Two years ago this past August, my mother and I ventured on a cross country trek in my brother’s Jeep across Canada. We drove west from southwestern Ontario to Vancouver, BC over the course of two weeks, and then down to northern California to meet up with the men in our family. The following are taken from emails I wrote to family and friends.
Day 6: Sunday, August 5, 2012
Here in Strathmore at a glorious best western. I very much look forward to sleeping ce soir in their comfy, snow white linens.
Started the day off bright and early and left our little Silver Sage motel in Bow Valley to Taber for some breaking-of-the-fast and then onwards to Lethbridge and beyond. I have a hard time driving by cities and continuously have to prod moms to drive through them. Glad we did today as we learned a few hours later that Lethbridge is home to the longest and highest active railroad bridge in Canada – maybe the world? It crosses over the Oldman River and really was a sight to see. I tweeted this at Gary Oldman, sadly he did not tweet back. I am crushed. We also stopped briefly at Fort Whoop Up – it was part of the whiskey trade. Some interesting history with that one, look it up! Just east of Lethbridge we had our first sighting of the Rockies… or the foothills of them in the far distance. Ooh and we saw us some buffalo!
We stopped at Fort MacLeod for the WC AND this really kind woman who ran this café/ ice cream parlour/ tourist info place convinced me to buy an ice cream at 9:00 am. Hmmm, correction, for those of you who know me, there was no convincing needed. Best decision of the day. She then sold us on checking the next door fort out. Which we did and we even stayed to see some of the local teens dressed in the red serge outfits similar to those worn in the 1800s and perform a Musical Ride (very similar to some of what the real RCMPers do for the Queen and big celebrations, etc.). If you want a history lesson, this from momma Sluis:
…it showcased the RCMP’s history from its early days in the 1870’s to the present. The RCMP was created by an act of Parliament in May, 1873 with the purpose of bringing law and order and the Canadian authority to present day Alberta and Sask., known then as the NW Territories. 300 officers and men departed Dufferin, Alta and marched west building a fort on an island in the Oldman river before the winter arrived. This fort was the headquarters of the entire RCMP and then relocated to the mainland after about 10 years. It helped stem the NW Rebellion in 1885 and also had a presence in the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush in the 1890’s.
Afterwards we made it to the UNESCO World Heritage site, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. This was a très cool interpretive centre. It showcases the Blackfoot/ plains peoples way of hunting the buffalo: driving them off the cliff. This was a huge effort that took days to orchestrate and involved the majority of the tribe to work together to make it happen. Head-Smashed-In is one of the oldest and largest and best preserved of the many buffalo jump sites across the western plains. This site had been used by First Nations from ancient times to the arrival of the Europeans… Apparently, “…there were many reasons, and no reasons…” for killing buffalo (once the Europeans arrived)… there are even reports of people shooting buffalo from trains, just because. Such a sad, sad almost end to the beast. It was a thoughtful ranchero who took two calves and slowly bred them until he had an army, well, not an army, but enough of them that he had to ship them to other parts of the country because there were far too many for him to handle.
From this point, we took a road less travelled and made our way to Crows Nest Pass. We
wanted to see the Frank slide. An 80 million ton of rock that slid at 4:10 am, April 28, 1903 in 90 seconds off of Turtle Mountain and down on to part of the Frank community killing ~100 people of the 600. A tragedy to be sure and a breathtaking sight in seeing what Mother Nature can do.
On our way back to HWY 22 (aka the Cowboy Trail) we stopped at Lundbrek Falls, very idyllic little area and about 7 km from there, Black Beauty, an intact T-Rex skull, was found. It’s now housed in Drumheller, where we are headed mañana!
Little scare of the day – well more for mom, than myself. It seems when I travel with her I am über laid back and trust that everything will work out… this annoys her to no end! Muahaha. Anyway, we weren’t paying attention to our gas, and headed on this Cowboy Trail, with no stops for about 100 km, we were already on it for 20 clicks and figured we should just keep going. We reached the first town on this stretch just as the gas light came on. Pas de problèm. We ate dins at a place called Little New York Bistro – in the almost middle of nowhere. I had the Cowgirl. Yippee ki yay. Met some bikers who gave us their two cents on what we should do with regards to our route through BC.
Here in a Best Western, loving the internet connection, Olympics and my green tea I’m sipping.
Kilometres achieved: ~700