Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Finishing the Festive 500 and 2013

A friend asked me how many miles I had ridden this past year. Truthfully, I don't know. I do know how many miles I toured (close to 3000). I could figure out how many miles I raced. However, total miles training (I didn't Strava every ride), and just riding around--I have no idea. I don't really care either. I just know that I rode a lot, and I am stronger at the end of this year than I was at the end of 2012.

As for the Rapha Festive 500 (a Strava Challenge to ride 500km in 8 days, from Dec. 24th-31st), it started out badly. I had a flat and had no air to inflate my tire. I had to call my husband to bring me some air. Then, the next day, I had two flats! At least this time I was prepared with two tubes and a pump. Still, I didn't complete my planned ride. At that point, I saw a pattern emerging, and it wasn't good. I came home and swapped out the rear Gatorskin tire for a Gatorskin Hardshell. That solved the flat problems. The third ride was a Team Night Ride. It wasn't as long as usual, but we did a route we have never done in the dark. It was great to do something different. I got up early the next morning to meet Jean for a ride before she had to be at work. That was another 49 miles for me.

Saturday, I was pleasantly surprised when three other gals showed up for the Team Ride. This gave us the opportunity to do a women-only ride. We told the guys not to wait for us, we would do the route, but at our pace. We had a great ride, and even altered it to give us a few more miles.

Sunday, I was thrilled when Jean asked if I would like to join her and Ron for a 75 or so miler. We headed south and west to Porter, then to Malone, and over to McCleary. From there we did the reverse of part of the route I had done the day before (I had even told the gals, the day before, that I prefer the route in the opposite direction--lucky me, I got to do it!). Ron did a great job keeping my heartrate in the targeted zone for this time of year. I do so much better when the leader rides nice and steady! Even the few hills were not lung-busters (yes, I mean lung--legs are not usually the issue). By the time I got home I had ridden 81.2 miles and was a mere 9km from finishing the Festive 500. I could even take Monday off!

Just getting to the park for the start of today's ride put me over the top. Chip scheduled a New Year's Eve Day ride. At first it seemed it would just be Chip and I, but then Mark showed up. Then, joy of joy, Lauren pulled up! Yay! I would not be the only gal! Even though Lauren is much better than I am, I knew I at least stood a chance at not getting too far behind. Plus, I like riding with Lauren, and I don't get to often enough.

We had a great ride joking around with the guys (they thought they should go faster because we were still able to talk while keeping up behind them--Lauren informed them that women can always talk!). 

I finished the Festive 500 at 567km. I finished 2013 with a lot of great rides and tours! I was able to both tour and race. Racing gave me the fitness for touring, and touring fulfilled my need to see new places! All in all, a good year! Now, onto 2014 with more racing, and a tour of Europe! 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ice Ice Baby!

I say, "I don't like this! I don't like this!"  Chip says, "It'll give you something to write about!" I guess there's that...

We delayed today's ride until 11:00, but it was still only 25 degrees. Not such a big deal. I've been riding throughout this cold snap. I even rode Tessa, my race bike (I do a much better job keeping up). I've pretty much got the wardrobe down--starting from the feet: 2 pairs of socks, shoes, then two pairs of booties. Tights with bib shorts over (or bib tights with shorts over--depending on what is clean). Sleeveless wool base, long sleeve wool base, long sleeve jersey, and jacket. Buff around the neck, and one on the head. Finally, possum/Marino gloves, with lobster gloves over.

The plan was Case to Delphi (via 113th). Delphi up to Mima-Gate and down and across Hwy 12. The next left and over to Rochester. A few turns, and back over to Case. All was going just fine until we got a ways down Mima-Gate. The further south we got, the more snow there was still on the sides of the road. Then we saw a dreadful sign..."Caution--Icy Spots Ahead". Ah CRAP! NOT GOOD!

First there was just some white patches. Still, they made me nervous. I rolled through them ever so carefully. Then...as the road curved...well, it was covered in a sheet of ice! The ONLY thing that kept me from slipping was a strip of gravel. The whole time I was saying, under my breath, "I don't like this! I don't like this!" 

