CC Roadtrip: Banff to Kenora – The Wide, Wide Open Prairies

Somewhere East of Banff...

After a well-earned and restful sleep, we prepared ourselves for the next stage of our trip – crossing Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.  After the day before, we were sure the Crown Vic would be prepared for it as well.

We had gotten in late the night before, and hadn’t gotten a chance to see the scenery of Banff.  It was beautiful, much like what we’d think a mountain town in Switzerland would be.  Unfortunately, my father’s camera had managed to corrupt the pictures he took of it while I got the car out of the parking garage.  All I have is the one from breakfast:

Beautiful breakfast viewWish I had this view every breakfast!

We gassed up the car, and set out east.  The Alberta section of the Trans-Canada is divided all the way through, with a grassed median and a good surface. Leaving Banff, we were still in the mountains, but as we made our way east, they gradually got smaller.

Somewhere near CanmoreNear Canmore

The car was working fine, getting somewhere around 29 MPG at this point.   As we got closer to Calgary, the scenery started to flatten out.  It didn’t look much like farmland, it looked like pasture for grazing.  There was a fair bit of cattle spread out among the miles.

PrairielandsGetting Flatter

It was pretty easy driving.  Small hills and almost no trees gave us a wide-open view of it.  The three of us wondered where the posts were coming from for the fences we’d see.  The old wooden barns we’d seen weren’t painted, but were aged black.  Could they have been made of cedar?

Near CalgaryCalgary’s Suburbs

Upon getting closer to Calgary, the rolling landscape gave a good view of the range of suburban development in the town.  We didn’t feel like tangling with the traffic in Calgary, so we took Alberta 201 around the city centre, and continued on east.  It was starting to get late around the time we hit the Saskatchewan border, so we pulled into Swift Current, SK.  The Motel 6 seemed to be a good bet, so we checked in there.  Upon getting out of the car, we were treated to a sight we’d encounter a few times.

Geese in flying formationGeese heading north

It’s a treat to see them, flying in formation.  We’d see a lot of geese on the trip and in the air.  As for the hotel, it was OK.  Comfortable and clean, but not much sound insulation, especially the water system.  We awoke the next morning, loaded up the car for the trip, and started it up.  It revved up, and started missing, and stalled.  Tried it again, it still had a miss, and when I put it in gear and pulled away, it backfired through the intake, and stalled.  Tried it again, and let it run for a minute, and it was fine.  This was the first cold morning we had, so I figured the car, like the three of us – had a cold and didn’t like mornings either.  It worked fine the rest of the day.

Flat Prairie LandWest of Regina, SK – Big Sky Country!

We were under way again.  The land evened out the further we travelled, and hoped that we would make Ontario this day.  The highways in Saskatchewan were really good too – all divided highway.  We passed through Chaplin, where they process sodium sulphate.  There was a lot of white deposits in the ditches and small ponds in Saskatchewan, it must be common there.

Big Train CountryHuge train in Saskatchewan!

Worth mentioning is the size of the trains we saw out there.  I guess  because of the lack of grades for them to transcend, they can get away with these giant trains.  The one above took about 10 minutes to pass.  We were at 110 KM/H, it was probably travelling around 90 KM/H or so.  We saw a lot of trains on our trip. They quit travelling here in Cape Breton a year or so ago – and I never remember them being anywhere this big at all.

Dark Skies AheadBeautiful Prairie Sky

We pressed on through Manitoba as we didn’t want to be driving through Ontario at night.  We reached the Ontario border after sunset – and my father was disappointed as he figured that it would be divided all the way through.  I let him know that, no, the next 2000 kilometers would be mostly single lane road.  Sigh.  We made it to Kenora, and settled in at the Super 8.  It was pretty nice.

The second and third day we:

Travelled 1738 KM.  burnt 177 litres of fuel, giving 10.8L/100KM, or about 23 MPG.  Pretty good for mostly 110-115 KM/H travelling.