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Thread: Trans-Canada: North America and the Canadian Rockies

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yukondoit View Post
    Great trip report! You went to a lot of effort to document it and it shows. Thanks for sharing your adventure with me/us. Your experience at Moraine Lake was so fortuitous. I admit to a perverse sense of happiness when that sort of thing occurs. Sort of like the cosmic consciousness is siding with you.
    Thanks so much for reading along and your kind comments. I put a lot of effort into the writing and photography to do my best to make it entertaining, even if people only scroll through for the photos

    It's funny that of all the things, you commented on the lake that morning. Moraine was without question my favorite moment of the entire trip. I wrote in a post-trip letter to Dani, "Of all the incredible once-in-a-lifetime moments, I’ll never forget standing in complete and utter silence at Moraine Lake as the clouds moved overhead and the unbelievably brilliant turquoise water shone back back at us in stark contrast to the otherwise grey morning. Snow-capped mountain peaks and countless evergreen trees along the shoreline painted the most beautiful surrounding landscape. We had traveled thousands of miles, seen countless sights, and in that moment were able to stand in complete solitude, oblivious to the entire world. Moraine was everything we had hoped it would be, and our magnificent journey was all that and more."

    I'm happy that the senses of our experience there were conveyed, or at least something you could pick up on. Thanks again for following along.

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by frq flyr View Post
    Excellent adventure and reporting!
    Thanks so much!

    I have to ask about your username... Airline allegiance?? I'm a ~120k a year Platinum Delta guy.

  3. #43
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    Absolutely beautiful photos! It's been quite a few years since I've been through the Rockies and seeing these pictures is definitely an inspiration to go back soon. If you don't mind me asking what kind of gear was this all shot with?

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by JaredNorthway View Post
    Absolutely beautiful photos! It's been quite a few years since I've been through the Rockies and seeing these pictures is definitely an inspiration to go back soon. If you don't mind me asking what kind of gear was this all shot with?
    Really kind of you, thanks so much. The majority was captured on one of my Canon 6D's with either my 24-70L or 16-35L lenses.

    As additional info, the gear for this expedition was stored in a Pelican 1620:

    • 2x Canon EOS 6D bodies
    • Canon EOS T2i Rebel
    • Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L
    • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8
    • Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L
    • Canon EF 16-35mm f/4.0 L
    • Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
    • Rokinon 14mm f/2.8
    • DJI Mavic Pro Drone
    • Lowepro Flipside 300 bag
    • Spare batteries, Pelican SD Card holder, Chargers, etc.

  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2180miles View Post
    Really kind of you, thanks so much. The majority was captured on one of my Canon 6D's with either my 24-70L or 16-35L lenses.

    As additional info, the gear for this expedition was stored in a Pelican 1620:

    • 2x Canon EOS 6D bodies
    • Canon EOS T2i Rebel
    • Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L
    • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8
    • Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L
    • Canon EF 16-35mm f/4.0 L
    • Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
    • Rokinon 14mm f/2.8
    • DJI Mavic Pro Drone
    • Lowepro Flipside 300 bag
    • Spare batteries, Pelican SD Card holder, Chargers, etc.
    Cool thanks so much!

  6. #46
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    Day 17: August 12th, 2017

    Our itinerary had us spending two nights in Calgary, with our actual tourist day slated for that Saturday. We woke up with the sun, partially due to habit of the past weeks of living in a tent, but more likely due to the floor to ceiling glass windows that our Airbnb was outfitted with flooding the room with light. While Dani showered I got our massive pile of laundry together, breaking it up into separate loads to fit inside the tiny washer and dryer we had in the unit. Once the first load was in and we looked presentable to the world, we wandered out the door and into the local urban neighborhood that surrounded the apartment building. Our first priority was to get caffeine in a cup for my girlfriend, at which point she became much more enthusiastic about the day. We found a really unique corner shop called Analog Coffee, a small establishment with white walls lined with vinyl records on shelves, mismatched photos, and a lively atmosphere created by the long lines of a younger crowd.


