Thursday, July 26, 2012

Day 6 - North Battleford, Saskatchewan - Hinton, Alberta

Last night I went to bed when it started raining and about 20 minutes later the sky opens up and torrential rains comes down on us. The lightning strikes were getting closer and the wind was getting fiercer by the minute. I should mention I was camped on top of the highest hill in the surrounding area. I have never been scared of lightning but on this night I lay flat inside my tent while I watched the bright flashes from the lightning strikes. The wind picked up and for about half an hour the tent was buffeted left and right, I was expecting the fly to just "fly" away and I would be left powerless inside the tent at the mercy of the rain. I have to say I'm glad I bought this tent, it held together and survived the carnage around the campsite.

I wake up to see tree limbs and leaves all over the campground.

Richard Marcotte, my Quebecer friend had already packed everything in his little trailer and soon we were saying our goodbyes and wishing each other a safe ride.  I watched as he pulled out in his smooth sounding Harley Davidson.  He was so proud of his bike and all the chrome, even I was a little jealous.  I waved as he rode by but this would not be the last time I would see him or camped together.

I finished packing my stuff and then quickly left Battleford after eating a Nature Valley Oats 'N Honey bar, cheap breakfast and good for you at the same time.  I would stop later for a good cup of coffee, I can't function without coffee in the morning.  Leaving Battleford I encountered a lot of early morning fog from all the rain the night before, I proceeded with a little more caution but continued on my way along the Yellowhead Highway, also known as highway 16.  The Yellowhead Highway runs east-west connecting the four western Canadian provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
Yellowhead Highway

I stop in Lashburn when the bike needs gas and it was just the right time for coffee.  Along the Yellowhead Highway you see mostly farms and silos with a few little towns in between but this area is also where a lot of oil and wealth has been found in Saskatchewan's oil sands.  Canada's oil sands are among the world's great petroleum deposits and they are located on the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan.  As I'm taking a photo of the silos I notice the tanker train going by.

A few miles down the road as I pass the town of Lloydminster I see the Alberta visitor information center.  I'm now in a new province, the sixth Canadian province I have visited.  I had previously visited New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario on previous trips, Manitoba and Saskatchewan on this trip so far.  Soon I see the "Welcome to Alberta, Wild Rose Country" sign and make a stop for the obligatory picture with the bike.

The road at this stage is very monotonous, farms, silos and trucks, big tanker trucks on the road that create lots of buffeting on the bike.  The roads are good and I make good progress, soon I'm crossing Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, a big and busy city of over a million people.  I'm stuck in traffic when I see the big Harley Davidson dealer to my right and parked in front is a black Harley with a very familiar trailer behind.  At the next exit I get off and backtrack to the dealer, as I walk in I immediately see Richard, the Quebecer friend I had waved goodbye earlier.  We both do a loud greeting and then continue chatting as he looks for Harley memorabilia.  Later we decide to look for a McDonalds, his favorite restaurant, so he tells me.  We find one nearby and settle for a good burger with fries and a soda, quick food for people on the run.

At this point on the trip I can still see through my windshield.

He is supposed to be visiting an old girlfriend in Edmonton, we say goodbye and wish each other a safe ride for the second time today.  I continue on my way and at 5:48 in the afternoon I pass a milestone on my bike, 10,000 miles, I stop to take a picture of the odometer, the temperature is 79 degrees.  The rest of the afternoon goes smoothly with a few threatening clouds but no real rain to spoil the day.  I get some nice pictures of the clouds over the highway that seems to go on forever.

I arrive in Hinton, a town just east of Jasper National Park where I had decided to spend the night and start looking for a campsite.  I spot a sign for a Koa campground and head straight to it.

I am at the front desk signing the paperwork when I look behind the front desk lady, out the back window and to my surprise I see the familiar Harley with the cute trailer.  I ask the lady if a French guy from Quebec had just signed in and she replies, yes, do you know him?  I had to laugh, what a coincidence I think to myself.
I pull in to the site across from Richard's and he immediately comes over to greet me.  He tells me he couldn't get in touch with his friend and decided to continue west, his next destination being Jasper National Park.  I setup my tent and he comes over and says he has to run into town to buy a bottle of wine, I smile and agree to join him.  We come back later, each carrying a bottle, mine a small half litter of Merlot from a local Ontario winery and he has the 750ml traditional size.  I heat up my soup and finish it with a "lunchable pack" of turkey, cheese and crackers with a Kit Kat for dessert, obviously everything went down with wine, not a drop was left on the bottle at the end of the meal.  I suspect Richard might have finished his too.

I only had a plastic cup, not the same as a glass wine cup  but it did the job
I wash some of my clothes, take a quick shower and then retire to my tent, the beautiful mountains of Jasper providing the perfect background for the evening.


Interactive map:

440 miles today, one new Canadian Province in the books and a new friend.

To be continued.....


  1. Keep on chooglin'

    1. At this point it is still just making mileage, cover as much as possible, thanks for reading.

  2. Wow, that was some storm. I am glad the weather gods were kinder to you in Hinton.

    It is cool the way you kept running into your new Harley friend. Gave you each someone to talk to and pass the time in the evening.

    1. It was the theme of the trip, I kept running into riders over and over as you will see. Yes, the weather was beautiful in Hinton.

  3. I will try to describe the experience as best as I can for the people that don't ride ;-)
    The feeling of freedom and just going places and meeting new people is so intoxicating.
    I kept crossing paths with riders multiple times.

  4. Canada is so beautiful! It motivates me to get a passport. The last time I was in Canada, I didn't need a passport. By the time we did our MT/ID trip, passports were needed. We were so close to the Canadian border we wished we had passports.

    We too had a scary experience at a campground when a tornado came through the area. When we stopped for the night, the sky was clear. That was on our last night of our CA trip.

    Stay safe!

    1. You need to get your passport, Jasper, Banff and lake Louise are so beautiful. I loved it, I camped 15 miles North of Lake Louise.

  5. Glad you survived the storm with no damage done. If you are lucky you will be able to smell the wild roses - that's what makes riding a 4D experience. And wild roses are much better than feed lots and chicken farms (ha, ha).

    1. I did, I was laying flat on the floor of the tent.
      Yes, the smell was pretty bad in some places, I don't think I could be a farmer :-)

  6. George:

    the roads should get more interesting now that you have crossed the flat land. I also found that people seem more friendly when travelling. I also met a few bikers on my short journey to Oregon

    that lightning storm was scarey. glad you didn't blow away

    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

  7. I love the commentary during the storm. I'm glad the branches weren't bigger and none came closer to your tent. may have been a plastic cup, but there wasn't a hole in it! Better than swigging directly from the bottle. ;)