Day 3


We start off at the crack of mid-morning

Mile 674; 10:30 AM
We're off to an early start today, as we hit the road before they even finish setting up the Sunday brunch at the restaurant. Today we enter the actual Canadian Rockies, which for those of you who don't know, are the part of the Rockies that live in Canada (we understand that they took up residence here during the Vietnam war when their college deferments ran out).

This means that we spend the morning going uphill, and that most of the trees we see have snow on them. Also, there're some really jumbo size mountains peeking out through the clouds. After a while, we are looking down on the clouds, and figure that we must be pretty high. Robert starts to sing "Rocky Mountain High," but when Laura offers to help him hit the really high notes, he quits.

Trucks and mountains

We also cross into Alberta ("Wild Rose Country"), or "Bert" as it is known to the natives. The signs inform us that the French word for "snow plow" is "snow chaser," which seems much more civilized to us ("You better start running, you snow, because I'm chasing you, eh?").

A Fiat in its natural environment

Crowfoot glacier

See? It really is Fall!

A glacial stop

Mile 750; 12:40 PM
The guidebook says that if we drive along the Icefields Parkway road, we will need a blow torch to fight off the attacking glaciers. Of course, as we later found out, our guidebook tends to lie to us.

But, by golly, we stop here and across the way, embedded in some REALLY big mountains is an honest to goodness glacier! Here's a few facts about glaciers:

  • They really are blue. Sort of a teal blue, in fact.
  • They are very quiet. A glacier would make a good next-door neighbor.
  • They are not good places to have barbecues, because it's usually a long way to the nearest grocery store in case you forgot the hamburger buns.

The particular glacier we are looking at is called "Crowfoot Glacier," because at one point (140 kilograms ago), there were three glaciers that looked like a crow's foot if you'd eaten enough peyote. Tragically, it has since lost one of its toes (probably to frostbite *ROFL*). Rather than rename it, "Chickenfoot Glacier," they decided to stick with the original name.

Some mountain

A glacier in its natural environment

Picnic spot for snowmen

A bang-up time

Mile 781; 1:15 PM
So, here we are, driving along, thinking that all we have to worry about is the bad roads under construction and blowing snowstorms, when we stop at a sign along the road.

Seems that there are a lot of avalanches in this area, and there's also not a lot to do in the Canadian Rockies during the winter, so they like to shoot howitzer shells at the snow and watch it fall down the mountain. What a bunch of fun-loving Canadians!


Anyway, since they get these shells as surplus from the Canadian Army (Motto: "We Never Had a War Here, Eh?") not all of them explode when they hit the snow. As a result, travelers are advised TO LOOK OUT FOR UNEXPLODED ARTILLERY SHELLS!!

The sign we see has pictures of the shells (and these are not like little shotgun shells, these are great honking artillery shells, the kind you see in the movies where two guys carry them over to the gun and everybody dives into a concrete bunker before they fire). Oh, and if you happen to find some, eh, try not to make them mad.

Robert looks around for some unexploded artillery shells ("These'd make GREAT souvenirs!") but doesn't find any. We decide that we'd rather just worry about snow and sleet and crazy Canadian drivers, so we turn around and head back towards civilization where the only shells we'll see are around tacos.

Ne pas deranger les artillery shells

What lovely craters!


Look out for Bear #5!

Mile 832; 2:00 PM
We stop at what we think is a safe distance from the firing range in a little town called Lake Louise, which contains the first bookstore we've seen in days. They also have a restaurant serving Canadian cuisine, which turns out to be a lot like American cuisine, except the bread is thicker. Also, they put WATERMELON in the friggin' SALAD!! Those crazy Canadians! We're glad we didn't order the escargot, because it's probably ringed with slugs.

There's also a notice here about Bear #5, which is a cute Grizzly bear with two even cuter cubs. The essence of this message is: Don't mess with the bears!

What? We shouldn't chase after an animal that weighs four times as much as we do, can run faster than we can, climb trees better and faster, is stronger, and has large claws designed for eviscerating? Why not?

We think that they should have a special bear (Bear #0) that they keep around for tourists. This bear would lounge around near the road and look picturesque. When tourists stopped and got out of their cars to take pictures, Bear #0 would eat them. The park could sell their cars, and we would all benefit by the removal of these idiots from the gene pool.


Oh say can you Seebe?

Mile 901; 4:10 PM
We stop at the Seebe General Store, which is, of course, closed, because it's Sunday. The only notable thing about Seebe is that it is near Dead Man's Flats, which makes us wonder why they would name a town after a dead guy's shoes.

Don't whiz on the electric fence

Saved by the Calgary

Mile 961; 5:10 PM
We finally pull into Calgary for the night, lodging in a place that the guidebook describes as "wonderfully off-beat with every room furnished in a different way." Also, there's a big fish tank in the lobby and a cage full of birds. "And every room has windows that open, so you can enjoy the fresh Calgary air!" Which is another way of saying "there's no air conditioning."

Not that we need any. It was snowing when we pulled into Calgary ("not unusual for September" says the local Calgary tabloid). We find the weather channel on the TV, and discover that Calgary is, basically, the coldest place in the Northern Hemisphere (even Moscow is warmer!). Yahoo.

Fortunately ,the heat in the room works fine, especially when we ingest some alcohol (for anti-freeze purposes only, of course).

Black fish in a black tank

For the birds


We read our mail

Say, some folks have apparently actually been reading this! Here's what they have to say:

From Laura's sister Jan:

Keep those cards and letters coming. I think my whole office will get hooked on the saga! Love, JKB

Laura: Yeah, but will they pay money for it?

Robert: Let's get them hooked, first...

And from the only actual Canadian we know (who just this week became an American citizen--which ought to have some kind of cosmic significance):

In case you might get this, and assuming you really don't know what the flashing green traffic light means, it's the equivalent of the green arrow meaning that it's OK to make a left turn, providing traffic coming the other way is taking their traffic light seriously! Continue to enjoy my (former) and somewhat quaint country--I am enjoying your journal immensely! instead of a green arrow that is easily understood by everybody, Canada uses a flashing green light which relies on everybody following this obscure rule? Sounds like somebody in government owns a wrecking yard.

Denny adds:

Don't let the apparent [constabulary] politeness confuse--the Mounties, while being as polite as hell, will still bust your ass for anything that they determine will make the Great White Mother Over the Big Water angry.

Despite the fact that Robert has been using the wrong conversion factor for turning Km/H into MPH ("you multiply the kilometers by 1.3, right?"), we haven't even seen any Mounties, much less met any personally. Maybe there's a doughnut convention in Ontario, eh?


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