We slept soundly all night, but were awakened around 7 am by the roar of a
jet from the nearby airport. We slept a little longer, then were awakened
at 8:30 am by the maid knocking (just what *IS* it about the fact that
maids can't seem to ever wait around until the customer checks out?)
We packed, got ready, and left around 10 am to a bright, warm sunny morning.
After a quick stop at Exxon for postcards and water we pressed northwest
to skirt Glacier National Park... I drove. We could see beautiful snow-capped
peaks looming ahead, and traffic was light as we drove onward to
Choteau. We stopped in town for stamps and so I could call the Alaska
ferry company to pay for the trip. With that done, we continued on
towards the mountains, and our winding, scenic drive ground to a halt
at a construction zone at Dupuyer -- another extensive one-lane-one-way
setup. There wasn't much of a wait, but the construction zone led us
10 miles on horrible, completely unpaved roads at speeds exceeding 20 mph.
Eventually we reached Browning, which was nestled at the Glacier Park
foothills, remote from the Interstates and deep in the Blackfeet Indian
Reservation. It was thriving and set in beautiful countryside, and
considering all the neglected, run-down towns I've seen on Indian
reservations in eastern Montana and Oklahoma, this town was simply amazing.
The road then took us across the foothills of awesome snow-capped
peaks, through lush forests and near snowbanks that still hadn't melted
completely. We emerged at the Canadian border at Port of Pagan, which
was nearly deserted except for a handful of people and several customs
officials. We simply drove up, was asked about our residency, visit
purpose, and what we were carrying, then were waved through in less than
Then we were in Alberta. Here the signs became metric,
the towns became more tidy and scenic, and the roads became wider.
Shannon took over the driving, and pressing north the mountains receded
off to our left as we drove through long expanses of empty rangeland.
The roads became more busy and more populated as we drove through Cardston
and Fort Macleod, where I stopped at an ATM to get Canadian dollars.
Over an hour later we reached Calgary at 4:45 pm. Calgary was a large
city, comparable to Austin TX (slightly less traffic), and we found a
restaurant on the north side called Vlasis. Shannon had teriyaki chicken
and I had lasagna. The food was good but once again we had trouble getting
the waitress to come and give us the check, partly no doubt because the
restaurant was starting to get busy.
We continued north at 6:30 pm on
Highway 2, the main freeway between Alberta's large cities of Calgary
and Edmonton, 175 miles apart, with bright sunshine and 75-degree
temperatures. The freeway was very busy; in a 60-second interval
between Edmonton and Red Deer I observed 51 cards pass us southbound.
The freeway stretched south-north across highly developed farmland and
prairie and numerous small towns, and often I was under the illusion that
we were NOT in northwest Canada but on busy I-35 going through southern
Oklahoma! Mounties (troopers) were in full force, with numerous speed
traps and many customers, no doubt due to the arduous 110 km/h (68 mph)
speed limit. With all the entertainment on the freeway such as beautiful
rural scenery, well-kept refineries, aggressive young drivers on cell phones,
and odd signs such as "Turn Here To Get Elk Velvet Capsules", we were
refreshed enough to keep going past Edmonton and continue as planned to
At 8:30 pm we stopped briefly at McDonalds for a quick snack
(home of the "All Canadian Meal", a cheeseburger, small fries, small drink).
We turned west at Leduc to bypass greater Edmonton, which turned out to
be a truly fantastic detour, so we totally avoided Edmonton itself. Even 30
miles away, the suburbs sprawled westward into Stony Plain, giving us our
last glimpse at consumer/suburbia civilization before we disappeared
westward into the setting sun.
After awhile driving through a beautiful
twilight, we arrived at Whitecourt with plenty of light to read by even
at 10:45 pm and settled in at The Guest House, a great motel with a very
friendly lady at the front desk (recommend!). The weather is simply
awesome -- 70 degrees even at this late hour.
Tomorrow we hope to make far northern British Columbia, maybe Yukon?
Miles driven today: 640
Gas: 7.8 gal @ 1.29 @ Great Falls ($10.25), 39.7 l @ CDN $0.61 @ Calgary
Expenses: (not tallied yet)
Business ratings (0-4 stars):
Vlasis, Calgary AB * * *
Guest House, Whitecourt AB * * * 1/2
Choteau, MT -- skirting the eastern edge of Glacier
National Park, and we're treated to some great scenery.
Cardston, AB -- we're not in Kansas no more! We're now
inundated with the metric system, making trip planning a touch
Calgary, AB -- a photograph of Canadian money. The lowest
denomination of bills is $5; the coins are $2, $1, 50c, 25c, 10c,
5c, and 1c. If only the U.S. would adopt the $1 coin idea!
Mayerthorpe, AB -- the late twilight gives us plenty of
light to drive by in northwest Alberta.
Whitecourt, AB -- less than a mile from a bed and much-needed