After that patch, there were more. Fortunately, nothing quite as bad, but still enough to keep me scared spitless. I fell behind (how did they go so fast???--which wasn't really fast, but faster than me!), but I didn't care! In fact, by myself, I could coast through the slippery parts without worrying about running into anyone.

We got to where we turn onto Moon Road and cross a set of railroad tracks. We usually stop for snack/pee breaks. I stopped, looked to my left and saw the whole area just before and over the tracks was ice. Even if we hadn't stopped, I would have. Since we were stopped, I got off my bike and walked it over the ice to the other side of the tracks.

The rest of Moon Rd wasn't too bad. Then we turned onto 183rd to more ice. Again, I took my time. By now I was singing a little "I don't like this!" song (to the tune of "Alouetta") everytime I had to ride through a patch. The group was waiting for me at the stop sign. Chip said, "Hey Colleen, look! More ice!" Yay...

At the stop light in Rochester, I said to Kyle, "Just so you know, I am NOT having a good time." But, after that, it was okay. We had no more patches of ice to ride through. I stayed with the group and made it back into town. I cut off at Tumwater Blvd. and rode the rest of the way home. 

I rode 55 miles. Most of the miles were not ice, but it seemed like they were, and I don't wish to repeat that ride anytime soon! NO MORE ICE ICE, BABY!!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Finally, a Rest Day

Hi, my name is Colleen (group says, "Hi Colleen"). It's been 3 weeks since my last rest day.

Cycling can be an addiction. Especially when there is a Strava Challenge. If you aren't familiar with Strava, go to Strava.com and check it out.

The Strava Challenge that ended yesterday was the Pearl Izumi Fall Forty. The goal was to ride 40 hours in 3 weeks from Nov. 16th to Dec. 6th. Strava is worldwide, so, for some, this was maybe not such a big deal (it's summer Downunder). For many, it meant riding in less-than-ideal weather.

My goal was to ride 40 miles each day. That would give me some cushion if I had a day or two I couldn't ride. In the end, there were just two days where I was unable to ride at least 40 miles; the first day and the last day. I did ride every day. Most days were over 40 miles (a few even over 60). In fact, my average daily mileage was 49. I rode in glorious sunshine, but I also rode in the rain and freezing temps. I even rode in a bit of snow. In the end, I rode 67 hours 27 minutes. In the 21 days, I did 31 separate rides for a total of 1029.5 miles. 

So, how did I stack up to fellow participants? There were a total of 31,128 participants worldwide. Of those, 27,926 actually logged hours. Of those (men and women), I came in 57th. Among just the women (a paltry 1,815), I came in 3rd. I bow down to the 1st place woman who logged 73 hours 12 minutes and is from Longmont, CO (it's gotta be cold there!). I missed 2nd place by about 1 hour 45 minutes. The 2nd place woman was from Australia. An interesting fact: There was another Australian woman who was in 1st for more than half of the challenge. She rode 61+ hours in...4 back-to-back rides! I can see you are doing the math. Yes, that is 15+ hours for 4 days in a row! That's crazy! Remember, only actual moving time counts. The longest ride time I have ever done is 12+ hours. She must have worn herself out, because she never logged anymore hours, and therefore, lost her 1st place standing (kind of a Tortoise and Hare story). Finally, amongst the 9 teammates who signed up for the challenge, I came in 1st. One caveat: my standing could change as people have until Dec 9th to finish uploading their rides.

I am fully aware that a good part of why I was/am able to ride so much is due to not being gainfully employed. For that, I am very greatful. I am also more than happy to spend this day completely off the bike! Finally, a rest day!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The OOA Good Samaritan Night Ride

Baby, it's cold outside...really, really cold...mid 20s cold. But, freezing cold weather does not stop the intrepid night riders of the OOA Racing Team! Nope! 10 of us showed up to brave the cold. Last Tuesday it was also cold, and we went north. Normally, that would mean we would go south tonight, but I was on the trail south yesterday and it was not good. There were large patches of frosty white trail. I would rather do the hills of the north route than crash on the flat trail of the south. So, we went north again.

