Archive for August 19, 2010

20,000 miles and still going strong

August 19, 2010 15 comments

I thought hitting 20,000 miles on this trip was a fairly significant milestone that earned its own post. And now that I sit here writing this, I have little to say.

I did initially expect to drive in the neighborhood of 20,000 miles by the time this trip was over, but to actually sit behind the odometer and see the distance I’ve gone is pretty cool.  A bit tiring to think about, but very rewarding at the same time.  That being said, there’s still a lot of driving yet to do, but I haven’t gotten sick of it.

So I figured this was a good opportunity to posit a question to the readers of  See, I’ve been asked many times the past few months, “Joe, what’s been the highlight of your roadtrip?”  I can never name one thing.  I usually end up rattling off about 10 things or so, and that’s before I even start really thinking about it.

So, dear readers – What has been your favorite part of the trip?

I’m actually very curious what others might see as the highlights, and I wonder if responses will jive with mine or be totally different.  There’s now about 80 or so posts on this website, so feel free to review the archives (on the right hand side) if you need a refresher.  If you have time, leave your response in the comment section and let me know.



Days 81 and 82: Calgary Glen Ross

August 19, 2010 4 comments

Location: Calgary, Alberta

Miles Driven: 709

Total Miles: 20,200 (holy crap!)

Once again I passed through a Northern Canadian city and felt at home.  This time, it was Dawson Creek.  I was able to hit up the “downtown” area I toured before, and stopped at the good ol’ Safeway (very cozy restroom, by the way).  I consider myself somewhat of an authority on these cities in Canada, since I have visited many of them twice, albeit for hours at a time each visit.

The drive into Alberta was uneventful, and actually a little bit anti-climatic at first, since I didn’t realize Northern Alberta was made up of plains.  Still a nice sight to behold.

But I initially a bit dismayed.  As I traveled further into Alberta, the familiar haze caused by neighboring forest fires hung in the air.  I asked clerks at a gas station if Alberta, like British Columbia, had been ravaged by summer fires.  They told me the haze in Alberta is the same haze I had witnessed in places like Watson Lake, BC.  Seems the wind can take this smoky air pretty far.  I was a bit concerned what the air quality would be like further south, near Jasper and Banff National Parks. Would it limit my views of the various peaks?  The clerks didn’t know what it was like down there, but mentioned the air quality could change daily.  I’d have to find out for myself, as I was still a few hours north of the parks.

By the time I reached the northern section of Jasper, the air was still hazy and mountains were just blue-ish outlines in the sky.  But oh well.  Not long after entering the park, I noticed some cars pulled over on the side of the road.  Turns out there was a giant elk just hanging out on the side of the road.

biggest elk I've ever seen

I made for the village of Jasper, which is right in the heart of the park.  There I wandered around a bit to stretch the legs.  Before I  knew it, it was 10PM, and I was pretty beat.  Had a good night’s rest (a lot less light to deal with than the prior night’s sleep), and then around 7AM I made my way to the Maligne (for those who know French – how would you pronounce that?  I have no idea) River Canyon to get an early-morning hike in.  The air was a little less hazy than the day before, and it was quiet – didn’t see anybody out until probably after an hour of walking.

Maligne River Canyon

such blue water

After spending some time in the canyon, I got back in the car and started the long journey towards Banff.  It doesn’t look like a long drive on the map, but it winds through the mountains so it would be a couple hours before I arrived.

Despite the haze, I was able to enjoy the Rockies while on the drive to Banff.

Spotted a bear on the side of the road, too.  Two animal sightings so far in Alberta.  There was a lady who stepped outside her car to get a picture of bear, and put herself in an obstacle-free path about 10 yards from the bear.  Not the wisest move.  I got out of there before I witnessed a scene from “When Animals Attack.”

Hey bear, look this way for the photo

I received a recommendation from Travis (back in Vancouver) to be sure to check out Peyto Lake, which is in the northern section of Banff.  I wasn’t paying attention very well to the signs on the road, but I luckily caught the sign for Peyto Lake and made the turn.  I parked the car in the over-flowing parking lot and headed out on the 300 meter path to the lake viewpoint.  I soon realized why this parking lot was stuffed.

I didn't alter this photo one bit. The water really looks like that. Amazing

What a place.  Thank you, Travis.  Another view:

And a closeup of the water:

My next stop was Lake Louise, probably the most famous lake in Banff.  I guess it was a bit anti-climatic for me, probably because it was so crowded.  But a very impressive lake, nonetheless.  I prefer Peyto, though.

My head was hurting a bit (I think due to the altitude), so I decided against going on any more hikes that afternoon.  I made my way slowly out of Banff and then it wasn’t long before I hit Calgary.  Calgary was also very hazy, but I didn’t know if that was forest fire-induced or maybe just Calgary is a polluted city.  Found out from the clerk at the coffeeshop I’m sitting at that no, Calgary is not often smoggy, it just has also seen a reduction in air quality from BC forest fires.

I’ll make Calgary my home for the night.  This will be my last night in Canada, as I’m less than five hours away from the border.  Tomorrow – Waterton Lakes National Park (Canada), and its sister in Montana – Glacier National Park (U.S.) – a park I’ve been lucky enough to visit once before, and one that is in my “top 3”.

Looking forward to being back on American soil, and reuniting with the familiar US Interstate system.