Rewind day 3: Back on the prairies

We left Golden in a smoky haze.

This was especially disappointing as we had hoped to visit one of the parks or glacier lakes nearby. I live to hike. But it was quite obvious that visibility was going to be a huge problem.

Instead, we headed to Canmore.

We had ice cream (coconut!) and visited the local indie book store.

And I bought some handmade soap because really this whole trip has apparently just been a very elaborate plot to visit every boutique soap maker in the country.

Then we drove to Calgary. At this point we were supposed to have been camping for about a week, so we pre-booked a hotel with magical facilities like bathtubs and pillows. Also there was a pool with a water slide and room service. And I managed to squeeze in a trip to a wine bar too.

Some stats:

  • Total distance: 7850 km

Day 7: Plot twist

The best laid plans often leave you stuck in the Rockies. No? Well maybe it’s just me.

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Magpie

We left Calgary bright and early and headed down The Cowboy Trail. There are just two highways that connect Alberta and British Columbia. We chose the older, southern route.

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Prairie grasslands
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On the Cowboy Trail
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A change in the view
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Near the border

We crossed the Alberta-British-Columbia border and stopped to see an old coal mine and eat lunch.

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The Frank Slide
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In Sparwood

The next stop in the East Kootneys was to see the Titan (a giant mining truck) in Sparwood.

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Mining machine

We headed back to the highway and about 15 minutes out of town there was an accident. It was only 600 m ahead of us. But sadly, there was a fatality and the police closed the highway for several hours to do an assessment.

There is only one detour for this route: backtrack 10 hours through Banff. The highway ahead wasn’t expected to reopen for 3 hours.

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Curvy mountain roads

Unfortunately that meant that we couldn’t get through the mountains during daylight hours. And the roads are treacherous, winding, single lanes that make it feel like you are driving off the edge of the world.

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In the Kootneys

So we decided to stop half-way and book a hotel in Cranbrook. We tried to upgrade to a suite, but in the time we waffled, they all sold out. Doh! Seems we weren’t the only ones thinking about safety first.

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In the Rocky Mountains

So we didn’t get to Osoyoos that night as planned, but we were still very lucky so I can’t complain too much.

Some stats:

  • Magpie: 1
  • Hawk: 1
  • Raven: 1
  • Eagle with a large snack: 1
  • Unexpected layovers: 1
  • Hours in Sparwood: about 5
  • Total distance:  4531 km

Day 6: In the Badlands

We left Saskatoon bright and early and headed off to Alberta.

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Big prairie sky
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Oil country

Our trip was slowed down by folks moving houses on trucks across the prairies and blocking all lanes of traffic. Twice.

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Anyone need me to pick them up a thresher?

We visited the Alberta Badlands. This area contains a large number of dinosaur fossils, so we stopped in Drumheller to visit the Royal Tyrell Museum and go see them.

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In the badlands
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Royal Tyrell Museum
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Size chart
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Learning about dinos

Then off to Calgary (our first big city so far!) where we stayed with family. On the menu: Alberta beef of course!

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Cow town

Some stats:

  • Deer: 3
  • Suit + cowboy hat: 1
  • Elk: 1
  • Houses on trucks blocking all lanes of traffic: 2
  • Total distance: 4103 km
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In the badlands
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Sunny day in the badlands