Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Family History is a Mystery

After a fine send off from my Armstrong gang, I headed out towards Calgary.  It was interesting and somewhat refelctive to ride through Grindrod and the surrounding area, as I had lived there over 40 years ago, on the banks of the Shuswap River.

As I neared Mara Lake, it became clear that the recent floods of this late Spring had seriously changed the areas facing the Lake.  I could see considerable damage and crews were working on the roads to fix the damage from the high waters.

Further down the road, towards Revelstoke, I stopped at a site which I had wanted to stop at before, but  had never made the time.  My Grandmothers' maiden name was Smith, and her Dad, who had the ranch in Lavington, was related to Sir Donald Smith.  As all good history buffs know, Sir Donald Smith was the bigwig who weilded the hammer on the last Spike at Craigllilachie.  I stopped to see what the memorial had to offer, and also to get out of the ridiculous traffic with the even more ridiculous drivers.

I had to wonder exactly what existed at Craigellachie when Donald Smith was here and pounded in the Last Spike.  Also, what was it like for all of the men who had slaved at driving the train tracks through the Rockies.  The engineering for this feat is phenomenal, when one takes into account the sheer massive size of the Rocky Mountains.   I have an old family portrait at home which shows the stoic feautures and full beards of some family member of this era, and true to form, the poster advertising Donalds' feat has the bewhiskered relative working away posing for the photographer and for history.

With this short excursion off the main highway to see a bit of the tourism aspect of the ride to Calgary, I knew it was time to get back on the road and face the traffic.  I was very frustrated with some of the drivers who were poking along a creating very long line ups.  On the other hand, there were a fair share of yahoos who insisted on traveling in the left lane at 130 km per hour, and being somewhat disrespectful of the rest of the travellers.   The more that I travel on main highways, the less that I enjoy the ride, as there are very few drivers who understand that a motorcycle cannot stop in the same distance as a vehicle, and there are far too many drivers who tailgate and frustrate me because  it is my job as a rider to create a safe zone around me so that I have an "out" in the event of an accident in front, an errant driver, or some material on the road, including deer, elks, and crap from flatdecks and dirty logging trucks. 

In spite of the construction delays and the poor driving skills of some people, the Rockies are magnificent and a true icon of the transition between British Columbia and Alberta.  I always am appreciative of the layout of the mountains, as the transition geology of the different periods which created this land is right in our face.  With the new highway work, I wondered how many fossils were laying beside the road, waiting to be discovered.  Sooner or later, I broke out of the mountains, and the ride from Canmore into the outskirts of Calgary was straightforward.  For once, Mr. Garmin did his job, and it was not too much later when I arrived at my nephew's place in Southwest Calgary.  The traffic was relatively light heading into town, and I was amazed, as always, at all of the commuters who were heading out of the city after a work day.

My nephew and his dad were working on one of his bikes.  We are planning on having a family trip down south for a few days, and it was time to prepare bikes and gear.

While we were working on the bikes, a Calgary storm blew through.  The winds came up from nothing to close to 50 km. an hour in  very short order.  Fortunately, there was not any hail with the short-lived storm.

After a full day of oil changes, gear preparation and planning, it looked like we are ready for the upcoming ride to the Sun.