Now that we have met the other teams it is time to get going on this year’s edition of the Great Beater Challenge. As usual, we would be traveling for most of the time through lovely mountain scenery while completing a scavenger hunt in which one would have to find a landmark or complete a task. The day would see us travel from prairies into mountains first on the Alberta side then into British Columbia. I was fairly confident in the Hyundai Elantra as it had been the daily driver for our middle son for quite a while although the clutch is barely hanging on and it has quite high mileage at almost 330k kms. It seems to work fine as an in-town car but how would it handle a long trip?
The first day was 526 kms (327 miles) which Google Maps estimated to take around 6 hours without stops. We would be taking significantly longer with the various challenges along the way. As you can see we would dip very close to the United States border on several occasions.
The route started in the historical downtown district of Fort MacLeod which has been used for the filming of several major TV shows and movies. It’s very intact historical main street and low Canadian dollar is quite the draw for the filming industry. It has been most notably featured in The Last of Us, Interstellar, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Brokeback Mountain, and the Fargo TV show.
This British pairing is not often seen outside of a car show these days. We were all at the edge of an impressive but hidden from this view dam but visible here are some of the many windmills in this area. This part of southern Alberta is one of the most windy areas of North America.
We were off to a dam impressive start!
That is until a few of us misread a clue and ended up on a rural, hobby-focused airfield where some of the competitors helped fix the airport bus that had broken down.
The guy driving the bus was someone who I had bought my MG B a few years back. I have seen him since and he has a small workshop filled with a few CC worthy projects. Small world.
We were seeing double of double at the next stop as we managed to meet up with the other time machine outside the world famous double-decker outhouse. Dibs on the top spot.
We soon left the prairies and entered the Rocky Mountain range with Turtle Mountain greeting us.
We entered the municipal section of the Crowsnest Pass which is a collection of several small towns close to each other. These towns were founded by mining and are clustered along the railway path. Along the route it is a fun atmosphere and competitors will often help each other to find nearby clues on the scavenger hunt.
One of the nice things about an event like this is that you get to see some roadside attractions like this miner, to celebrate the rich history of coal mining in this area, that you may have missed in your own backyard.
Here is the other motor home that was entered into the GBC that we missed in the teams’ introduction section mostly because I neglected taking a photo of it at the start line. The exterior decoration was limited on this one but I believe they had a Breaking Bad TV show theme complete with costumes.
This Chevrolet Nova was not a competitor but could have been if it had not been in such nice shape. Maybe for the 2033 edition.
There were a few other classics to be seen along that way like this air-cooled Volkswagen Type 2 van.
We, like everyone else seemingly, filled up with comparatively cheap gas in Alberta before heading across the British Columbia border.
Before actually crossing that border we had lunch in the company of the world’s biggest piggy bank.
The very recognizable and iconic Crowsnest Mountain was named after the ravens that nested in the region by the Ktunaxa First Nations.
The fourth member of our team was my wife’s dog who was playing the part of Doc Brown’s dog Einstein.
“If My Calculations Are Correct, When This Baby Hits 88 Miles Per Hour, You’re Gonna See Some Serious S***.” Doc Emmett Brown.
Rather than 88mph our Elantra initiated time travel at a more modest 88km/h where we traveled one second per second into the future.
It is not often that you see a Plymouth Prowler street parked in Canada and I counted this as a nice street parked find. Only to discover that there was a car show on nearby.
We, of course, briefly attended the show. The nice thing about car shows that are not in your area is that it is not all the usual local suspects. It was certainly nice to see this Morgan for example.
I am no Ford Thunderbird expert but I would imagine any example equipped with a standard transmission is a rare bird indeed.
This British Ford truck would be similarly uncommon.
I think most CC readers would find a second generation Corvair Corsa with a four-speed manual and a turbo rather appealing.
As I recall Biff Tannen owned a 1946 Ford convertible in the first Back to the Future movie but this 1946 Mercury is a pretty close stand-in for it.
Back on the highway we passed the Suzuki LJ doing a steady 90km/h on the shoulder. He had taken off the hood to aid in cooling the engine. Rumor has it that his overheating woes started even before getting to the start line.
There are plenty of bridges over scenic rivers along the route.
This small town gas station, 2 Pump Paul’s, was playing off their oddball name in Yahk, British Columbia to sell a few shirts. I was able to resist picking up a trio of ‘grab your nuts’ shirts somehow.
It would not be a road trip without a small town displaying an old train at the side of the road. This one is sleeker than most. The train, as I understand it, is a CP 4090 model FA-2 manufactured in 1953. The train is part of the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel which I have not had the pleasure of visiting yet.
After several hours of driving it seemed like a good time to take a little break at a road side ice cream shop. Among the other competitors that stopped was the Volkswagen Fox with the rare GTI package that included a blacked out paint tray.
This photo does not quite capture the scale but the ice cream was massive. And this was the smallest size offered as an inaccurately labeled single, regular scope. I am unsure how one could eat the available triple scope without it melting or serious stomach trauma occurring shortly afterwards.
The 1976 Cadillac Eldorado cruising down the road and missing out on ice cream.
Next up was a fruit growing region of British Columbia where the terrain would change dramatically. Tune in for the second installment of the first day.
The 2023 Great Beater Challenge Series