    Calgary - Analog Coffee Shop by 2180miles


    Calgary - Central Memorial Park by 2180miles


    Once coffee was in hand, Dani and I began the search for a late breakfast/early lunch. As it turns out, Calgary is not the most gluten-aware city, and we struggled to find a place that could tailor to our dietary needs… making the most of it, we turned our search into a bit of an adventure, wandering the streets going restaurant to restaurant looking for a place to eat. I spoke to my parents on the phone as Dani eventually turned to Google searches, and updated them on our whereabouts and upcoming plans. By the time I got off the phone we had found a destination for lunch and began our walk a few blocks to get there. Passing through Calgary’s Central Memorial Garden, we enjoyed the symmetry and beauty of the fountains, pathways, and flowerbeds. On the opposite side of the small park I noticed a restaurant called The Beltliner, a diner-style venue with bright red lettering that looked like a modern take on a decades past establishment. We checked out the menu, delighted to find a gluten free bun for sandwiches, and quickly decided to scrap our initial plans and eat at The Beltliner instead. With the clock moving closer to noon we thought it appropriate to enjoy a local hard cider called Broken Ladder and perused the menu, ultimately deciding on a large bowl of tomato soup and each our own entrée, hers a sandwich of some sort while I went with chicken and waffles.

    Early on in the trip we stumbled across the tidbit of information that Dani had never read (or been read) Goodnight Moon, and ironically enough the restaurant had a copy for kids to read while waiting for their meals. As we sipped our ciders and ate the incredibly delicious soup I read her the book aloud, showing the illustrations in a form that any kindergarten teacher would be proud of. After lunch we strolled back ten blocks or so to our apartment, soaking up the sunlight and truly just enjoying our last day together. More laundry was done throughout the afternoon as I took occasional trips down to the Jeep to re-pack our gear in a more solo-friendly way for the long (2,700+ mile) drive home. Our next morning wouldn’t be an early start, but likely a hectic one as we made our way to YYC - Calgary International Airport - for her 13h00 departure back to Orlando. Early in the evening a little more time spent on Google found us an entirely gluten friendly restaurant a few minutes walk from the apartment where we got our meals as take out, returning to the couch and concluding our evening with a screening of Disney/Pixar’s UP!, a movie she had never seen. It was exceptionally nice to relax and watch the animated film as we ate dinner and the sun disappeared over the horizon outside, the night moving in and darkness settling over the city around us.

    The idea that the trip was coming even closer to its end was weighing on my heart and spirits, but I fell asleep that night remembering the past three weeks, smiling at the thought of how lucky we were, all the things we had done, and all that we had seen.

  7. #47
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    Happy New Year, my friends. It's about time I wrap this story up so here we go!



    Day 18: August 13th, 2017


    Our morning started slowly, meandering around the apartment continuing to pack the last of our clean laundry as I continued to make repeated trips to the elevator and down to the basement garage to access the Grand Cherokee. The drive to the airport, located across the city, would take around half an hour. With it technically being an international flight, we left about three hours before her departure to make sure there was enough time for security. Our time in the car was rather quiet as we were each off in our own worlds thinking about the miles and adventures behind us. We had officially traveled over 4,500 miles together since leaving Boston, crossing through five of the ten Canadian provinces, and visiting two of the most incredible national parks imaginable over the last three weeks. Our new REI Quarterdome 2 tent served us well, and the two-person Exped SynMat Duo air mattress was worth every single penny. Cumulatively we’d taken a few thousand photos, and would have these memories to look back on for the rest of our lives. Arriving at Calgary International, we parked the Jeep in the airport’s short-term parking garage and carried her luggage inside, finding the American check-in desk and getting her boarding passes set for her quick layover in Dallas.

    I walked back out to the Jeep and sat in the driver’s seat in relative silence, unsure what to do with the situation. It was incredibly strange to be alone, to look at an empty passenger seat while my peripheral vision simultaneously recognized the missing luggage in the back seat. It took a little while for the realization that I now had nearly 3,000 miles to travel alone before reaching Boston. After a song or two had played on the radio I reached forward and started the engine, realizing that simply sitting there in the airport parking garage wasn’t getting me any closer to home. About a week prior I had begun thinking about my route home, things I’d like to see, and people I’d want to/be able to visit. I sent a few text messages and looked through possible map routes and ultimately decided I’d head back into the United States instead of getting back on the Trans-Canada Highway for days and traipsing back across the same Canadian provinces we had already come across. I’d follow Alberta Hwy 1 (technically the Trans-Canada) 200 miles from Calgary International to just east of Medicine Hat, AB, turning south on Highway 41 towards the Canadian/US border.



