(L) Lillian’s take: Wherever you are, you know you’re not someplace else. By that, I mean that every State or Province is distinct. Southern Alberta Canada looked a bit like Montana or South Dakota, but not quite. Entering Canada, we drove through miles of rapeseed fields so bright yellow you could feel the heat of the sun. Our first town in Alberta was Cardston where we passed the childhood home of Fay Wray of 1933 King Kong fame. Fay Wray was known internationally as one of the first great “Scream Queens.” Her career spanned six decades. She passed away in 2004 at the age of 96!
Driving on, at the foothills of the Rockies, we were introduced to “Head-Smashed-in Buffalo Jump,”a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The story goes like this; before they had horses, the Blackfoot used Buffalo runners dressed as coyotes to head off and run the buffalo off a 4-meter cliff into a river. There, other Indians would finish them off and process them. They used every part of the buffalo for everything from medicine, meat, clothing and toys.
The Canadians we’ve met has been super kind, helpful and most of all cheerful. I could live here … in the summer. Even Sam has made new friends.
(G) Gary’s take: Beautiful and vast best describes Alberta as you enter Canada from Montana. If Montana is “Big Sky Country.” Alberta is even more so. Rolling farmland, well maintained roads and just the right number of small towns to round out the scenery. The people we’ve met have been super friendly, helpful and curious about our travels. A new favorite of mine is to take Sam for a walk around the campground. Most folks are outside, sitting by a fire and ready to share stories of the road this way or that. But, but, I’m getting ahead of myself . . .
Before I talks aubout the wonderful tingsa aubout rrrrr frozen neighbor to da Nort,I thought I should cover the reality of entering into this strange land. Oh, the confusion of it all. Sadly, even after months of foreign language training and emersion, Lillian was not prepared for the conversions, diversions and confusion. Now with our trip’s official interpreter completely baffled, it was left to me to make peace with the local customs and indigenous peoples of Alberta.
You should know that back in 2013 during our first excursion into this foreign land I was met with not Canadian hospitality but hostility of a most cruel and terminal kind. We had barely stepped foot on a maple leaf when one of their viscious attack insects tried to kill me. For those of you who didn’t follow us back then, this video is everything you need to know about the evil land to our north.
Since we are just passing through on our way to the United States of America from the United States of America. I thought we could just drive through, retain our culture and customs, no problem. But then, the confusion set in. Did you see that sign? How far is a kilometer? Did you see that other sign? How fast is 100 kilometers per hour. Need gas? How many gallons in a litre and why do they even spell it wrong? It’s going to be 11 degrees today, do we need parkas?
Now, many of you passed my lesson on 12-volt electricity with flying fillings (isn’t it tingly when you touch the wrong wire?). So “hear now, hear now” is a short primer on how to travel to Canada and not go loony (they even have a picture of a loon on their $1 coin). Apparently, George Loon was Canada’s first Prime Minister. You see, in Canada, things are the same yet not quite. Yes, they do have dollars and quarters, dimes but no pennies (come to think of it, why do wehave pennies?). None of them are equal to what you think they are, so hence you end up paying more and have no idea how much anything costs. Canadians are happy to take your American money, but they make change in Canadian, — you get to make small donations to our friends up north.
So here are the units-of-measure essentials you’ll need while traveling through Canada. 1 Km equals .62 miles, or 1 mile equals 1.61 Km. I meter equals 3.28 ft or 1 ft equals .3 meters. 1 liter equals .26 gallons, or 1 gallon equals 3.79 liters. Got it? There will be a test.
Second semester: You convert degrees Fahrenheit to Celsius by subtracting 32 and multiplying by 5/9 (seriously, your kids learned this in school). So, we woke up yesterday and the radio announcer said that the temperature in Calgary was 11. I mean it was July 8thand the announcer said it was 11. Email us back with the correct temperature in real degrees (not Canadian degrees). Email us back and you might win your own hardcopy printout of this blog. You must have a printer to win.
Lastly, the Canadian interwebs: Staying connected to family and friends is really important to us. Also, these blogs are how I’m paying for all those Canadian speeding tickets (didn’t seem like I was going that fast if you convert Km/hr to Miles/hr in your head while you’re pulling out your driver’s license, birth certificate, passport and all the bananas in your trailer). Anyway, our Verizon Beyond Unlimited Plan (don’t even get me started on what beyond unlimited means) costs only $150 per month US, or $8,748,942 Canadian. The trouble with unlimited data in Canada is that it is only good until you download your latest junk email. Then, voila! No more unlimited. So as soon as you figure out how to log on, your Verizon unlimited data is slowed down to a pace that rivals squeezing a stick of butter through a dirty sock. Apparently, Verizon has an Ultra Unlimited Plan – who knew?
Hey, have I answered all your questions? Please stay on the line for a brief survey.
(G) Calgary Stampede! I think the rodeo has become our favorite sport. Saddle Bronc bareback, bull riding, calf roping, steer wrestling and barrel racing. Each requires split second moves, skills honed over many years and a fearless disregard for your own personal safety. In bronc riding, you need to “mark out” on the first jump out of the shoot. Then, hold on for eight whole seconds while the horse tries to throw you off. While bronc riders are typically light and slender, Steer Wrestlers are beefier. Apparently, to throw a 500-600 lb. steer to the ground by their antlers requires a bit of leverage. It’s all about the physics. The Calgary Stampede was Lillian and my third rodeo, and we find them uniquely western, phenomenally difficult for the riders and just a whole lot of fun. Yes, there is a bit of danger. While the horses and livestock were well cared for, cowboys (and cowgirls) do get hurt, a lot. I know that many of you think that the horses, calves and steers also suffer. All I can say is that the animals don’t get hurt as much as you might think.
Unfortunately we are bandwidth limited. I’ll send out some cool videos when we can.
July 12, We are closing in on the beginning of the Alaska Highway. All is good with us and we hope your summer is going well. Cell phone and internet are a bit sketchy and will most likely get worse so we will get new blogs out when we can.
Until then, safe travels.