[Story updated after talking to “the other Rob”]
My first major road trip across the continent was during my mid-twenties when I accompanied my buddy, also a Rob, on a trip to deliver a car to his brother in Jasper. The vehicle was a mazda miata convertible which made for an epic road trip. He came by the fraternity house I belonged to and asked who could drive a stick shift and had 10 days free, and I met both qualifications.
Our trip started in Windsor, Ontario and took us across seven states before we crossed the border into Alberta. Driving a small convertible over such a long distance presented some difficulties. If the top was up my head brushed it, and if it was lowered I got wind burn across my forehead.
Our first scheduled stop was to see Mount Rushmore, in South Dakota. Worth seeing once as it was an impressive undertaking. The other Rob had “kidnapped” his neighbour’s garden gnome for the trip and we got the Abe Lincoln impersonator there to take a photo to send back for ransom.
We stopped again at the monument and museum for Custer’s Last Stand in Garryowen, Montana. It was less impressive but it helped break up the trip.
That day we took a back road up through the mountains in Montana not knowing that it would end up being so hard to get gasoline. As it got dark, we ran low on fuel and decided to stop in a small town that was basically just a pub and a county building. We were informed that the nearest bar was twenty miles away but if we made it that far it was open 24 hours. The pub had a tradition of having customers sign money and then stick it to the ceiling over the bar. They had not gotten any twoonies yet (Canadian two dollar coin) so we signed one and got our names up on the ceiling.
The bartender sold us some beer to take with us, and told us if we run out of gas to stay in the car over night. He said the rattlesnakes would come out on the hot pavement at night. Luckily our fuel held out and we refueled.
After driving through Calgary we turned toward the mountains and Banff. We did not spend a lot of time in Banff or Lake Louis but both were beautiful mountain towns that I would like to visit in more depth. We arrived in Jasper after 52 hours of driving and met up with our friends (and his brother) at the Jasper Park Lodge.
The first night I got drinking with some Australians and found out that drinking at a high altitude affected you faster. It took a couple days to get my tolerance back to keep up. The town of Jasper was lively, and one night we went for a swim in a glacier fed lake which was refreshing to say the least.
We took the skytram up the Whistler’s Mountain; which was rough for someone with a fear of heights. The climb up to the summit was a great experience and a good workout. The other Rob, was a smoker and he kept stopping to catch his breath in the thin air, and every time we would get passed by the same 70 year old woman. We would pass her and then she would catch up once he ran out of breath (I forgot that part). The weather was good which allowed for an amazing view of the surrounding countryside. Of course the gnome came along for another photo on the mountain top.
One of the strangest sights on that trip was watching employees chase elk off the Jasper Park Lodge golf course with hockey sticks with plastic bags tied to the ends. Only in Canada.