Okay, first of all, I'm just going to toot my own horn: I take some damn good pictures. Maybe not all the time; there could be several dozen that come away with only one good shot; but there are still dozens of gorgeous photos from this trip.
That being said: story time.
So, my mom and I, plus 2 dogs, drove 2 thousand miles (I swear it was longer than that, but Google maps also seems to think it only takes 32 hours; having slept five hours on the way home, and stopped an accumulative time of one hour on top of that, we were still about four hours from home at the 38 hour marker) all the way to a tiny town on the edge of the Canadian Rockies. If you've ever heard of Nordegg, Alberta, I'll be impressed.
Anyway, being a Michigander (LP Troll) it was a looooong journey; all to visit my brother for a ten day vacation. We were taking his stuff out there to him that he'd had to leave behind when he flew out, so that was part of the reason we were driving instead of flying (like my sister and her boyfriend were able to); plus, we had the dogs. (We were not leaving the kids home for ten days by themselves and just having my boyfriend checking in on them. No way!)
So, the drive out there was without incident. The UP is gorgeous, as always. Wisconsin wasn't unlike the UP, so no complaints. Minnesota sucks. My brother was right: it's a state you're meant to sleep through. North Dakota was pretty cool. (Still wondering what was up with the numbers in the hills.)
The people at the border seemed cool on the way through; basic questions about what we're doing there and how long until we crossed back over. Didn't even ask for the dogs' papers. (But we made sure to have them on us just in case.) Then we were in Saskatchewan. And I thought Minnesota sucked. For a bit, there are some rolling hills dotted with cattle, and farmland broken up by railroad tracks. Not unpleasant.
Then you go further. I always thought my uncles were exaggerating when they said that Saskatchewan was so flat you could watch your dog run away for three days. Well, set up a deer blind, grab some binoculars, and let the pooch loose, because I'm pretty sure they're right. I could see for literal miles around in some places, and frequently watched semis kick up a cloud of dust on roads at least a mile away. The only thing I liked about Saskatchewan was the bison jerky I picked up at a gas station near the border (and couldn't find any further in, unfortunately). That was it. As my brother said: sleep through Saskatchewan, too.
When you first enter Alberta near Medicine Hat, it's about the same as Saskatchewan. That doesn't last. Once you get past Calgary and up by Rocky Mountain House (commonly referred to Rocky, so I don't get why they don't just change the name), you get the barest hint of what you're in for. The further west you go, the greater that inclination becomes.
There are 97 kilometers between Nordegg and Rocky. I know this because there is a sign warning travelers that there are 97 kilometers until the next service station as you're leaving Nordegg heading towards Rocky. I forgot to notice how many kilometers between service stations when leaving Nordegg on the west side.
You see, Nordegg is the last stop until you are in the Canadian Rockies. It's a dinky town that sits right below Baldy and Colosseum–two of the mountains that sit just outside the main chain. From Nordegg heading southwest or northwest, there are about three hours until you hit another populated area; which would be Jasper or Banff.
Anyway, without divulging every detail of what happened, my family and I were able to spend 2 days in full enjoyment with one another before tragedy struck. As we were driving my mom's blazer out to Banff, everything died. Right there in the road. With a ton of traffic blowing past us (mostly RVs). We were barely able to coax it into the upper parking lot of this lodge. No one has phone service out here, so we walk down to the lodge to use the phone.
While my mom was waiting for the tow truck, we went for a hike behind the lodge to this waterfall. That was where I got some of the best pictures from the whole trip, but after learning that the blazer's motor was blown, the rest of the trip was a train wreck from there.
So, I was stranded in Canada with my mom and two dogs, and trying to get someone to take the blazer for scrap was a nightmare. At last, we ended up driving my brother's car home with the dogs. Now my mom has to drive his car back out to them after we find a vehicle and then she can fly back. It's a mess.
On the up side: I'M HOME. I got gorgeous photos. Had a family vacation that included the dogs. The road trip itself didn't entirely suck. Also: American food! (Canada doesn't believe in all of the fats, sugars, and processing chemicals that we Americans do. The result of this is a flat piece of grease-less patty that they call sausage. And none of the fast food tastes like food. Just a forewarning, ya'll.)
Okay, that's it. I'm wrapping this up. Now that you know I haven't tripped and fallen down a mountain, and am safely at my desk once more.