Tuesday, 18 August 2015

A Short Drive In The Hills

I went for a drive yesterday, a four hour wander through the foothills and forests of western Alberta. It wasn't planned that way. I was just going to the bank, or rather to a branch of my credit union. All I wanted to do was fix a mistake and put some money in to cover my mortgage. Yet somehow I ended up deep in the forests, pounding along a gravel logging road, looking for deer and moose. I know, it could happen to anyone. Right?

It all started with a mistake by my credit union; not a serious one but one involving a $15 charge. My branch is in downtown Calgary, right across from the CBE offices where I used to work. When things all started out here in Calgary, it was rather convenient. These days I try to avoid going downtown. There is a branch out in Cochrane, about a 20 minute drive from my apartment. It's a nice drive, taking me out of the city, through some lovely rolling hills, into the foothill countryside nearby. It's a lovely drive.

We headed out, made it to Cochrane, did the banking. At that point, Katherine looked at me and said, "Let's go for a drive to Canmore." She knew I had been trapped in hospital and home for a week, that the drive would make me feel better, the worries of the day and week having been heavy on me. I happily said yes and we headed down the road. That's when it happened, when the woods and hills reached out and snagged me on the way by. I told Katherine that I wanted to show ther "the cabin" where we, the gang, have visited for the last few years during November. It's where I went that first weekend after diagnosis.

The cabin is up in the hills, off the main road, along Alberta 40, also called the Forestry Trunk Road. This road weaves its way along the forested foothills, rising up and down through the cuts and curves of these shallow forerunners to the great peaks just off in the west. It's a drive through tightly packed forests pocketed with wilderness meadows, interspersed with the odd cattle ranch spread throughout. The road is tough, just like the people who live out here. It's a great drive.

Trouble began in earnest when we came to leave the cabin road. Rather than turning left and heading back towards the city, as any sane man would do, I decided to turn right to make the 100 km trek to Sundre, one of numerous small towns dotting the mountain edge of Alberta, a town along the Cowboy Trail dedicated to the dual mistresses of logging and ranching. For me it was a kind of drive through wonderland, past grounds screaming of opportunity for hunting and fishing, ending up following the Red Deer River as it headed out of the Rockies towards the great Canadian plains.

It was also a long drive. It took about 2 hours to get to Sundre through the back road, then about an hour to get back to Cochrane along the Cowboy Trail, after which came the return to Calgary. Our short drive ended up in a four hour clamber across hill and dale. It was a beautiful drive. Perhaps the only downside is that it left me very tired. I am not fully recovered yet. That would explain the 12 hours of sleep last night. Still, I loved it and would happily do it again.


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  2. Richard - yesterday found your blogs. Loved spending the afternoon reading them. Please continue. I am a 65 year old grandmother living with ALS (diagnosed 8/2014). As a computer graphic designer for 30+ years it is difficult to type with use of only one hand - but cannot stop. Been a rough year my husband was diagnosed with rectal cancer 2 days after my ALS (after 2 yrs misdiagnosis) so I have been helping him deal with the past year of surgery and treatments. But with all that going on we continue to be active in our son/his wife/grandsons activities! Still mobile and fighting hard to stay that way! Looking forward to reading upcoming blogs!!,

    1. Hi Cris. I am happy that my scribblings help you. It looks like things have been pretty tough for you of late. Where are you from?

  3. Living in Sanford, NC since 2013. From Miami. Glad we moved here because diagnosis from Duke was my confirmation.