2,387.8 total miles. 630.0 miles today.
First, let me give a big shout-out to Montana for being just so gosh-darn pretty. WOOT!
We left Helena and set our GPS to Sunburst, which looked like the closest town to the US/Canada border. I'll just say that I'm really glad we decided to stop for the night in Helena, rather than look for a place to stay nearer the border. Sunburst had a general store and half a gas station, and that's pretty much it. They did try to make up for it with a very attractive welcome sign, though, so a little bit of a Woot! to the citizens of Sunburst, too.
About three hours into the day's drive, we reached the border. Jim parked and went into the building to see what we needed to do, having a dog, two birds, food, and a small apartment's worth of household goods. Turns out the Canadian border agents were not too interested in any of that. They waved Jim through, no problem, and when I pulled up, the agent asked if I was "with that guy," asked what was in the cooler that the collectible violins were in, and was ready for me to get going, too. I was expecting a lot more drama. I think we all were, given the build-up we'd had about what to have ready for the agents and all. Oh well, I'm sure there will be more drama getting back into the US in a few days.
I also expected to see the agent get out a big rubber stamp and stamp our passports like in the movies, but no. He stuck mine in a time-card type thing and then handed it back to me, and he didn't even want to see James'. Hm.
This is our GPS showing us sitting right on the US/Canada border.
Once we were on the other side of the border (which means a lot different things than it does when you say that in Texas), we drove through what looked a lot like Kansas. We drove until we got to a big enough town to have a McDonald's, and got some lunch. I got lost in that town, but Jim didn't. Thank goodness for GPS and family-band radios, that's all I can say. I turned left looking for bathrooms, Jim turned right looking for a windshield-repair place, and long story short, I got to tour downtown.
At first, being in Canada was a bit odd. Sort of like those old Star Trek episodes where the ship's crew finds themselves in an alternate dimension where something is not quite right, but they don't know what to do about it. I mean, the people speak English, but the accents are juuuust slightly different than what we're used to. The measurements are different, and the prices are different, too, so don't pull up to a gas pump that says $1.09 and think you're getting ANY sort of a bargain. Many of the chain stores are the same in Canada as in teh US, but the menus are off a bit. I bought a "grand format" (king size) Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, for instance. And rather than build businesses on the highways to cater to travelers, like we do in America, in Canada you have to go looking for that gas station or eatery way on off down the road several kilometers. I keep waiting for Evil Spock With A Beard to stroll by so I can make sense of my surroundings.
This is Calgary.
We made our goal of Edmonton and finally found a hotel for the night. Traveling with Tate has begun to be a problem. Hotels that are dog-friendly in an area of few hotels to begin with have made stopping for the night a bit of an adventure. Oh well, there's nothing to do about it now. Jim found a Ramada Inn in downtown Edmonton, and we went up to the room, but I got a strange sense of something very bad there. I told the guys but told them in a joking kind of way that I was completely oogied out by that room. The feeling didn't go away, and it got worse, to the point where I was in tears and shaking. The guys packed us all up and out we went. By the time we got to the vehicles, I'd added teeth chattering to the whole meltdown repertoire. Jim found a Holiday Inn further downtown that would take Tate, but we couldn't get the truck and trailer parked in their trial-sized parking lot, so we had to scrap that and drive on into the night until we found a hotel in Spruce Grove that would take the pets and had enough parking space. I'm sorry I put the guys through so much drama with moving to another town for the night, but I'm not at all sorry we left that Ramada Inn. I still can't explain it, and I hope that never happens to me again, but I'm definitely not sorry we got out of there.