Archive for July, 2011

Maybe only smugglers use this crossing!

July 31, 2011

Saturday, 30 July.  Under sun filled skies I headed out for the USA!  After driving for an hour or so, I stopped for some breakfast.  Coffee is a good thing.

As I approached the US border, I noticed on the map, what appear to be a secondary type border crossing into the US.  As I like back roads when I’m not in a hurry, I couldn’t resist using this border crossing.  The turnoff of the main road was marked, though not in a great way, and a drill through the rolling back fields of southern British Columbia.

The border crossing was a small two-man affair.  When I pulled to a stop, the CBI border guard was curious as to how I found the crossing.  He asked if I looked up the crossing on the computer.  I pointed out to him that it was on the map, and I just followed the road to the crossing.  I gave him my Nexus card.  However though the card is issued by the CBI, they asked me the usual border crossing questions, had me pop the hatch so he could paw through my things in the back of the car, and generally act as if I’d given in my passport and not the Nexus card.  Maybe the Nexus card is just a scam to get money from people across the border often.

After satisfying their questions I headed down the back roads of northern Washington State eventually arriving in Omak.

After getting squared away and finding out that the wireless did in fact work I get a few things done and then went out looking for dinner.  I had a very nice pasta dinner at the breadline.  I also sussed out where the local cinema is.  They’re showing Cowboys and Aliens.  I now know what I’m going to do on Sunday afternoon.

Cruising through the countryside!

July 31, 2011

Friday, 29 July.  The day broke under cloudy skies.  Thick, rolling, gray clouds covered the sky and obscured the mountains from view.  As I drove down the road, the clouds lifted somewhat and patches of blue appeared.  Soon most to the mountains where visible only slightly obscured with patchy clouds.  In many ways this made the view even more beautiful than just an unobscured sight line.

Being forced to suffer with all this beautiful scenery I drove relatively slowly down the road eventually reaching my destination for the day which was Merritt.  The motel, the Knights Inn, was a very neat mom-and-pop type motel.  It actually was more like a suite than a motel room.  There were two bedrooms, a stove, and a fridge.

Supper was a Dairy Queen sundae.  Afterwards, I filled up with expensive Canadian gasoline for the last time.

Mountains and snow and who turned the lights out?

July 31, 2011

Thursday, 28 July.  A relatively early, and with no snow on the car, I headed off to try to Jasper National Park ending up at Valemount.

Under partly cloudy skies I headed west.  The first part of the drive was relatively boring.  After all, I was driving through Alberta wheat or cornfields.  As I approached Jasper the flat lands became the rolling countryside and in the distance the Rocky Mountains reached for the sky.  The road wound between towering mountains some of which still had snow and glacier on them.  Each new turn of the road brought a glorious vista to one’s eyes.  It was a most delightful drive through these mountains.

Leaving the park and heading to Valemount did not diminish the beauty of the drive.  While the mountains weren’t quite so close, they were there as one drove down the highway.  Meanwhile, the clouds it closed in.  The tops of the tallest mountains poked into the clouds and or loss from view.  With the occasional sprinkle, lowering clouds, and dropping temperatures, it dropped as low it is the lower 50s, I drove on.

There’s no problem finding a motel and getting set up in my room.  However, the town and region had a surprise for me.  While sitting at the computer all the power went out.  Not only the motel and the town, but several towns in the area were all with the power for about 75 to 90 minutes.  Valemount had provided an unsound and unlight show for me.

After a nice all one can eat fish and chips dinner, a retired to my room for some sleep.  I was now fighting a sore throat.  Bummer!

A nosh, a natter, & getting lost in construction!

July 31, 2011

Wednesday, 27 July.  After a decent night’s sleep, and I actually did get some sleep, and awoke to blue skies and cool temperatures.  Much different than yesterday’s chilly, overcast, and occasional rain.

While I can’t get on the Internet, I can at least bring my diary up-to-date so that I can post it once I have access again.  This I did.  It was a relaxed morning, something I needed.

Around noon I headed out, first to pick up a map or tuna tour book over at AMA, and then headed down to pick up Johanna.  We headed over for lunch, though I get some breakfast, and a nice long talk.  We had some catching up to do, and we had the time to do it.  It was the most pleasant afternoon.  We stopped by Home Depot’s so Johanna could pick up some needed supplies for her house.

