Monthly Archives: August 2017

You only said we couldn’t go upside down.

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(edited 30 to add video)

Have you heard about mountain coasters? They consist of a very long length of pipe, winding down the side of a mountain and anchored into place. Then you take a small plastic sled with some running gear on the bottom and attach it to the pipe, add a handle for breaking and you have yourself a mountain coaster.

Mountain Coaster Sled

Mountain Coaster Sled (cc) Wiki Commons

Since I first heard of these I knew I needed to go on one, and was very pleasantly surprised when I saw a ticket package for “The Pipe” in Revelstoke. The catch though, is that Linda hates roller coasters. She says it’s because she doesn’t like to go upside down. So armed with that caveat, I suggested we should pick one up, it was for two trips on the mountain coaster (which doesn’t go upside down), and a gift card for the restaurant. I’m not sure if I just got her at a moment of weakness where the idea of hurtling down a mountain on a little plastic sled some how sounded appealing, or if was just because we had only recently moved back within spitting distance of the mountains and was up for an adventure. Either way, I didn’t ask twice and tossed the card into the shopping cart.

Once we got home and read the fine print, we discovered it was only good for one person. Gee, I guess we have to go get another and have 2 trips each. But, if the first ride was too much, then instead of a second coaster ride we could instead take the upper gondola to the top of the mountain. And, there was that $25 credit for the restaurant for each of us so that made the deal great.

When we were looking at when we should make the 4 hour trip, we were looking for events that we might be able to couple it with and were thrilled to find that we had not missed the Horizon’s Unlimited Travelers Meeting in Nakusp. It is a gathering of folk who either already do, or want to, travel to far away places on motorbikes. Perfect, we can add an extra day at the beginning of the trip and kill 2 birds with one stone.

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Williamson Lake Camp Ground

As it was only a 4 hour trip to Revelstoke, we decided to leave right after work to avoid using an extra day of vacation leave. That would have worked great except for few of things. First, rush hour traffic was insane, so it took us an hour just to get out of Calgary. Second, it is Canada’s 150 anniversary and all of the national parks are free to enter so the tourists are here in droves, and lastly it have been a horrendous summer for forest fires in BC. All of these things managed to add an extra couple of hours to our trip, so we arrived at out campground in the dark after the office had closed.

Some incredibly helpful campers helped us navigate to our site, and setting up by the light of a head-lamp isn’t actually all that bad. Particularly since we did a dry run the night before in our backyard. The campsite was great. Were were right on Williamson Lake, and there was enough ambient light that we could see the stillness of the water, with the trees being reflected, see the milky way, and listen to a waterfall across the lake while eating our craft dinner. It was quite delightful.

We wanted to get an early start in the morning, but not enough to set an alarm. Nature took care of that for us though, both with the sun and “nature calling”. We were quickly packed up and on our way to Revelstoke Mountain Resort. We were a bit worried about leaving our helmets on the bikes, and the luggage that was only strapped onto the bikes, but we needn’t have been. Everything was still there when we got back.

A friendly staff person at the hill pointed us in the right direction and we were quickly on the gondola heading up the hill. The view of the Columbia river and the mountains was amazing. Unfortunately, this is the moment where Linda says, “Did I tell you I’m afraid of heights”! She still managed to enjoy some of the view, but I was worried about the whole sitting on a plastic sled and going down the mountain thing was going to work for her.

I worried for nothing because fear or not she was bound and determined to go down. We both enjoyed the ride, but used the break more than we had hoped. We headed back up the gondola to use our $25 vouchers for brunch, which was exactly $25 LOL. It was a very nice buffet though, and the view from the deck was worth the price.

We headed off for our second run down, both of us determined to have a faster run than before. I shaved some time off, but Linda did amazing, arriving at the bottom hot on my heels. We thoroughly enjoyed the morning, and would definitely suggest putting it on your list of things-to-do if you are doing a trip through the Canadian Rockies and BC Interior.

 

 

 

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The Dinosaur Trail

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As recent transplants to Calgary, we are spending our summer experiencing some of what the city has to offer. We have hiked, floated, Stampeded, taken in festivals and workshops, but honestly, there are more things to do than there is time to do them.

When it comes to riding, the choices are just as abundant. If you want the thrill of the tight twisties, you’ve got it. If you want a long leisurely ride under the big sky, yup it has that too. Exploring the mountains on gravel and trail? You bet. All within a short ride from the City

prairiescapeSmlThis weekend we picked big sky and headed out to Drumheller to ride the Dinosaur Loop, a 50km loop through the badlands, and we were certainly not disappointed. We headed north of Calgary on Hwy 2 to Balzac then turned east onto 566 and then hooked up with hwy 9 which took us all the way into Drumheller, around 1.5 hours. It is an awesome prairie ride, with rolling hills and sweeping vistas. It was a great way to start the morning.

Drumheller is nestled in what is know as the Badlands in the Red Deer River Valley. It is pretty amazing to be looking at flowing prairies then have the valley appear out of nowhere. The valley was carved out around 10-15,000 years ago, exposing a piece of history over 70 million years old. It is a palaeontological wonderland,  over 25 species of dinosaurs have been found here. It is also home to the Royal Tyrell Museum with  40 mounted skeletons and numerous activities for the family.

largestDinosaurSmlOnce in Drumheller, it is all about dinosaurs, all of the time. There are dinosaurs painted on the sides of buildings, there are more dinosaur statues than I could count, including one in front of Marks Work Warehouse properly attired in safety vests. You think it might just be businesses that do this. But, you would be wrong! We even saw dinosaur statues in people’s front yards. The City of course has join in with the dinosaur theme. There are dinosaurs and cavemen on the light standards on the main roads.  And not to be missed, is the Worlds Largest Dinosaur. It is an 86ft tall T-rex which for a small admission fee you can climb the stairs inside of him and look out of his mouth. Great fun.

After we visited with Rex, we headed off for the Dinosaur Trail North. The Trail follows along the Red Deer River, and is an amazing ride through history. The walls of the canyon are striped with different layers of rock, giving a glimpse into time. For me it was a very thought provoking ride, trying to place my life in the millions of years history I was passing, and trying to visualize how life may have been when the river valley was just a flood plain.

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My family had taken a vacation to Drumheller when I was a small child. I don’t really remember much of that, but I did remember that we had visited a tiny church, and have often seen pictures of my brother and I outside of it. As we were riding along Linda says, I think there is a little church just around this corner. Sure enough it was the one from my childhood. The sign on it says, “Seating 10,000 people, 6 at a time.”

FerrySmlAs we followed the trail to it’s end, we came to a cable ferry which took us to the other side of the river to pick up the Dinosaur Trail South. A little way along this road, is a turn off for a viewpoint. It was well worth the stop, the views were amazing. We also shed our coats here, as it was just too hot. We continued on the Dinosaur Trail to Drumheller, then kept going straight through to a little village called Rosedale to have a bite and a beverage at the Top Rocker Gear Shop and Café.

What a great little gem. I am not sure if I have ever felt so welcome walking into restaurant. We sat on the patio, had lunch and a beer, and swapped stories with other bikers. The menu is limited, but the service completely makes up for that. We will definitely go back, perhaps for one of their Thursday Bike Nights.

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We had hoped to take an alternate route back to Calgary, so head south a bit farther. The “highway” turned out to be a gravel road so we turned around, but we did get to see hoodoos along the way, so it wasn’t a wasted trip.  In the end we went home the way we came, which wasn’t really disappointing as it was a lovely ride. At the end of the day we arrived home safe and happy with another little adventure to share.