After a night at the Canmore municipal campground we headed back into Banff to try and find a site near the Banff town site. Because of the August long weekend all the campgrounds in Banff were booked. We managed to snag the last available site at Two Jack Lake a campground about 5km from the town of Banff. Sue’s mom Sandra was still traveling with us and we spent the day touring around Banff before heading north along the Icefields Parkway to Jasper National Park.
Along the route to Jasper we stopped off at Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise, Peyto Lake and the Columbia Icefield to give Sandra the grand tour. Being the height of the tourist season all but the Icefields were rammed with people and the only reason the Icefields weren’t busy was because we got there at sun down. It was great though, it made for some amazing photos. The wind up by the glacier was so cold our hands felt frost bitten. After leaving the Icefields we drove the last 150km to the town of Jasper in the dark. A bit of a white-knuckle experience in mountains filled with elk, moose, mountain goats and mountain sheep.
For the next two nights we camped at Whistler’s, a campground near the town of Jasper, to explore the area. While we were there Sue’s mom got to see wild mountain goats and elk for the first time.
Our last day in Jasper we said our goodbyes to Sandra who took a shuttle to Edmonton to catch her flight home. We spent the next few hours riding one of the bike trails near town that was recommended to us by a local bike shop. Some very stellar singletrack, some not so stellar uphill climbs and a few good crashes to boot (Sue).
After the ride and after getting cleaned up we packed Buster and drove east out of Jasper to Highway 40 which goes north to Grande Prairie, Alberta. We stopped about 60km south of Grande Prairie at a free camping area used by ATVers. One of the goals on this trip is to find free camping as much as possible. This has proven to be a bit of a challenge but so far we’ve managed to make it work (not including the National Parks when Sue’s mom was with us). Another goal on this trip is to find free internet access. This too is proving to be a challenge but we are managing to make it work – between Starbucks, visitor info centers and hotel parking lots you’d be surprised how much free wifi there is out there.
With just the two of us in the bus now things are a little less crowded and we are back to our set route heading north to Alaska. Yesterday we spent the day running errands around Grande Prairie before heading north west to Dawson Creek, BC to connect with Highway 97 north, better known as the Alaska Highway. We are currently in Fort St John, BC camped at the luxurious Walmart parking lot along with a handful of other travelers. Today we plan to get as far north as possible.