Hogging The Rockies

We were rather excited about making the most of the weekend hire of the Harley and we were keen to mount the hog and get on the wide open roads out to the Rockies.  This combination meant that we were up and ready to go around 0700 this morning.  The weather was shaping up to be perfect for riding.  Few clouds, light winds and no sign of rain.  Perfect.

After taking in another “standard” breakfast in the hotel dining room we sorted out our riding gear and took the short drive to Mum’s place.  I readied the bike while The Princess readied the gear we were taking.  The large pannier bags and big luggage storage area on the Ultra Glide meant that we could pack enough gear to cover most eventualities.

With the gear and ourselves on board I fired up the big V-twin, waved goodbye to Mum and let the neighborhood know that there was a Harley departing Jill’s house!

It wasn’t long before we were on the relatively quiet roads heading out of Calgary and despite some roadworks for the new C-train line we were joining the trans-Canada highway in no time.

The big touring Harley ate up the blacktop and with The Princess settling into the armchair like seating I set the cruise control and let the hog breathe.  Ah…… what a feeling.  There is something very special about being exposed to the environment and a big touring bike.

We had set our sights on the town of Canmore as the first stop.  We knew that there was a Starbucks in the village and this was going to be a perfect way to compliment the cool temperatures.  The bike moved along the highway effortlessly and before long the turn off for Canmore appeared in our visors.

At low speed a big bike needs to be respected and so it was when we entered the carpark in the shopping centre in Canmore.  I have dropped bikes in the past and it is never a good thing.  Firstly, you can get hurt but generally you just embarrass yourself and need to get some assistance to stand the bike up again.  Fortunately I seemed to have learned my lesson and we arrived safely out the front of Starbucks.

We warmed our insides up with a nice “brew”, emptied the bladders then remounted the beast for the short ride to Banff.

During the next part of the ride The Princess decided to video some of the scenery as we rode along the highway.  She did a very nice job considering the noise and slipstream effects.  You can take a look at her efforts here (Harley Riding).

We had to wait in line for a while at the Banff National Park entrance.  Being a Saturday and being summer meant that tourist and Calgary locals were keen to get out and explore the beautiful Rockies.  However, it didn’t delay us for too long and, besides, sitting on a big shiny bike on a beautiful summer day is perfect!  The Princess took some really nice photo’s of us while we were waiting in line and you can check some of them out here (Calgary – 2010).

After entering the park we rode the short distance to Lake Minnewanka.  We have been to this beautiful lake many times and it is always great to return.  We parked the bike in a safe place and took a walk down to the lake’s edge.  The tiny squirrels were very active and we enjoyed taking some photo’s of them.  Unfortunately the general visibility wasn’t that good (fire in British Columbia) so we were not able to take nice scenery photo’s.  However, we have plenty of these shots from previous visits.

From Minnewanka we rode into Banff township.  We passed a lot of native deer along the way – glad we didn’t have any of them walking out in front of us!

We found a convenient place to park the bike and went in search of a place to dine for lunch.  The very touristy tourist town was very busy however we found a nice outdoor place to dine and settled in for an hour or so.  Watching the “moving sidewalk”, reliving our trip out from Calgary and watching other bikes come and go was a nice way to pass the time as we ate.

We weren’t in a hurry to get back into Calgary.  The sun stays up until 10.30pm so getting back before the sun went down wasn’t a concern.  However, we had promised Mum that we would dine with her tonight so after a lazy lunch we strolled via some shops and back to the bike.

The trip back to Calgary was another beautiful experience – wide open spaces, the Rocky mountains as a backdrop, the thumping sound of a Harley under our bums and being together on a beautiful summer’s day.  Does it get much better?

Our almost compulsory afternoon Starbucks was taken at the Starbucks store located in the suburb of Tuscany (located on the NW outskirts of Calgary).  The Princess lived in this area before moving to Hong Kong and she was interested to take a look at the recent expansion of the suburb.

From Tuscany we made our way back across the city to Jill’s place and put the bike to bed for the night.  Jill was happy to see us back safe and sound.

Our choice of dining establishments for this evening’s fare was The Keg Steakhouse and Bar on Macleod Trail.  The food and service here is very good and it was nice to dine out with Mum.  Again, we took quite a lot of our supper home with us (or at least Jill did – she inherited ours) when we left.  The Keg is worth a visit if you are in North America.

We dropped Mum home around 11.00pm and headed back to The Travelodge for a well earned night of rest.  What a wonderful day!

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