It was with the best intentions that I left Bozeman, Montana for Missoula. I had seen an website for a campground in St. Ignatius, Montana, some 60 kilometres or so north of Missoula. St. Ignatius, in particular is nothing spectacular: a little provincial place in northern Montana, with a supermarket a hardware store, a bar and a gas station.
What had made it seem attractive was the fact that it had a campground with offered accommodation in a Indian Tipi tent and the fact that is was close to the Glacier Natl. Park, with the special attraction of the Highway to the Sun - a scenic ride in the Rocky Mountains that should rival some of the best routes in the European Alps.
So far so good. The positive surprise was that one of the Tipis was actually available when I arrived (it saved me to set up my own tent). The next issue was that the place was run by a German lady, Ursula. The really funny thing was that the most, if not all of the guests on the first night of my arrival were from Germany. What more reason go have a “German Dinner”. See below under “People met on the Road”.
I stayed there for two nights, hoping that the weather might clear up. Instead in got progressively worse and I cancelled me trip on the “Highway to the Sun”. It was not without regret but I was certainly not in the mood to risk permanent rain (or worse) in high elevations.
In the end I had to face hard rain on the way to Canada. I crossed the border at the rather quaint Roosville: nice reception by Canadian customs officials, easy crossing.
The first stop in Canada, was Cranbrook at the Campbell/Yard residence. I had not met Alison and Steve before (there were family of another Frankfurt friend, Susan Baumgarten), but they were extremely hospitable – the spaghetti dinner was excellent – and they made we feel very welcome in Canada.
I left the next day in the direction of Calgary. On the way I passed the small town of Sparwood, a mining place in British Columbia. The biggest attraction can be seen here:
Click for bigger version - By the way, the small black something at the bottom of the left front wheel is yours truly…
Before going to Calgary, I stopped at “High River”, Alberta. – Accommodation at this place seemed problematic (an oil conference in nearby Calgary had occupied all motel room). By chance I was referred to a B&B place in a quiet residential place. Joan and Murray Hay run a very civilised B&B. The discussion with Joan about the politics and life in general were quite stimulating.
Click for picture of Joan and her “watch frog” – which croaked each time someone approached the front door
Next was Calgary – which is something special. I had briefly mentioned in an earlier piece on this weblog that I might be visit Canada. Brian Smith of the Calgary community had picked this up and sent me an E-Mail offering to be of assistance if I needed help finding things, looking for accommodation or else. After a number of E-mail exchanges, he even offered me to spend a day or two at his home.
So – following a first meeting in the hamlet of Priddis southwest of Calgary (I called him, Brian then met me on his motorcycle), he took me to his home. He and his wife Sandra were extremely hospitable. The guided tour through Calgary (with a skyline not unlike that of Frankfurt, Germany) was enjoyable, but the grilled salmon, the homemade pizza and the curry chicken soup which they served during my two-day stay were excellent. I was also impressed with Brian homemade red wine. I mistook it for some very decent Italian merlot.
Sandra and Brian Smith – bidding me farewell
Banff National Park and Jasper National Park were next. The whole scenery is fantastic. Columbia Icefields (several glaciers forming a gigantic icefield) somewhere in the middle between Banff and Jasper should prove to be a highlight. Again the sight was fantastic but the real excitement came just before arriving there: a veritable snowstorm.
Click here: Icefields – also on the motorcycle
Fortunately, this was just a freak occurrence, the snow/ice storm was gone in a matter of an hour and the sun broke.
I stopped for the night in a hostel in Jasper. From here I went on to north via Grande Cache and Grande Prairie (Alberta) to Dawson Creek (Br. Columbia) – the beginning of the Alaskan Highway:
People Met On The Road – II:
The ad-hoc dinner group at the campground in St. Ignatius, Montana. From left to right: Alrun from Berlin on a 4 week trip in the north-western US, Ursula running the campground, Rolf and his wife from Frankfurt on a 1 year camp mobile tour through the US, Mexico and Canada.
Click for picture the German Dinner Group
Michel from Zurich. Met him in Sparwood (the mining city with the world’s largest truck on display). Michel was on a 3 months leave of absence from his job in Switzerland to learn improve his English and to explore northwest Canada.
Click for picture of Michel from Zurich
The friendly shop assistant in the”Bradley’s” saddlery and cowboy outfitter in High River, near Calgary. As a child she had to go to school on horseback. “Bradley’s” is the oldest saddlery business place in Alberta, founded inn 1902.
Click for picture of the shop assistant in High River
Jerry Mulhall, hobby painter born in Ireland and emigrated to Canada a couple of years ago. Visited the Lake Louise region together with a group of other people on a guided “painting outing”.
Click for picture of Jerry Mulhall, testing the BMW for size….
Martin and Katja Wickert from Hildesheim, Germany on two African Twins, currently in Canada. On a two year trip through Canada, Alaska, then all the way down to Patagonia. We met after the snow shower on the Columbia Icefields and went to Jasper together. Their website (great picture gallery): twintraveller.com
Click for picture of Martin and Katja
Elaine and Peter Haworth on vacation from the UK. Peter has a Honda ST Pan European back in Europe. The couple saw me packing my bike and we had a nice “motorcycle” talk in front to the local McDonalds outfit.
Click for picture of Elaine and Peter
Food Feature III:
This time it was somewhat difficult to find a Food Feature. But something that came as a real surprise was this:
The “Colossi’s Coffee Shop” was hidden in a side street of High River. The coffee there (or rather the espresso and cappuccino) we of such quality that it could have been served somewhere in Italy. The biscotti which came along with the coffee were equally good.
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