On the way back I got lost in construction.  Alberta doesn’t believe in road signs especially in construction areas.  Eventually however I defeated them and found my way back to my friend’s house.

Fighting with my friend’s computer and resorting to 800 numbers I was eventually able to book rooms for the next two nights.  At this point, considering how I felt, I decided not to go to Vancouver, B.C. on this trip.  I needed a day or two off.

Eating thru Edmonton

July 29, 2011

Tuesday, 26 July.   After a fair night’s rest I spent the morning lazing about.  I did get on my friends computer to check a few things.  As they had neither a router nor wireless I was limited in what I could do online.  I did call up my friend Johanna and set up a luncheon date with her for Wednesday.

Just before noon I set off for my visit with Tara.  She lives at the other end of the Edmonton area.   We headed first over to the nearest CAA office.  I needed a couple maps and tour books.  I got some of what I needed.  We then looked around for a place for lunch.  I decided I needed something for my sweet tooth so we ended up going to an IHOP where I had funnel cakes and strawberries while Tara had breakfast.  We had a lovely chat and caught up on many things.  It was a most pleasant lunch.  As usual I couldn’t stop myself and chatted with the waitress about her college plans.  She seemed to think that some of my suggestions might have merit.

We headed back to Tara’s home where the three of us had a lovely discussion.  Tara’s mother had just returned from a trip and Tara was leaving the next day for a month in Toronto, London, and Ireland.

As I left we noticed some black smoke in the distance.  It turned out to be a fire at a pharmaceutical plant.  Needless to say lots of toxic smoke covered the area.

That evening I took Lynn, Tony, the kids, and the nanny after dinner.  We went to a very nice Italian restaurant.  While the food was quite good, the surface left something to be desired.

When we got back the last TV for a short while and then it was time to call it a day.  It had been a good one, too.

Great scenery & old friends

July 29, 2011

Monday, 25 July.  I got out after a halfway decent night’s rest.  I eventually turned on the space heater and piled on the blankets.  It was a chilly night.  I think, I will dig out my Levi’s, long sleeved shirt, and shell parka for today’s drive.

I decided that hobbits and wombats are tough and decided to go with the usual shorts and T-shirt.  I headed down for breakfast for stopping for gas which was about seven dollars a gallon.  I then went over and had an overpriced breakfast in the cafeteria.  When you’re in the backcountry and their aren’t any other places to get gas for food, they really stick it to you.

Under a brilliant sky and the temperature in the low 40s I headed north for about 50 km to the glacier center.  The drive for went quickly with little traffic.  It has one of the more beautiful sections of the Icefields Highway.  The number of glaciers increases as does the thick snow packs on top of the mountains.  At the glacier center I took some pictures which I must compare with the pictures I took several years ago.  I’m positive that there is much less snow and ice now an even as four or five years ago.

After getting my fill of mountain, snow, and glaciers to retrace my steps and turned onto the road that would take me to Red Deer and then up to Edmonton.  The first portion of the road was no slouch as far as the scenery went.  It was a nice coda to my visit to Banff National Park.  As I headed east to land slowly flattened out.  Somewhere between Rocky Mountain House and Red Deer landscape turned into the Albertan Plains.

In Red Deer I checked in to buying a cell phone for the rest of my visit.  After checking prices I decided to face the roaming charges for the one or two phone calls I might have to make.  To get a cell phone for a week would probably cost me between $60 and $100 Canadian.  The cost for the phone calls would be considerably less.  When I get back I must stop by the Verizon store and see what accommodations might be available if I can make my trip to Europe in 2012.

Under a hot sun, the temps had climbed into the lower 80s, I headed out to Edmonton.  As I double checked the map I printed off at home, I realize I had been using an out-of-state phone number to reach my friends.  I haz stupid!  Any case everyone was at the house when I pulled up.  They put me in “my” room.

We had a nice discussion over lamb chops.  It was good and to see Lynn and Tony again.  Over the course of this discussion I learned to Tony had recently been diagnosed with cancer.  He would soon start treatment, but wasn’t discomfort from the cancer.

