Day 8: A Long and Winding Road
A long but enjoyable stop in the middle of the ride on Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park made for an 11-hour day that began a little before 7 a.m. and ended about 6 p.m. in Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia. I’m a tired old motorcycle rider.
I’ve said before that these Adventures are always better because of the people I meet along the way. Today’s special person was our waitress at breakfast. Michelle seated us and, noticing our Harley-Davidson motorcycle T-shirts asked what we rode. “Harley-Davidsons,” I said. “No shit, Sherlock,” she responded. “What kind of Harley do you ride.” And it got better from there. Michelle rides a Harley Davidson Road King, we learned, and as the conversation progressed we also learned that she retired after 25 years as an ER nurse, spend time in the Navy and was the first woman to go to ETN (Electronic Technician–Nuclear) school, and knew many of the places Mark knew since she worked on a Sub Tender. Mark and I agreed that Michelle would be fun to knock back a few beers with and trade sea stories.
The clear highlight of today’s ride was motoring up and over Logan Pass in Glacier National Park on the Going to the Sun Road. (Note: The picture at the top of the blog was taken on the Going To the Sun Road on the Fourth of July in 2009 when Marilyn and I did a two-up ride across Canada and in the Rockies.)
As expected, we saw absolutely stunning views, despite the cold gray clouds and misty overcast sky hiding many of the tall peaks from view. But the peaks we could see and the lush valleys below them were some of the best scenes so far this trip.
The road and the visitor’s center at Logan Pass were crowded and the slow traffic on the road made an aggressive ride impossible. But we stopped at the visitor’s center and went for a one-hour hike in 48 degree weather up and down the mountain side. As clouds slid effortlessly from peak to peak, the changing views made the climb worthwhile and when I focused my attention on the distant soaring peaks, I could ignore the throngs of troublesome tourists.
We made another short stop on the way down from the Pass to look at a beautiful valley below us and a cascading waterfall above us. Then we plugged in our heated gear again (weren’t we roasting just two days ago?) and followed the cars in front of us until we reached the end of a very beautiful, long and winding road.
As we left Glacier National Park at West Glacier, we stopped for lunch and I found yet another unique pie: Apple-Cherry-Walnut. Outstanding pie made fresh on the premises. Warmed up with a scoop of ice cream, it was another perfect lunch. Mark opted for more traditional fare.
We continue to have minor GPS problems. Routes created last winter that looked good on the computer screen seem to confuse our Garmins which keep demanding that we make u-turns at via points. We’re getting used to ignoring the pleadings of the person in the Garmin and just going where we know we should be going.
About 3 p.m. we left the land of Uncle Sam and crossed into Maple Leaf country. This was one of the smoothest and shortest border crossings I’ve had. “Where’re you from? Where are you going? Bringing in any firearms or other weapons? Have a nice day.” Immediately I started converting kilometers per hour to miles per hour in my head to make sure the Mounties wouldn’t mount up and chase me down.
If a road can be more spectacular than the Beartooth Highway or the Going to the Sun Road, it’s the one we’ll be on tomorrow as we go north through British Columbia and Alberta on the Icefields Parkway in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.
I’m tired and frazzled now, but by tomorrow morning I’ll be ready to get on the road again.