Day 10 - Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
Today we meet at the car and go for breakfast at "Chez François" in Canmore. We know this restaurant from our 2009 trip and it was really good.
After a good breakfast we drive to "Peter Lougheed Provincial Park" with the entrance just around the corner. Hmmm... Patrick looks suspicious at the road and wonders if it was already like this, with all the rocks, 2 years ago.
Well, Patrick's concern becomes reality when he gets a signal on his dashboard of the car... We are approximately in the middle of the park about 25km from the entrance when Patrick gets out of the car. Everybody wonders what is going on... yes, the left back tire is flat! The first flat tire of all our trips.
We try to call the roadside assistance but there is no mobile receipt in the park. The car's satellite phone then, there we get the message that they are trying to connect us but at that moment we did not know that on that particular Sunday, yes of course on a Sunday, the AT&T and Verizon network were down! There you are with your Sat-phone and built-in GPS tracking system...
There is a spare tire under the car but how do we get it out? OK, let's look for the manual...euh... where is it? Where are the tools we need to change tires? Nathalie saw a bit earlier a few hundred meters further down, a couple of cars of local fishermen so she walks to them. A bit later 2 large cars arrive and park behind us and Nathalie gets out with two very helpful men. They have tried everything and even their own equipment to get the spare tire from under our car but without any success. A bit later a District Conservation Officer passes us with his car and he stops immediately to help us. He is a very kind man called Randy Axani.
Even with his material we did not get the tire. The whole car is searched from top to bottom but we do not find any tools... after a lot of calls on the park ranger's phone he tells us that they found a tow truck who was willing to come and help us. While making his phone calls and waiting for people to call him back with help, Randy tells us that this year the road has been covered with new kind of gravel which is sharper and therefore more people, about once a week, have flat tires. The two other men are thanked for their help and we wish them a nice fishing. The park ranger also needs to go for another call but promises us to come back within an hour to check on us and if we would then still be there he would drive us to Banff and leave the car here. Then suddenly there are two cars which broke down... his battery did not survive the walkie-talkie traffic and he could no longer start his car. Fortunately another car passes and stops in order to help him.
After about an hour's wait a big tow truck arrives with 2 men inside. We explain the problem and within a few minutes he changed the tire with our 'own' tools! Where did he find it? It was in a small compartment at the back which you had to pull out with all your strength and there was also the manual... Luckily we had a good insurance so we did not have to pay the 200 USD.
By the time the tire is replaced we are about 4 hours later. We only have one option, drive back the same road as we came and hope our tires will be fine as we do not have any spares left. We were supposed to continue this road to the Kananaskis Lakes and then take Hwy40 to Seebe and reach the Trans Canada Hwy1 to go back to Banff but this is not an option as the ranger told us that highway 40 was closed because there were too many bears.
We finally make it back to Banff where we look for the Alamo office. It is no longer there... We will have to take the flat tire to our next hotel in Kalispell, MT (USA).
In Banff we go for some shopping and around 5.30pm we are back at the hotel. Around 7pm we go for dinner at Ricky's where we have a little chat with the waitress (Randi). She will go to Austria in October so we give her some tips which she appreciates.
After the nice dinner we go back to the hotel and have a good sleep...
Daytrip approx. 113 km