Tag Archives: Road Trip 2017

Back roads and pizza

Alberta is a completely different place to the one we first experienced when we did this trip almost ten years ago. Did I mention I’ve driven the trans-Canada end to end before? Must have done. All the way from Port Alberni in the far West of Vancouver Island to the Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in the east. And it’s the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary since Canada began the process of confederation. About seven thousand five hundred Kilometres or a shade over four thousand seven hundred miles. Each way. In a ten year old Ford van. Mrs S, me and the dog, sleeping on an inflatable mattress on top of our worldly belongings. Beating up the highways and navigating with an out of date Michelin road map book across the flatlands.

Today found us scooting along arrow straight secondary roads past farms, woodland and fields in a six year old Subaru, (would you believe we’ve had it since new?) Mrs S at the wheel having all the fun. This part of Alberta isn’t as flat as it is along Highway One, on more northerly routes the land undulates gently like a gentle swell on the ocean. It’s a perfect landscape for a certain sport. Like God had decided this is where he wanted all the golf courses put. Not much traffic, but the cops were around so we stuck to the speed limit. Not that we would ever break it, heaven forfend. It just gets a little bent sometimes. But only slightly, honestly officer.

Even so we arrived at our next overnight on the Saskatchewan border two hours early, dined on very nice pizza and red wine and my policy of booking really good hotels after long and otherwise dull journeys paid off. This nights stopover put us in a King bedroom suite no less with two TV’s we don’t have to switch on, an absolutively bloomin’ big bed with a sod off big leather sofa in case either one of us snores too loudly.

Which turned out well. Unlike the UK election debate. What happened to Madam Tracey? I read in via my FT subscription that she was a no-show and had sent along the Home Secretary and even then Corbyn was fashionably late? What on earth is going on over there? Does Tracey want to miss an open goal? Are the UK Conservatives pacing themselves for a last minute surge? Or is this just tactics? There’s not enough information available to reach meaningful conclusions, especially as we’re on the move.

The other big news story as we speed across the midwest of Canada is Trump pulling out of the hideous Paris Climate accord which is the biggest wealth transfer con in history. I’m inclined to describe the Paris accord, without hyperbole, as the crime of the century, asset stripping the productive world to give a few powerful people and their proxies all their disposable income. Well, because it’s only fair, innit? It’s why certain Billionaires have been observed to be funding their own networks of advocacy groups. As well as funding media whores like Bill Nye and David Suzuki to push their message in a touchy-feely way. Which begs the question; when is a crime not a crime? To which the answer is; when politicians do it.

Arrgh!

Woken at ugodly hour by the hotels fire alarm making an ear piercing, screeching noise that propelled me out of bed down to reception. Then there was the additional sound of running water inside the wall between our room and the bathroom. Jesus H Christ on a Speed Twin! I thought the damn wall was going to come in. This morning I felt like I had a serious hangover. Tired, woolly headed and seriously out of sorts. Checked out of the hotel with only an insincere apology from the staff and got the hell out of Dodge. However, an hour, two coffee’s and one Red Bull later I began to return to my usual irascible self.

Eventually we found that the cause of the issue, and thus my lack of blessed repose, was down to a compressor failure on the sprinkler system caused by a lightning strike on a remote power line. The surge had caused the sprinkler system compressor to fail and the failure had set off the shrieking alarm. We were lucky it hadn’t triggered the bloody sprinkler system. Heavens to Murgatroyd! This was a newly built hotel. Had the hotel builders never heard of surge protection? Especially when their electrickery comes from the storm-prone Rockies. Argh!

As an aside, I’m beginning to take a distinct dislike to most hotel ‘breakfasts’. Rubbery scrambled eggs devoid of any real taste and something supposed to be cooked ham, but might as well be salty tofu. In establishments that advertise themselves as having three stars no less. It’s like this particular standard of hostelry are trying to shave more and more off the bottom line and are trying to tempt people in with the promise of a free meal. Better that they didn’t provide anything at all. Tim Hortons or McDonalds provide much better fare. Anyway, we’re moving on, and leaving such unpleasantries firmly in the rear view mirror.

On the plus side, on our way to our next port of call we discovered one of Alberta’s hidden secrets; lake resorts. Small communities off the beaten tracks where there are beaches and water sports facilities hundreds of miles from any coast. Quite smart little places with everything from grocery, drug and liquor stores to their own Police Station. Restaurants, bars, all that is necessary to refresh the hungover traveler. We sat and enjoyed the view at one such, just sitting and reading in the shade. Me ploughing through Ernest Hemingway’s ‘Death in the Afternoon’ and Mrs S enjoying what she calls ‘a right bodice ripper’. I think it’s called ‘Outlander’ or some such. It makes her laugh anyway.

