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Old Today, 08:18 AM   #1
LoneStar OP
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Joined: Dec 2006
Location: Texas Hill Country, Zip Code EIEIO
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LoneStar: Banff to Texas

“Well welcome to Alberta” the guy said in a rough cigarette laden voice. “I suggest you park your bike around the corner because it gets a bit rough outside the bar here at night.” I thanked him both for the welcome and warning and talked a bit before moving the bike. He and a couple of other patrons from the Texas Gate Bar had come out to see the bike and the grizzled guy riding it. He wiped my rear plate off, which had been covered in mud, and was quite surprised to see I’d ridden from Texas. I was warned that Cochrane was the training ground for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and I’d be hassled for any possible reason, thus the plate cleaning being a gesture of friendship.

I’d arrived in Cochrane, Alberta after a long day in Glacier National Park and Waterton on the Canadian side. This was my first trip into Canada after riding from Texas 11 days earlier. I’d left in the Texas heat and ridden 11 hrs and 600 miles to get to Raton, New Mexico, then met up with the Horizons Unlimited campout in Grant, where I connected with my friends Rob from Michigan and Jim from Texas, whom I’d had the pleasure of riding into Mexico with a year or two before. After the campout, Rob and I continued north and explored Colorado a bit before meeting up with another friend, Dennis, from Michigan. We rode together through Wyoming and into Montana where we parted ways, they continuing on eventually to the BMW Rally in Minnesota.





But I digress. The Texas Gate Bar lay next to the Rockyview Hotel, a 100 year old hotel on the tourist strip in Cochrane, and the only lodging I could find before reaching Banff, my "Holy Grail" of the trip. The room was tiny and up 3 flights of stairs and dragging my gear up took the last bit of energy I had after 12 days of riding and camping. Todays ride had been from a campground in GNP across to St. Mary’s and north across the border. Highway 22 had paralleled the Canadian Rockies to my left and the beautiful rolling grasslands to the right. The temps were a bit chilly after some warm days in Wyoming and Montana.


Into Canada









Marvin the Martian rides...











Banff was my goal because a few years earlier I’d ridden to Montana and regretted not busting into Canada, being so close. Banff was also my goal as I’d heard it was even more beautiful than Glacier and that was hard to imagine. Funny thing is, as I progressed northward, folks would say Glacier National Park was the penultimate place to see, then I’d meet folks who said they loved Glacier until they saw Banff, and then folks who’d been to Banff would say Jasper beat Banff for beauty. I’d love to see them all, but Banff seemed to be the best compromise for time.

More tomorrow!
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Old Today, 08:36 AM   #2
Ernest T
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Bill?
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Old Today, 08:51 AM   #3
Texasclouds
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We stayed in the Yoho Forest in Field BC. Cool area, have fun up there!
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Old Today, 08:58 AM   #4
Texasclouds
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Nice time of year to be there as well. We thought Golden and Banff were ok, but we enjoyed the hiking trails at Emerald Lake, Lake Louise (i think this is where the 7 glaciers viewpoint trail is), Takakkaw Falls, and the Twin Peaks Trail (checkout the chalet up top).

We flow to Calgary and drive a rental car over...would love to be able to ride it one day!
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Old Today, 09:27 PM   #5
LoneStar OP
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Hey Texascloud - thanks! Weather has been cool enough to shut me up about being hot in Texas lol.
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Old Today, 09:54 PM   #6
LoneStar OP
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I got a decent night’s sleep in the old hotel, and woke up early, schlepping the gear to the bike down the third floor narrow stars and headed around the block for coffee and wifi. So far this trip has been a bit thin on connectivity, as the parks and campgrounds have been in areas with no cell coverage and when I’ve moteled it, for some reason internet has been poor to nonexistent. After coffee and a muffin, and a bit of email I fired up the bike and found a gas station, by the time I got gas and geared up again, I’d had three conversations with other patrons about the bike, where I’d ridden from and suggestions of places to see. So far the Canadians have been so friendly, except for the lack of a drawl and the use of “eh”, I’d almost think I was back in Texas






From Cochrane I took Highway 1A, which I guessed was the old original and looked a bit more interesting on the map, until it eventually connected back into Highway 1. The temp was a bit cool and the skies overcast and threatening, but on the horizon I could see blue skies over the Rockies.









The road was a nice ride, with plenty of curves and increasingly beautiful scenery, until the merge into the main highway. It wasn’t long before the mountains and valleys were eliciting “Holy Crap!” and other juvenile remarks of wonder. The peaks were stunning and the valleys filled with evergreens and pale green rivers were absolutely beautiful. For those who haven’t been, the “Park” is basically a very well maintained multi-lane highway, with the mountains distant on either side, with relatively few pullouts for photos or vistas. It is not like Glacier or other parks where one is close to the scenery, the scale of the area and the mountains being much grander.










After I bought my park pass, it wasn’t much longer before the exit for the town of Banff came up, and I tooled into the posh ski resort town for a few pics and to say I’d been. It is much like Aspen or any other resort, with pricey shops and milling tourists. The day was spectacular and clear with blue skies, sun and few clouds. I found a coffee shop and wifi, only to find the internet not working. Sheesh.










My plan has been a bit vague, needing to be back in Kalispell by Thursday afternoon, and I had planned on heading on to Golden and then turning south, but began to realize I would be riding long days to make it and after being on the road for nearly two weeks and pushing it, I decided to make it an easier ride. I rode north to Lake Louise, and though bombed by tourists, the lake was truly stunning. I did a few selfies and snaps of the lake, then turned back south for 93 and the road through Kootenay Park to Radium Hot Springs to shave a couple hours off of the next day’s ride.










Highway 93 was certainly no slouch for scenery, and after a while I got a headache from looking up and around so much. I stopped at several spots for pics and to walk a bit. At the “Welcome to British Columbia” sign, I pulled off to find a husband and wife on a Harley taking selfies. We talked a bit, and they had ridden from Minnesota and were heading down to the east side of Glacier NP. Wishing them well, I headed on for Radium.


































Several times deer crossed the road, and at one point there was a herd of mountain goats on the roadside. They didn’t seem to afraid and I was able to get a few pics from fairly close range.







It was late in the day by the time I rolled into Radium, finding a good motel and then hitting the hot springs for a soak.






The Banff/Kootenay Parks are indeed as stunning as I’ve heard, and I regret not having time to make it to Yoho and even further north to Jasper. A good excuse to come back… wink wink nudge nudge.

The last 2 days have been slabbing it - albeit through some of the most beautiful scenery on earth. Tomorrow I head south for Kalispell

Manańa Amigos!
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