“Are you a boxer?” That question from the Canadian customs officer as we crossed the border into Canada puzzled me for about 3 seconds, until I realized he could see my license plate via camera or mirror or some device. By the time he asked that question he probably had my complete driving record.
He was actually a very polite young man; I explained that no, I was not a boxer, but BOXXER on my plate referred to the type of motorcycle I was riding. He spent even less time with Richard who was next in line. Then we were off for our Canadian adventure. Not so lucky was a Harley rider who was unpacking all sorts of gear at the inspection station.
Another Richard, owner of the Bighorn Motel in Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia, our first overnight, gave us a warm welcome and shared a story of his past BMW riding days. We get that a lot. Most notable about this village was its excellent ice cream shop—they had my flavor.
We first noticed the haze over the mountains then smelled the smoke. According to the CBC, there were over 150 wildfires burning in British Columbia on July 19th. After crossing the continental divide into Alberta, the sky mostly cleared. It appeared we would see the peaks of the Canadian Rockies after all.
The visitor’s center at Banff, Alberta, was crowded by the time we made our way over the continental divide from British Columbia. But this time of year the town is crowded 24-7 we were told.
Banff is a resort town and one of Canada’s most popular tourist destinations. It is a destination for outdoor sports such as hiking, biking, and skiing. It reminded me of Jackson Hole, WY, and Gatlinburg, TN, not exactly my cup of tea. We got our maps, made arrangements to stay at Stone Mountain Lodge on the continental divide, toured the Fairmont Hotel, and then headed up the mountain to our cabin.
“You need to find a campsite before 10 am in the first come first serve campgrounds,” the information officer at the visitor’s center informed us. We set our standard wake-up for 5:30 am and departed Stone Mountain Resort for Mosquito Creek Campground heading north on the Icefields Parkway. On the way we stopped for a crowded and quick tour of Lake Louise Hotel.
The sun was bright and warm when we rolled into the campground. We set up on a gravel bar next to the creek, put our camp chairs in 6 inches of water and soaked our feet. “What a great campsite,” I thought, not paying much attention to what the name “Mosquito Creek” implied.