14 December 2012

A long, long, long drive to Red Deer


Randy and I at the Twin Sisters Cafe overlooking the Twin Sisters Peaks at the border crossing into Montana
Why wouldn’t someone drive nearly a day’s journey to the other side of Calgary? A good friend from Andrews architecture, a Canadian and the recent Daybreak taunt, was getting married in his wife's home town of Red Deer, Alberta and so I and another friend of his from the Midwest decided we would drive that crazy distance to be at his wedding over Labor Day, 1996.  We started out on a Thursday after work and drove my Mustang all through the night, the next day, and into the next night before reaching Calgary.  When we switched drivers and Randy took over at about 1:00 am I had just drifted off to sleep when he said “I think we have a problem” and I opened my eyes and saw flashing red lights in the side mirror.  The officer asked “between you, me and that fencepost over there-exactly how fast does this car go?”

Border crossing-where we were detained
After that I didn’t sleep a wink.  Driving across North Dakota was in many ways euphoric.  The pattern of wheat fields, small towns, grain elevators, abandoned farms and little churches did some good in my soul.  We were diverted with a detour across gravel roads for many miles, plastering the car with dust.  When we finally made it to some remote border crossing into Canada, the border patrol insisted we come in for interrogation as dogs sniffed all around my car.  I’m sure it did seem strange-a couple of guys who hadn’t shaved or showered in a brand new Mustang that was covered in dirt crossing at a remote location.  Evidently our story checked out and we were free to continue after about an hour.

The euphoria turned into a bit too much bucolic overload and soon, crossing the great Canadian highway, things seemed desolate.  Thank God for Calgary.  We were able to sleep a few hours, woke up refreshed-refreshed enough to take a side-trip into Banff National Park and a long hike up to a coffee house at the base of a glacier.  It was amazing.  And the wedding was great too.  Red Deer was a little city on what seemed like the edge of the great white nothingness of Canada.

We were there exactly 24 hours before we left again to make the drive home.  This time it seemed we weren’t so pressed for time and could do some sight seeing along the way including “Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump” and the “Twin Sisters Café” at Glacier National Park, and even a return trip to a ghost town I remembered from trips to Montana as a kid-Elkhorn.  We caught a few hours of sleep in Wyoming before making the last leg home.  What a trip.

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