Wednesday’s drive started off very windy, slick, and dark. The doesn’t start to rise till around 9am, so the majority of the drive from Minot, North Dakota to the Canadian/U.S. border checkpoint in Portal, ND into Saskatchewan and to the Trans-Canada highway was not relaxing, as freezing rain turned to snow.
Once I hit the Trans-Canada Highway, things got pretty awesome fast. Conditions were now cold enough that the road was fairly dry, and being the main Canadian highway, it was much better maintained than the small provincial road I had been on. I would not want to live there but I really enjoyed the beauty and atmosphere of the Canadian plains. Had I not been on a schedule, I would have pulled off the highway to check out the various dinosaur remains sites.
As I was driving along US Interstates-90 and 80, I liked the reassurance that there was going to be a big rest-stop with gasoline, food, restrooms etc. quite frequently, especially as I would be likely sleeping at one of them. This is not the case on the Trans Canada highway, but I actually liked this fact. Then again, I was driving the long quiet stretch in broad daylight, in good weather conditions, and not anticipating needing to spend the night along the highway. Despite not having some of these huge rest stops, there are fairly periodic/frequent pull-outs for recycling and rubbish (good, because I eat a lot when I drive to stay away), and some times bathrooms. There was only one point where I was anxious about not knowing when the next gasoline station would be, and very much hoped my mental conversion from the distance on the road signs (in km) to the estimated range shown on my car dashboard (in miles) was correct. Fortunately, it was.
Saskatchewan winds, I found out, are also something. I was literally blown over as I was filling up my car, and I had never had most of the windshield wiper fluid I was pouring (despite my efforts to orient myself correctly and block the wind), travel horizontally away from my target.
I have to admit I was surprised by how well my car and the cargo box held up to some pretty inhospitable driving conditions (roads and very very high winds across the plains and driving from Calgary to Canmore, actually).
There was enough setting light for me to see the Canadian Rockies as I drove along the Trans-Canada highway towards Banff; I always forget how my heart and chest swell to the point of hurting when I see the Rockies rise up from the flat lands. It has been a long time since I have been in Canmore, and I was struck by the dramatic drive in to town.
3 days, 2609 miles, and too much junk food and too many McDonalds hashbrowns to count, I arrived at my destination of Canmore, Alberta.