August 2, 2008 – Day 7: Calgary, AB to Grande Prairie, AB – 469.37 Miles
I had to make my first detour to the trip today. The original plan was to ride from Calgary across Canadian Route 1 through Banff and up to Jasper. The morning’s weather reports forecast severe thunder storms and high winds at times throughout the day. Once again, they were dead on. That damned weather service is really good. I spoke with a RMCP officer while having breakfast and he convinced me to forget the leg from Banff to Jasper. He said he had just come from that direction and the weather was the worst he’d seen in the past two months, severe lightning and thunderstorms. Not a good mix when riding a motorcycle. As it turned out the alternative wasn’t any better.
- Thunder Storms North of Calgary
The new plan called for a straight shot up Provincial Route 2 to Edmonton. Then I would head north-east out of Edmonton along Route 43 to Grande Prairie. By far, this was my worst day of travel to date. I pulled out of Calgary around 6:00am. The winds were already blowing and the first thunderstorm greeted me a few kilometers up the road. I found myself waiting the storm out in one of the few rest areas along the route. While waiting at the rest area I donned my rain gear and got ready to brave the elements. I really had no choice. I had a reservation at the Canadian Motor Inn in Grande Prairie and any delay would affect the rest of the trip.
- Rest Area outside of Fox Creek, AB
High winds, occasional heavy rain, and lighting were the order of the day and it was all I could do to simply stay on the bike. I finally made it to the hotel around 7:30pm that evening; it had been one long, cold and miserable day. All I wanted to do was crawl into bed and get some sleep.
- Canadian Motor Inn, Grande Prairie, from Second Floor Balcony
I received a call from the front desk around 9:00pm. The woman said a young boy was skateboarding in the parking lot and hit the bike. She asked me to check for damage and let her know the outcome. I pulled myself out of bed and went down to check the bike, no damage, good deal. As I was checking the bike some guys that worked for the Canadian Pacific Railroad were drinking beers and hanging out on the second floor balcony. Turns out they were the ones who saw and reported the incident to the front desk. It would have been rude of me to refuse their offer of a beer after all they had done, and by the time I stumbled back to my room it was 12:30am.