June 22, 2008

6/22/08 Drumheller, AB

133.3km/1326km

Judy and Pete served up a great breakfast of as many waffles with maple syrup we could eat, along with turkey sausage, scrambled eggs and orange juice. Judy passed the time by telling about growing up on a dairy farm north of here. Mike and I got packed and along with everyone else, George wished us a safe journey.

It was overcast when we left but everyone said it would be a great day. Little did they know!

Riding off into the wild blue yonder

Almost immediately we were out of Calgary heading east with a great tailwind. At Hwy-9 we turned north, stopping to put on sunscreen. But the winds were out of the northwest and soon it became a fight to keep the bike from being blown into a ditch. I ended up putting my jacket back on because it was definitely cooler than when we left Calgary.

It felt like we were pushing into the teeth of a bad storm. And we were. As the clouds darkened, we put on rain gear not a moment too soon.

Not only did we still have to contend with a brutal combination of headwinds and cross-winds, but now we were soaked to the bone because of the freezing rain.

It seemed like forever before we stopped at a truck stop in Beirserker. Inside it felt so good to be out of the rain and warm. The place was run by an Asian extended family. I wasn't very hungry, so just got a danish before heading back outside.

As luck would have it, the rain had stopped. But getting back onto the highway, we rain into 10-miles of road construction. By the end, we were covered with mud head to toe, including the bikes.

The storm had moved on, but with it any chance of a tailwind had vanished. We still made good time as we crossed the open plains of Alberta.

I think this is what Mongolia looks like

A few places I just marveled at how the grass moved like an ocean with these strong winds. With the sun out, it made it much more enjoyable to just stop and watch the waves.

The last kilometers into Drumheller had a nasty headwind that tried to in vain to unseat us as we took the steep descent into town. Drumheller is built in what some people call the 'Bad Lands' of Canada. It's claim to fame is extensive dinosaur fossils in the area. So, as a theme, you find dinosaur statues all over town.

We are camped at the Dinosaur RV Park and got a tent site with a luscious grass, a first for us. There's a New Zealand couple camped next to us with their two little girls. For some reason, neither Mike or I are hungry but we did anyway.

Camp in the Badlands

Tomorrows plan depends almost entirely on the winds, so keep your fingers crossed for strong tailwinds taking us east.