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Canmore, Medicine Hat, Swift Current and Indian Head

When we closed our last blog post we had just gotten our new block heater installed in Calgary. They recommended we go to Banff and Canmore and highly recommended dog sledding...

Since we are this far north, we decided to head to Canmore and experience this beautiful ski village and take in some dog sledding. The plan was to arrive in Canmore, locate the Howling Dog Tours and find a quiet place to sleep. We considered staying in the parking lot of the dog sledding company but decided on a type of location we have never thought of before. Not quite ready to share details on that yet, don’t want to spoil it if it turns out to be a real winner.

For us, that spot was a real winner, so we’ll try it in another town and do more research before spreading the news.

DOG SLEDDING! What a great experience with Slavek, our musher, the views were unmatched. The dog team was just as sweet and friendly as your favorite pet. They loved running and loved all the attention they got from us and the others on the tour. Our Musher, Slavek, was very knowledgeable about the dogs and the trail. He made our experience one we’ll likely never forget. If you get the opportunity to go dog sledding, don’t pass on it.

Now back to the adventure of getting across Canada in the winter. We headed east again, went back through Calgary to Strathmore and decided to test our theory on this newly discovered area for quiet sleeping. We scored again, no issues, flat parking and safe environment – just no wifi. Since being in Canada I have struggled with getting any internet connectivity. This is great for detaching from the craziness of social media but makes for impossible blogging. A dilemma for sure.

Jan 10 – As we enter wide open plains and high winds we made our way to Medicine Hat for breakfast.

Since arriving in Canada, when entering a restaurant we are required to show ID and proof of vaccination. Everyone we saw showing their Vax credentials used their phone and a QR code, which we don’t have. We show our passports and paper vaccine records. In Medicine Hat we came across a gastro-pub that claimed the best breakfast in town – one must stop for that. As we entered, we were asked for the QR code, we produced our paper equivalent. The host/bartender/waiter gave us a sideways look, rolled her eyes and seated us at a corner table. I asked her what app she uses to get the QR code for vax record keeping… She brought her phone over, I scanned the code and was quite taken aback when I saw the website pop up. The web address was so I read on.

There was indeed a QR code, the caption read: “NOT a Vaccine Card! I am not vaccinated, but I wish to support your business and tip your workers. If that works for you, simply say thank you, and let’s do business. If not, politely ask us to leave.”

I read this a few times and actually chuckled about it. I don’t plan to use it because I am vaccinated. Vaccination is required in order to do some of the things I’ve wanted to do, including visit Canada. I have had jobs in the past that require certain vaccines so I really don’t have an issue with the COVID vaccine. I found this QR code very entertaining.

After breakfast, we decided to check out the little town and see their sights. There was a gigantic Chess piece located between their library and the court house. Apparently there is a chess board and the rest of the pieces that come out in the spring or summer. Of course we couldn't see the chess board on the ground because of the huge layer of snow.

I've mentioned in previous posts that my mom follows our travels with the Find My app on her iPhone. She usually gives us great ideas for sightseeing and mentioned the World's tallest Tepee along with the Buffalo Jump. A buffalo jump, or sometimes referred to as bison jump, is a cliff formation which Indigenous peoples of North America historically used to hunt and kill plains bison in mass quantities. Hunters herded the bison and drove them over the cliff, breaking their legs and rendering them immobile. Tribe members waiting below closed in with spears and bows to finish the kills. I find it amazing to learn what people do in response to a need.

We plugged in the coordinates for this big Tepee and headed over.

I read this info on "The Saamis Tepee was originally constructed for the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics. Each of the 10 masts features a large storyboard depicting aspects of native culture and history.

Below the Saamis Tepee in scenic Seven Persons coulee lays the Saamis Archaeological Site, one of the most important archaeological sites of the Northern Plains. The area was once a buffalo camp and meat processing site, and experts believe over 83 million artifacts are buried at the site.

The Saamis Tepee is located on the Trans-Canada Highway next to Tourism Medicine Hat. The main masts of the tepee measure 215 feet (the same as a 20 story building!) and the diameter is 160 feet, with a foundation weight of 800 metric tons."

There was plenty of daylight left so we hopped back on Trans-Canada Hwy 1 and continued toward Saskatchewan. We stopped for the night in Swift Current. That name is spot on! The wind was indeed a swift current. According to the locals, the wind never stops. We parked at our newly discovered favorite location, one that most towns have and hunkered down to howling wind that buffeted the van and rocked us to sleep.

At this point in our travels we are barely averaging 100 miles per day, since we left home on December 1st. However, I'm sure that average will increase as we aren't spending much time in one place with these temps. We are getting to know ourselves and how we cope with small quarters and extreme conditions (for us anyway). We are learning how to dress for the conditions and actually getting very used to the cold. In fact, when the temps rise above negatives and into the 20's we are quite comfy. We both have mastered the light weight layering for warmth and we're feeling pretty accomplished. Neither of us have even hinted at tapping out due to the cold. In fact, the farther we drive the more determined we are to get to at least Nova Scotia before dropping back into the US.

From Swift Current we made our way through Moose Jaw and Regina and pulled into Indian Head for an early dinner of Poutine and to seek out our favorite quiet area for sleep. Stay tuned and stay safe...


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