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Day 7
June 11th, 2004
Jasper, Alberta



We were up early, but not going anywhere.  It was still raining, so we hung around as long was we could.  Today is one of my built in easy days.  I've been riding hard the past 6 days, 500+ for each one, and only scheduled 300 miles today.  I calculated the mountains and weather would not allow us to ride much more, and I was right.























                   A rainy looking Jasper greeted us 

Our goal for the day is Salmon Arm, about 300 miles south.

In a light, but steady rain we loaded the Hondas, and pulled out.  We paid a visit to a Shell station on the south end of town, then set out for the Icefields Parkway, one of North Americas most spectacular roads.

I finally left the Yellowhead a few miles later when we turned left onto the Parkway.  Air temp on the 13 was reading in the high 40s, combined with the rain made for a bad morning.  

Winter in Alabama is seldom this bad.

A polite lady in the Ranger office checked our paperwork and waved us through.

Folks, the scenery was unbelievable.  Granite snow capped peaks 12,000 ft high bordered us on each side.  Swirling rain clouds and fog stuck to the mountains, casting a eerie specter over the scene.  It was like watching one of those "Lord of the Ring," movies.  I've been to many beautiful places in North America, Jasper Provincial Park ranks high up the list.

The Parkway follows the path cut by glaciers moving down the valley tens of thousands of years ago.  

The outside temp was steadily dropping as we moved up in elevation.  The rain was still falling in a slow drip, if it doesn't get any worse I'll be ok.  
By the time we reached Athabasca Falls it was 45 degrees.  We came off the parkway and parked the bikes to check the falls out.  Here the river comes crashing down from the 12,000 ft peaks, in such a force it has carved deep canyons in the rocks.  Tons of high speed water spill over the rocks, forming new avenues all the time.  The water constantly looking for the path of least resistance, and when it doesn't find it, one is created.  Every year the rocks in the way lose a few millimeters to the water.  It was a awesome display of nature, and the best part you get to see it up close.




























                                           Athabasca Falls


VJ and I walked the paths and snapped pictures.

A tour bus arrived as we were hiking back to the parking lot.  About 50 pre teens were discharged to the grounds.  I was glad I was not one of the chaperones on THIS field trip.  I would've been a nervous wreck trying to watch them.  All a kid had to do was walk a few feet from the guard rails and slip in.  The water would kill a individual by banging him on the rocks, long before they got a chance to drown.























                                          Icefields Parkway Scene


The pace was slow because of the wet roads.  I wouldn't call the Icefields a challenging road, but more than a few curves greeted us.

We were stopped at a vista taking pictures when 2 north bound RVs pulled in.  I noticed the tags on a long, gray, high dollar rig.  They were from Alabama!  Homefolks!  I stepped to the front and the window came down.  Here I met Mr. Brady, a retired airline pilot from Lake Martin, 45 minutes from Prattville.  Ride there often.  "So y'all live on Lake Martin?"  "Yeah, we're on our way to Alaska, my wife is from Holtville."  A short ride from Prattville.  I could see her leaning over from the passenger side checking me out.  We chatted a few minutes.  "If you're ever up by the lake come see us."  "Thanks I just might do that."
























 
          Mr. Brady, Lake Martin, Alabama on the Icefields Parkway

With the photo op over, we got back on the road.  Soon we came by the Icefields and the temp dipped all the way to 38.  I was COLD.  The light rain wasn't helping matters. The scenery was once again awesome as we rode by the the large sheets of ice working their way down the mountains
Halfway between Banff and Jasper the park service runs a hotel, restaurant enterprise.  I was cold and needed to warm up so we exited and went to the cafeteria.   I noticed several bikes in the parking lot and found the riders occupying 2-3 booths inside.  I ordered the worst hamburger of the trip here.  It was some kind of soybean thing.

The nearby riders asked us what the weather was like north.  "Cold and rainy," I retorted back.   One said, " I ain't ever been up here when it didn't rain."  Another had wires hanging from his vest, a signal he had heated clothes, when I noticed them I remarked, "Gonna need that out there on the parkway."

After shopping around the gift shop we left.  I didn't buy anything. 

I was in the number 1 spot, and I could feel the road dropping us down out of the mountains.  I began to see more north bound motorcycles with no rain gear, meaning the weather must be better ahead.  The rain ceased, and the temp warmed to the 50s.  Just north of Banff we left the Parkway for Trans Canada 1.  At first I missed the turn, but VJ noticed and got us going the right way.  
























 
           The mountains on the Icefields Parkway are up close


Riding across Canada is an entirely different experience than doing the same in the U.S. In America the interstates are efficient, but bland.  Our highway system is so vast and thorough you can go anywhere in the country quickly, and without complications.  In Canada there are no such things as the "interstate exit," where everything you need can be found in one stop.  Gas, motel, eats, even Wal Marts.  No matter what state you find them, they are pretty much alike.  Same stores, same gas marts, same fast food.  I can ride to San Diego, and with a little luck, never hit the brakes, except for gas stops.  No traffic lights, no stop signs, no small towns.  

Not so in Canada.  The Yellowhead and the Trans Canada are the major east-west arteries.  In the west both highways take you through small towns with local shops and stores.  Riding them gives you a sample of what it must've been like in America 50 years ago.  

The Iron Butt Association has a Trans Canada ride but I fail to recall what the numbers are to successfully complete it.  I think it is much greater challenge then the 50cc.

The scenery was still good, but the traffic was heavy as we rode west on the Trans Canada.  I was glad to be warm again and out of the rain, but it was still cloudy.

It was getting late when we rolled into Revelstoke and perched in a Mickey Ds for a break.  I had a coke and apple pie. We discussed our options.  Rain was moving in AGAIN, and I didn't want to be out here in the dark.  We talked about riding further south, but a local told us this was the best place anywhere around.

We decided to hole up here for the night.  I got out my phone and called Super 8 (number stored in electronic phone book) a unit was just across the street from us.  I bargained for the cheapest rate, secured it, and then we rode across the street and checked in.  
The day ended with 303 miles.  

After cleaning our bikes,  I took a shower and later we strolled over to a nearby  restaurant for a lackluster supper.  After we ate we went back to the room for some TV.  I watched video of the state funeral for President Reagan, the march down Constitution Avenue was inspiring.

When the news was finished and so was I.  I reached for the light and looked forward to getting back to America. 


      
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