Freshly shod, Badger and I set off northbound, feeling confident in the mathematical soundness of our planned route, with the 2 North multiplied by the 44 West equating to the 88 North. In the freeway traffic, we linked up and rode with a guy on a R1200GS with BC plates, for about 75 km from Airdrie until I pulled off for gas in Bowden. Traffic was moderate, but it was headwindy and the highway seas were choppy. In past, I've generally chosen other north-south routes across southern Alberta, but my mission today was to get to Fort Vermilion to set myself up for an early afternoon arrival back home tomorrow, and I consciously chose to weather a few hours of Canadian interstate in exchange for ground covered.
I followed the ring road bypass around the west side of Edmonton, then grossly missed the exit to Saint Albert, where (after doubling back) Badger and I popped into Riverside Motorsports to fulfill two objectives: (1) Order a couple of small parts for my right side windscreen mount for mail delivery home, and (2) Say 'hey' to salesman Ryan and check in, it being two years to the day since I took delivery of Badger in the very same parking lot. Turns out Ryan was out racing somewhere, but I instead chatted with a couple of friendly dudes in the parking lot, one a KTM 990 Super Duke owner, the other a eastern-European accented DR650 fanatic who runs a bike rental company in Edmonton (?), before eating last-chance-Arby's and continuing north.
I continued north on the 2x44=88, the traffic thinning, but the choppy air of the divided highway being competently replaced by the gusty afternoon breeze which persisted still along the shores of Lesser Slave Lake. In Red Earth Creek, I found in a fully-stocked Esso station all three forms of relief whcih I sought -- kleenex, Benadryl, and Magnum double-caramel ice cream bar -- along with a tank of premium. The wind started to die down at 8:00pm, and the pleasant evening cruise which I'd been promising myself all afternoon finally materialized on the smooth, slightly curvy, and sparsely populated pavement of the northern half of AB-88. I bought $10 of regular in Fort Vermilion and successfully cancelled my hotel reservation in person and, still feeling good, pushed on for one last hour to High Level. This was the first time in the evening when the sun seemed to actually start setting, my trajectory now being west rather than my northern track which was nearly tracking the sun's track in the northwestern sky as if time were standing still. I found a clean and comfy room in the always-dependable Days Inn, unloading in the parking lot at sunset and knowing the trip was winding down because my only culinary option was a ubiquitous Boston Pizza. I ate lasagna sitting beerless on the hotel bed and fell asleep long before writing this.
Day total: 1,229 km, 14h30m
Trip total: 9,965 km
Start: Claresholm, AB. End: High Level, AB.
Soundtrack: Oh, the foam earplugs, they're so plush.