As we were hurtling along the trail between Martin Way and 26th, I was riding next to Henry. We were talking, when he says, "Was that a person laying on the side of the trail?" I hadn't seen anything, so I said I didn't know. Shortly after that, those behind us started shouting to hold up. We came to a stop, and the rest caught up and said there was a guy laying on the side of the trail, and shouldn't we go back and make sure he was okay. Of course we did.

As we came upon him, he was curled up on the side of the trail. He had a hat and coat on, but no gloves. It took awhile to wake him (for a second, I thought we were going to have to check for a pulse). Jean called 911. The guy sat up. He was clearly intoxicated (either that, or his favorite eau du toilette is alcohol). He wouldn't give us his name. The 911 operator said they would send someone out. Chip offered the guy his gloves, but the guy wouldn't take them. The operator said we could go (we offered to stay), so we wished the guy well, and continued on our ride. It was just way too cold to let someone sleep outside like that. There is a good chance he would have died of hypothermia by morning.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. We returned to the trail on the way back. The guy was gone--hopefully he is sleeping warm in a shelter. Us riders can sleep well tonight knowing we did a good thing. We choose to be out in the cold, but we are prepared. The guy might have made choices that put him out on the trail, but he was clearly not prepared.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Playing With My New Toys

It's mid-November, the skies are clear, and the temp is not half bad. Looks like a good day for a bike ride! That, and the fact that I'm doing a Strava Challenge (40 hours in 3 weeks), means I did a long one today.

This was also the perfect opportunity to try out my new toys--my GoPro camera, and my Garmin Edge Touring. Today I mounted the camera on the handlebar. With that, the Garmin, and my regular bike computer, there was pretty much no real estate left on the bar (or the stem).

Before leaving the house, I put a route into the Garmin. I wanted to do Bordeaux, but in the reverse from the other two times I've done it. I put in a waypoint of Mima Rd. first. Then I added the other points for the route I wanted to go. That worked out pretty good, except that I didn't look to see what route it gave to the first waypoint. Due to some settings I may have changed, the Garmin did not take me onto Yelm Hwy. In fact, it took me on roads that I would not normally go on because they don't have shoulders. Yelm Hwy is actually safer (in my opinion, anyway) because it, at least, has a bike lane. I changed the settings. We'll see if that works. 

With the exception of somehow not putting in the waypoint to take me on School Land Rd to Littlerock Rd (for the entire length of School Land Rd it kept telling me to make a U-Turn), the device was spot-on in the turn-by-turn directions. The beeping before a turn startled me at first, but I came to anticipate it.

I discovered something important with my other toy, the GoPro camera. If I am riding on rough chip seal roads, it would be better to utilize the helmet mount versus the handlebar mount (I just think I would look a little funny with the camera on my helmet--much like a California Quail bird!). Here's a video that illustrates my point. This was not even the roughest part of the route. Notice near the end, when I hit the smooth pavement, how much less bouncy it is.

It was a great day for a ride. I'll continue to practice and learn about what my new toys can do.

Total miles: 66.5

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hedwig Lives!

I'm referring, of course, to Harry Potter's owl. 

Tonight, 11 of us gathered for the first official Night Ride of the dark season. The Night Rides will continue, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from now until we change back to Daylight Savings Time. I really like these rides. They are not terribly long (under 40 miles), they make me work, and, well, they're fun! They also help with my bike handling skills, which is great come race season.

Chip gave a nice speech about safety, and how the Night Rides are not for sprint intervals and high heart rates. The pace is not at all fast. I felt compelled to make a comment that they might not experience high heart rates, or a fast pace, but that I would certainly experience both in just keeping up with them. But, that's okay. It makes me stronger and faster.

With the speech-ifying done, we headed up the trail. Not long after starting, Brad and I were on the front when a Snowy Owl flew right over our heads! Hedwig lives! At the same time, I glanced to my right just as a possum went scurrying into the brush. You don't see that on a daylight ride!

We went north to the end of the trail and out onto the road. Because there is currently a lot of debris on the trail, I much prefer the road--particularly the roads with no shoulders. That may seem counterintuitive, but the shoulders also have a lot of debris, yet cars expect us to ride on the shoulder.

