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Alberta Canada and -30 Degrees

This segment of our journey has a hurdle or two to overcome. The least of which is road conditions as close to a Whiteout as I've ever been in. If you have or have never been in -30 temps read on to see how we were affected and how we worked it out.

Osoyoos was just a spot to sleep really, we drove through the tiny town and got back on Hwy 3 to continue east. The next stretch was in and out of valley after valley of fruit trees, vineyards and wineries. The gigantic mountains had grown more distant and the icy conditions were more intense. The next town we scoped out on the map within a reasonable drive was Creston. We usually show some of our favorite sunsets, so here is a sunrise as we left Osoyoos and headed toward Creston.

The road conditions worsened for us which slowed our progress as we cruised along Hwy 3. Visibility was good enough for us to keep going, knowing we could stop at anytime and still be safe and warm was comforting. Here is what it looked like as we neared Creston at 1:30pm.

Of course, we consulted the iOverlander app to find a parking spot in Creston. As it turned out, we didn't need to. When we drove into the heart of town there was a public parking lot with RV's welcome clearly marked on the sign.

Score. When we park for an overnight stay we are not exactly roughing it. We are fully self-contained with on board power and off-grid capabilities. Seriously, I have an electric coffee bean grinder, French press, electric kettle, an electric griddle and an induction cooktop. We have a toilet, running water and a very comfortable bed. We built our own rolling B&B.

It is important for us to get out of the van and walk around, do some stretching and get the body moving. The temperatures are not really conducive to extended periods outside, for us anyway.

While walking around we asked two locals where to grab dinner and we were given two different places. We chose the closest one for obvious reasons, Jimmie's Pub. The special for the night was wings! I love HOT wings! We started with wings, I ordered fish and chips, Darin ordered a chicken sandwich and fries. The wings were outstanding! The meals showed up looking fabulous. I cut into my fish and thought right away that the color was a bit off. Darin was eating away on his chicken. I took my first bite and cringed, the texture was gross. Nope - not eating that. The fries were great, the side salad was awful then Darin dropped his sandwich and said, "taste that". From the look on his face I knew better than to do that. Darin promised me and himself he would be polite and just not say anything at all.

Soon after the waitress came over and asked how things were. I grimaced and told her the truth. She was very sweet and seemed to be taken aback by the color of the fish herself. Then she looked at Darin's chicken he didn't have to say word. She took the plates away and offered us a pizza. Darin asked if the same cook would prepare the pizza...nope. We ordered the pizza to go.

The next morning we continued east on Hwy 3 to Cranbrook and on to Fernie, Alberta. Fernie is a delightful ski resort town with great shops and bakeries.

We stumbled across a local Chocolatier that gave us some insight to the world of chocolate. When you find yourself in Fernie you must get yourself a Fernie Bar from BeanPod.

There is still plenty of daylight so we decided to drive on. Crowsnest Pass is the next town on the map, much larger than I expected and more spread out. Pincher Creek was up next and with just recently passing the time-zone we felt as if we still had an hour or so before locating our sleep spot. iOverlander indicated a spot in Pincher Creek with WiFi! What a find! We want that! This spot is at a Public Library, different but looked promising so we backed into our spot. The weather forecast was calling for -22 degrees F.

On board we have a solar generator setup that totals 4500 watts of power. It is also connected via a switch to our engine battery in the event of no sun, we can also plug into ‘shore’ power when it is available. Shore power is usually not available except in campgrounds with full hookups. We also have an Espar diesel heater that is directly connected to our fuel tank and an AGM 12v battery that is part of our solar generator system.

Our bedding is flannel sheets, flannel blankets and -20 degree rated sleeping bags. We have a custom rear door blanket that helps insulate us from the draftiest part of the van, which is where the rear doors close. We also have insulated window covers. I described all this in order to give you the full picture of how we are prepared, oh and we have thermal undies! Time to get ready for bed!

Since I am an unreasonably early riser, I prep a few things before bed to be as quiet as possible in the morning. I also like a nice hot cup of tea in the evening. My kettle is 1000w and puts a bit of a draw on our system. So, we run the engine while I prep for morning as I need to grind coffee beans. We have determined that we need a certain percentage of power before bed in order to boil water the next morning. The stars have aligned, everything is prepped, time for bed.

We slept just fine, nice and warm under the covers. However, our morning didn’t start out as usual. At 5:15am Darin got out of bed first, this is extremely unusual. I think his spidey-senses told him something was wrong. As usual, he was right. As a side note, when we had our van serviced in San Diego we told them we were headed to Canada, the Yukon and Alaska. Back to Darin’s spidey-senses… he put the key in the ignition and turned… hmmm. Let’s try that again, nope, the van was not starting. Oh wait, another thing we did prior to leaving San Diego was upgrade our AAA to include Canada. We called AAA. While we were waiting on a rep to let us know help was dispatched I let Darin know we had 3 hours of power left in order to run our diesel heater. Once AAA connected us to AMA (Alberta’s version of AAA) we were told it could take anywhere from 5 minutes to 4 hours for someone to get to us. The math here was a teeny bit concerning but neither of us panicked. We were in the parking lot of a library after all and it would eventually open.

As luck would have it within about 6 minutes we got the call that a technician was on his way. The very nice young man, I believe his name was Brighton, hooked up to our battery and BAM! Nothing happened. After several attempts, he decided to go get a bigger truck. When he returned, after a couple more tries, we were running! Brighton informed us that it was -40 during the night. I think he meant Celsius but -40 is -40. We had no idea because our heater kept the interior at about 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit. He gave us some advice that we gladly accepted and off toward Calgary we went. On the way there we called the Mercedes to inquire about a service to check our battery and to install a block heater. The lady on the phone said they were booked until January 15. Oh Lord! That makes us nervous, but we headed their way anyway.

Our luck holds strong, when we arrived at the Mercedes Dealer in Calgary they were very accommodating. They put in an emergency order for a block heater and gave us a ride to a local hotel. The hotel room has a washer, dryer and a VERY hot shower. They expect the block heater to arrive the next day. We are very thankful for the Boss Lady at the Mercedes Dealership service center in Calgary.

Sure enough the block heater arrived and they were able to install it quickly for us. We ended up spending two nights in the hotel and picking up our van on Saturday morning. Darin had asked the folks what we should do since we were in the area. They gave him a really great suggestion. So we headed west, yes west to Canmore, about an hour away.

Join us again when we share a very exciting highlight of our trip so far.


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