Mawlers’ Big Adventure ’04:
Fort MacLeod to Edmonton

Saturday, 21 August 2004

By the Numbers
  • Distance Driven Today: about 459 km
  • Gas Purchased Today: 57.32 litres
  • Total Cracks in Windshield: well, there is really only one... one big one, anyway
Wild Woolies
  • Daredevil Grasshopper: 1

In a sudden surprise, we get out of bed by about 9am, which is not bad, considering. We need to get started packing and re-arranging right away, right after breakfast.

We decide that the easiest thing to do is to simply remove everything from the Jeep, put it all together in some new way and then put it back. This way, we can make sure to take all the CDs (including the one in the stereo), all the receipts (yes we kept them all), all the recycling (yes, we kept that too), and all the other odds-and-ends out from under the seats, out of the door pockets, out of the glove box, out of the seat-back pockets, out from under the floor mats... As you can see, this is not a simple process.

We have developed an idea as the trip went on. Maybe we could ask our friends to take a few items that will not fit in our luggage? We asked nicely last night and they said sure. So we completely took advantage of that willingness and hope they forgive us.

We leave them with trail mix, ramen noodles (we actually had some left over), bottled water, excess books (read and un-read), a bottle jack (that we bought in Haines Junction), Ziploc-type bags, tea, coffee, shampoo, conditioner (both in overly large bottles), laundry detergent, a full-sized cooler, and a host of other doo-dads, detritus, and gee-gaws.

Then I ask if I could leave the recycling with them. We could probably find the recycling center in Fort MacLeod, but I am getting worried about time and I know that Wayne regularly takes the recycling anyway. Surprisingly, Wayne says yes. So I drop off bottles, cans, cardboard, paper, and plastic bags.

The Jeep probably rides several inches higher on the suspension without all that stuff.

Meanwhile, Lea Ann is working her magic rearranging the stuff I have taken out of the Jeep. This is her specialty. Fortunately, she does not need to work alone because Paper (one of the cats) graciously offers to help. He spends some time inspecting the Jeep and the inside of the luggage. Considering how thorough Paper is being, we search the Jeep before closing the doors; somehow I don’t think Paper would appreciate the trip.

Finally, our bags are all packed to bursting (I am always amazed that we do not bust a zipper in this process), the Jeep is loaded, and the animals are safely in the yard. We say "until next time" to Wayne and head north.

This fellow hops onto the windshield for a bit of barnstorming, grasshopper style:

We were laughing so hard, it was difficult to stay on the road, but here is proof that we are actually moving:

It is an uneventful, but beautiful trip up to Calgary. The clouds are heavy, but there are breaks for the sun to shine on the fields. Of course, we are running late, so I press on without stopping for pictures. We do stop once to get a shot of some old-style wooden grain elevators, but pretty much drive straight through.

In Calgary, we are met head-on by a torrential downpour, which significantly slows our progress. Things pick up north of town, when I remember that I forgot to get gas. We are running a bit low at this point, too. Lea Ann looks over and asks what I am worrying about, so when I tell her, she looks at the gas guage and says "uh, yeah". We are in a bit of a no-man’s land, where there are no towns along the highway, so I hesitate to get off on a wild-gas-goose chase with so little left in the tank.

Fortunately, an exit appears for a town with gas not far from the highway. We turn off and get gas in Didsbury. The Jeep took almost 58 litres, so we were pretty low. Also, we find that, as is our custom, we have stopped in this town during some festival—it is Rendezvous Didsbury! At least we are not trying to get a hotel room.

Feeling relieved, we get back on the highway toward Red Deer and Edmonton. You would be surprised to know that this is a longer trip than we anticipated. Wisely, Lea Ann calls National to ask when the counter closes at the Edmonton airport. They tell her midnight. Even more wisely, Lea Ann does not believe them and calls the counter at the Edmonton airport. They tell her 11pm. We ask about returning the Jeep up to 11pm, since this is after our specified return time. They are not at all concerned. Just get it back today.

Finally knowing our parameters, we get to Red Deer and call Wendy. We meet up at Glenn’s Family Restaurant, a roadside restaurant that could only exist in Canada. With a huge neon teapot for a sign, it has all the kitsch of anything in the US, but the sign indicates that it sells what most US residents view as sissy and/or British—a vast array of tea. That’s right, tea. We are quite pleased.

Would it surprise you to know that we sat there with Wendy (and her son), drinking tea and talking for several hours? Our waitress went home.

Finally we pry ourselves out of the booth and get back into the car for the final push. While this may sound repetitive, it is a lot farther from Red Deer to Edmonton than we expected. It is now completely dark and raining off-and-on, but I manage to keep the speed high enough to reach the hotel with about 30-45 minutes to spare before the National counter closes.

Lea Ann registers for the hotel, while I dump the bags on the curb. We still have a few loose items to collect, but those can wait, so we leave a bag or two in the car. Together, we drag the bags to our room as quickly as possible, just dumping them and running back out to the Jeep.

We selected our hotel because it is right across the highway from the airport and has a free shuttle. This works to our advantage tonight as hustle across the over-pass to the airport with 10-15 minutes to spare. Lea Ann will not even let me take time to fill up the gas tank! You know that is going to cost us a few extra dollars in fuel charges, which will probably be irrelevant against all the other charges.

Parked in the garage, Lea Ann runs to make sure the counter is still open and I stay to clean up the remaining junk. As promised, they are still open, so Lea Ann comes back and says we just need the final mileage and the keys. (They still call it mileage up here.)

So, with a couple of bags of stuff from the car, we head in to turn in the keys and catch the shuttle back to the hotel. Sadly, it is too late to eat anything, so we just go to the room, set a dozen alarms, and go to bed for the last time in Canada.

see it on a map

The previous installment:
Lake Louise to Fort MacLeod

The next installment:
Jeep (part 2) - The Final Conclusion

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All materials © 2004 Lea Ann Mawler & Stuart Mawler