Day 15 – 3 Countries in a Day

Day 15 – 3 Countries in a Day

Up early after spending the evening cowering in our hotel room watching a spectacular thunderstorm over the Rockies. Also cowering in fear of getting charged another £9 a pint for cider … still they were very good, the Canadians really seem to have gotten the hang of the frozen glass enhanced drink.

Today we are heading out for a boat trip on Waterton Lake, for more fantastic scenery, and hopefully before the next set of storms hits.

The boat trip has the added bonus of allowing us across the US border (another state – Montana:  tick). The border is marked by the (real) monuments below. Apparently if you line the two up, that gives the line of the 49th parallel. Little border nerd fact there. Also of course, it means that we have the opportunity to be in 3 countries today.

Also spotted a bald eagle on the lakeshore, so another tick on the Canadian fauna list. Still no moose though 🙁

Of course we are still several hundred miles from Calgary with a full itinerary to get in post-boat trip.

Next stop, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. This appears to be be simalar to Creswell crags in that the hunting method was to chase the beasts over the cliff edge and then wander down and finish off any that are still alive. I had assumed that hte Head-Smashed-In part of the name referred to the Buffalo, but apparently it comemorates a young,curious brave who wandered a little too close to watch the Buffalo fall. Fail.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

Does what it says on the tin

Moving on to our final stop of the day, the Big Rock glacial erratic. Also very much as advertised, a couple of huge rocks dropped here by glaciers rolling over the Alberta prarie. As if to demonstrate the prairie point, the field in front is riddled with prarie dogs. I hope they haven’t tunneled under the erratic, or they may be in for a nasty surprise!

Big Rock

It is indeed a big rock

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So what have we learned about Canada in the last two weeks?

  1. It’s a remarkably friendly country
  2. The legendary politeness is real
  3. The country is so stunning that Canadians must be ruined for travel elswhere when it comes to viewing scenery
  4. Four seasons in a day is definitely a thing
  5. June is not summer in Canada

Finally, I think that this farmhouse spotted on the way back to Calgary just about sums it up…

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Day 3 – Ridiculous, just ridiculous

Day 3 – Ridiculous, just ridiculous

So, time to leave Calgary and head for the hills. We perhaps haven’t seen Calgary at its liveliest – it still being a month until the famous Stampede. Not that I have a particular hankering to see this event, but it would be fun to be here so that I could keep telling people that this is, in fact, my first rodeo.  Clearly I am very easily amused.

First stop of the day: Ethan wants to go in search of the Hart mansion. I have never heard of it, but apparently it is where many of the famous wrestlers were trained. Who knew? Who, at the end of the day, cares? I am told in no uncertain terms that it is the topic of one of the best documentaries of all time. I am duly chastised. Mission acccomplished, time to move on.

Hart Mansion

Quick wrestling session in the dungeon, erm, basement?

Onwards towards the Rockies. I can see why there are distracted driving laws in Canada. Phones are the least of the problems, the more and more spectacular vistas awaiting around every bend do the job  of drawing attention. It’s the sort of scenery that cameras never qute do justice to, but there seems to be far more of it here than anywhere else I have been. Seems almost rude of the Canadians to hog it all. Just ridiculous.

 

Coming through!

They really wanted the road to go this way!

Stopped at Canmore to stock upon groceries and liquid refreshments before driving to the back of beyond. Supermarkets in Canada don’t seem to sell alcohol, but have associated booze emporia. Safeways has Liquor Depot, which I was almost tempted to stay in as the beer is in a refrigerated room and it was 28C outside. Amazing how warm it stays as you climb into the mountains.

Ethan is selecting favourite mountains, I think largely based on shape. The latest one is described as “suitably pointy; no Matterhorn, but a good effort”. As we are in no great hurry, we swing by Lake Louise as we are passing. Swing by is about right. Nowhere to park for miles around. Dread to think what it is like in the actual tourist season!

We finally make it to base camp (or base Condo) in Kicking Horse which will be our home for the next 10 or 11 days. Looks fairly spectacular. Quelle surprise. About the height of Snowdon I believe which is manageable for an altitude challenged individual like myself.

 

The condo seems very nice, but has already incurred Ethan’s wrath on a number of fronts – no bears yet; the mossies have ruined his hot tub relaxation (war has begun) and I beat him at a game of Canadian trivia. The last of these is most galling as Ethan knew quite a lot of the answers, whereas I fluked my way around the board, answering a single question correctly and then then finished with a flourish by knowing the name of the Canadian town which has a large model of the starship Enterprise. Nerdtastic.

Day 1 – The Era of the Smart Journey Meets the Mind of the Dumb Traveller

Day 1 – The Era of the Smart Journey Meets the Mind of the Dumb Traveller

Four hours. Four hours! That’s how long it took to get from Nottingham to the airport parking at Heathrow. An unusual amount of congestion even for a Friday on the M1 as well as constantly changing speed directives from the “Smart” motorway. It may be my imagination but I’m pretty sure that traffic flow has deteriorated since the motorways have been imbued with intelligence.

I can only think that this is either because we are being used to train the machine learning algorithms, or because the motorways are the vanguard (the phone autocorrected this to “baguette” which makes it a lot less threatening) of Skynet and they are just messing with us for fun. I can see an apocalypse scenario were the constant tinkering engenders so much road rage that people will just wipe each other out and save the machines the bother. If only we had listened to Stephen Hawking.

Anyway, at least I have 9 hours in a virus filled flying death tube to calm down before the not of driving into a strange city…

Phew, made it. Obviously had to have the obligatory gouging from the hire car company to upsell the insurance before I could drive into Calgary. Given what I have been told of omnipresent cracked windscreens in Canada, a few extra dollars a day to avoid the excess seemed sensible, but I was holding firm on the additional ‘premier’ roadside assistance even in my sleep deprived state. Sad to say though, I caved when she brought out the big guns: “You’ll need this when you hit a deer … and you will hit a deer, everyone hits a deer”.  What sort of a country is this? Smacks of poor organization to me.

Well at least they gave me a free upgrade to a nice 4×4 having taken pity at the thought of me driving into the mountains in what I had booked.

Should be an entertaining few weeks. Have already gotten my first turning right onto the wrong side of the road incident out of the way. Luckily the oncoming traffic was stopped at a traffic light, but they looked a tad surprised. How we chuckled… To be fair, it was about 4:30 in the morning on my personal timeline. Could probably have done without cryptographic conundrums to get into the AirBnB.

Calgary is currently shrouded in smoke from a wild fire, with air quality on a par with Delhi and Bejing – not the crisp mountain air I was expecting. We are assured that normal service will be resumed tomorrow. Ah well, time to go off and readjust that body clock and see what tomorrow brings.

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