Alaska 2008 – Day 23, July 26

Day 23, July 26

Banff AB to Swan Lake MT

335 miles

Today’s ride is beautiful the entire way through. We head out of Banff and down towards Kalispell MT. Hwy 93 follows the valley that’s home to the Kootenai River and Lake Kookanusa. We meander through softly sweeping corners, enjoying the scenery along the way.

Entering Kalispell we were certain we’d find a hotel easily, but I’d forgotten how tough it was last year when we rode through here. Not a single room is available at a price we’re willing to pay.

We keep moving, knowing that sooner or later something will turn up. After another hour of riding, it’s heading towards dusk and I’m thinking we might be spending the night beside the bikes. We stop at a small gas station next to Swan Lake, and the gal calls a campground down the road to see if they’ve got space, they do, so we’re good. She also mentions a B&B and we immediately say we don’t do B&B’s so she drops it.

Before we get to the campground, we see a neon sign for “Laughing Horse Lodge”, is this the B&B the gal was talking about? If so, it’s not like any we’ve seen before. The joint is hopping, and the smells coming from the kitchen are divine. They’ve got a reader board outside with rooms available for rent, so we jump off the bikes and run inside before anyone else gets ahead of us. The kid working the counter is from Russia, and he’s great. As he takes us to our room, we see the rest of the Lodge. This is a hunting and fishing lodge from the 1950’s, the front building is the restaurant with a tiny bar in back, behind this is a courtyard with rooms around the perimeter. The room is small, with a huge brass bed and wonderful comforters and about a million pillows. The bathroom is tiny, but serviceable.

We dump our gear and head back in to the restaurant for an incredible dinner and good conversation with the folks sitting next to us. Our server was the Russian kid, who we find out is on a work exchange program from Estonia. He can make enough money in one summer to pay for his plane tickets and funding for college the following year.

After dinner, we head back to our room ready for bed.


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