Wednesday, May 28, 2008
After paying way too much for dinner and the smoking room, we awoke at 5 am determined to leave Calgary, Edmonton and the rest of urban Alberta behind. Give us the wilderness and open road we yearned. Due to Greg’s Hilton card we triggered a free breakfast with our stay, so we lined up for that the minute it opened at 6 am. The Hilton Garden Inn does not have a continental breakfast, but rather a full buffet. Classy, and once again we planned on eating back some of our room rate, which is not classy. We sat down and were given small, laminated menus along with a felt pen. The items on the menu had underscores next to them. “Just write down the amount of each item you’d like and I’ll get it for you.” We read the instructions, which were fairly clear: ‘if you’d like 4 pancakes or pieces of French toast, mark 4. If you’d just like a full serving mark 1. If you’d like the ingredient in your omelet just check it.’ After a few moments we gave him our pre school worksheets and he questioned, “You marked 3 for French Toast. 1 means 4 slices from 2 pieces of toast.” No animosity came from us as we had accepted that Canada so far had rubbed us a little diagonally. Maybe it was us, though I now feel it was Alberta “Oh, 1 order then.” The instructions aside, the breakfast was delicious and we found ourselves outside of the city limits around 7am.
I had heard that passing directly through Edmonton was a recipe for disaster – poor signage, etc. I kind of wanted to get a picture with Wayne, but we opted for a crafty bypass that was in the Milepost. Everything went well and soon we were northwest of Edmonton without even a glimpse of its downtown. This day was going much better than the previous one and Canada looked prettier every minute.
Fort Nelson, BC was the goal that night and we reached it around 8:30 pm.
We did not stop for gas here, foolishly filling up 10 miles earlier.
I immediately regretted that fillup as we rumbled by the Sasquath Crossing.
As I walked in to pay at another place I met Greg walking out, having used the bathroom. “Cover your mouth because the guy in there has tuberculosis.” Sure enough, he endlessly coughed and spit phlegm before he paused to cough on my swiped Visa. His coughing went away when he lit up a smoke as I signed the slip.
As we got closer to BC the scenery got much denser and beautiful and our eyes went on moose alert. We saw a few munching on leaves near the tree line, but that was boring in hindsight. Across the 4 lane highway we saw a southbound pick-up truck emblazoned with official looking decals. It seemed like a county truck. Behind it was about 6 feet of rope tied to the hitch on one end while the other side was tied around the neck of a dead moose. The truck looked like it was moving about 45 mph. We can only theorize as to what was really going on. Maybe the animal was roadkill and getting gamey and the county had to dispose of it. Rather than lift the thing up and handle it he decided to just handle the head before dragging it down a back road? If so, why not just roll it into the ditch? I’m sure I’ll never know just I am also sure I’ll never forget it.
We stopped for the terrific, obligatory picture at the start of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek, BC (still in my camera). Greg kept unknowingly adding a Chicago possessive “s” to the name, asking often “how many miles to Dawson’s Creek.” He may also have been thinking of the show. We’ll never know where Pacey and Chicago met in his brain on this account.
When we checked in to the Super 8 in Ft. Nelson we were told they had a government employee rate, but that it was only for Canadian government employees. “Oh, I’m Chicago police.” She thought that was pretty cool and put in the government rate anyway. We then chatted a bit about how her sister is training for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and how she had to go down to Vancouver, and what a far drive it is, etc. She was very friendly and we quickly were formulating a new opinion about Canada. She kept hiking up her pants constantly throughout the entire 10 minute conversation. We didn’t know what to do with that. Mark it down as a little memory from the trip. Fort Nelson courting rituals? There would be a continental breakfast the next day with a build your own waffle area. We had yet another chance to eat back our hotel $.
Canada is great, but Alberta is a dud.