Sunday Cruisin’

When we looked out the window the morning it appeared that the weather was going to remain kind to us for our second day of riding the Hog.  Today’s plan included booking our aircraft hire for Thursday, a foothills tour, a visit to the resting place of The Princess’ Dad, Grandad and Gran’ and some lunch in a small town called Okotoks – a full day to say the least.

After breakfast in the hotel we drove over to Mum’s place and prepared the Hog for the day out.  Jill looked on in amusement (though a little less worried today) as we unloaded the hire car and loaded the Hog.  Who would have thought that a motorbike could carry so many things!

With The Princess on the back I fired up the big V-twin once more and headed off on the same route as yesterday – skirting around the city and along the “trans Canadian”.  However, instead of continuing all the way out to Banff we turned off at Springbank and made our way to the Springbank airport.

I had promised The Princess that I would take her flying over the Rockies during our time in Calgary and to achieve this I needed to find a place that would hire an aircraft to me.  We took a look around the small airfield and selected an flying school called  Springbank Air Training College, a professional looking establishment on the main road leading into the airport.

After parking the Harley we went inside and took a look around the school, asked a lot of questions and booked a check ride and hire for Thursday 12th.  The staff were friendly and very helpful and before we knew it we were back on the bike and heading for the nearby town of Cochrane.

The road leading out to Cochrane (known as “The Cowboy Trail” – Hwy 22) is one of those roads you could ride on all year long.  It is smooth, cambered correctly and wide enough to ride safely should someone decide to crossover onto the wrong side of the road.  Well done Alberta!

The ride from Springbank to Cochrane takes about 15 minutes and it ends with a lovely descent into the Bow Valley and down into the small but quaint town.  Apart from wanting to put some miles on the Hog we went to Cochrane in search of a coffee.  The town is big enough to support the a Starbucks and it wasn’t long before our noses sniffed out the familiar smell of a Starbucks shop.  With bike parked and locked we entered the shop, found a nice seat and settled into our standard morning brews – cafe latte and chai tea latte.  Mmmmmm……

I was keen to get back onto the blacktop of Hwy 22 so after downing our brews we saddled up the big V-twin and road the reverse part of the trip we had just taken.  However, this time we kept heading south, over the trans-Canada and down toward Bragg Creek.  As we headed deeper into the foothills the clouds became lower in the sky and off to the west there were visible signs of rain – bugger!  Not to be perturbed we continued along the Cowboy Trail south and took in the beautiful vistas that presented at each bend of the road.

The rain kept moving toward us from the west so we opted to let discretion be the “better part of valour” and pull over to don our wet weather gear – I couldn’t have my Princess getting wet (or me).  This turned out to be a good move because the rain came down quite heavy for the remainder of our ride to the little church in Millarville – the place where The Princess’ Grandpa and Gran are buried.

We pulled off Hwy 549 and into the pebble covered drive of the Millarville church just as the rain started to slow down – it must have been a sign!  The sound of the bike’s hot engine hissed with each rain drop that fell on it and it seemed that this was the only noise being made in the quiet of the afternoon air.  We said “g’day” to Grandpa and Gran and spent some time taking a look around the beautiful grounds before getting back on the road to Black Diamond.

The rain was still falling (but not as heavily) as we rode the short distance to Black Diamond.  The Princess’ Dad (Frank) is buried in the hillside cemetery in Black Diamond and we had to take the bike there for him to have a look at!  Frank was an Indian man at heart however he would have been happy to see The Princess arrive on a bike.  Negotiating the slippery and, at times, steep unsealed road up to the cemetery was interesting but we arrived unscathed and said hello to Frank.  The views from the cemetery back over the valley are beautiful and it was nice to stop and take in the vistas in the presence of Frank.

The not so thirsty engine of the hog needed to be fed with some more fuel so we rode down to Turner Valley and filled up the tank before joining Hwy 7 for the short ride east to Okotoks for a mid afternoon lunch – our own tanks needed to be topped up!

The ride back to Calgary from Okotoks takes around 30 minutes and the road is smooth and dual lane the whole way.  Perfect.  This was to be the last “open road” ride for the weekend and we were not in hurry to get the bike back to Jill’s place.  I took the Deerfoot Trail (“the long way”) and soaked up the very pleasant views as we headed north back to the city.

With the thumping sound of the EVO engine silenced once more the bike was unpacked and secured in the backyard at Jill’s.  What a wonderful day out!

After sharing our day of travels with Jill we headed back to the hotel, freshened up and drove down to Chinook Mall.  We had planned to take in a movie at the cinema however, when we arrived we learned that the times were not going to work out.  Bugger!

Plan B?  A light supper and some wine on the outdoor deck of Chop – a very nice restaurant on the outside of the mall.  The temperature was a little on the low side but the gas heaters took some of the bite out of the air and the red wine warmed us up on the inside.  We shared a couple of starters for dinner due to the late lunch in Okotoks.  A very nice way to finish up a day of riding!

Our very satisfied bodies fell into bed at the Travelodge and before long we were fast asleep.  A great day indeed!

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