Two weeks on the road and now in the Canadian Rockies

Finally sitting in a cyber cafe after two weeks on the road and posting. I’ll try to fill in some details. We just arrived in Banff, Canada this morning and easily found a nice campsite a few miles out of town. A rain shower while we were setting up our campsite. Except for yesterday a rain shower at some time of day or night has been the norm; but the rain only lasts for ten or twenty minutes once or twice a day. Yesterday started with a clear blue sky. A bit cloudy in the evening, but no rain. Banff is a real tourist town and is a lot more developed than when I was here thirty years ago skiing. But that’s not too surprising. Lot’s of shops and eateries and condos. Busy and probably more so tomorrow—today’s Friday.

We just came from four nights in the Kananaskis region about 30 miles east of Banff. Kananaskis is a valley that connects to the main valley that runs east of the Canadian Rockies (Continental Divide). Two bike rides—one a bit tough—lots of hike a bike and rain. The other was fantastic. A 2000 ft. climb up a fire road followed by a fantastic downhill with bits of everything—steep, rocky; roots and more roots and flowing down through the trees. And wildflowers and scenery.

Did I say scenery? The Canadian Rockies has scenery. Mountains of all shapes and sizes. A distinct treeline. In seemingly a few hundred feet, goes from trees and green to grey rock. I think the rocks are sedimentary which is much different from the Sierras which we are used to. Have to wait for pictures.

We’re camping here for six nights. Visit some museums, buy some souvenirs, hike and bike and take pictures. Then we’ll move north to Jasper. We’ll stop by the glacier on the way or make a day trip out of it.

We started our trip with a long drive to Callahan, Calif. to visit Gary and Mary. Callahan is the setting for the annual Hayden family get together. Callahan has been the home of the Hayden clan for several generations and Mary is a Hayden. Mary married Gary, one of Greg’s college roommates, at the Callahan church in 1968. We were happy to be invited to attend and meet more of the family. And in particular, Sara’s fiance Scott, a worthy addition to the clan. As you might guess, Sara is Mary and Gary’s daughter. Unfortunately we’ll miss the wedding.

Then off to Bend, Oregon to visit Steve, Greg’s brother. We all kayaked on the Deschutes River which runs right through Bend. Bend has a stong outdoors orientation with many good restaurants and outdoor shops. Oriented to tourists and the environment. But suffering more than almost anywhere from the housing collapse. I don’t remember the precise numbers, but housing prices are approximately halved from the peak. We only had time for one bike ride, but it was a great ride in a city park about two miles from the city center. We did an out and back in the forest and a flowing fast mostly smooth trail. 25 miles. Steve had initially planned to show us the more popular hard core riding, but the weather was threatening so we had to get out and back early. We weren’t disappointed in the Mrazek Trail.

Then a two day drive to Canmore which is just down the road from Banff. Just after we crossed the Continental Divide we saw a moose along side the road. It wasn’t a good place to stop and we were late, but we realized that it’s probably the only moose we’ll see. In our campsite in Kananskis the rangers were around with their antennas tracking three bears that were near camp. They work very hard to keep the bears from getting habituated to humans and to prevent any harm to we humans. They must be doing a good job, because they don’t need bear boxes in the campsites. It’s fine to leave food in your car which doesn’t work in California (many of you know that Greg’s learned from personal experience).

But back to Canmore. We made that our first stop because they were having a three-day folk music festival. A great festival in its 33rd year. Held in the town park. Workshops during the day and six acts each evening. Most of the audience persevered through the rain showers each evening. A bit of an adjustment for we Californians. But we wrapped ourselves in a tarp, put up our umbrellas. A good mix of long time and new performers: Buffy Sainte-Marie, Geoff Muldaur, Vieux Farka Touré (Ali Farka Touré’s son, but totally different style), and Matt Andersen, a young blues musician.

Some Canadian Rockies photos.

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