Friday, 7 August 2015

Wet Weather, Bad Moods and a Birthday

Location: Crowsnest Pass, AB, Canada
Those of you who know me from home know that I like birthdays and that usually I try to string mine out as long as I can. It's not the presents, I just like an excuse to celebrate with as many friends, family members and random others as I can. So the thought of a birthday on the trip was a strange one; no one but Tom to enlist in the festivities, no gifts, no cards, no idea what the road had in store or what the town of Pincher Creek would offer us at the end of the day. We awoke in the Provincial Park just outside Fernie early, packed up as quietly as possible, so as not to wake Amy and Hamish, and left without breakfast with the idea we'd get something in Fernie town. On the short ride into town Tom and I managed to fall out. Despite talking about my birthday previously and me telling Tom that I didn't expect him to get me anything, the only gift we'd talked about was us both getting new socks for cycling as all of ours are holey at best, but I think subconsciously I was expecting him to surprise me with something as he's always been great with stuff on other birthdays. So when I didn't awake to a tent full of balloons (I'm joking, but you get the idea) I got into a grump and didn't vocalise this well.

Tom was still feeling low. While the Icefields Parkway and riding with friends had been brilliant he was still having a tough time and me having a go at him for not doing something I'd told him I was fine with him not doing was neither fair or helpful. So after talking this through and me apologising for being a dufus we went looking for a breakfast establishment which we found in Big Bang Bagels. After some tasty breakfast bagels, coffees and a smoothie we left to buy some socks. Outside the bagel place a lovely Californian dude I'm guessing must have been in his fifties came and chatted to us. He was doing the Great Divide but was currently stuck in Fernie due to bike trouble. He wished us well and wandered off. Sadly none of Fernie's shops were open yet so we left without socks.

In a somewhat fairly momentous turn about I have gone from fearing hills, as I talked about in the post Hill Dread, to actually enjoying them now so it was with some excitement that we rode along as we'd get to climb out of the Rockies for the last time. The riding was easy and we past through the town of Sparwood and then stopped for morning break at an info pull out that told us that we were stood on the site of two old mining towns, Michel and Natal, which had been torn down and the residents moved to Sparwood. It was strange, there was no trace of these places and it had only happened 10-20 years ago. Two other touring cyclists arrived and we chatted with them for a while, they were heading into the States and through many of the places we'd ridden so we were excited for them. We said our goodbyes eager to get going as the climb was now upon us.

Well I can't tell you how disappointed I was when in a matter of minutes we reached the summit. I hadn't had to change lower than my 8th gear. This was not the glorious achievement I'd hoped for. Nonetheless here we were and very soon we'd be crossing back into Alberta for the first time by bike. The welcome to Alberta sign was HUGE and luckily there was a trucker there to take our pic.

We rode on, watching as ominous looking clouds gathered over the mountain tops, we'd hoped to make it to Coleman for lunch where we'd been told we could indulge in cinnamon buns, but with the bad weather imminent we decided to stop instead at the Crowsnest Pass visitor info. As we pulled under the cover of their porch the rain and hail began in earnest. We ate our lunch and spoke to the nice ladies about roads and motels in Pincher Creek and when they found out it was my birthday they surprised us with ice cream! Mine even had a candle and they sang me 'Happy Birthday'.

We couldn't stay there all day so even though the rain hadn't stopped, thankfully the hail had, we put on our jackets and got back on the road. The next two hours were pretty miserable. The rain was pouring, it was really cold, visibility was low and I got engulfed in a wave of road water when a vehicle passed at a particularly bad spot. We passed Frank Slide, the site of Canada's deadliest landslide. The evidence is all around you, it's scary how big it is, but we decided against calling in at the visitor centre as it wasn't a very cheery birthday activity.

Not long after we were out of the mountains, the weather improved and we got a tailwind. We dried out, warmed up and before long we were arriving in Pincher Creek. We checked into the Super 8 motel and while I skyped my sister, Reanna, Tom got showered. When it came to my turn in the shower I wasn't as successful. I don't know how it happened really, but I slipped and fell backwards, out of the bath tub and landed on my back on the floor. Tom came running in and found me wrapped in the shower curtain where I landed, with my head between the toilet and the sink. A few inches one way or the other and I'm pretty sure 34 would have been my last birthday. Luckily I was just a bit bruised so I finished my shower and we went into town in search of somewhere for dinner. We opted for burgers and beer and after dinner made a beeline for the grocery store for dessert. Ice cream (Ben & Jerry's 'If I Had A Million Flavours') and cookies to make ice cream sandwiches with. Walking back to the motel we got our first beautiful prairie sunset, then we sat in our room, feasting on pudding and listening to The Now Show. Not a bad end to the day at all!


  1. Wow an eventful birthday! Doesn't Tom know that girls ALWAYS want a surprise on their birthday...
    Glad you were ok after your fall! lucky birthday after all!

  2. Ice-cream sandwiches! What a way to end a birthday :-D xxx