I heard the rain fall a bit overnight, and was afraid today would be another overcast day. Turned out to be bright and sunny, a perfect day for driving across Alberta. Rush hour was essentially over by the time we hit the road. The Calgary Stampede is this week, so there was still a fair number of cars (and semi-trucks) on the road with us until we got outside of the city. Calgary definitely has a frontier, wild-west feel to it. Of course, it was probably somewhat intensified given the Stampede. An easy city to navigate, but I’m still partial to Toronto. We have more places to see before we get home, so I may find a few new places to love.
My brain is feeling clearer, and my mood has definitely lightened now that we are out of wall to wall mountains. They are beautiful to look at, and I have great respect for those who can live on or near them. I need to see a horizon, and preferably the ocean. I did comment today that a wheat or grain field would be the next best thing to being at the ocean for me as I could at least watch the undulations of the vegetation and pretend it was ocean waves.
As we left the city behind, we watched field after field of mustard open before our eyes. Deep, rich green fields of hay and unflowering mustard followed by fields of flowering mustard so bright you almost had to shield your eyes.
We were definitely out of the mountains and back to rolling hills and prairie. Sprinkled among the croplands were livestock farms and more than the occasional oil drill.
One of the great things about the Trans-Canadian Highway is the pullouts on the side of the road. There are trash and recycling cans to dispose of waste, and a very large shoulder for resting if needed. There are also rest areas, but they are generally two unisex bathrooms which are more like port-a-potties than actual restrooms. Mom had a bad experience in one yesterday, so we pass those by. The pullouts are a good spot to stop for a photo, though!
Our first stop today was the Saamis Tepee. We learned from the Visitor/Tourist Center nearby it was originally built for the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, and moved to Medicine Hat in 1991. At 215 feet tall, it is the equivalent of a 20 story building. It didn’t feel that way standing under it. Inside are 10 handpainted storyboards that tell the history and influences on the area’s First Nations heritage. You can easily see the tepee from the highway, and it would be easy to pass it by as just another tourist destination. We were both incredibly moved and learned a great deal. Definitely worth the stop.
The Medicine Hat Tourist Center has free bikes for anyone to borrow for rides along the bike/walking trails or to ride the coulees. Looking at the size of the ravines, definitely not a leisurely stroll or something that I want to attempt. If you are an avid outdoorsman, this area has a lot to offer.
It was still a little early for check-in at the hotel, so we opted for a late lunch/early dinner at Medicine Hat Brewing. They opened for business in December 2016, and have an extensive, and very good, selection of beer. We each had a burger (note to self, remember to ask for it to be cooked medium or it will come out well done.) We each did a beer flight, enjoyed our burger, and enjoyed wonderful conversation with our waitress.
We were going to take the self-guided tour through town, but the wind was mighty strong. Once we got into our hotel room we opted for driving through, and maybe a stroll, as we head out of town and continue east tomorrow.