Bow Tie Tour

Alaska and back again, our motorcycle tales

Archive for the 'Day 17' Category

Day 17 – Banf National Park in Canada

This is where things get interesting (amazing)…

We got ready to set out from Calgary in the late morning, said goodbye to our hosts (Of course got signatures) and headed out.

The signing:

Knight Signing


After a stop for gas ($1.08 a liter!) and Ethan’s vest coming out of his hard bags, we turned to the West towards Banff, and the Canadian Glacier National Park.

We rode into Banff, in a freak storm. We had gorgeous blue skies for miles, then an abolute deluge of freezing rain for 15 minutes, followed by an equally long stretch of blue skies. The crazy thing was that we rode through three of those odd sections. It was wild!

When it looked like we were through the worst of it, we pulled off by an overlook to warm up, and give me the opportunity to shoot some photos of the astoundingly blue river at the bottom of the valley.

“Bannf Storms”

Bannf Storms

And a look at that OH SO Blue water…
Bannf, Alberta - Blue River - By Eric Farewell

After our riverside pitstop, we continued on our way North, deeper into Canada’s Glacier National Park.

Our next respite was at one of Ethan’s parents favorite spots, the great tourist attraction “Lake Louise”. As we pulled into the parking lot, I spotted several other bikes, fully loaded down with their riders headed toward the massive lodge, when we parked, they stopped by and we struck up a conversation.

They were COMING from Alaska, and felt like they were already “almost home” to California. As we strolled down the path to the lake, we talked about the road conditions, weather and our upcoming bouts with gravel. The more we talked the more Ethan and I glanced at eachother with big grins and thoughts of grandeur “We’re finally here!!!”

About a hundred yards later, we passed by a cabin and then we were struck by the beauty of Lake Louise. It stretched out before us, presided over by a giant glacier topped mountain. The water was intensly blue, and looked somehow creamy and thick “the way water is supposed to look” in my ever so humbe opinion.

We had one of our new friends snap a photo of us before we went any further.

Ethan and I

I scrambled down a small embankement of stones, to the waters edge to try to capture a “different” angle of the lake and it’s presiding mountain.

Lake Louise

One of the riders, owns a camera refurbishing company, he was shooting with a Nikon D100, and I caught this shot of him trying to get “That perfect angle”

Photographing Lake Louise

After taking a plethora of pictures, we made our way to the lodge in search of a bathroom. The lodge is huge, it’s lovely, and it’s FULL of people. After walking for a short while, we discovered our savior (restroom) and we 5 motorcyclists each partook of it’s great goodness.

Artistically – The Lodge:

Lake Louise Lodge at

We told our new friends that we were going to take the 7 mile ride down to Lake Morraine, which we’d heard was actually BETTER than Lake Louise. Of course, before we left them we asked two, to sign our Givi bags.

Signing Ethan’s:

Signing Ethan's
Intent Upon Signing:

Intently Signing - By Eric Farewell
Although traffic was bad, we made the ride from Lake Louise to Lake Moraine in minimal time. The views from the narrow road were incredible and though we were still being drizzled on, it was WELL worth it.

We parked our bikes and Ethan took off for a nearby hiking trail… The sign said “2km” so I followed him. The trail led us up a large hill, at the summit of which, we were told to expect a “breathtaking view” of the lake.

We followed stone steps for much of the path:

Stone Steps - By Eric Farewell

In no time though, we reached the summit… And what a view it has!

Lake Morraine - By Eric Farewell

It was unbelievable… The water’s color, the glaciers on the mountains around us, the fir trees… Absolutely gorgeous.

Ethan Demme - At Lake Morraine

I even got on the other side of the lens for a change.

Eric Farewell - At Lake Morraine

Ethan told me that I had to take a photo for him, to continue on a tradition that he’d started in the same spot a few years before… I obliged, of course ;-)

Ethan Meditating

As we hiked back down the trail, I spotted a guy talking to a chipmunk beside the path… Of all things, he was carrying a “long deck” skate board. He said that there was a large group of skateboarders that like to carve up the local roads.

“Carving the Mountains”

Mountain Carver
At the lodge, Ethan briefly questioned his physical identity:

Man or Bear?

After a quick bite to eat (delicious sausage rolls!) and a cup of coffee, we headed out again, with plans to make it as far as we possibly could before the end of the day.

We rode in a valley between two massive mountain ranges, atop each was either a glacier, or the remains of where one once was… Riverbeds ran from the hills, some dry, some rushing with glacial melt… All directed towards massive blue lakes in the middle of the valley, beside the road.

After a couple of hours on the road, we pulled off beside one exceptionally large lake so that I could take a few pictures. The clouds were incredible!
“Rocky Mountain Reflections”

Glacier Lake Reflections
And in the other direction:

Glacier Lake 2

Looking down at my feet, I happened to see this tiny bird:

Glacial Bird - By Eric Farewell

Last but not least, Ethan DID find his true identity… An extra for a Monty Python Movie:

Ethan Demme

Shortly after leaving the lake, we stopped in for fuel at a lodge… We were greeted by $5.30 per gallon prices (for REGULAR!) and two riders in pajama pants and racing boots… They were staying at the lodge, and one of them was riding the same type of bike that Ethan and I were. He later tracked us down, on the FZ1 Owners website to say hello :-)

As we neared the North end of the massive park, I spotted a large pullout with a sign pointing to the next mountain over.

Bridal Veil Falls Sign

Sadly, the lighting on the falls itself was terrible, but I did catch a shot of a truly immense mountain just South of us… You can see where a glacier once sat upon the top of it, and at it’s base there are empty river beds where the glacial melt ran towards huge blue lakes.

Glacial Mount

Note the trees on the far end… That mountain was HUGE!

Only a few miles down the road, our steady 80mph speed was suddenly interrupted by what I spotted to the right. I signaled for Ethan to stop, turned around and whipped out my camera.

And just the falls:

Glacial Falls

Just plain lovely.

We entered the next town, shortly after things got fully dark. Ethan and I set about going hotel to hotel, finding them either sold out, or $140++ a night. We finally found one, but I have to admit, that it scared us!

We were told that we could stay for $10 cheaper a night if we stayed over the bar “cause it gets a bit loud over on that side of the building” instead of sleeping above the liquor store… After a quick run to pick up some DELICIOUS pizza, and a conversation with a college student who was on an exodus to Alaska, we rode back to the hotel… Oh, and Ethan tried to kill me! (Long story ;-) )

After some good beer, good pizza, and hilariously poor television, we hit the sack, in preperation of a long days ride on the ‘morrow.