Day 1 – Calgary to Butte, MT

Time on bike – 5:30am – 5:30pm
Distance – 805 kilometres
Low temp – 6 celcius – Nanton, AB
High temp – 28 celcus – Seeley lake, MT

Well it wasn’t the start one would hope for on the first day of a long journey. The weather in Calgary was the pits. It was cold and raining when I left today at 5am. Luckily I have really good rain gear and set off for a rather long day.

Today I’ve seen everything from a drizzle leaving Calgary, temperatures just above zero in Nanton, hail just outside of Nanton (almost like snow on the road), fog and for parts of the day blazing heat. Literally ‘four seasons’ in one day.

I’ve never seen fog like that in Alberta in the summer time. On highway 533 from Nanton to highway 22 it was so thick that I had to slow down on the highway to 50kph just to see. It was pretty early in the morning so there was no traffic but if I can’t see what are the odds that someone else can’t see me? As luck would have it I saw a herd of deer just minutes before entering the fog (there were about 20 of them grazing on the side of the road and crossing) – whew!

It’s great leaving during the wee and ungodly hours because you end up having the whole highway to yourself. I saw about 6-8 cars/trucks from Nanton to the turn off from Waterton.

I always get a bit nervous crossing the border. I’ve only had one experience where they searched all my stuff. Today a few questions from the border guard and a little fun at my expense – “800 cc’s – such a ‘small’ bike – says he. 😉

A quick tour through the “going to the sun” highway which is spectacular. It was very busy with traffic which kind of dulls the shine of the experience but still well worth it. Quite a few delays for road reconstruction certainly made this part of the day longer than expected. Interesting that the road is being rebuilt much like the original social programs in the 1930s – apparently some forms of socialism like roads are okay down here in the US.

Rather than taking the interstates as planned I let the GPS pick the routes. It worked quite well and really only added about 1-1.5 hours to the day. A bit more scenic, a bit less traffic and some roads I hadn’t ridden before. I’ve used my best judgment on some of the GPS suggestions as they occasionally were wild goose chases – luckily I brought maps, too.

Had a good chat with another rider here at the hotel. He met his family in Halifax for a function. He rode from Terrace, BC across Canada and is working his way back home through the states. We both chatted about ‘bike stuff’ (apparently he’s always wanted a VFR) and our travels as we both nearly ran out of gas – doh!

Internet connection at the hotel is not working so I’ll post pics tomorrow from my next destination.

I don’t think I’ll be able to avoid the interstates as much tomorrow as I have even more ground to cover (roughly 1000 kilometers).

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