After leaving the hostel in the morning, and after only two hours of bicycling, I had to look for shelter once again. Just before the downpour, I went into a tavern at Lake Louis. After the rain subsided, I was back on the highway and headed for the largest tourist town in the Canadian Rockies. However, the beauty of Banff was more than worth the hassle. Upon arrival, when I asked for directions from some guys about to enter a tavern, I was invited to join the fellows for a couple of beers. Later, the same fellows treated me to a “welcome to Banff reefer” just outside the tavern. When I finally did get to the Banff hostel, I took the shower that was long overdue and called it a night. My last shower was on Vancouver Island.
After heading due east on the following day, and sixty miles later, I was no longer in the Canadian Rockies; I was rubbing shoulders with cowboys and cowgirls in the town of Calgary. I biked right into the middle of the Stampede, the biggest rodeo in the northern hemisphere. At that hostel, I had to stand in a long line. I was lucky to get a bed. The only thing that saved me was that hostel members got to go in ahead of non-members and I was a member. Outside, a whole city block full of hostel kids was left standing with no place to go.
After I stowed my gear, I went exploring. The streets were crowded. It was like New Orleans at carnival time, except I wasn’t on Bourbon St. and, “aw shucks, it was just me and a whole bunch of bandanna-ed cowboys being happy together.” After getting a taste of the streets, I ambled into a rodeo bar and got myself a beer. The ear blasting country band was playing lariat music. After all the bicycling solitude, I wasn’t up for that kind of noise, so I decided to pack it in early.
Back at the hostel, in my corner seat, in between writing down sentences in my journal, I sat back and watched the activity going on around me. There were lots of people. I had a great place to sit, between the kitchen and dorms. I was having so much fun “people watching” that I didn’t even go outside to watch the fireworks.
Tomorrow, I’m off on a different kind of bicycle trip, hopefully on a flat, dry, surface, under sunny skies, with little or no competing traffic. I can dream, can’t I!