Lethbridge to Brandon

A hard drive in hard rain. It was pouring in Lethbridge when we got up, and it rained hard for the first three hours. Naturally, most of that three hours was on the two-lane road, so every transport threw a car-wash’s worth of water on the windshield, and I’d be blind for the next car or two. Temperatures remained in the single digits (celsius) pretty much all day. The rain got lighter when we hit the divided highway, but we never turned the wipers off for more than five minutes or so. At first we felt sorry for the few campers we saw heading west. Then we felt more sorry for the guy with a tent trailer. Then we felt downright alarmed for the guy with the motorcycle and packs.

While I think of it, Motorhomes & Truck Campers had built a sizeable lead over Trailers & Fifth Wheels. At one point I opened up an advantage of about 300 to 200, but Caroline has narrowed the gap to about 60 since we hit the prairies. After all, if you live in Alberta or Saskatchewan, you already have a pickup truck with a big V-8…

We had planned to drive from Lethbridge to Regina, but it seemed certain the bad weather would catch up to us and make Friday’s drive a trial. In hindsight, we should have hit the road earlier in Missoula, and pushed on past Lethbridge to Swift Current or thereabouts. We do not much like the Best Westerns in Lethbridge or Regina anyway, so we could have our choice of hotels and destinations, really. Had we done this, we would have outrun some of the horrible weather, and we would be home by now.

Instead, we did stay in Lethbridge, but did not stop in Regina. We kept going, figuring to make it at least as far as Brandon, and perhaps further. By the time we got to Brandon, the light was fading and we still had not outrun the rain. Rather than face the triple threat of rain, dark and fatigue, we called it quits in Brandon.

We had not reserved a room here, so we lost some time hunting for a hotel. We finally settled on the Super 8, and it has been a good choice, we think. We attempted to head out for Chinese food, but as the front desk clerk put it, ‘they roll up the sidewalks here at nine o’clock’. Arrived at Kim’s at ten to nine, and they turned off the lights as we got out of the car. Down the street to the next place, and the waitress ran for the open sign as we pulled in and flipped it over before we could unfasten our seatbelts. To be fair, neither restaurant had a single diner.

Back across town to the hotel, with a dismal plan to have A&W burgers in the room with some nice wine. Turns out there is a Smitty’s next door, and it was open till ten. Don’t forget we’re still running on Mountain Time, or maybe even Pacific – it doesn’t feel all that late to us. Ordered food to go from Smitty’s. I have been unforgiving of expensive bistros with poor food, so it is only right that I should tip my hat to this humble chain restaurant. The Greek salad was huge- enough for four starters, and better than we expected. My veal cutlets in mushroom gravy were quite alright, and the side of linguine Alfredo was okay. Caroline’s chicken quesadilla was tasty, too, better than she dared hope.

To accompany this modest meal, our cheapest dinner of the trip, we rummaged through our boxes of wine, and the first thing I laid hands on was an H3 (short for Horse Heaven Hills) Cabernet from Columbia Crest. We seem to have got this wine for free; when we were matching bottles to receipts for customs, we were unable to find an entry for this bottle on our till tape. We paid the GST etc. on what we think it was supposed to cost. It was lovely. I hope to find more of it one day.

Since the Sirius fell off the windshield, I have jammed it between the rear view mirror and the headliner, but it is face down, so I can neither see what is playing, nor change channels or frequencies. Since this happened, we have listened to Classic Rewind or nothing. It could be worse, I once drove from Lakeland, Florida to Winnipeg with the help of three Moody Blues cassettes. I have a friend who drove from Vancouver to Winnipeg with only one Bob Seger tape to keep him going. You do what you have to, you just never listen to those artists again!

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