“Oh my god, is that a cow?” I asked.
My mom slowed down eyes peeled. We were on our way from Central Alberta back to Ontario. However, we wanted – okay I wanted – to take a detour down south of the border and visit the American Old West.
So I left a couple of days ago for my third cross Canada trip, but the first one where I drove. Compared to being a kid when your parents make all the decisions, I learned a few things about the long haul that I would like to pass on.
1. Make sure to get your car serviced before you make the trip. My car needed an oil change at 16,000 km and it was going to hit that mark on my trip, so I got it serviced early to avoid the headache. My service person checks everything out for me, they topped up all my fluids, rotated the tires and even changed my wipers.
2. Have a good idea of an itinerary. Knowing where you want to stop for the day, stops along the way, and other breaks will help you stay on track and on time.
3. Don’t be afraid of breaking the itinerary. Our unexpected delay outside of Sudbury, caused us to change our itinerary. It was a great move, as the motel in Wawa was a lot nicer that the one we were going to stay at.
4. Snacks are your best friend. We were able to save money by buying one lump of food and not buying breakfast, lunch and dinner. A cooler with protein shakes, carrots, pepperoni sticks, cheese, and water and a bag full of crackers, bread, wafers, bananas, chocolate almonds, and veggie stix were sufficient for our whole trip.
5. It’s good to stop every 400 kms or so. Stop for the bathroom, for a point of interest, or even just to stretch your legs. It was pretty easy to break up the trip between towns or points on interest
6. When packing your car make sure you are not cramped in the seat and have all your necessities within arms reach.
7. Podcasts. Even music gets boring after a while. Dad and I have a similar interest in history, so I downloaded the Stuff you Missed in History class podcast. It is quite interesting and most of them are only half an hour long.
8. It’s a great idea to stop at the first information kiosk when you pull over. We found ourselves on a new road that was not on the outdated map that we had, or on the garmin. Stopping at information will give you the most update maps and it can give you some ideas of where to stop in the province.
9. Keep your eye out for the roadside information attractions. There are some neat attraction stops along the highway and you get to learn a little bit of history on the way. Some of the ones we passed by are: the halfway point of the TransCanada hwy, the Arctic/Atlantic watershed divide, the longitudinal centre of Canada, the provincial boarders, and the boarder of where Northwest Territories was in 1877.
10. Keep your camera up front. There are so many amazing photo opportunities on the side of a highway, and you never know when you might come across wildlife. They could run away before you get that camera out.
Alberta is probably so excited to see me that it cried with happiness. All day.
Rain was the challenge today. It rained off an on for most of the trip through Manitoba and was just cloudy through Saskatchewan. After Portage la Prairie, we wanted to take the Yellowhead Hwy. It was a road that dad and I have never been on.
The Yellowhead Hwy starts at the corner of Portage and Main outside of Winnipeg, MB and continues on through Saskatchewan and Alberta where it forks in British Columbia. At the base of Mt. Robinson, the tallest mountain in Canada, the hwy splits North to Haida Gwaii and South to Hope, BC.
The highway has an interesting history. The Yellowhead Hwy was named after Pierre Bostonais, a Metis fur trader and explorer. He had blonde hair and was nicknamed Tete Jaune which translates to yellow head.
There wasn’t much to see in Manitoba. We saw trains and small lakes, but there were not many towns on the Yellowhead. The towns that were there seemed to have many closed own businesses and run down buildings.
I absolutely love Saskatchewan. It is so flat, the sky is so big, and for the first time, you could feel the enormity of Canada. You could watch two different storm systems pass on either side of you. Towns here seemed to be more prosperous and more plentiful than Manitoba. I realy liked the town of North Battlefords. It was starting to get hilly here and the landscape was stunning. We stopped at the Mountie statue.
Dad and I are stopping in Lloydminster for two days. Lloydminster is a cool town. It is right on the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan. In fact, the main road running North/South is the border. They have these cool red border markers that are a neat photo opportunity. We totally missed the World’s largest Sundial (next time?).
What is interesting to see here is the difference between the Alberta side and the Saskatchewan side of town. It is growing more on the Alberta side even though there is an agreement between the two provinces for the town.
Saskatchewan might be the most difficult to understand when it comes to time. Although Saskatchewan is part of the Central Time Zone (with Manitoba), the province doesn’t recognize daylight savings time. One of the ladies at the information desk in Lloydminster explained that during the summer, Saskatchewan has the same time as Alberta and during the winter they have the same time as Manitoba.
We are almost at the final leg of our journey, then it’s a whole new adventure from there.