Saturday, June 4, 2005
Breakfast in Conrad, MT was homecooked fare
but typical diner cuisine:
Greasy eggs? Check.
Over-buttered toast? Check.
Weak coffee? Check.
And where's the strawberry jam? You've got to
wonder when they only have grape and
mixed jelly packets.
I saw a tray of breakfast pastries on our way
"What do you call those?" I asked pointing.
"Maple cinnamon breakfast rolls," was the reply.
"Don't you call them sticky buns?" I asked.
"No!" the waitress exclaimed, horrified as if
I asked her if her buns were sticky. "I don't
even know what those are!"
What is it with these towns? I swear there is
a breakfast pastry called a Sticky Bun. If you've
had a sticky bun before, please post a comment
so I don't feel so all alone.
Of course, alone I am not at the moment.
But so far, traveling with a husband and mother
is working out well despite the cramped
riding arrangements. Mom is a great
traveler, very adaptable, even stuffed
in the back seat with the dogs.
"Traveling with 3 Chihuahuas is better than kids,"
she exclaimed at one point. "They don't complain,
they don't ask for water and the don't ask 'Are we
Crossing the border was practically uneventful.
I say practically because we were stopped
and asked to go inside, show our paperwork,
and answer a bunch of questions, probably
because we were towing a trailer. As we were
waiting, Greg began to chat.
"I heard this story on NPR. It was about a man
who was stopped at the border..."
"Don't talk about that right now!" I snapped.
What is it with men always wanting to talk about
explosives, firearms and bad border crossing
experiences while waiting in line at the airport
or at a border crossing? It is a strange compulsion.
Once back to our car, we discovered that Chewie
had a pooping accident inside. My fault. I had
fed him raisins the day before. He liked them so
I ignored Greg when he said that Chewie would
get the runs. Well, he was right, of course.
We spent 10 minutes cleaning up, throwing
out a doggie bed, doggie blanket, wiping up
with antibacterial wipes. Greg remained calm
throughout it all and didn't even voice what I
know he was thinking: "I told you so."
You know our drive to Alaska is not an extreme
adventure when I start documenting bad
poop episodes. Oh well, the goal is to get there,
not deviate from the route. I'm just focused on
the road ahead and not the life and friends
I'm leaving behind.
Canada terrain was immediately flat farmland,
green and lush from the ongoing rain.
Lunch was in Lethbridge at Ricky's, a Canadian
chain with a variety of food and even alcoholic
beverages. I got my first lesson in Canadian
cuisine when I asked for an iced tea, poured in
my usual 2 sugar packets and then discovered
the tea was already sweet.
"Are you from the States?" asked the waitress.
"Yes," I said tentatively, wondering what criticism
I'd get for admitting to it.
"I thought so. Here in Canada, when you ask for
iced tea, 95% of the time it is sweet already, the
Nestea kind from a machine," she explained.
"I knew you must be from the States because
when I was there, I asked for ice tea and it
was like..." She twisted her face into an
expression of distaste.
After lunch, Greg and I opted for a Starbucks coffee
because you always know what you're going
to get at a Starbucks.
Deciding on a place to stay, we selected a
bed and breakfast outside of Red Deer but
couldn't hail the owners on the phone. We did
drive off the highway to try to find the place,
then kept on driving the backroads with
a new destination in mind.
The Wolf Creek Inn was on the south side
of Highway 2 so we had to drive past it
until we came to the second overpass to
Lacombe, Alberta, then backtrack. After the
out of the way drive, we were tired and
hungry and just wanted to check in, but the
desk clerk was nowhere to be found.
According to the Alberta accommodations
guide, the Wolf Creek Inn had over 20 rooms
overlooking Juniper Lake which sounded
much more appealing than the other local
motel that featured off-track betting. Sounded
like a good deal, however, we waited and
waited for someone to check us in.
Ten minutes later, I left Greg at the front desk
still waiting for someone to check us in and
went straight to the "famous" Cheesetoast
Family Restaurant for their "famous" buffet.
Frankly, the food looked a little overcooked,
but I was ravenous by the time I made my
way to the buffet line so loaded my plate
with roast beef, mashed potatoes and
gravy, lasagna, boiled vegetable medley
and a big slice of cheesetoast.
Feeling giddy now that I had food in front of
me, I even ordered the house red wine which
looked like dark Kool-Aid and ended up
tasting like a mixture of flat grape soda
with a splash of cheap wine. I later
found out it was Franzia. Hmmm, must have
been an off year - like 2005.
In order to stop as early as we did (7:30pm),
I bribed Greg by saying I'd go for a walk
with him after dinner. He's of the mind that
we should be driving until bedtime but he
was happy with my offer.
So after dinner, we walked down to Juniper
Lake where I was quickly devoured by
mosquitos. I'm allergic to mosquito bites,
but I don't think Greg believed me at first.
If I don't scratch the bites, they will only
swell up to the size of a dime or smaller,
but if I scratch, they swell to the size of
a silver dollar and they can even blend
into one another to become a large
continuous welt. If I get too many bites,
I end up with a fever. They also tend to
make my joints ache like arthritis.
We quickly walked back up the hill and took
a different path through an old abandoned
campground. With the Chihuahuas in tow,
our pace wasn't as brisk, especially as I
had to carry Chewie now and then, but it
was a pleasant walk with my husband.
Returning to the room, I got out every possible
mosquito bite remedy that I could find in my
toiletries bag: tea tree oil, calendula cream and
"See," I said to Greg as I applied the ointments.
He shook his head in disbelief.
"I didn't know," he admitted, vowing to protect
me from mosquitoes once we got to Alaska.
I took a couple of Advils for the joint pain in
my fingers then settled in for a restless sleep,
punctuated by dripping water in some faucet
somewhere nearby and a coughing fit from
the air conditioned air, not to mention dreams
about Tom Cruise instructing me on how to
be more self-actualized.
Next time I can get online: Lacombe, Alberta
to Dawson Creek, British Columbia...Stay tuned!