Coming back into town on Eastbay Dr., I ran over a stick (some of that debris I mentioned). Even though I was riding my rain bike with a Schwalbe Durano Plus rear tire, I flatted. Fortunately, there was a street light nearby. The group stopped, and Dave pretty much changed the tire for me. I inflated the tire and put it back on. With a couple of adjustments, things were good to go. I had a brief moment where I couldn't find my glove. Dave found that too. The beauty of having teammates!

We rode the rest of the way back into town and back to the trailhead. I topped off the tire pressure with Maria's floor pump at her car, and headed home. 

The Inaugural Night Ride was just under 40 miles for me. Average speed was 16.2--still pretty peppy for the dark.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

At the Mercy of Circumstances

...But, not always in a bad way.

Not counting yesterday's Meet the Team Ride, which was purposely slow and casual, my last three rides have, very much, been at the mercy of circumstances. Last Saturday, I broke a spoke (see previous post), which ended my ride for the day. Then, on Sunday, since I was unable to replace the broken spoke right away, I had to ride my rain bike. That's usually okay, if everyone else is also on rain bikes. Not only was everyone not on rain bikes, but a couple of the guys, when on the front, were quite speedy. For me, it became a bit of a drop-fest. I'd fall behind, they would wait at the next turn, I'd fall behind again (usually due to a hill), and they would be waiting, again. This happened several times until I finally told them not to wait for me anymore (they would have been fine continuing to do that, but I felt bad). 

Today, it was almost as if the planets aligned to make for favorable circumstances on the ride. First of all, there was 0% chance of rain. It was foggy, but that would later burn off to a gloriously sunny October day. Secondly, I had fixed the spoke on Tessa, so I would be able to go somewhat faster--and, therefore, a better chance of keeping up. Thirdly, one of the speedy guys did not come, and the other speedster was kind enough to not go so blistering fast when he was on the front. 

It doesn't mean the ride was easy. We still had about 2400 feet of elevation gain. During the bulk of that elevation gain, I was my usual slow-as-a-slug self but, they only had to wait for me at the top of the D-Line in Capitol Forest. This time, I was able to keep up after coming down Bordeaux. In fact, I was third to the stop sign at Mima Rd. Last time we did this route, I was completely dropped (as in, never saw them again--only Maria waited for me--but, there were many speedy guys that day).

I had a few more times of falling off the back, but I was able to catch back on. This ride was longer than last week's ride, with more elevation gain, yet I managed to finish with the group. It's all about the circumstances.

Total miles: 72.4
Average speed: 17.5 mph

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Unplanned Multi-Modal Transportation

The day started out great. Met up with the group at Tumwater Falls Park. There were about 11 of us. A little over 19 miles into the ride, we were going up the hill out of Littlerock heading to Mima Rd. I was out of the saddle climbing when I heard a twang sound, and it suddenly got much harder to pedal. I thought I had a flat, but no. I had broken a spoke. 

Back in September as I was riding to the start of the RSS ride, while going over some train tracks, one of my water bottles bounced out of the cage and wedged itself between the drive side chainstay and the rear wheel. Except for the destroyed water bottle, everything seemed okay. It was only later that I noticed a spoke was slightly bent. I had been meaning to take the wheel in, but just hadn't had time. I had also done a few rides (in addition to the 100+ RSS ride) on it with no problems. I guess I pushed that too far.
Notice the broken spoke.

The wheel was free from the brake, but it was rubbing on the frame at the bottom bracket end of the chainstay. The guys tried to adjust the opposite spoke so I could slowly ride home, but no one had the right spoke tool (turns out it requires a special size spoke tool). It was deemed unrideable. Melody flagged down a car, and I hitched a ride. Shirl, little Jason, and Jason's mom were on their way to a birthday party. They brought me back into Tumwater where I would be able to catch the bus. 

I've been telling myself I need to take my bike on the bus. I've flown, and taken the train with various bikes, but never the bus (we did take a bus twice in New Zealand, but not a city bus with a bike rack). I carry a single-ride bus pass when I'm riding in case I get stranded. The problem was that I would have to change busses to get home, therefore requiring a day pass. I had cash, but not correct change. I had time before the bus came to run over to a coffee shack and get correct change so I could get a day pass.

