Another drive between Vancouver and Toronto. My third. It surprises me how much I enjoy these trips. In the car for hours on end, nothing to do but sing at the top of my lungs, horribly off key, listen to podcasts and thinking. It is a wonderful break. And I learn a few things:
Badlands are not just a Bruce Springsteen song. They are a barren dramatic eroded landscape. They include wild rock formations called hoodoos. They are hard to walk across. For me, in a provincial park with great shoes and a car nearby they were an amazing adventure that sparked my imagination. But for the early European settlers it must have been hell. There was no way covered wagons were going to make it across this terrain. Naming them bad lands seems obvious.
Canada had dinosaurs. A lot of dinosaurs. While the land may have been inhospitable to pioneers, it was heaven for early reptiles. Dinosaur Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site in Alberta, was home to one of the richest fossil discoveries in the world. Zhuang and I spent a few hours exploring. We didn’t find any bones. Just as well, you aren’t allowed to take anything out of the park. But for $800 you can spend three days on an official dig. Bucket list?
I should never have seen Phycho. It has ruined me for motels. Which is a shame. I try not to stay in chain hotels. But am nervous to stay in random road side places no matter how appealing their retro design. Single woman and all. So, most of the time its Best Westerns or Days Inns, they are the most pet friendly. I stayed in one proper motor hotel. The Ambassador Motel, just outside Sault Ste Marie. It was built in 1962, the heyday of the single story park infront lodging. When cars were king and freeways had yet to cannibalize drivers away from slower routes. The 17 rooms were cute, clean and comfortable with a huge yard for the dog to explore.
CP rail hotels had the best locations. In all sorts of cities. The Grand Hall Hotel in Moose Jaw is one of these old gems. Yes, Moose Jaw is actually the name of the forth biggest city in Saskatchewan. It was an important railroad town. This hotel opened in May 1928. It was the place to see and be seen. Where the who’s who of Moose Jaw got married, celebrated milestones and danced at balls. Then it fell upon hard times. By 1989 when it finally closed it had become a rundown flop house. Ten years later the city sold the building to Verna Alford for $1. She promised to save it from demolition; restore it to its former glory. After 13 years of renovation, the hotel gives visitors like me a chance to step back in time. Almost. It now has internet, endless hot water and cable tv.
Canadians really are as nice as the stereotypes say. People were nothing but kind to Zhuang and me. This is a great country. I am so grateful to be one of its citizens.