    Alberta - Missing My Co-Pilot by 2180miles


    Alberta - On The Road Again by 2180miles



    ​The road was boring beyond description; it was bland, flat, neutral toned, indescribably monotonous and relatively empty of other vehicles. I stopped for fuel just a few miles before turning south, filling up the Jeep’s 24-gallon tank out of concern for my next time I’d be able to refuel. If the past few hours had been driving through “populated” areas, I was afraid of what the next few hours – and potentially the rest of the night – would bring… better to fill up while the opportunity presented itself. Turning onto 41 showed me exactly what I imagined, a two lane road stretching across vast fields, a wasteland of sorts, for hours on end. I stopped in a tiny town called Elkwater to mail Dani a postcard from the last Canadian town of the trip and buy a bottle of water. From there it was another hour south to Wild Horse, AB, the official site of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol crossing. When I tell you it was literally the first thing (from the obvious options of a house, car, fence, person, etc.) I had seen since Elkwood, I’m not exaggerating. Two border patrol agents came out to greet me and ask a few questions about my entry point and time in the country. They were surprised to hear I’d been in Canada for almost a month, having crossed the border some 2,700 miles east. I had nothing to declare and they quickly waved me on. A hundred feet and two high security fences later I found myself in Montana, the 41st state in the Union. Just like that and without much ceremony, I was back in America.

    I stopped to take a photo of the state line sign, and spent no more than thirty seconds changing the speedometer of the Jeep’s digital display back to mph from km/h. With the same two lane road and endless prairies on either side of me I continued on for over an hour until I reached the small town of Havre, MT, seeing only two houses and a tiny and long since forgotten church in that time. Turning off of Highway 41 and onto Montana Route 2 I did my best to keep an eye on the road while simultaneously trying to observe the scenery around me. The town was old and rundown, home to a major train yard, the Boxcars Casino, a few miscellaneous bars, and not much else. I turned around at one point immediately after passing Hi-Line Lanes, an abandoned bowling alley, the photographer in me filled with an immense desire to capture the scene. I drove on Route 2 towards Montana’s Big Sky Scenic Byway as the sun began setting behind me, the blue tones of dusk washing over the vast plains. The beams of my headlights and the 30” Black Oak LED bar on the roof shone out brilliantly in front of me and I noticed a mile-long train racing across the valley to the south of me. With music playing loudly and the sun roof open wide to let the fresh air flow through, I did my best to enjoy the solitude that the new chapter of this adventure presented me with.


    Alberta - Approaching the Border by 2180miles


    US/Alberta - Border Crossing by 2180miles


    US - Welcome to Montana by 2180miles


    My goal for the day was to cover over half of the distance from Calgary to Minneapolis, an impressive 1,300 mile trek. With the late start to the day, this would require me driving till well after midnight. As the pitch black of night blanketed the sky and earth I began seeing the most brilliant stars shining back at me from the heavens above. Quickly researching the moon-rise time, I pulled off the road and set up my camera and tripod to capture one of the most incredibly vibrant Milky Way displays I’ve ever seen. It was quite eerie to be standing in a field an hour from the nearest established town and be staring up at the sprawling galaxy and constellations above. My fish-eye wide-angle lens allowed for some great images, one of which I’ll share below. With miles to go, I packed up my gear after twenty or so minutes and carried on to the east. Some time after midnight Dani called to let me know she had made it home safely, eager to know where I was in the world.

    At 02h00 I pulled the Jeep off the road, crossing a small ditch and coming to a stop on the edge of a wide open field. Without a single structure in sight I deemed it a safe place to spend the night and began rearranging the gear inside the Jeep. Moving one of our Pelican cases to the ground outside, I inflated my single person Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad. I had traveled just under 700 miles since leaving Calgary, and fell fast asleep stretched out across the back of the Grand Cherokee, knowing all too well just how quickly the sun would rise again.


