All-girrrrl road trip to Manitoba! (Part I)

Early Monday morning, July 3rd, I flew to Kelowna from Vancouver (it’s about a 40 minute flight). Once there, my sister and mom picked me up and we hit the open road… Manitoba bound!

For those of you who don’t know, Kelowna is located in the heart of the Okanagan region of the province of BC. The Okanagan is a place of breathtaking beauty. It’s wine country; full of deep, cold lakes, orchards and vineyards on sunny hillsides, mountains in the distance. It’s pretty. Really, really pretty.

My oldest sister, B, and her family have lived in this area for about 15 years, and our parents for about 20 years. I live in Vancouver, BC, and the rest of our family live in Virden, Manitoba, a small town in the southwest corner of the province.

B decided it would be fun to drive to Virden to see our siblings and their families. She thought it would be a nice way to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday because we would see so much of the Western half of the country, four provinces in all. I loved the idea! And so did our mom.

It was on the morning of our second day on the road that it really hit us that there were no men in the car pressuring us to get there fast, with minimal stopping. If we saw pretty flowers at the side of the road, we actually could stop the car, get out and take some pictures! If we found a sunny meadow, we could take our cooler of food and have a leisurely picnic. If we spotted a second-hand store in a small town, we could pull in and check it out. And, my friends, we did. Oh yes. We did.

There was laughter. There was knitting. We talked about everything from hand-dyed yarn to the mysteries of the universe. We took pictures of bright yellow fields of canola in bloom. We took detours that would lead us to wondrous, scenic places along our way, like Drumheller, Alberta, and the Hoodoos of the badlands (see photos below).

I have to interrupt this story here for a bit of unsolicited advice: if ever you’re planning a roadtrip across Canada for the purpose of really seeing this very pretty and diverse country, please do not take the TransCanada Highway. People who have done this, and have never seen any other part of the prairie provinces, will tell you that there is nothing to see on the prairies (this includes the south-eastern region of Alberta, the widest point of Saskatchewan, and Manitoba). If all you see of these provinces is the view along the TransCanada, you will think they’re right. Do not do this to yourselves. Get off that perfectly smooth, straight stretch of four-lane highway where you can see your destination off in the distance three days before you get there. Get off that road and take roads less travelled. Your minds will be blown by the beauty of it all. Scenic alternative routes include the Crowsnest Highway (#3, BC and AB), the Yellowhead (#16, SK), the #83 (MB). It will take longer, but it’s worth it.

Back to the trip now, I will let the photos tell the rest of the story of our three-day drive to Manitoba.

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And so it began: B and Mom in the front, me in the back. Mom used old-school navigation tools, and I had Siri on my iPhone. (I set my Siri up with a male voice and an English accent. I imagine he looks like Jude Law). Siri rarely steered us wrong, but when he did, he did it with aplomb. But getting lost is an essential part of the experience on any epic road trip!

Our first stop on Day 1 was at Three Valley Gap, BC.

This is the sort of thing you’ll see a lot of if road tripping through BC on the TransCanada Highway, which we stuck to on the first day despite my rant about this highway. One of the prettiest stretches of the TransCanada runs through BC. It’s not the most scenic route through southern BC, though, but I’ll get to that in a later post. The photo on the left was taken in Glacier National Park, and the one on the right is Mount Rundle in Banff National Park.

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Mom frequently felt the need to emphatically declare that we were heading in the right or wrong direction…

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Day 2: we left the TransCanada Highway at Strathmore, AB, where we’d spent our first night, and headed off in search of the fabled Drumheller, land of dinosaur bones and Hoodoos…

The yellow canola field in the main photo above is what triggered our revelation that we could stop whenever we wanted in order to take photos of beautiful scenes. There was no one on this trip who would get impatient with us or tell us we couldn’t stop. We pulled over and scrambled out of the car, cameras and phones in hands, gasping and exclaiming, “Oh, how beautiful!” “Look at it!” “Can you even believe how beautiful this is?” Friends, the photos don’t do it justice. The patchwork of colourful fields and that sky – they just go on forever!

And then the landscape began to change radically… (random shadow selfie – I had to. Look at my hair! Lol!) …and we found ourselves in Drumheller…

…a place of scrubby, sage-covered, deserty hills… and dinosaurs! I wanted a photo of me running scared from the T-rex just for a lark. It would probably look more convincing if I wasn’t laughing.

These are Hoodoos. What are they, exactly? Well, I’m glad you asked. According to Canadacool.com: “The eerie formations known as Hoo Doos (or Hoodoos) are found in North American badlands, formed by wind and water erosion of sedimentary rocks. Looking like petrified mushrooms, they have a protective rock cap which shelters their shaft, deterring them from disintegrating at the same speed as the surrounding sandstone. In the Drumheller area you can follow a special 25 km (15-mile) Hoodoo Drive Trail to where you can visit them along highway 10, 18 km southeast of town.”

The photo on the left is of a trestle-like structure which is the gateway to a suspension bridge over the Red Deer River. We had a picnic lunch in this pretty spot. Then, as we were leaving, we came upon an old abandoned farmhouse in a field. This is an all too common sight on the Canadian prairies. Sad, but beautiful, don’t you think? The stories this little house could tell!

 

The photo on the left is of our official Road Trip Yarn. B works in a yarn shop in Kelowna, and she just barely managed to snag us three skeins of this limited edition Canada 150 yarn from Fleece Artist, called the National Parks Collection. The photo on the right shows some of my thrift store finds: yarn (because I needed more!); a little manual-wind ring watch; an antique creamer that just spoke to me for some reason; and a sweet little pair of red shoes that had never been worn! This loot barely cost me more than $10. You can’t beat small town thrift stores for bargains.

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An abandoned Ukrainian Orthodox church in a Saskatchewan ghost town…

These are just a few of the many, many photos I took on the drive to Virden. So many photos! And so many wonderful memories.

Thanks for stopping by! Stay tuned for more on this epic road trip…

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