The bus pulled up. I got Tessa on the rack without any problems (it's not rocket science--the directions are on the rack). As we pulled up to another stop, a guy put another bike on the rack (they hold two bikes). As the bus was pretty full (surprisingly for a Saturday), the guy ended up sitting with me. His name was Johnny. I asked him if it was possible to get my bike off without disturbing his. He said it was easy. I just needed to release the retention arm and pull the bike straight out. It was easy, and soon I was waiting at Tumwater Square for my next bus. I had about a 40 minute wait because the 13 and the 68 time schedules don't sync together very well. 

Waiting for the 68.

Finally, I was on the 68 and headed home. 
Tessa rides the bus!

Once I got off at my stop, I had to "cyclocross-style" carry Tessa home. The rear wheel wasn't doing a lot of moving.

So, a few lessons learned here. 1) Don't wait to replace a spoke. It's gonna eventually fail. 2) Either carry correct change for a day pass, or carry a single-ride ticket and a day pass ticket. 3) Taking your bike on the bus is a piece of cake.

I took the wheel in to Joy Ride to get a replacement spoke. The spokes for Tessa are around $8.00 (she's special that way--spokes are usually around $1.00)! They also have to order it (again, such a special girl). Since I want to take a crack at replacing it myself, they also have to order the correct size spoke wrench. I'll be riding my rain bike for tomorrow's ride.

I'm So Jealous!

Day before yesterday, I got a call from a couple who found me through Warmshowers. They needed a place to stay. They are from Minneapolis, and are riding a tandem from Seattle to Mexico City. I said sure, and waited for them to arrive the next day. They made it, and I'm so glad. What a great couple! 

Paul has just finished grad school, and Alexa just graduated from Med school. Before they get too tied down (and before Alexa starts her internship), they are taking a few months to do this tour. This is their first foray into long-distance touring. They are doing great, figuring things out, learning as they go along. They are asking questions when they're not sure (and, no, Alexa, being sure about your route is not being anal) and are willing to change their plans when necessary.

After a good night's sleep, they loaded everything back on their tandem. I told them I would ride with them out of town. They wanted to stop at the Olympia Food Co-op on the way out of town. I was happy with that, because I wanted to see if they had unsweetened coconut (Yay! They did!). We rode through downtown, and up to the Westside Co-op. Paul and Alexa got a little taste of some hill climbing to get up to the Westside. They managed just fine (no small feat on a heavily loaded tandem).

After the Co-op, we worked our way up Old Hwy 410 to Hwy 8. I had planned to turn around at that point as they would have no problem finding their way from there. But, it was such a beautiful day that I continued on until the Summit Lake turnoff. From there I left them to it, and turned back. They were planning to go as far as Lake Sylvia in Montesano. I'm sure they made it (even though there is a nasty climb to get up to the park).

Although they are new to this whole touring thing, I know they are going to have a fantastic adventure. I'm totally jealous, and wish I was going with them!
Good luck Alexa and Paul!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

This Has Never Happened Before

I'm home a day early! We were supposed to stay in Bellingham tonight, but we got there at about 2:00 and Dad was fine with going the rest of the way home. That was okay with me, but I only had 3 more hours. Kim and Dad had an additional 1:45 from Olympia. It took a bit longer than 3 hours due to the torrential rainfall we experienced on the way. It was absolutely nasty! Kim and Dad didn't stay too long at the house.

Overall, it was a great trip. Would have been nice to see more wildlife, but the scenery was fabulous. It was really great to spend some extended time with my sister. Even though we weren't raised together, we have much in common. Not only is she my sister, but I consider her a cherished friend.

Dad was a trooper. He put up with us girls maybe trying to help him too much at times. It's a bit of a fine line to walk.

Tomorrow, it's back on the bike. If the rain continues as predicted, it might be the trainer in the garage.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Ahhhh, We Had to Come to the City

We have been in three major National Parks in the last week. We have seen a few deer, a few grouse, and two mountain goats. We have not seen a single bighorn sheep, caribou, moose, or bear. Today we left Jasper National Park, headed for Kamloops. It is the biggest city we have been to since Spokane. All along the way today we saw countless road signs telling us to watch for moose and deer. We didn't see a single one.