Also on the positive side there is news of a successful temporary treatment for Autism from a group of researchers in San Diego. It’s not a cure, but the old treatment for Sleeping Sickness, Suramin, has proven to bring positive effects for all of those given the treatment in a double blind trial. While it’s not a real cure, what these human trials have achieved that there is hope for the 1 in 68 afflicted, and once they’ve identified exactly which brain chemistry triggers are responsible for ASD, a better and more permanent treatment can be developed.

Despite a rough start, not a bad day, all things considered. And the sun is shining. Yeah.

Mosquito mania

It must be nearing Summer. The mossies and no-see-ums are beginning to make an impact on our hides despite copious anointments of bug repellent. Seriously, the little tinkers must be passing messages saying “Fresh blood, guys. Pile on.” Mrs S is suffering worse than me, poor lamb, and woke me around four this morning with a shriek when she twisted a muscle trying to apply ointment to an almost inaccessible part of her anatomy. Now she has to sit quietly to let the muscle settle, and my beloved does not sit still very well. Hi-ho. Unfortunately this means I have to do all the driving.

Well, we’ve crossed the Rockies and are well into ranching and oil territory. We missed a turn while admiring a Rocket III whoosh ahead, and because we didn’t realise our error for over half an hour and ended up driving for an hour longer than anticipated. Such are the grid patterns of Albertan roads. No biggie.

The one thing about crossing mile after mile of forest and pasture punctuated with the odd swamp is that it gets boring. Like with the Rockies, you can only take so much awesome in a day. I find when trying to stick to the 110kph (68mph) speed limit on dual carriageways such splendour gets more than a little dull. So much so that I start yawning, provoking a “Bill, you are drifting. Be aware.” from Mrs S, who paraphrased Omar Sharif’s famous line from Lawrence of Arabia at me with a playful slap. However, I got the joke, perked up, and an hour later we arrived safely at our hotel.

Anyway, tomorrow is a much shorter hike, with a planned stop off to do a little canoeing en route. Whether I end up doing all the paddling is moot. One thing is certain; those bloody mosquitoes will be trying to make a meal of us. Time for a trip to the drug store for more Deet, then.

Aand we’re off!

Interweb connections have been far and few between over the past few days. At present I’m writing this off line for a quick post and paste when connections allow. Mrs S and I are having a forty eight hour chill out on the edge of Mount Robson National park with an excellent view of Mount Robson, highest peak in the Canadian Rocky mountains which looks like a peak shaped layer cake below brilliant blue skies.

Well it’s been an interesting trip so far as we hurtle through the sunny back country of BC toward the other side of Canada. Six black bear sightings, the first sitting ten metres back from the road on highway 24, head moving back and forth as if counting the traffic. Maybe he was doing his Green Cross Code, or perhaps was even a member of that secret cabal the Tufty club, doing his best Policeman Badger impersonation, who knows? Another camera shy counterpart was sighted ambling up a hillside on Highway 5 as a couple driving a rented camper van focused their long lenses upon him. Then there’s the rocks, the trees, some more rocks and OMG! Is that a Douglas Fir? Surely not. Maybe a Birch, Maple or dare I say it, Spruce. Four other fine looking Ursines were spotted doing their own personal photoshoots while we were passing through Jasper National Park.

May is truly the finest month to visit the Rockies. In the latter half of the month the lowland snow is mostly gone and most of the parks are open. There’s new growth everywhere, the alpine meadows look gorgeous and the mountains are decked out in the purest white. Can I say that or is it “Racist”? Don’t know, care even less. I don’t think the scenery cares what a lot of student activists say either.

In some ways I’m a little spectaculared out already. You can only take so much awesome in a day before you need a serious lie down and a nice cup of tea. At the moment I’m sitting twenty metres from one of the prettiest mountain streams I’ve ever encountered. It looks like someone learned how to make glass run like water. Oh and there’s Elk and a mother bear with two cubs in the neighbourhood so our very nice hosts tell us. As well as a forest fire being doused by helicopters working in shifts (And very pretty they look, too).

Yes, and I learned a fascinating new word in Chinese (Cantonese) this week; “Baizuo” to describe that pestilential plague of whiny SJW’s who are always banging on about how unfair everything is (Yes. And….) and how it would all be sooo much better if the rest of us gave our worldly wealth unto the ever rapacious big state. Then confess our ‘white guilt’ before handing over everything the Western world has ever built over to those who didn’t help build it. Then shut up and don our chains like good little zombies to be lorded over by the ‘white left’. Just because we other mere mortals are all so racist, sexist, islamophobic or whatever. Even if we’re not. By the way, “Baizuo” is not a compliment. Quite the opposite. Yes, and if someone calls you “Sheng-mu” they’re not being very kind, either. But if the cap fits, wear it.

Posting will be somewhat erratic (As if anyone cared – heartfelt sob) as I’m breaking in a new laptop ‘pooter. So excuse prease and watch this space. In the meantime we’re off traversing the ice fields tomorrow. Cheery-bye.