Saturday saw my friend Caleb’s memorial service in Kamloops, British Columbia. The church was absolutely packed, but I expected nothing less. There were many tears shed, but plenty of laughs shared too! Straight afterwards, rather than hang around town, I decided to head up to Revelstoke on my way to Edmonton, in the next province across.
I had been told to look out for a strange hotel just before Revelstoke – a place in which one could imagine Stephen King’s The Shining being set. It was pretty hard to miss, the Chateau sitting pretty at the end of the Three Valley Lake on the Trans Canada Highway. Normally I would have just kept on driving, but on this particular afternoon I decided to stop and see if they had any rooms available. Amazingly, they had exactly one – on the fifth floor. I checked in.
In its day it was probably pretty chic but now it’s looking a bit dated. I felt as if I had stepped back into the 1980s – an indoor pool with Titanic theme, simple, large bedrooms, games rooms, no wifi, no air-conditioning … but it was clean, quiet and kept me dry as the wild thunderstorm battered the mountains and lake. And I didn’t run into Jack Nicholson or any of the other characters from the horror movie.
The next morning I left early, bound for Edmonton. I soon discovered that I am a terrible traveller when trying to be a photographer as well. I was continually distracted by signs promising incredible vistas or other travel nuggets. But I was mostly disappointed on this cold, overcast day. On entering Alberta, though, I was enticed south (in the wrong direction) by a sign for Lake Louise. After passing the village of the same name my car then turned me up towards Moraine Lake, where I finally got my wish of some stunning views.
The onset of snow sent me back to my vehicle and down to Lake Louise, where I tried to dodge the throng of tourists to capture an iconic Lake Louise shot. Unfortunately that was not to be – what with more snow flurries, wind and no sunshine. But it was even more beautiful than I remembered it from my quick visit in the winter of 2007. And I would have had to be in the worst snow storm imaginable not to take any photos!
At 3.30pm, and with my destination still 450km away, I realised I’d better get cracking. My route took me north from there along the Icefields Parkway to Saskatchewan River Crossing, then on to the David Thompson Highway. Once again I was forced to delay my trip because of Abraham Lake – at 33km long, Alberta’s longest manmade lake. In fact, I came over the hill so fast that I had to stop, turn around and approach it again to capture my first photo of its emerald-green charm.
Apart from being absolutely jacked from too much Tim Hortons coffee, and having to avoid a car avoiding three deer, everything was going smoothly through to Rocky Mountain House and Red Deer. I had just turned north along Highway 2 in the fast-fading light when my reserve fuel light came on and beeped loudly at me through the coffee haze. Not knowing how long I could drive on reserve, I turned off the highway as soon as I could into a small place called Blackfalds. Which is where the title of this blogpost came from.
Before I knew it I was driving through modern suburbia with no gas station in sight.
I, who have travelled the world, but was trying to get from British Columbia to south Edmonton, Alberta with no GPS, was tired and befuddled. After extracting myself from the manicured maze of townhouses I stumbled across a tiny service station where I put in 20 bucks of gas – hopefully enough to get me to my friends up north. The attendant pointed me towards the highway with a “go right there, then right again, then right again,” which got me even more lost, skirting cattle ranches. Eventually I arrived in Lacombe, which I recognised (again, from my last trip to the area in 2007). Right, right and right hadn’t worked previously so I went with left and left again until I saw signs for the highway. Breathing a huge sigh of relief, I turned once more onto the highway and battled my way to my friends through a light drizzle – wide eyed, and white knuckled.
From the Three Valley Chateau I travelled approximately 800km, which took me 12 hours including detours and going astray. Now that’s what I call a road trip!