We came to Kamloops. We saw this sign.

Sure enough, just after the sign, we saw a few on the hillside.

We continued on to our hotel. After we got settled, Kim and I decided to go see if we could find more sheep. We went back to where we had seen them first. Of course, they weren't there. At the next opportunity, we turned right onto a side road. We were able to slow down and look up the hillside. Kim spotted a couple, so we pulled over. Dad had given us his camera. The bighorns were quite high on the hillside. Dad's humongous lens (50-500 meters) was still in the car. I pulled the beast out and put it on the camera. Kim got out the tripod. 

At first it wouldn't take the photo. The screen said at the 500 meter distance, the f-stop had to be on the biggest number. Okay, I could do that! Then, it took the photos just fine. Here's a few that I have cropped.

A female?

After we put the big camera away, we followed the road up to Lake Paul. We didn't see any more sheep (apparently, we got too far away from town). The Provincial Park at the lake was nice.

After Kim and I came back into town, we scoped out a restaurant for dinner (Mexican). When we arrived at the restaurant, there were a couple of guys playing guitar and singing in the restaurant. There were envelopes on each of the tables telling the musicians' story. They were two cyclists (Santiago Sarmiento and Gustavo Nemitz) from Brazil, riding from Ushuaia, Argentina to Alaska. Their ride is called the Ecovuelta Project Tour. I should have asked to take their photo, but I didn't think about it. They were nice guys. I told them I want to do the Pan-Am Hwy. They said I should do it for sure!

Outside the restaurant, the tree trunks were wrapped with sweaters.

We head back into the US tomorrow. At least we finally saw some bighorn sheep. We just had to come to the city!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Good Day For Flying

Woo Hoo! Woke up to blue skies and sunshine! I called the helicopter place and we got the go ahead for our helicopter flight at 1:00.

We left Jasper for the 2 1/4 hour drive back South. Even though we had just been on the Icefields Parkway yesterday, with the change in the weather, it was a different experience. For one thing, we could see the tops of the mountains!

We passed back through the Columbia Icefields. At The Crossing, we turned off the Parkway onto Hwy 11. From there we had about 25 minutes to the Icefields Helicopter Tours base. We had time to spare, so we stopped and took this photo.
This is actually a reservoir that is part of the Saskatchewan River. The Cline River feeds into it from the Cline Glacier (the reason for the blue green color).

We arrived at the helicopter place. Since we were the only customers, as soon as we got our boarding passes, we were cleared to board the helicopter. 
Pre-flight photo

Our flight was 20 minutes up the Cline River to the glacier. Matt, our pilot, pointed out the various features. The Heli was a four-seater, so we all had window seats. Dad got the front seat.

Alpine lakes (they fish for Golden Trout)

The reservoir/Saskatchewan River

All too soon we were returning to the base and touching back down.

We collected our personalized "certificates" and started the drive back to Jasper (our third time on the Icefields Parkway). We stopped at The Crossing for some lunch (extremely expensive cafeteria food).

The sun was still shining for the drive back.
It was a beautiful drive back to Jasper. However, we still didn't see any wildlife except this bear at The Crossing.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wildlife At Last!

Day 5--Banff to Jasper

We found a great cafe in Banff for breakfast. Well, I thought it was great anyway (Dad, maybe not so much). I had a delicious cranberry coconut bar and hot cocoa. 

Before getting on the Icefields Parkway, we had to get to Lake Louise. Lake Louise seemed to be much smaller than Banff. We refueled the van, and continued on. Shortly after leaving Lake Louise, we came through the Entrance Station for Jasper National Park. This time there was no mistaking which lane to be in. It cost us $39 to enter the park for two days (Glacier cost us $25 for 7 days)!

Now we were on the Icefields Parkway! Surely we will see wildlife today! The first scenic stop was Lake Herbert. 
Beautiful reflection of the Canadian Rockies in Lake Herbert

Back in the car, we noticed it was starting to snow. We had already seen a dusting of snow on the ground. Apparently, it was the first snow of the season (in September???). 

As we cruised the Parkway, we were looking for wildlife. Of course, we didn't see anything. However, the scenery more than made up for the lack of animals (well...we still wanted to see some animals).
We're watching!

