Monday, April 14, 2014

Canada…At Last

It was bitter cold when I left my hotel this morning to pack the car for departure. In fact, I had to get back to my room to change into Long-Johns. I just hate to freeze. Smile
As I had traveled along the border I had noticed that gas prices got lower and lower. While I still paid $3.59 in ND the price was only $3.25 in Havre,MT. Since it is only a short 43-mile drive up to the Canada border I filled up my Jerry-can as well. Gas prices north of the border would be on a quite different level, I knew. Besides HWY 41 from the border to the Trans Canada Hwy is one of the loneliest stretches of road I’ve ever seen. Whoever starts on that road with a half-empty gas tank might run into a problem,
Leaving Havre, the road starts with a climb up to the prairie and snakes its way through the undulating terrain. I love to experience roads like this, but I would never want to live out here. Just the thought of a raging winter blizzard wiping out vision and most of the communications, plus making roads impassable, frightens me.
After about 45 minutes I reached the border station, located in the middle of nowhere. I rolled to a stop in front of the ancient Canadian station and shut off the engine. Both officers, young men, were inside. A 5th-wheel rig was parked ahead of me, and the owners were just approaching the station on foot. So I waited.
Finally one of the officers appeared. The usual “I question-you answer” game developed”. When I told him where I came from and where I was headed and that we had been along this station barely 3 weeks earlier he was quite impressed about all that driving. They checked my passport, took it inside for scanning and gave it back with good wishes for a safe trip.
Before I left I asked him how old this building really was and he told me that it was from the 1920s.  I wonder what kind of border crossing procedure had been in use back then.

My road ahead brought me up to the highest point in the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. It is inter-provincial as part of the park is stretching into Saskatchewan. After many miles of driving through the treeless prairie It is very strange to suddenly see quite steep hills with deep valleys in a shroud of spruce trees. Up here, on the summit everything was white of frost. There was also lots of snow left and I think that last nights temps must have been way, way below freezing, maybe as low as –20C. Anyway, the sudden winter landscape was very beautiful and I stopped to take pictures.IMG_8794
Most of the beauty was over where Hwy 41 meets with the TC 1.
The TC is like most interstates in the U.S. It’s wide, 4-lane and you drive there just to eat up the miles between you and your destination.
IMG_8807  IMG_8809
My destination was the little Alberta town of Bassano where we had visited Sharon and Louis back in April 2005. Would I remember their address?  Not really, but it’s a small town so just maybe…..I could find it. After taking a round through town I realized that they lived on the north side of the TC 1. So with help of the GPS map I located the only road leading north and off the TC 1.  That way I found that little rural subdivision where they have their property.

I came unannounced, as I did not have any phone # or email of them. It turned out to be the greatest surprise for them. They had actually been expecting family for lunch, so Sharon was busy in the kitchen department when I cam through the door.

Soon we were all seated around their cozy kitchen table and enjoying Sharon’s excellent Chinese dish.
The talk went back and forth and a few hours quickly went by.

Finally it was time to take my farewell with them and I checked out the local hotels in town. However, I decided to leave Bassano and headed on to the city of Strathmore, where I would have a better choice of lodging.
I am strongly opposed to spend a lot of money for normal accommodations in a boom town and when I actually saw the sign of “Leroys Motel” (which did not seem worth to check out) I stopped anyway. The building had definitely seen better days and the Spanish style made me think MEXICO! So, when entering the office upstairs, I jokingly asked whether one would have to speak Spanish here. The lady assured me that the outside impression wasn’t what this place really was. I trusted her with it and was not disappointed. For only $62.00 Canadian I found a huge clean room, w. TV, fridge, Microwave and a clean bathroom. And that is about all I am asking for. Most other known hotels have long since screwed their prices to +100 Bucks, many between $130 to $150.  
It’s the type of price level which mirrors Alberta’s economy.

I concluded this day with a long SKYPE talk with Bea. She told me that Molly behaved strangely and apparently was disturbed by the quiet in the house. When Bea put the phone on speaker, Molly heard my voice and cocked her head, sniffing at the phone. That’s my kind of girl!

The last leg of my trip will be a short drive to Calgary, picking up the trailer before heading towards the mighty Rockies and the city of Canmore.

Thanks for stopping by again.  


  1. Welcome back to Canada, hope the rest of your time will get warmer for you.

  2. All foggy and soggy here this morning. Not so nice either. Hope you get the trailer out and to the campground without problems.

  3. Thanks for the ride. Interesting post!

  4. I suppose one doesn't head into the prairies at this time of the year without long johns. I guess that rules me out. Haven't had a pair in decades.
    Hope it all goes well.

  5. Good luck with the trailer. Seems strange to have a border crossing in the middle of no where Montana.

  6. When I travelled from Yuma East this year I found that the gas prices kept getting higher the further East I got.

  7. Those prairie pics sure looked bleak.


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