the move west: day six: swift current saskatchewan to calgary alberta

Greetings from Mountain Time! I had a friend from Denver who always said Mountain was the forgotten time zone. He may have been right: we forgot about the hour time difference until we saw the time on a bank sign.

On the way out of Swift Current, the highway was a bit slippery, not from recent snow, but from compacted snow and ice that hadn't been cleared. We saw a few trucks in the median that had slipped off the road; we did have to drive a bit more carefully, but nothing scary.

The land looked more like ranch and grazing land than farmland, and we did see a lot of cows and some buffalo. I'm glad to see them out eating grass the way they should be. I spotted a few animal crossings, the tunnels built under highways. The land was also less flat, with low, rolling hills, but still unbroken to the horizon. There were looong stretches without a town in sight.

We listened to more Dortmunder -- we're both getting a little bored and want the book to end soon -- and coordinated the airport pickup and a U-Haul issue with M. An engine light is on, and although the truck is driving fine, we want to get it sorted before driving into the mountains. U-Haul is supposed to have roadside assistance.

Speaking of "supposed to have," I was unsurprised to learn that the "third stay free" Super 8 promotion is pretty much a bait-and-switch. It's a program through the parent company, Wyndham, and the front desk person at the Calgary Super 8 didn't know anything about it. After some discussion, we checked in in the usual way, then once in the room, I poked around the Wyndham Rewards website.

Yes, we are earning points for these stays, but they aren't credited right away, and they have an expiry date. In other words, the program is worthless. I plan to complain, only because I think companies should hear from us (all of us), but I know it will do absolutely no good. Luckily the Super 8s have been fine, actually pretty nice, and the rates have been good.

While I'm complaining about hotels, here's my recurring complaint about the supposed green policies at most hotels. Reusing towels or sleeping on the same sheets two nights in a row are logical actions to take -- except that those actions end up cutting hours for underpaid hotel workers. Meanwhile, the hotels are using disposal cups in all the rooms. Even worse, many of the in-room coffee makers use disposable filter holders -- instead of putting the filter pack in a tray that's part of the coffee maker, the filter pack comes with its own single-use tray. It's incredibly wasteful. And of course there are the little bottles of shampoo and other hygiene products. We've stayed in hotels with good environmental practices, I know it's possible to do. It's not green to push more families into poverty and to increase income inequality.

My former co-workers and union team will be interested to hear there was a strong scented air "freshener" in our room when we got in. I'm one of the people who benefited from the City of Mississauga's scent-free workplace policy, and several times had to deal with violations, both as a supervisor and a sufferer. We were in our room for about 30 seconds when I started coughing violently. Allan got rid of the scent thingies and I opened a window, and avoided a full-scale asthma attack. I will definitely mention it to the manager on our way out.

The room is much nicer than I expected for the price, once I was able to breathe.

I got Diego settled, M dealt with U-Haul, and Allan picked up SIL from the airport. Diego went absolutely berserk with happiness when he saw SIL -- leaping about, jumping up to kiss her over and over, then barking furiously to try to get SIL to greet him the way he wants -- hands-on. SIL was a bit freaked out; who wouldn't be? Of course, we all knew SIL was coming today, but Diego didn't. To him it was the most amazing and wonderful surprise! Ah, dogs. We are so loving traveling with him.

The hotel is in the middle of big shopping area -- it looks exactly like Mississauga -- so we went down the street to an East Side Mario's for dinner. (Non-Canadian readers, that's Canada's version of The Olive Garden.) After dinner all three of us went to M/SIL's room to drink wine, but SIL and I quickly conked out. I've been getting up ridiculously early every day; my brain is still on Eastern time.

Today, the mountains! There's no snow in the forecast and we're closing in on the end of the journey. Thanks for coming along. It's fun to know that friends are following our progress.


Amy said...

I can't believe the end is in sight! I did map out the trip (so far), and by converting km to miles, I now have a much better sense of how far you are driving each day. Quite remarkable!

I was tickled by your use of the word "sorted" for what in the US is usually fixed or figured out. I'd never heard that until we started watching British tv shows. Is it something said in Canada? Also expiry date! You may be skeptical of Canadian fake friendliness and overcautiousness, but you certainly have picked up the lingo! :) (And the metric system....)

I look forward to the mountain trip.

laura k said...

Thanks Amy!

Canadian speech is full of Brit-isms. But typical for Canada, not all of them are used, and there are plenty of Americanisms too.

After 13 years here, it would be tough not to pick up the lingo, I think. The metric system is so much better, it just makes sense to use it. Also if I didn't I'd have to convert constantly!

I have no sense of miles or Fahrenheit anymore. Allan doesn't believe me, but I can't think in miles or F at all.

James Redekop said...

You're not far from one of the greatest paleontological museums in the world: The Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller. (By not far, I don't mean pop over for an afternoon -- it's 140km from Calgary.) I've never been, but it's definitely on my list.

I've been told that the small bottles of shampoo &c are required after incidents where people put something in the multi-use bottles and left them for the next people. To avoid liability, the hotels switched to single-use.

If you want to reduce waste when travelling from hotel to hotel, keep the ones from the first hotel and use them up over subsequent nights instead of using the fresh ones in each hotel.

James Redekop said...

Meant to include a link to the Royal Tyrrell Museum in that last post...

Amy said...

I can sort of estimate km distances but only by converting to miles. I don't think I will ever be able to estimate or convert F to C or C to F without using an app!

allan said...