There were pullouts all along the way. We stopped at the Weeping Wall (it was sooooo sad).
The white steaks are waterfalls.

The colors were changing, and I also got a photo of a thistle with snow on it.

At the Columbia Icefield, we were able to get some lunch in the Columbia Centre.
 After lunch, we wanted to drive up to the Athabasca Glacier. We could see the tour busses going up the road. Turns out, we couldn't go up that road (we think the tour busses were taking the people up who were doing the snow cat tours on the glacier). We could only go to a parking area at the base of the glacier terminus. Dad and Kim stayed in the car while I hiked up the trail to get some close up photos of the glacier. 
The trail up.
At the terminus.
Beautiful blue ice.

As I was walking along the trail, I could see people walking on the glacier. They were roped up and progressing slowly along the glacier. I heard someone yell that they needed some rope. Someone had fallen in a hole or crevasse. It must not have been too bad. No one seemed too alarmed. Although, I was relatively far away.

Continuing down the road, we could see a bunch of cars pulled over and people standing and pointing cameras up. Of course we pulled over too. It was a couple of mountain goats up on the hillside!
Finally! Some wildlife!!!

Even though we saw multiple signs warning us to watch for wildlife, the two goats were it. 

We arrived in Jasper and easily found our home for the next two nights. We are literally poolside. Here is a photo.
This was taken from the door of our room.

I made a reservation for us to do a helicopter ride over the glaciers tomorrow. Got everything arranged, then asked how to get there. We have to drive back down the Icefields Parkway about 2 hours to get to the Icefields Helicopter Tours place. The weather is supposed to be good. We fly at 1:00. 

Lots of Mountains, Still no Wildlife

Day 4--Banff

We got our earliest start this morning. We were psyched to be getting on the road at 8:00 since we had an almost 7 hour drive to Banff. As we went to turn onto Hwy 17, we saw a sign for the border crossing. We had 14 miles to go, and the border opened at...9:00. So much for getting an early start. So, we just took our time. The mountains were beautiful, so it was not a waste of time.

We made it to the border right at 9:00. The border agent asked us the usual questions. He asked if we had any weapons besides the camera Dad was holding. Funny guy.

We pulled off at a viewpoint.

While Dad was figuring out his mondo huge camera lens (getting ready for all those Bighorn Sheep), Kim and I made ourselves some breakfast of strudel bread with peanutbutter and some cranberry juice.

I had our route all planned out. It would take us through Kananaskis Country to Banff. We would be traveling the Bighorn Hwy. Perhaps we would see more than just cows.
Playing "chicken" with the cows. We won, they moved first.

We came into Pincher Creek and refilled the gas tank. Moving on, we followed my directions. Everything was going good until we turned to head to Kananaskis Country. Once again, we encountered one of those nasty "Road Closed" signs. Okaaaayyy...change of plans...again.

We followed the "Cowboy Trail" (aka Alb 22) toward Calgary. We stopped for lunch at Subway (I would have been willing to eat someplace besides Subway, but there weren't really any other options (at least I checked off an Alberta Subway). As we continued on our way after lunch, we came over a rise and were directed to pull over to the side of the road by a flagger. Soon, a pick-up truck came slowly toward us.
Ahhh, so that's why we were pulled over. Sure enough, a short time later the house came down the road.

Once the house went by, we were able to get back on the road.

The Cowboy Trail took us to Trans-Canada Hwy 1. This highway runs from BC to Nova Scotia (someday I will do the trans-Canada bike route). We finally started to see signs to Banff. Either the other route was much longer, or my calculations were way off. Even with all our stopping, it was not going to take us 7 hours.

Soon, we were driving through the entrance to Banff National Park. Somehow, we ended up in the wrong lane and did not stop at the Entrance Station. There was no way to get back to the entrance, so we just kept going. We found our hotel, the Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa. 

Since we arrived early enough, we decided to go do the gondola ride today. Dad didn't feel like going, so Kim and I went.

Of course, it was spectacular.
That's Banff Town below

After making a 360 around the top, we caught the gondola back down.

Oh, did we see any wildlife today? Bighorn Sheep? We sure did! Here's a photo.