Today’s ride took me from Slave Lake to Fort McMurray. The ride from Slave Lake to Athabasca was nice. Little traffic, and despite some construction on Hwy 2 east, it was pleasant and pretty. Definitely cattle and crop country! The first cut of hay is coming off and the ride was fragrant with it.
Glenn, who rides the same bike as me (except it’s red), met me at Athabasca and we had breakfast at the Grand Union Hotel. He lives in Fort McMurray, so had picked up his bike in Edmonton and joined me for the ride.
Our next goal was to find the Amber Valley Museum, but after some asking around and searching, we never did find it and determined that it didn’t exist. There is a lovely waterfront park at Athabasca with some great story boards about the area. Athabasca Landing began to boom in the early 1900s with the influx of settlers brought by the railway. It boomed for 7 or 8 years before a fire destroyed a good portion of the community. With the news that new railway lines to Peace River and Fort McMurray would by-pass Athabasca, many business owners did not bother to rebuild, and left the area.
The community of Amber Valley itself, was settled by 170 Black settlers that came from Oklahoma in the early 1900s. Today, there is nothing left of the original community except a cultural centre, homestead and cemetery. The cultural centre is only available for tour by appointment, so we rode in, but were unable to see it.
Getting back on the highway, we headed for Wandering River where we stopped and topped up with gas and a “Coke break”, before continuing to Fort McMurray. It had begun to rain when we were in the restaurant, and Glenn said to me “Did you do this? You know I’m only here to do this ride with you?!”. I said “There’s no such thing as bad weather – only experience! Besides, that rain isn’t going to last long – it’s just pretending”. So he put on his rain gear and off we went. The rain really didn’t last very long and the rest of the ride was chilly, but dry.
The green vibrancy of the landscape was enhanced by the clouds scudding across the sky as we rode and the air was fresh and clean. Within an hour of Fort McMurray, I began to see the damage from the fires that swept through a couple of years ago and thought of the highway being plugged with crawling vehicles trying to get to safety. Shivers..
Stopped at the sign to prove I had made it to Fort McMurray and arrived at Alexis and Steve’s about 6:30 p.m. Fed and watered, I have had a visit with Margaret and Grace, a flowered-deck tour, read a bedtime story and remembered to do my blog. I am looking forward to a couple of days of rest and visiting.