Day 8: Bow Valley Provincial Park, 4297.8 km

In our final stretch of prairie driving we crossed most of Alberta; the land of cheap fuel and huge trucks.  Taking the Calgary bypass we witnessed miles and miles of cookie-cutter new development with mega-houses, mega-malls and mega-schools to go with it.  The sprawling suburbs around Calgary are some of the worst we’ve ever seen.  Many of the houses are right up against the highway without even a noise barrier and we were glad to get past it and into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  We saw the mountains rising up out of the afternoon to catch up with the sun we’d been chasing for the past two weeks.  The entrance to the Rockies was stunning, with ridges of folded time caught in the red-orange light.  We camped just where the mountains really began at Bow Valley Provincial Park.  Although we paid $21 for an unserviced patch of gravel, whoever ran the park didn’t seem to think that price should include a shower, so we used their laundry room sink and floor instead.  One good thing about the camp was our friendly gravel-patch neighbours from Calgary.  We talked to them for several hours about the Calgary Stampede, the recent flooding and their trips to the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.

The Mountain Gates, entrance to the Rockies

The mountain gates: view from our campsite.