Well. I hear the Bike Tour Group with No Name is going to Canada again this year. Banff and Lake Louise - the Blue Canadian Rockies, historic hotels, high mountain passes, goats, elk, moose, camp chairs, the whole scene. I check my schedule: my family will be gone that week, down in San Diego at a fiddle camp (Annie, Cheryl), off in the South of France (Shaine), and who knows where (Cody). I'll have Ironman Canada coming up 3-4 weeks later, so I need a good high mountain bike trip to pump me up for the 112 mile spin in the middle of the triathlon. I sign up.
Six months later, I'm sitting on the floor of my room, wondering just what to bring. Bike shirts and pants, of course, but what will the weather be like for the next week in Banff? The Web is no help: what is 18 degrees anyway? And aren't these the mountains, with thunderstorms every afternoon, freezing cold at night, blazing sun other times? I decide to pack it all - fleece, shorts, parka, big tent, a chair of course, and a wet suit, just in case I find a lake to swim in. I end up with a backpack, a rolling pack, a duffel, and my training bag. And a bike, of course. Two of the bags and the chair I drop off with Louise, and keep my bike, two smaller bags, and the first day's clothes (what WILL the weather be like) in my car for the drive up.
Steve Skibbs calls, saying he needs a ride up. Why not? - it's a 13 hour, two day trek, I could use the company. In the morning, I swim in Horseshoe Lake, and pack up the car by noon. We head out in the usual 57F overcast/drizzle, which breaks free somewhere past Snoqualmie Pass. Now we're really leaving home!
The ponderosa pines heralding Spokane break the heat and sagebrush of central WA. We hit the rush hour, and follow the river into Idaho, stopping at Sandpoint for dinner. After a drive twice around the downtown core looking for a compatible restaurant, Steve stops two 30ish guys jaywalking towards out car.
"Say, you guys know anywhere, like a brew pub, we could get some dinner?"
"Well, let's see, the brewery is around the corner, up three blocks to the light, then go back towards the river a ways, it's by the bridge, you know. But you could do what we do."
"Yeah, we just fill up in one bar, and when they kick us out of there, we head across the street to the next one - that's what you're looking for, isn't it?"
This didn't seem to faze Steve. He asked if I wanted to head for the brew pub. I say a sign "City Bistro" across the street, and suggested we look at the menu there first. It had everything we wanted, a full set up choices for the middle-aged palate. We walked in; on two tables were occupied. We waited to be seated. The hostess said "Two for dinner?"
"We're all booked up tonight." I looked around at the empty tables, over at Steve, who appeared non-placed. She then gave us a list of several restaurants to try. Being dehydrated, famished, and road-weary, I took in nothing of what she said.
"So, you want to try there?" Steve asked.
"You like Thai?"
"Sure, I'll try Thai."
In we went, and stoked up on some curry peanut concoction, enough to fuel is for the Dreaded Border Crossing.
Two twenty-something clean cut Canadian customs officers quizzed us relentlessly:
"Where are you going? How long? Purpose of your visit? Any firearms, tobacco, pepper spray? Rotweilers, avocados or tornadoes?" He droned on and on. I dutifully said no to everything, hoping he wouldn't find my purloined copy of "Endurance", on loan from the Peninsula Library, and two weeks overdue.
"Say, Steve, you know what 'Anise' is?" I explained about the licorice based drink, banned in the US, but street legal in BC. He perked up, and wondered where we might find some. "Maybe in Cranbrook," I said.
Before we got there, though, we listened to the fading Mariners' broadcast. Another laugher, 11-3 and counting, home runs at every corner. A sweet way to start our week-long baseball fast.