Saturday, August 14, 2010

Alberta

Really, I do have the best of intentions and want to keep this blog up, but life always seems to get in the way. However, being busy usually means having fun. Once again, I'll keep this short and am having picture issues so will just bring it up to date until a few days ago when I got to Jasper. I'll have to catch up on the rest another day.

So, I made it through Saskatchewan. The last 50km where even quite nice with rolling hills. Entering Alberta it flattened out once again and I was anxious to move west. Back in Dauphin, MB, Gary told me about a Bluegrass Festival outside of Edmonton in Stony Plain. My timing worked out perfectly to catch the last day of the Blueberry Bluegrass Festival. So, I spent a fabulous music filled day relaxing in the sunshine. The festival was low-key which I loved and had bands playing from 11am-midnight from all over the US and Canada. Such a great way to spend a day off the bike!



Rhona Vincent's family band started off the morning with gospel hour.


The scene

From Stony Plain, I made my way west and got stuck back on a big road. It was noisy and busy and not much fun. I then made it into Edson where I met my couchsurfing couple, Gary and Judy. Gary works for Sustainable Resources Development as a land planner and gave me a tour of his work. I rode out of town to their home, and Gary drove the vehicle for Judy and I to take a little float trip down the river near their home. It was lots of fun, a gorgeous river and finally clear clean water again!



Gary and Judy

The next morning I got a ride back into Edson with Gary and met up with Robert. I'd met Robert at the library the day before and he'd invited me to ride out to an air show in the next town that day. We had a nice 100km ride to Whitecourt for the air show, wonderful once again to ride unloaded. The program was full of historical planes, acrobatic planes, and the Canadian Snowbirds. This was my first real air show, it was pretty neat and I had great company.



Tanker showing off how they fight fire from the air (I was happy to hear it was just colored water).


One of the Snowbirds

The next day was spent in Edson, exploring the secrets of town as Robert showed me around. We filled up on saskatoons, took a swim in the river, and I even played ultimate that night (which made me more sore then I've been in months!). Robert and I decided to ride to Jasper together we we took off the next morning.

The air was full of smoke from fires up north, so we couldn't see the Rockies until we were practically in them. Even through the haze, I couldn't have been more happy to be back in the mountains.

Robert and I explored the water falls, relaxed in the hot springs, and walked Maligne Canyon. It was wonderful to have a someone familiar with the area and someone to share the experience with as we did many things I wouldn't have done alone.


Robert and me at Maligne Canyon


Maligne Canyon

We also took a little hike up Signal Mountain which overlooks Jasper. The trail was more of an old, overgrown road until near the top. We got above the tree line and were graced with vibrant paintbrush and columbine amongst the moss and heather. We scrambled up to the summit for a quick rest before the cold and incoming storm forced us down. It felt so good to hike again, though it reminded me how out of shape I'm in. On the way down, my hip started to bother me and resulted in me seriously limping for the next four days. Fortunately it was ok on the bike and is now better walking.


View from the top of Signal Mt


Edith Lake with Pyramid Mt

In Jasper Robert and I took a four block-two hour historical walking tour of town. It was interesting to learn about the history of the place. Jasper is a crazy town, nice looking and surrounded by majestic scenery, but so busy with tourists it's very overwhelming for me. In town Robert and I parted and I met Iain, my friend who took that train in to ride with me back down into Montana.

So, that's all I'll write for the moment. I' m in Black Diamond, AB right now, should be back in the States in 2-3 days!

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