Going to the Sun - Missive on Motorcycling Alberta

Alberta is incredible. Vast expanses of sky spread infinitely across plains that race westward toward the Rockies.  I was constantly awed by the colors and cloud formations in the sky panorama that almost made me feel dizzy. Motorcycling Alberta was a heady, wonderful experience that I will prize for the rest of my life.

Map of our route, Kalispell to Cardston to Waterton Kalispell (A) to Cardston (B) and finally Waterton (C)

Day 1: Two Wheels Feel Like Home

We awoke as early as we could manage and got on the road. We stopped at a Subway for breakfast and headed to Wal-Mart to pick up some cheap clothing to make up for clothing we forgot to pack. In particular, warmer clothes to wear as layers. It was cool in Missoula, and that reminded me how poorly I had packed.

After that we headed to Kalispell, or the east side of Flathead Lake where an acquaintance of ours offered to let us store the truck and trailer. When we made it to our destination, we unloaded the trailers which (as always!) took longer than we anticipated.

Geared up and (almost) ready to go! Geared up and (almost) ready to go!

Part of the delay was figuring out how to load all our gear on the motorcycles. It was a good thing we had a trailer to pull behind the CanAm Spyder because we had packed it completely full. We had tents, pads, sleeping bags, a cooler, and other necessities to comfortably camp. In the end we had everything packed away and it was finally time to hit the road!

After so many delays it was a wonder we ever made it to Kalispell, MT. By the time we finally did our bellies were reminding us of how late it actually had become. We found a local diner that was 50s themed and ate a decent lunch. The entire time I was fretting and fiddling with the uClears, trying to get the intercom to work. It was terrible. The earpieces were misaligned from my ears (fault of the helmet, really), and feedback made the intercom feature unusable.

It’s a very bad idea to try a new, distracting piece of gear like that while getting acquainted with a new motorcycle.

Going to the Sun Road & Logan Pass

We finally got on the road and started heading northeast toward Glacier National Park.

The weather was overcast and it looked like rain. Despite the threats, we remained dry and mostly warm. I did have to add some layers at some point, which gave us all an excuse to pull over and admire the beautiful mountains around us.

Our party adding layers to combat the chill Taking pictures Side of the mountain More mountains Even more mountains Mountains Still more Glorious mountains Angry mountains Glorious mountains

I grew up next to the Rockies in Utah. It wasn’t until I first left the mountains for a long period did I realize what they meant to me. They provide a sense of security, like a warm blanket on a chill night. They are a compass, guiding me and providing an immovable point of reference. I grew up under their shadow and explored their canyons. When I return to the mountains there is a real sense of satisfaction that I feel, like taking off tight socks after a long day; you don’t realize  when I return to the mountains. As we rode along the Going to the Sun Road I began to feel that. It’s good to be back among friends.

 Canadian Border

It wasn’t long after we left Logan’s Pass that we found ourselves at the Canadian border. Because of the Labor Day holiday there were a lot of RVs trying to go North across the border. We had some fun taking pictures of ourselves and the beautiful sunset while we waited in line.

My parents were on a CanAm Spyder Me and Julie waiting in line. The view from the road, Chief Mountain off in the distance.

Cardston Camping

It was nearly dark when we finally made it to Cardston. Just inside of town we found a nice campground which was $23 for a single tent campground with no showers; it seemed a little steep, but we found that to be typical in Canada.

View of our camp View from our camp

We fumbled a bit setting up our tents for the first time. When we finally set everything up, we got back on the bikes looking for a good place to eat. It was late, around 9:00 PM, and all the restaurants were closed except for a Chinese buffet which we regretted entering nearly as quickly as we walked in. It was pretty bad, so bad that we avoided Chinese buffets for the rest of the trip. Still, it was food and it was filling. and after that we headed straight back to the tents for some much-needed sleep.

Day 2: Cardston and its Surrounds

We originally planned on spending the day visiting my dad’s relatives in the area. Since the weather was threatening, we decided instead to make the short trip to Waterton. Before we headed west, we packed up our camp and searched for a place with a shower for the night. A local clerk recommended a motel in Mountain View, so we headed out-of-town to check it out. We liked what we saw, so we unloaded our things into our room and continued on to Waterton.

Waterton and Spider Attacks

Waterton Waterton road More Waterton Sky and field Mountain across a lake Waterton lodge

The road to Waterton was pretty - it showcased the beauty of Alberta as it rolled up toward the Rocky Mountains. We made our way to the town of Waterton and stopped for a few moments at Cameron Falls and the shores of Upper Waterton Lake.

Cameron Falls Cameron Falls Me and Julie in front of Cameron Falls Upper Waterton Lake

It didn’t take long to recover enough stamina to head to Akamina Lake and Cameron Lake. They were beautiful, but I had to hit the head, and what I found inside the otherwise pleasant park service bathrooms horrified me… DADDY-LONG LEGS EVERYWHERE! They bunched and hung on each other up in the corners, along the edges of the walls, and nearly everywhere else I could see. My niece, serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Canada told me that they bite where she’s serving in Edmonton. Fantastic.

Path to Akamina Lake Akamina Lake Cameron Lake Cameron Lake Cameron Lake Cameron Lake Cameron Lake "Daddy Long Leg" infestation Imagine looking up and seeing this while sitting on the throne…

Glenwood: Echoes and Memories

After we left Waterton, we went to visit the childhood home of my Great Grandfather in Glenwood, AB. It was not very far from Mountain View, and so even though evening was coming on we made the journey down a (terrifying, on a motorcycle) gravel road right to where it had been left decades earlier when he died and the house sold. It was for sale again, but it’s now in a much sadder state.

Great grandpappy's house House front door Garage Garage side Abandoned yard

It was a reflective time for all of us, even though Julie and I had never been to this house before. The history that had taken place in it since my Great Grandfather’s own hands built it 100 years ago seemed to echo around us, amplified somewhat by the decay that was slowly dragging it to the earth.

The sky was overcast, and when we started feeling small drops of rain, we knew it was time to head back to our warm motel.

A Desolate Country Road

Night was coming. The twilight fringes of the eastern sky were creeping toward the once-brilliant sunset. The clouds that were once white and welcoming were now a dreary, threatening gray. The fields blurred by, the occasional ranch or barn breaking the smear of dark green on either side… Read More

Day 3: Cardston Temple and Dirty Clothes

The weather forecasted rain all day, so we decided to accept our fate and go to the Cardston Temple to do some service. It was a rainy ride there, but we made it to the session with just a few moments to spare. It was beautiful. The feeling of peace as we served was profound, and the interior was beautifully decorated with the finest woodworking I have ever seen. It is definitely a place I will return to someday.

After the session we ate lunch in the basement cafeteria and headed to the only apparent laundromat in town.

Beautiful Cardston Temple Rough riders Delicate rider Laundromat

Once we had finally finished our laundry, we headed back into the drizzle to Mountain View and an evening drying off, playing cards, and nodding off to the tv.

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