at 6.00pm and headed north through the Jasper National Park.  Fortunately for us there was no more rain and despite the low cloud we could see the mountains and the many glaciers en-route.
We'd settled in to our ride when we came around a mountain corner and to our amazement saw a glass-bottomed look-off jutting out from the rock face.  We couldn't find the entrance to the car-park so did a uu-ee and snuck in past the exit boom-gates.  We couldn't understand why no-one was parked there?  We got off Ellie and went to the edge to look down and along a deep canyon.  The view was pretty good despite the dimming light.
We were soon pulled up however and asked "Where did you come from?"  We answered "The carpark.".  We learnt that entry to the site was via shuttle bus ONLY and that you pay a fee to catch the bus from 10  miles down the road.  And then they said "Didn't you see the signs?"  "Nope, we didn't", and that's why we were taken by surprise when we came around that corner and saw the glass-bottomed look-off.  We learnt that the entry was $30 per person.  We just saved ourselves $60 and saw the exact same thing that the paying customers see.  We were pleased with that and felt okay about it because we'd actually made an innocent mistake.  We later learnt that the glass-bottomed floor is so scratched you can hardly see through it.  It was back to Ellie (who looked a treat parked up against the rock) and we were on our way.
We eventually arrived in the town of Jasper at 8.30pm.  We learnt that the whole town was booked out, all 8,000 beds, and there was no accommodation within 200 miles of Jasper.  That made our decision easy - we camped.   We rode a mile back to Whistlers Campground, set up our tent, rode back to town and got a pizza, then back to the campground to settle in to tent life.
We were warm, comfortable and grateful we could stay in the Jasper area the night.   It's been a 
l-o-n-g  day.

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