Alaska Trip Day 3: Edmonton, Alberta
Odometer (ILX): 165,505
Day Distance: 658 Miles
Trip Distance: 1,806 Miles
Ahoy from Canada! I just learned more about Canada in the last hour at dinner with my friend Cole than I did in all of middle school & high school combined. He grew up in British Columbia but has lived in Alberta for the last few years. And he’s acting as a gracious host for us in opening up his home for our nightly stay here before Jason and I truck on through on our journey to Alaska. Beats Motel 6 by a long shot! Plus we got to take his 1976 Ford F-250 to dinner.
The day started out with about an 8:00 a.m. departure from Butte, Montana. It was a cool morning with partly cloudy skies and the scent of freshly-fallen rain. Loved it. A big chunk of our journey was spent on Interstate 15 northbound in Montana – the first few hours, anyway.
The highway curves through the Beaverhead Lodge National Forest toward the state capitol, Helena, then continues north to Great Falls where the landscape levels out a bit and becomes more manageable for a kick-back driving style. We fueled up in a small town called Conrad – our last chance to get fuel before it was sold by the liter. Jason commented “It’s the perfect buffet for a road tripper!” in regard to the selection of items available at the gas station for food. I grabbed some string cheese and deviled eggs.
The border checkpoint at Sweetgrass, Montana was quiet. In the 4 lanes that were open, there were no waiting cars. Jason and I were the only ones arriving. And, as it turns out, he breezed right through long before I did. For some reason the agent had about 20 questions for me, including the origin & destination my trip, my career, the amount of cash I was carrying, and a variety of other things. I just answered politely and tried to make the experience drama free – which it was.
From there, I got us a little bit lost in Lethbridge when I missed paying attention to a critical turnoff. As a result, we ended up on a road called “Scenic” Road, which was appropriate because that’s exactly the route it ended up being. Jason followed me on over to Highway 2 northbound. In the process, the rains started coming down, and we watched a bit of a crisis take place when somehow a ski boat on a trailer became detached from the truck that was towing it, and went cruising down the shoulder unattended. Brake lights illuminated in front of me as people hurriedly went to try and stop it somehow but it eventually came to rest in a grassy area. What the heck?
We fueled up as the Esso in Claresholm where 91 octane was selling for 119 cents per liter. My fuel spreadsheet just got a whole lot more complicated. As did my phone situation: I had to spend about 15 minutes on the phone with Verizon trying to get my data plan activated for international use. I guess Verizon has a $2.00 / day plan so that’s what I went with. Thankfully that drama got ironed out and I was able to use my phone again in short order.
With Jason still in my rearview, we went on through Calgary – the province’s largest city. Industry there thrives around oil and gas. We found traffic on Highway 2 to be pretty smooth flowing on the 4-lane-wide freeway except for a piece of construction where they were doing some bridge work. We found a great Italian restaurant callled Pacini right near the Calgary (YYC) airport. My favorite part about the restaurant was the “bread bar” where they had slices of various types of bread available with oil, vinegar, pesto butter, and even a grill to toast it on. And I got a kick out of the fact that every TV in the bar area had a hockey game on it. Oh, Canada!
The last few hours of today’s drive were drenched in drizzling non-stop rain as we closed in on Edmonton. Speed limits were 110 km/h on the highway and I got used to knowing that was about 65 miles per hour. I pulled into Cole’s housing complex and parked next to a 2006 Acura CSX. Now I fit right in here!
Woke up to this temp in Montana!
Beautiful day, though. Here, Jason was getting his stuff packed into the Mazda.
Fist-bump to start the day!
Beautiful sky on I-15 northbound. They call Montana “Big Sky Country” for a reason.
More technical part of the interstate.
Many gas stations in Montana are attached to casinos like this Lucky Lil’s.
Jason and I decided to do a “sound test” and check the decibels of each of our cars at 80 miles per hour. Somehow, my high-revving ILX was still quieter than his Mazda by about 10 dB.
Approaching Canadian customs!
Then this automated text message came through. $2.05 per megabyte for int’l data?!
Welcome to Alberta!
Same pic, but with the coupe 10 years ago.
Headed toward Calgary.
Gas at Esso in Claresholm, AB
Those prices look amazing until you realize they’re in liters… and Canadian dollars!
Gas log just got a lot more complicated with that last entry.
Welcome to Calgary
“Bread Bar” at Pacini restaurant in Calgary
More rain heading north
Fueling up behind an Acura TSX in Edmonton
What a polite gas station! Free air freshener if you aren’t satisfied with the washroom cleanliness!
Acura Civ… er, CSX! This was a Canadian-only model.
Tomorrow we enter the ACTUAL Alaska Highway! Come back for more!