Day 31. 18 September.
The Rockies disappeared from in front, to be just a glimpse in the rear vision mirrors. Flattish, pasture country: T remarked at one stage that we could be in Australia, on the Hume Highway between Canberra and Sydney or Melbourne. A fellow traveller made the same comment unsolicited a bit later. Downtown Calgary appeared ahead, an island of skyscrapers in a totally flat, treeless plain. Traffic/highways/wind, wind, wind. Managed to be blown straight past the turn-off to Smashed-In Head Buffalo Stampede…but no point in trying to turn around.
First stop was for coffee at a little town called Nanton, chosen only because it was about the right time/distance for a rest stop. Almost disaster – D tried to drive the wrong way (but on the right hand side, at least) up a one way street. This did not faze the few Canadians coming the other way: not one beeped, blared, glared or gestured. Turned into a church parking lot, where an elderly couple matter-of-factly provided hand signals to help with the u turn. Found a little establishment tucked away up a flight of steps, run by an Englishman from Norwich – very chatty. The coffee, finally, was right!
Fort McLeod is the home of the first Royal Canadian Mounties…the police always pursuing the right ‘Droit Mientien’. And what a “boys Saturday afternoon pictures set”! D, being a westerns tragic was re-living the wild west myths (or was it F-troop?). T was particularly taken by a hand-stitched log cabin quilt…the strips were less than half an inch wide.
And completing the Q&A…name someone famous born in Fort McLeod…..Joni Mitchell, of course. Main St was mostly closed, being a Sunday afternoon but there was a little evidence of frontier architectural conservation in the business frontages.
More wheat and dairy, Blackfeet country, then suddenly, the prairies gave way to foothills and…. the Rockies reappeared on our right, blue, angular and very big with low cloud promising thunderstorms/rain/hail/snow? Border post for USA (Montana) where we were asked had we “acquired anything in Canada”. D replied, “Do you mean fresh produce?” We had none; moreover, D had generously left 5 onions, half a garlic bulb and 10 potatoes with the Banff Park staff as we left this morning. Delighted with the gift, the staff would have hash browns tonight. So when the General Store at Bapp appeared, guess what T announced she needed…..two potatoes and an onion later we were into the final 10 kms. And more signage re strong, gusty cross wind.
We were glad to get in to St Mary Glacier Park where the gale continues (it is drying our washing but knocking out wifi) but we’re secure inside.
Today we passed 3000 miles, and just a bit later 5000 km.
Internet access here is intermittent and low capacity, so will post photos from today and yesterday later.