The wee border to Canada is surprisingly easy. So easy in fact that the immigrations girl forgets to stamp our passports, only briefely though. Its nice to be back in Canada, I've been here a couple of times before but not to the parts we'll be riding though. En route to Calgary, the fan on the KLR decides to stop working, though it turns out to be only a blown fuse and easy to fix, phew!
I'd briefly met a canadian guy in Baja who'd offered a place to stay in Calgary so this was where we were headed. It also turned out that the Calgary Stampede was starting the following day so some entertainment was guaranteed at least. We went into town on Friday morning to see the Stampede parade, catching erm, at least the last 20 minutes of it. I've honestly never seen so many 10 gallon hats! We also managed to get tickets to watch the rodeo in the stadium, as we'd heard it was a bit of an event by all accounts. It was pretty much a full house in the stadium as we settled in to watch mad people trying to stay on totaly mental horses and even bulls. I think the idea is to stay on for at least 8 seconds and if you stay on longer you get more points for looking like a rag doll getting shaken about in the mouth of a rabid dog. Impressive stuff to say the least!
Preparing to leave on monday morning during the first rain for quite sometime, we were loaded up and ready to go when (surprise, surprise) the KLR didn't start. After a bit of investigation, it turned out the battery was bone dry. Luckily our host had a charger so we gave the battery some much needed water and a bit of a charge and lo and behold, it started. Right, off the bike shop for a new battery I think! Whilst there, I picked up a new pair of Continental TKC 80s as mine are looking slightly knackered but I won't put them on till I see canvas showing through on the current ones.
We got to Lake Louise in the early evening and as usual in a National Park, it was chock full. So after allowing ourselves a quick look at the lake (nice, not many tourists) we decided to stock up on supplies and keep riding until we found another campsite when we bumped into Jim and Sandy on their Harley. They have a tent already set up and while chatting, we cheekily ask if we can share their pitch. They were such nice people and had no problem as long as the campsite ranger people were ok with it. Unlike the American campsite rangers, these guys couldn't give a shit. Jim and Sanday wouldn't take a penny for sharing their site with us so we agreed that if they were ever in Edinburgh or Oz to get in touch. Actually, that might be sooner than I think as Sandy's dad is from Nairn of all places.
We get to see Lake Louise and Lake Moraine the following morning in all their touristy RV-like glory. The night before, I was wondering what it would be like if all the carparks were actually full. Well now I know. Next on the hit list was the scenic Icefields Parkway (http://www.icefieldsparkway.ca/) in Jasper National Park, the road of which runs through a pretty valley containing several glaciers. We stopped at the Athabasca Glacier, which is 6km long and 1km wide and easily accessible though not if you have a lisp. It was pretty nice but I still think that Perito Moreno glacier is the best I've seen on this trip. There were signs as you approach it indicating where the glacier had extended to over the years and it is thought that it is now retreating at a rate of around 5m a year.
Near Jasper are some hot springs and seeing as we probably going to be getting a shower for a while, it seemed rude not to go and see them. With 4 outdoor pools, 2 hot and 2 cold, it was hard to leave but with the number of mozzies about, we finally extracted ourselves and got back on the road to a small campsite near Hinton. As it doesn't get dark till after 11.30pm, the kids were up to all hours screaming away, the wee buggers.
The next few days were a blur of trees, trees and er, some more trees where we averaged 450 miles a day and hit nearly 500. We're also on the Alaskan Highway, which has the proud boast of being the 16th Engineering wonder of the world. This 1400 mile long road was built during the WWII as a military supply route to prevent the Japanese invading and was completed in a speedy 8 months. Filling up the bike twice a day was certainly making a dent in my wallet as I was spending up to $40 a day on gas alone, bringing the daily cost to around $60-70 per day. At this rate, the monthly sum I pay into the account I use will run out very quickly indeed. As the end of the trip is also so near and after 8 1/2 months on the road, I really feel the need to cover greater distances now. Watson Lake, Whitehorse and Beaver Creek flash by and suddenly we're in Alaska!