    More Images from Big Sky Country:


    Montana - Abandoned Church by 2180miles


    Montana - Sense of Scale by 2180miles


    Montana - Havre Train Yard by 2180miles


    Montana - Havre Train Yard by 2180miles


    Montana - Hi-Line Lanes by 2180miles


    Milky Way over Montana by 2180miles

  8. #48
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    Day 19: August 14th, 2017

    ​There’s an exciting and simultaneously disorienting feeling when waking up in the back of an SUV in the middle of a massive and otherwise empty field in the Midwest. I packed up my camping gear into the appropriate storage locations and hit the road as the sun crested the hilly horizon, following along Route 200 for about ten miles to meet up with I-94, the road I’d ultimately be spending most of my day on. I stopped at a huge gas station to fill the tank, happily paying $2.23 a gallon at my first re-fuel in the United States in three week’s time, and grabbed a quick breakfast sandwich before hitting the road again. My goal for the day was to reach Minneapolis by dinner time, where I’d be spending the night with a long time family friend Greg and his fiancée.


    Montana - Sleeping in the Jeep by 2180miles


    North Dakota - State Line by 2180miles


    Merging eastbound onto I-94, I was happy to see that the highway was relatively empty, leaving me to move along without interruption from the GPS for the next 547 miles; I was relaxed and simply in the mood to cruise. The road started fluctuating in elevation as I moved towards, and eventually into, North Dakota. I stopped for a bit at a scenic vista of the Little Missouri National Grasslands, listening to music with the windows down and taking a few photographs as other drivers stopped to do the same. Getting back onto I-94 I was almost immediately greeted with stones being thrown towards the Jeep by two large trailers full of construction gravel. Though I didn’t notice it at the time, one of the harshest impacts ended up creating a large crack in the lower passenger side of my windshield which would end up growing to nearly 18” long by the time I reached Boston a few days later. I sped by the trucks as quickly as possible, passing (and giggling) at the sign for Exit 7 to “Home On The Range, North Dakota”, swearing to myself I wouldn’t stop until I was an hour or two away and well out of the trucks proximity with hopes of never seeing them again.



    North Dakota - Exit 7 by 2180miles


    North Dakota - Open Highway by 2180miles


    North Dakota - Endless Sunflower Fields by 2180miles


    Lunch was later in the day, set up on the side of a long dirt road that paralleled miles and miles of sunflower fields. I made up a sandwich with meats and cheese we had left in the Grand Cherokee’s Dometic refrigerator and soaked in the sunshine before moving on, referencing the clock and the iPad’s GPS to see that I was doing well on time and mileage. I refueled again in the mid-afternoon and texted Greg to let him know when I’d be arriving in Minneapolis for dinner. Pulling into the city limits around 18h30, I stared out over a semi-familiar skyline and noticed an incredibly dirty hood in my peripheral vision. As I’m not the kind of traveler who would ever show up to a friends house with a vehicle covered in thousands upon thousands of miles of adventure and road dust, I quickly referenced the iPad and changed my routing to the nearest touch-less wash. After a thorough rinsing I covered the remaining distance to Greg and Carol’s home in Minnetonka, MN. We ate a delicious home cooked meal and stayed up late talking about travel and happenings in all of our lives.

    Shortly before 23h00 I took a quick shower and climbed into their very comfy guest bed, exhausted after the 650-mile solo journey from a vacant field in Big Sky Country to the metropolitan suburbs of Minneapolis. Mile by mile, hour by hour, this adventure was coming closer to an end.



    Minnesota - Almost to MSP by 2180miles


    Minnesota - Giving the Lady a Bath by 2180miles

  9. #49
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    Day 20: August 15th, 2017

    ​I woke up early to have breakfast with Greg and Carol before heading off on my next leg, a 450 mile haul to the Chicago suburbs where I’d spend the night with my buddy Marcus and his family. The ride was to be relatively straightforward, taking I-94 and I-90 for 6 and a half hours before arriving in Lemont, IL. Quickly packing up the Jeep after a toasted bagel with an assortment of cream cheese options, I made use of being in Minneapolis and stopped by my friend Emma’s house (Greg’s daughter) to meet her three young boys. Hanging out for half an hour or so, I hopped back in the Grand Cherokee and headed towards the highway. The weather was absolutely perfect, in the mid-60s with the sun shining and wispy clouds in the air. I rolled the windows down and rolled my eyes as I eased onto the brakes and made my way into the stop-and-go traffic of Minneapolis’ morning commuter traffic.


