• Frank DeArmas

Canadian Border to Calgary AB

The Road to Alaska




The road to Alaska is long. We left our home in Michigan on June 17th and slowly started to work our way across the top of our country. It’s hard to describe the beauty of this land of ours so we tried to share with you our stops along the way, in our blogs and pictures. We watched as the great lakes fell behind us and we made our way into the vast prairies that were once the home of millions of buffalo. We saw these majestic creatures in their natural setting and we enjoyed sharing that with you as well.


I was humbled by their shear size and yet how gentle they were with the young ones in their herd. Yet knowing that if we were to cross the line of respect, and not give them their space, what we could expect.


We were in awe once more as the Rockies started to rise up in front of us, knowing that our crossing would come later, and north of where we crossed just last year, when we visited Yellowstone and Grand Teton.


All this to finally meet up with our fellow caravanners, travelers and wonderers, like ourselves, yet each with their own reason to take this trip.

On July 13th, we struck out and headed north, our adventure had begun.


 

The Border


I have crossed so many boarders in my lifetime, and each time I never know what’s in store. This time the great software in the sky decided that I, someone who was fully vaccinated, and double boosted, needed to be random tested for our unwanted guest of the last 2.5 years, Covid.


Please also note that I had to upload my vaccine cards and passport three days in advance, so they knew that. And my friends, I was not alone, there were 6 in our group chosen for this great honor. We got to our first stop, called the number, and they video called me and watched as I took the test.


Good news, all of us were negative, though it took a bit to get the test back to them.

With that behind us we were able to start our whirlwind of the first week

 

Remington Carriage House and Museum


One of the things we like about doing this Caravan is that they set up things to do that Jan and I would never really think about. This visit to the Remington collection was one such activity and it really set up the week well.


I don’t know about all of you, but I grew up watching and reading stories about the old west. Cowboys, Indians, the great western expansion. But western culture was not just in the US, Canada has a long and proud history of living and working the west as we started to learn on this stop.


Some of the beautiful carnages in the collection

 


RCMP Fort Macleod


This was another interesting stop that had us getting to know the history of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or the Mounties as they are referred to. A funny side note, when we visited the Blackfoot, the guide there called them the Queens cowboys! More of the Blackfoot coming up.


The Fort is the original fort built when the RCMP was tasked to keep the peace out here in the rugged Canadian west. It gave us a glimpse into the past and really showed how those early pioneers had a very hard life. The Mounties have a lot of pride in their past, as well they should.




 


Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump


The name here is literal. It refers to a site where the Blackfoot would come every fall and drive the buffalo off of the step cliff. While this may sound disturbing you need to try to imagine a time when millions of buffalo roamed the land.


To the Blackfoot, the buffalo was a gift from the creator. It fed and clothed the people and helped them survive the coming winter. No part of the animal went to waste. This was not the wholesale slaughter that almost wiped out these beautiful animals. As we have traveled across the land and met the different people of the First Nations in Canada, and the Native America cultures, I am hit by the deep respect they have for the connection to the earth and the animals that they interacted with.


I can’t help but think if we could have just taken the time to learn from them, how much better our world would be. Hopefully it’s not too late and we might be able to learn those lessons now. Jan and I have enjoyed getting to know these stories in more detail as we travel.


 


Heritage Village


One of the events that the team at Adventure Caravans put together for us was a visit to Heritage Village in Calgary. For our friends back in Michigan, think of this like the Henry Ford and Greenfield Village, but honestly, on a bigger scale. The car collection and all the old gas pumps they have on display was just at the entrance. From the old buildings to the Steam locomotives (Did I mention I have a train thing?) this was a great day topped off with a nice dinner outdoors.



 


Calgary Stampede


Having lived in Houston, we know a thing or two about rodeos. But honestly this was on a whole different level. From cowboy pancakes in city center, to every bull and bronco ride, this was nonstop action. Calgary is a major city and its downtown is taken up by the arena and all the goings on of the 10 day extravaganza. Before going to the main event, we had a chance to go up in the Tower where Jan faced her fear and stepped onto the plexiglass floor. That takes guts if you know how much Jan hates heights.




We left Calgary with many memories, and an unexpected guest who joined our group. But more on that in our next blog.



Jan took some amazing pictures while we were there. To see more, clink on this button to go directly to her gallery.




So until our next update, stay safe, and we'll see you on the road.

Frank and Jan.


 



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