Sunday, July 4, 2010

Alaska Ride, Day 21

Canada is definitely more expensive to live in than the United States. I already knew that going into this place, but it really didn't settle in until I spent several days here.

From what I've seen so far in Alberta, British Columbia, and Yukon, the gas is more expensive, the motels are more expensive, the food is more expensive. Even the camping is more expensive. For awhile, I just took it like a man, but this evening I let my frustrations show.

I was at the Jasper Brewing Company, in Jasper, AB, and I looked at the menu and noted the basic hamburger was $13.00. Yeah, $13.00 for the same quality of burger that you get in the United States costing only $6.00. Ok, I realized that Jasper is a total tourist town, but I've been to total tourist towns in the USA, and I can still find the same quality of burger for $6.00.

Field of mustard, outside Dawson Creek, BC

So anyways, I let the bartender have it, complaining that everything in Canada is overpriced, and the quality is still equal to or less than the United States.

The bartender was this young girl, and she merely smiled. But the lady sitting next to me was an employee of this brewing company, there on her off night, apparently with some kind of rank, and she was just as opinionated as I was. She started going off on me about how great Canada's healthcare system is, and how the US healthcare system sucks. "Healthcare??" I thought. I never brought up the subject of healthcare! I merely complained about the high price of everything.

Anyways, I wanted to vent, and this woman seemed to hate Americans. It was just a bad set of circumstances.

Entering Alberta along Highway 2

Oh, the room I stayed at last night in Dawson Creek, BC is one of those low-budget motor-lodge deals, with 1970s style decor. This is the kind of room you rent for $30.00 a night in Southern California, yet in Dawson Creek they wanted $75.00. And keep in mind that right now, US dollars are nearly equal to Canadian dollars.

Even the Super 8 Motel, those cheap junky rooms you see along freeways going for $60.00 a night in the USA? Well in Dawson Creek they wanted $130.00 for their smallest room.

And that was the same case in Fort Nelson, BC, and in Whitehorse, YT.

Even gasoline is way overpriced here, going for about $1.30 a liter ($4.92 a gallon) in Yukon, to about $1.00 a gallon ($3.79 a gallon) in Alberta. And apparently, Alberta has the cheapest gas in Canada. For you Canadians out there, gasoline in Southern California (where it is the most expensive in the USA), costs about $0.75 a liter.

Highway 40 south towards Grand Cache, AB

Now going back to that lady in Jasper Brewing Company who was raving about how great the healthcare system is in Canada. She already mentioned to me that she's never lived in the USA. So, I've already written her off as unreliable information. And I haven't lived in Canada just the same. That cancels out the whole healthcare argument. It just comes down to the fact that everything in Canada is overpriced compared to the United States, and the quality still a step-behind.

As for the ride today?

Well, we did about 323 miles, ending the day at Jasper National Park in Alberta.

From Dawson Creek, BC, the ride through Alberta starts with a lot of farm land and lots of straight road. You go through a lot of farm towns where people work the fields, and then in the evening gather at the local rink for a game of minor league hockey.

Highway 40 seemed like a boring road on the maps, but it turned out to be decent, much like the other roads we've been riding on throughout Canada. But the wind was blowing hard today pushing our bikes around.

We got into Jasper National Park, and found the scenery stunning. It was very cloudy and looked like it could start raining soon.

Inside Jasper National Park, along the Trans-Canada Highway.

After Mike and Paul pitched their tents, I decided to go into the town of Jasper. I went to some bars, "The De'd Dog Bar", "Whistle Stop Pub", "Jasper Brewing Co", "Downstream Bar", and "Athabasca Lounge". None of these places serve decent beer, mostly all domestic stuff. Except of course Jasper Brewing Co, but their stuff is not that good at all.

Interestingly in Canada, it seems they use clams with their Bloody Mary's. Most places use Clamato, but some places use fresh clams. But they call them "Caesar" instead of Blood Mary. Mr Mike's Steakhouse, a chain throughout Canada, makes a really mean one.

When all the tourists go to bed, and all the employees get off work, the employees all go to Athabasca Lounge. About 11:00pm that place is a zoo, filled with 20-something year olds. The town of Jasper is quite remote from other large cities, and is small town. Everyone knows each other, and apparently has sex with each other too. A girl dressed up in a banana costume was handing out free condoms. A guy there told me that Jasper has the highest rate of STDs per capita in Alberta.

Athabasca Lounge, Jasper, AB

Oh, there were these two employees staffing the campground toll booth, and they gave us a hard time. Apparently, Canada has a policy with all of their national parks, only two tents per camp space. We had three people, and three tents. So, they wanted to charge us for two camp spaces. Each camp space costs a whopping $27.00.

I mentioned to this gal, who spoke in a french-canadian accent, what if we only put up two tents, and then I simply throw a sleeping bag on the ground. She looked at her co-worker, and they both talked to each other in french (very rude), and then said "Well, we only allow four wheels per camp spot, and your three motorcycles constitutes six wheels."

So, Mike asked "Well what if one of us parks outside the campground?"

They started talking to each other in french yet again.

She responded, "Well ok, but one of you must park outside the campground, and you can only put up two tents. AND, we'll be checking on you". And they actually did tell us that they'd be coming around to check on us.

I hate to sit here and compare Canada with the USA, because I'm sure Canadians are prepared to counter with stupid American stuff of their own.

Anyways, my take on Canada is that it's very beautiful country, and the people individually are friendly and good people. But everything in Canada is way overpriced, perhaps because it's the only way to pay for their social programs.

Mike and Paul pitching tents in Wapiti Campground, Jasper National Park

The town of Beaverlodge, AB has a really huge beaver.

Towns throughout Alberta have these huge granary buildings

A coal-fired power plant along Highway 40, north of Grand Cache, AB.
So much black dust blows all over the roadway here.

Trans-Canada Highway, inside Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park, Trans-Canada Highway

Medicine Lake, Jasper National Park

Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park

Black bear crossing the road, Maligne Road, Jasper National Park

In Canada, a bloody mary is called a "Caesar"
This one comes with a beef stick, asparagus, and lemon pepper around the edge

De'd Dog Bar & Grill, Jasper, AB


  1. $13 hamburgers ... the price of universal health care

  2. Amazing.... me and 85% of Americans have healthcare AND $6 hamburgers AND $50/night hotels. You must have shown tremendous restraint with that woman, Steve ;-)

  3. Steve:

    don't be discouraged. We have been paying through the nose for years. Right now in Vancouver our gas is CDN$4.43 per US/gal ($1.17/ltr), made up artificially with taxes upon taxes plus carbon tax, Transit tax, hydro tax, HST (Value added tax). We are just being taxed to death. IF we are lucky we get to escape to the USA where things are cheaper, speaking of which we are headed to the BMW MOA rally in Redmond, OR next week.

    Wet Coast Scootin

  4. Great photos! can I link to your bear crossing photo?

  5. @PancakeNinja, yeah link away!

  6. Great to read about your trip. Learning A lot. I'm making the trip from MO.on my Softail this summer. Thanks for the tips. Don B

  7. Well this is 2015 and ALL of the UNaffordable Healthcare ACt has YET to kick in! So, those high prices in Canada? It's a MATHEMATICAL certainty the USA will surpass them AND THEN collapse! This system is unsustainable and the socialist/fascists have now squeezed the "turnip" dry...Yeah, pisses me off. ;-) Just a rant that your rant with the braindead Canadian woman reminded me of how screwed up we are now...the ONLY thing that is a bargain today is, ironically, gasoline! Can't even get a $6 burger meal now.


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)