Saskatchewan & Alberta, Cypress Hills InterProvincial Park, Medicine Hat, August 24, 2008

15 03 2011

Yes, Virginia, the Earth Really is Round

The Top of Cypress Hills

There’s a giant plateau straddling the border of Saskatchewan and Alberta, Cypress Hills InterProvincial Park, that has sides that are cliffs and if you stand on one you can see the rolling prairies go on forever. It is the highest point of Canada, in between the Rocky Mountains and Labrador. It was a bit of a drive to get there, but the ground got more hilly and instead of wheat fields we started seeing cattle ranches. When we got to the Hills itself, signs warned it was steep and the roads weren’t that wide so maybe you shouldn’t take your Mo-Hoe up there. We figured the Boogie Bus could handle it no problem and it did. The top of the plateau was scorched dry and dusty, flat and covered with straw that was once grass. No one else was around and we stayed for about an hour, marvelling at the vie—we could see the curve of the Earth!

"Wild" Cows of Alberta

Wha....? "Trans-Canada Trail"?

We drove down the other side into Alberta. There are a all kinds of cattle ranchers there, and the cows can wander around the park at will, so we encountered a few “wild” cows. It must be nice to live in that park. It feels kind of Western and once you get off the top of the hills it is forested and there are streams and such. Every now and then you see a house or a dude ranch. The roads are rustic. We broke one of the useless CB antennas—the Boogie Bus was really starting to look like it was getting around.

Magically Delicious!

Medicine Hat, Alberta was the polar opposite of Moose Jaw. It was a place where it looked like people care, and it had art sculptures. We popped by the visitor centre and the person who greeted us was actually allowed to make dining recommendations, a gratifying circumstance that was new to us (although we had never stopped asking). They even had a complimentary RV sanitation station, where we filled up our water tank. But something went wrong and we flooded the van! On the up side, the floor got washed. We were worried because we would pick up Linda that night. Linda is a really clean person and at this point the bus, due to our sleeping in parking lots, not showering, and always being in a hurry, was a stinkin’ mess. We needed to clean it in the next 5 hours. We decided to try the Thai restaurant, and see if there was a laundry-mat nearby we could wash our clothes at the same time.

The laundy-mat was closed but the food at Thai Orchid Room was incredibly delicious.

We booted it to the outskirts of Calgary and got a spot in a weirdly suburban RV park, oddly called Mountain View Camping even though there’s no mountain in sight, where we guessed a lot of the guests were living there and working in nearby industrial projects. They had a petting zoo. And a laundry room (with WiFi, thankfully). We pulled everything out of the van, did the dishes, wiped everything down, and then Step left me in the laundry room with my laptop and a giant stack of loonies, and went to pick up Linda at the airport.

I Can See Your House From Here

Saskatchewan, Highway 13; Red Coat Trail, Dog River (really Rouleau), and Moose Jaw, August 23, 2008

11 03 2011

A Visit to a Fictional Place

"The Wheat Fields Waving"

Even though we hadn’t driven this part of Highway 1 before, we noticed on the map the detour of Highway 13; the Red Coat Trail, was marked as a “scenic route” and since we were here to see Canada, we went that away. Unlike the Yellowhead highway (16), which is full of hills and water features, most of Highway 13 is what you imagine the prairies to look like—absolutely flat and full of golden seas of wheat. (You can watch your dog run away for hours, etc.) That is what makes it scenic. And it just goes on like that, with a little town and a grain silo every now and then, and sometimes those fire chimney things that burn off natural gas. It was beautiful and vast but there’s not much to note about it.

Somewhere, Saskatchewan

At Weyburn we stopped for gas, then veered north back towards Highway 1. We were tooting along when Step noticed a grain silo that said “Dog River” on it. We don’t have cable, but I have watched some Corner Gas on DVD since I know (very slightly) some of the people on that show. Step hadn’t seen it, but it was he that clued into the fact that Dog River was, in fact, a fictional place. So we turned off and found the set to Corner Gas, which was a fun photo-op. There were a surprising amount of people there, doing the same things we were doing. The town is really called Rouleau, by the way. We didn’t go into the town so I don’t know if they have a traffic light or a charming cafe or what.

We were near Moose Jaw and we decided to stop for Dunch—that’s the meal between dinner and lunch. We drove all over the town of Moose Jaw and didn’t see one decent looking dunch spot candidate. There were some really divey looking places and the ubiquitous Chinese-Canadian eateries that are never good. I know I only spent a few hours there, and in fact did not even get out of the van downtown, but Moose Jaw really struck me as a dump of a town (sorry, Moose Jawians). There were a bunch of corporate chains near the highway. I wanted to go to Bonanza but Step prevailed and we went to (a weirdly crowded) Boston Pizza, where I ate a completely disgusting order of Lasagna, that about half way through I started worrying I was eating mad cow disease, so I did not enjoy it at all.

We got to Swift Current and we were too tired to drive on. We kind of looked at a $30 a night RV park, then said “what the heck” and stayed for a second night in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart.

Really Rouleau