Or How to Get There From Here.
We thought it would be an uneventful day, but as with any travel adventures, we ended up having two adventures we hadn’t planned on.
We’d planned to get to Calgary by 3 so we could see the zoo and the pandas. (If you recall, we had to book a viewing appointment with the pandas. Like they were kings. Or doctors).
So we couldn’t leave Cranbrook too late. It was over 4 hours of driving on the Crowsnest highway.
So, like Dora the Explorer would say, we had to go through the forest, over the mountains, and along the plains to find the city.
The-Youngest was oddly excited about actually crossing the border. I think he wanted gates, armed guards, and searchlights, but all we found were two signs. Leaving BC and Welcome to Alberta.
Not super exciting. Not even a bear or a scruffy-looking pipeline protestor could be seen.
So, feeling a little disappointed, we stopped for Timmies right across the border.
This became our first travel adventure for the day.
Now, I am, if nothing, a veteran Timmies guy, and this was perhaps the worst one I have ever, ever visited.
It was super busy, which is not unheard of, but the mass of customers waiting for double-doubles had broken the restaurant.
I’ve seen it happen on my watch in Toys R Us at Christmas time. The staff were simply overwhelmed.
One young employee stood there staring at a machine that stirs the ice drinks like he’d been shelled by the Taliban. A little old lady running the cash register got so flustered, she forgot how to ring in cash and just kept waving it in the air like the bill was on fire. Nearby, two sandwich makers bickered with each other about who had last used the buttering knife as a phalanx of sandwich orders hung on their station overhead.
Now, a good owner would take charge. Shift people if needed. Manage the crisis. Keep things rolling, but I swear to God, not a single coffee or sandwich was made in ten minutes while everyone panicked.
So it took a good 45 min to get a coffee.
It’s a weird thing when something like that takes so long. If someone said, hey Justjoe, it looks like this is going to take 45 min, I would have left, but after investing 10 min, do you give up?
What about after 20, cuz now you’ve invested even more time?
And then 30 min?
Well, Goddammn, after 30, I’m sticking it out now!
Which I did. I got my coffee, fought my way out of the parking lot and we were back on our way. Minor delay. Major grumpy attack by me.
After that coffee disaster, the sky decided to echo my mood and turn dark. Like winter storm dark.
And with that darkness, came our second unexpected adventure.
On the prairies, a dark sky either means aliens are gathering to attack, again, or a lightning storm was a’comin’. And sure enough, as we got into the foothills, a storm descended upon us with righteous fury. Lightning forked across the sky. Sheets of rain pounded on the car, making driving nearly impossible, and through it all, not a single boom of thunder.
Both boys oooohed and awww’d at the lightning, while The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World gripped the dashboard with a kung fu grip as we sped along a highway where we could barely see 2 feet in front of us.
Luckily, I found a gas station to pull into until the storm passed over us. We stood under a convenience store canopy and watched it roll towards the mountains. I won’t lie, I was still shaking from that highway drive and I think the-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World wished we’d stopped at the liquor store instead of a gas station.
But we saw a good, old-fashioned prairie storm. Something you just don’t see in Vancouver at all.
And both the Timmies catastrophe and the storm had made this part of the trip more interesting.
“Interesting?” The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World asked. “What next? Driving into a tornado? Dancing on a lava field? Boating in a hurricane?”
The three of us boys thought all those things would be amazing, but next up, those exciting, super energetic pandas, aka the wildmen of the bamboo forest.
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