    Minnesota - Uncle Greg by 2180miles


    Minnesota - Delta's MSP Hangars by 2180miles


    With the promise of Marcus’ famous homemade BBQ waiting for me in Lemont, I knew my day was to destined to have minimal distractions en route. I had but one instruction: to stop in Osseo, Wisconsin, at the famous Norske Nook Bakery to pick up pies. Two hours after my departure I pulled off the highway and began following the GPS down the quiet back roads of Osseo. Easily finding parking alongside the bakery, I wandered inside to discovery a little breakfast restaurant with a wide array of pies lining the food display cases. I had been given specific instruction from Marcus to get a banana cream pie for him and strawberry-rhubarb for his wife Molly… I then of course needed a slice of raspberry pie for myself. The challenge with the pies was keeping them from baking in the sun over the course of the remaining hours of my drive. Of course I had the fridge in the back, but fitting the gigantic pies required me emptying out everything else from inside and then rearranging it all. Not wanting to let Marcus down with his one simple wish for pie, I sat on the edge of the road in this tiny little town and unloaded every piece of produce from the fridge onto the sidewalk and wiggled the pies in (with less than a millimeter to spare on each side) and piled everything else that would fit back in on top and discarding food I knew I wouldn’t be consuming before getting home.

    I drove slowly back out of town, cruising down wide roads with small houses and manicured front lawns before merging back onto the highway and back into the figurative slipstream of interstate travel. Everything was going flawlessly until I reached for my single slice of pie and realized I didn’t have a utensil to eat it with. Fear not, I flipped on my hazard and strobe lights and pulled over to the side of the road to fish one out of our cooking gear in the back of the Jeep. I was laughing as 18-wheelers were moving over into different lanes to give me space in the brake-down lane as they whizzed by… if only they could have known I was simply looking for a fork to eat my pie with. (Full disclosure: I ended up finding a spoon first, so that's what I ate with)



    Wisconsin - Norske Nook Pies by 2180miles


    Wisconsin - Stopping in Osseo by 2180miles


    Wisconsin - Pie Time by 2180miles


    I hit the traffic starting about 40 minutes outside of Chicago, making a brief pit-stop to fill up the Grand Cherokee’s tank and getting back on the road. I’d been getting text messages all afternoon of the food Marcus was preparing, and I was eager to get there. I crossed the Illinois state line just after 15h30, and arrived at his place about an hour later. We spent the night sitting around the table on his back porch with neighbors, family, and a few friends from work who were in town doing production for an event in the city. The vast array of food was incredible and I did my best to pace myself to ensure I consumed as much as I could. We finished the night with the Norske Nook pies I had carried 350 miles for dessert, and I retired to bed on a massively full stomach. It had been a relatively short day in comparison to the long hauls the two days prior, and I rested well knowing that the trip was slowly nearing its end.


    Illinois - Close to Chicago by 2180miles


    Illinois - BP Refuel by 2180miles


    Marcus Manning the BBQ by 2180miles

  10. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2180miles View Post
    It was! Despite being almost out of gas in the WK2 I wasn't willing to just pass by that place without stopping for some photos. I wish we had time to fly the drone around it, but I was waist high in brush that had grown in around the property and it wasn't too easy to explore. I've got a few more photos I'll dig up and post.

    If you're interested, here are the GPS coordinates: 49°46'59.0"N 86°33'12.8"W
    Thanks buddy, I'm in Thunder Bay and used to commute to Ottawa once a month, I've probably driven past 50 times but never stopped in. A lot of that is being either 3 hrs from home and just wanting to get home, or only 3 hours into a drive and just wanting to get some miles behind me, the rest is the strange location and worrying about parking on the side of that narrow highway. Lots abandoned up north, lots of memories of a different time! Awesome pics, thanks for sharing your trip and keep em coming! We were out west to the Alberta parks last year late May, hoping to make it out to B.C this year!.
    15 Sierra K1500 crew long, 2" level/Firestone airbags, 235/80R17 Firestone winterforce / 265/70R17 red general grabber on bronze level 8 MK6.


    07 Chevy C1500 HD, Fox 2.0, Lightforce, CST 4" spindles, 235/85R16.

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