20031012 - Calgary, AB

I pulled into Calgary at about 2pm. The clouds moving through the Rockies ahead looked kind of iffy, so I wanted to take a look at Doppler radar on the web to make a guess about whether today would be a good day to try to get through. I asked at a coffee shop if they had Internet access. They said yeah, you can plug in over there. So I bought a big honkin' cup of joe and went over to the spot where they said I could plug in. I found an AC outlet, but no RJ-45. I went back to the counter and asked if they had wireless or highspeed access. I was told, well we have that power outlet. Suddenly the coffe I had was a burden. I asked about Internet cafes in town and got directions to a few.

As I was walking back to the bike, four bikers pulled in. I asked them about heading west through the rockies. Their immediate reaction was that this was nuts. They said, if I were determined to go, today would be my best bet. They said I needed to get to a town that was in the desert about 600km west before nightfall. So I gassed up and left.

When I got to the entrance to the national park hosting Banff, Jasper, and Lake Louise, I asked a few more questions. The attendant recommended I get as far as I can in daylight and then stop. I asked about any frozen precip so far this year. She said that there hasn't been any, and that I shouldn't have to worry about frozen stuff except after dark.

With great regret, I decided Banff and Jasper were not going to happen on this trip. I was going to have to avoid getting stuck, or hurt.

I wasn't sure about the availability of fuel, so when I came upon the first sign indicating fuel at the exit, with a half tank left, I decided to play it safe and pull off. Of course, I come to a T intersection and there is no sign indicating which direction to the fuel. So I went left. After a mile, I went back the other way. I went an additional mile to the right. I decided I didn't have time to hunt for fuel, and maybe the next fuel exit would be easier to manage.

The next fuel exit was another 40 km, or so, down the road. This one had a sign indicating fuel to the right, but no indication how far to the right. After about a mile, I came upon a single-pump gas station completely occupied by an enormous truck and trailer.

After getting gas, I talked to a local about getting over the pass. He said, "I used to ride, you look hypothermic." I said, "About that pass". He said, "That's the thing about hypothermia [ed; Imagine this being said in an authentic Ontario accent - kind of Chicago, kind of Milwawkee, thing is ting and hypothermia has the most dramatic sequence of inflections imaginable. Now go back and start reading the quote again.], the first symptom is you think you don't have it." I decided that I was going to continue the side of the conversation I started on the "I was here first" principle. So I said, "I want to get this bike over the pass. What's my strategy?" He said, "As long as it's daylight, you should be fine. Don't try to go beyond Golden today. That's one and a half hours west." I asked about motels in Golden. He said there were plenty.

So I had a goal. I set out again for Golden in mostly cloudy conditions. Mostly cloudy turned to rain. Rain turned to sleet. Sleet turned to snow. I was not happy. I rounded a bend and came upon the West Louise Lodge.

The West Louise Lodge has large mud tracks leading into the lobby and part way up the carpeted stairs, where they sort of fade into a mockery of clean. The receptionist seemed none too interested in my arrival but did admit under questioning that they had a room available. I asked about her knowledge of the road conditions, weather forecast, getting over the pass, etc. She really didn't know. I decided to be conservative and book a room for the night and see if conditions were better tomorrow.

They had a lounge that served food and beer. I decided in favor of both.


The forecast for today is 4 degrees C until afternoon, warming to 8, with wet snow. I may not be going anywhere, it seems.