Alaska Trip Day 3: Edmonton, Alberta

Odometer (ILX):  165,505

165505

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.

cole_with_truck

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.

gas_station_goods

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!

butte_weather

Beautiful day, though.  Here, Jason was getting his stuff packed into the Mazda.

butte_depart

Fist-bump to start the day!

fist_bump

Beautiful sky on I-15 northbound. They call Montana “Big Sky Country” for a reason.

sky

More technical part of the interstate.

i15

Many gas stations in Montana are attached to casinos like this Lucky Lil’s.

casino

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.

sound

Approaching Canadian customs!

customs

Then this automated text message came through.  $2.05 per megabyte for int’l data?!

verizon_tex

Welcome to Alberta!

alberta

Same pic, but with the coupe 10 years ago.

ab

Headed toward Calgary.

calgary_sign

Gas at Esso in Claresholm, AB

esso2

Those prices look amazing until you realize they’re in liters… and Canadian dollars!

esso

Gas log just got a lot more complicated with that last entry.

fuel

Welcome to Calgary

yyc

“Bread Bar” at Pacini restaurant in Calgary

bread

More rain heading north

rain

Fueling up behind an Acura TSX in Edmonton

tsx_at_esso

What a polite gas station!  Free air freshener if you aren’t satisfied with the washroom cleanliness!

washroom

Acura Civ… er, CSX!   This was a Canadian-only model.

csx

Tomorrow we enter the ACTUAL Alaska Highway!  Come back for more!

24 Responses to “Alaska Trip Day 3: Edmonton, Alberta”

  1. Loving the daily updates on your Alaska trip. Makes me feel like I’m on the trip with you guys. Keep on trucking!

    • Haha, thanks Sunny! It’s kind of tiring to spend all day in the car and then have to spell an hour putting a blog post together but it’s worth it. I want to preserve these memories. I’m also taking short video clips each day that I’ll piece together after we’re home.

  2. Way to keep the content interesting without a ton of reading and drama. If you decide to return via British Columbia, I’ll treat you all to a meal 🙂

    • Thank you Pam! And yes the return trip will be through BC! Whereabouts are you located?

      • Pam Buckshon Says:

        Thanks for the reply Tyson. I’ve been reluctant to comment just because I know how much work it is to follow up. I’m in Abbotsford, approximately 50 miles east of Vancouver on Highway 1 (you’ve been on 2, this is our other highway). I have a choice of two Acuras I could drive and decent time freedom 🙂

  3. I like that Acura TSX in Edmonton. 😀 That looks like a 06-08 model.

    • Yep you are correct! The car was pretty rough from the front and sides. Still had steel wheels and snow tires installed up front! These Albertans are barely getting through with winter!

  4. Farid Yoeu Says:

    I really appreciate the frequent blog updates! I get so excited whenever I see a new entry! Safe travels!

  5. autoscribe1974 Says:

    Great pics and stories, Tyson!

    • Thank you Mark! It’s sure a nice way to spend a Monday today while my coworkers are slaving away inside an office. Everyone should be entitled to an extended escape like this at least once a year. More to come! 🙂

  6. Hey Tyson! Loving all the photos! I’m a bit jealous of you taking this really cool trip (through some of the scenery/states I love most).

    Can you let me/us know btw what kind of range you’re getting per tank with everything loaded up as it is? The nerd in me is super curious. Additionally, I don’t think I’ve ever filled 91 in my cars! The “lowest” premium grade we have here is 92, and I usually put 93 in the MX-5! I wonder how that’d affect your fuel averages (if at all).

    Happy/safe travels!

    • Thanks Uri! And yes I will definitely be doing some calculations on MPG. So far we’ve been able to find 91 at every gas station but I remember when my dad & did this trip 10 years ago we had to use 87 at one point in the Legend because it’s all that was available. The car’s computer tells me I’ve averaged 32.6 mpg over the 1,917 miles since leaving home.

  7. Awesome info Tyson!!

    A couple of years ago, the Mrs and I headed to Canada. We flew to Burlington VT, rode the bus over the border and arrived in Montreal. However, I remember the border crossing particularly interesting. Just like you did, I was quizzed by a Canadian border patrol that asked me a million questions.

    However, she (the officer) was extremely attractive. For some reason, a good looking female officer, with a uniform, a gun, blonde hair and blue eyes caused me to stutter quite a bit. I was just too dumbfounded by how pretty she was! At any rate, just like in your case: no drama. Things went smoothly and we made it with no incident.

    Oh Canada! Indeed.

    Regarding keeping track of your fuel mileage and such: have you downloaded the Fuelly app yet? Easy and accurate way to track your mileage (I think it can handle litres vs gallons too) – if you have not, I highly recommend it.

    Check it: http://www.fuelly.com/ – they have the corresponding iPhone app too.

    Cheers and happy trails!

    • Ha! I’m cracking up at your experience with (sexy) Canadian border patrol, but glad you made it through without any drama despite being a little tongue-twisted. I’ve heard of Fuelly but I need to get that downloaded so I can get my stats in order. Thanks again for the tip, and for following along!

  8. Tyson, don’t they have Exxon, BP, Chevron, or Shell gas stations over in Canada? They would surely have the good gas with the top octane. My 2005 Acura TSX requires premium fuel of at least 91 octane. In the Miami Florida area, the gas stations only have regular gas of 87 octane, the middle grade ( I think premium) of 89 octane, and super unleaded of 93. I am always forced to put the Super unleaded.

    • I wish we had 93 octane in my area! Grades in Arizona are usually 87, 89, and 91. My ILX says PREMIUM FUEL RECOMMENDED in side the gas door so it’s not necessarily “required,” but I use it because I feel like it’s helping mpg’s.

  9. “Thank you Mark! It’s sure a nice way to spend a Monday today while my coworkers are slaving away inside an office. Everyone should be entitled to an extended escape like this at least once a year. More to come!:)”

    Thanks for reminding us regular folk about today Monday and having to stay locked up in a cubicle. 😦 😉

  10. Good bye rain and hello sunshine! Days keep getting better. (Spoiler) 😉

  11. Haha yes, just getting to the good stuff!!

  12. Alaeldeen Abdelmoneim Says:

    Man it would have been great to see you in Edmonton Tyson! I hope Alberta was great to you guys, enjoy!

    • Yes! For some reason I had it in my mind that you were going to be out of town on the day that we were visiting. Otherwise I would have reached out. Would love to meet you sometime!

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