The Great Beater Challenge 2017 – Day One Part Two: Out into the Prairie


In part one of day one we traveled from Lethbridge to the Crowsness Pass then along a washboard gravel road. In part two we drive through scenic Kananaskis back in the prairies again. We start this installment by cresting the Highwood pass at an elevation of 7239 ft. Due to an extremely hot and dry summer some of the trees have already started to turn color.

I do not recall ever driving in this particular area but the scenery is stunning.

Next up was a lake where these girls from a bachelorette party were pulling out a boat. The Pontiac guys (I think) managed to get the whole group to pose on top of their car.

Another scenic gravel road with many, many Texas gates followed.

We had a short stint along the Trans Canada highway where we got many reactions that ranged from puzzled to angry to laughing from the passing lane. This car attracted more attention than a Ferrari.

We topped up our fuel again and like expected the slower speeds meant much better fuel economy. The dust had got everywhere even in our relatively modern and well sealed car. Any of those braving classic cars surely got covered.

We stopped for a quick bite to eat in Cochrane where it was amusing to watch passerby’s reactions to our car from inside the restaurant. Many cellphone photos were taken and more than a few heads were shaken.

We headed north and the landscape changed from flat prairie to prairie with some rolling hills and trees.

We came across this church for sale in case anyone is looking for one to purchase. I wonder if the vintage tractor is included.

We finally connected with a few other vehicles in this small town of Water Valley.

We were supposed to pump and buy exactly $11.11 of gasoline at this rural gas station with its old school pumps but it closed at 6pm, well before our arrival. Probably just as well as our poorly planned previous fill up meant we could not have put in that much in.

Some sort of local celebration was underway with fireworks planned but we pressed on so we could arrive at the campsite before dark.

We spotted this Ford Mustang II convertible near the day’s final destination. It looked not bad for an aftermarket conversion. It obviously belonged to a Mustang II connoisseur as at least three others rested nearby. Would have made for a nice beater challenge car with the no roof bonus points.

We caught sight of the Mazda Bongo truck in Carstairs and followed him to the campground.

Last year we missed out on camping due to a torrential rain storm but this year the weather was warm and dry. I would have loved to see the reactions of the other campers to the arrival of our motley crew and ragtag vehicles. A few of the more hardy folks camped in their vehicles for bonus points. A few of the less hardy ones stayed at the hotel across the road. We choose the middle ground in tents.

One team had some chalk spray paint and left a few messages on a handful of cars. Luckily it washed off easily.

Unlike last year I had no mechanical maladies to report. The Civic was dusty but as intact as it was at the starting line minus the passenger side window wiper blade that fell off during the washboard gravel section. As you can see above panel fit is no longer a strong suit of this particular cosmetically challenged Civic.

There were a few issues from some of the other teams. The Jurassic Park Ford Explorer developed a transmission fluid leak and had to be towed for a short stint after running dry. Amazingly they were revived and completed the rest of the stage after adding transmission fluid. The Firebird fought some charging issues and planned to replace their alternator at the next reasonable size town in the morning.

After dark the farm trucks were the last to arrive. It was a slow, rough ride for them over the gravel sections.

After tents were set up and stories exchanged we caught some well deserved sleep. Tomorrow we have a ferry crossing as well as a date with dinosaurs.


The whole series:

Vehicle Selection and Preparation

The Teams

Day One Part One: Tarmac, Gravel, Tarmac and more Gravel

Day One Part Two: Out into the Prairie

Day Two Part One: Dinosaur Hunting

Day Two Part Two – Bridges, Pipes and Star Trek