Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
31Trip End Sep 2008
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Where I stayed
Fort Steele Campground
I make a quick stop at an ATM to withdraw some Canadian currency and head east on Canadian Highway 3. A well constructed road with sweeping turns that parallels the border. I stop for breakfast at a small cafe that turns out to be a favorite hangout for Canadian motorcyclists. There must be a dozen of them that come and go while I eat and many of them talk about their planned trip south and ask about my plans. It seems that we all want to tour the country we aren't from. All the Canadians are going to the US. I think I'm the only American and I'm going into Canada.
My plans were originally to visit three Canadian parks and I'd been warned by a Canadian friend that it would be a very full day. Since I'm starting out farther away I'm not at all sure how far I'm going to get. As it turns out, not far. I make it to the first park and that turns out to be much bigger than I'd anticipated. Fort Steele is a Heritage Town, in much the same vein as Williamsburg in the US. An entire town built in the middle to late 1800's during the Kootenay gold rush. It became a fort when the local indians objected to what was happening as settlers flooded the area and the Northwest Mounted Police were called in to settle matters, which they managed to do peacefully
Like Williamsburg, craftspeople populate the town and ply their trade as they would have in the 1800's. I discover that the harness maker is a former motorcycle racer with the Canadian Motorcyclist Association, racing first motocross bikes then road racing. We have a lengthy and enjoyable conversation about motorcycles while he works on a harness.
It's late enough now that I decide to skip my planned trip to the National Park, Head-Smashed-In. I wanted to go because I just loved the name. It's a buffalo jump that aboriginal peoples used for thousands of years to herd buffalo up a rise and off a cliff to their death; easier than chasing them down and killing them one-at-a-time. The name supposedly comes from a young Indian brave who wanted to watch the buffalo from the base of the cliff as they came spilling over the top. Some landed on him and smashed his head in.
The history of Western Canada parallels very closely that of the Western US. The attached pictures could easily have come from a Western town in the US. I find a campsite across the street and put in a call to a motorcycle friend to make plans to ride together tomorrow.