How can a person lose the sense of miles and F when she had been doing it for 44 years? ... For me, I still have little idea of what C is. I do know above 25 is bad, though.

We now have only 2 motel stays remaining!! Somehow, this cross-country drive has zipped by. We are tired at the end of each driving day, but the feeling is not cumulative. Every day seems fresh. I have never seen the Rockies - US or Canada - so I'm looking forward to the next two days.

Our car went 620.7 km yesterday for a total of 3,600.7. We estimate 485 km today.

Alberta Towns: Foremost, Mayberries, Stand Off, Mirror, Legal, Standard, Ma-Me-O Beach, Dorothy, Kathryn, Caroline, Irma, Kathleen, Bruce, Clyde.

Jen and Ryan said...

The Rockies are amazing. The Rockies are our backyard now and in British Columbia they are just beautiful. Glad you guys are enjoying your trip. Reading the blogs brings back so many good memories.

Kyahgirl said...

I have really enjoyed going on this journey with you.
I love the prairies, having lived here for 30 years now, but in my heart I’m still a B.C. girl. I hope you enjoy your journey through there.
Loved your description of Diego’s reaction to SIL. Dogs know a lot about joyous greetings!

laura k said...

Great to hear from you all!

The attraction I'm missing in Calgary is the beautiful new central library. I'm disappointed to not see it. Google it -- a train literally runs through the library, but you cannot hear or feel the train. Or so I am told.

laura k said...

Many hotels have solved the little bottle issue by hanging pump bottles, in the manner of hand sanitizers. Way less packaging and still hygienic.

laura k said...

I never converted F to C or miles to kms. I went cold turkey, and the new stuff pushed the old out of my brain. If you convert, in my experience, you never learn.

Amy said...

I think that would only work in a place where you can immerse yourself into the metric system. Doing that while living in the US would be impossible. And I probably would end up more like Allan anyway even if I lived in a country with a metric system.

Stephanie said...

When I first read SIL my brain was having a little difficulty since in linguistics SIL means Summer Institute of Linguistics which is a
proselytising association of Linguists.

Kim_in_TO said...

I was reading SIL as "son-in-law" but had guessed that was incorrect. :)

M@ said...

Just checking in to let you know yet another person is following along! I hope we can do the cross-country drive one day soon. With a stop in Port Hardy of course. :)

Also, metric is the only system that makes sense. I think you haven't quite caught on with the glory that is the Robertson screwdriver, but one step at a time. ;)

Happy travels for the last two legs, and hugs to Diego!

Stephanie said...

Talk about making a lot of sense...I love the Roberson!

laura k said...

It's great to hear from you all. M@ I can't believe you remember our confusion with that crazy screwdriver!

laura k said...

By now I assume you know that SIL is our sister-in-law. She is also M and it would be too confusing!

Stephanie said...

Got it. Fanx.

drf said...

Hey Laura K and crew!
A warm welcome to the Wet Coast!
(This is probably a first for me...making a comment on a blog.)
Love reading your trip posts as it brings back memories of our cross country travels when we left the Florida panhandle for VAN in 2008. Similar in so many ways except we were pulling a U-Haul trailer (years later used U-Pods to make the final move), dodging tornadoes in Iowa and the Dakotas, staying in luxurious Motel 6s (NOT!) because they were dog friendly and cheap. Our beloved JoJo barked all the
way across the continent @ every cow/horse/buffalo she saw. Such fun! We timed our arrival in VAN on an early Sunday morning so to lessen the anxieties of driving in traffic to our downtown condo. Overall all went well with the exception of the car alarm going off as we were unloading and we didn't know how to stop it. Our new neighbours were not amused.

Port Hardy...I've been there! Friends and I did the poor-man cruise of the Inside Passage via BC Ferries from Port Hardy to Bella Coola and return. Beautiful, and rustic, trip! Maybe a staycation for you guys later? I believe the route is being brought back after the Liberals (in name only...politics is a riot in BC, but where is it not?) trashed the ferry system years ago. BTW, Seniors ride free M,T,W,T. thanks to the current (very fragile) NDP/Greens coalition.

I can't remember how you will travel from Calgary to VAN. The Coquihalla is always
a "news event"in the winter months.

Wishing you continued safe travels to the Promise Land!

David and Bob

Maybe we can meet some day @ this dog friendly place in Tofino, Vancouver Island?
It's been years since we have been.

allan said...

Spoiler Alert for L's next post:
The drive through the Rockies was *nothing*. It was extremely scenic and beautiful, but I think I would be in greater danger walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night. It would be a tougher drive in rain or a blizzard, but *every road* in Canada would be tougher in those conditions. The first two evenings in Ontario with snow for 1-2 hours at night were far more to deal with, according to both me and our U-Haul driver. The distance through the mountains was also much fewer kms than I anticipated. Another time zone change meant we were done driving by 3:30!!

tornwordo said...

All caught up! Thanks for blogging the move. Have you read The Dog Master? Gréât read.

laura k said...

DRF!!! How wonderful to hear from you! The other half of West End Bob. :)

Thanks for sharing those memories. Ah, JoJo. I believe you have a different fur-child now, but I can't remember their name.

When we were in Vancouver in 2016 we missed you, but hopefully there will be many more opportunities to meet in person now. Love to you guys!

laura k said...

Hi Tornwordo, thanks for reading! I don't know that book... putting it on The List. Thanks. :)