I also linked up with Tara.  I had met her and her mother many years ago in Calgary as we were staying at the same motel.  They commented on my license plate, and the discussion ensued.  We changed e-mail addresses and have kept in touch over the years.  Tara’s is dog Boomer is an aging media star.  Boomer was used in several episodes of a SF TV show.  His appearances resulted in invitations for Tara to speak at various SF media conventions.  She enjoyed the visits and the meeting with media stars and the fans.

Time to call an end to the day.

More sun, snow, & Glaciers

July 29, 2011

Sunday, 24 July.  The morning was sunny and cool.  I was able to get some coffee and an English muffin in order to get a start on the day.  I then loaded up the car and prepare to set off down the road.

The entire drive was on one Canadian highway, 93.  The initial part of the drive was on a high plain with mountains on both sides.  Patches of snow capped many of the mountains.  As I approached Radium Springs, the mountains closed in on the road.

The entrance Kootenay National Park is quite spectacular.  The road is at the bottom of the narrow gorge with sheer rock faces climbing high into the sky.  For the rest of the drive through the park the road winds at the base of the Rocky Mountains.  It is quite spectacular.  Obviously, only a small percentage of the drivers on the road for tourists.  Driving at the speed limit so that I could enjoy the view, I had to pull over and let drivers raced by going somewhere but never looking to the side or up.  It was a most enjoyable drive.

In 93 joins Hwy 1 at Lake Louise for a short way.  Highway 1 is the Cross Canadian Highway.  I was now in Banff National Park.  They parted their ways, and I continued up 93.  This very shortly became also known as the Ice Fields Highway.  Over the past four days I’ve gone from one spectacular road to another.  Two of the roads I had previously driven.  This is not detract from the glory of either of those two roads.  The Ice Fields Highway is a feast for one’s eyes.  The Rockies rise sheer, jagged, and bare.  Their tops well above the tree line.  At each turn a new glorious view appears.  One notes that in addition to the large snow packs are in some cases huge ice packs of the glaciers.  It is a sight to be relished.

Just to the north of the Saskatchewan River Crossing is a lodge/motel, called The Crossing.  I remembered seeing here several years earlier when I drove the Ice Fields Highway with my friend Lee Troutman.  It is relatively nice, though expensive as it is the only place in many a mile or kilometer in any direction.  I was able to get a room for only C$151.

Actually, we had to find a room for me as the initial room was located next to the pub and over something that every five minutes would turn on and thump away before turning off.  I finally got room in another building.  When I tried to turn on the heat in the building, it wouldn’t turn on.  I found out, when the maintenance man brought me a space heater, that as the temperature had gotten up to about 75° the owner could turn off the heating system.  That the temperature was dropping into the lower 40s this night was not a factor.

While the room warmed up, I headed over to the club and grilled myself a buffalo burger.  You get to be the chef and grilled your food as you like it.  The buffalo burger was not bad at all.  The prices were little high but such is the economy in the backwoods.  The gas prices are equally high.  When I add a few liters to the tank tomorrow, of the paying well in excess of six dollars a gallon.  Oh well, this is still only about two thirds of what I will be paying in Europe if my trip comes off next spring.

I got back to my warm room, goofed off for awhile, and then went to bed early.

To Live Forever:

July 29, 2011

I met a fairy today who said she would grant me one wish.

“I want to live forever,” I said.

“Sorry,” said the fairy, “I’m not allowed to grant wishes like that!”

“Fine,” I said, “then I want to die after Congress gets their heads out of their asses!”

“You crafty bastard,” said the fairy.

What? We aren’t the biggest and the best?

July 28, 2011

I’d like to widen people’s awareness of the tremendous timespan lying ahead — for our planet, and for life itself. Most educated people are aware that we’re the outcome of nearly 4bn years of Darwinian selection, but many tend to think that humans are somehow the culmination. Our sun, however, is less than halfway through its lifespan. Six billion years from now, it will not be humans who watch the sun’s demise. Any creatures that then exist will be as different from us as we are from bacteria or amoebae. -Martin Rees, cosmologist and astrophysicist (b. 1942)


July 28, 2011

“The Tory shot back, ‘Well, I’ve listened to your candidates, and they’re simply anserine.'”
John Worsley Simpson; Election Enhances Word Power of All Political Parties; National Post (Canada); Jul 3, 2004.

This applies to the current crop of Republicans!