Wednesday, July 16, 2008

July 13: Edmonton to Simonette, AB, July 13

We were awoken by an insistent peeping noise that was so loud, Mike and I briefly wondered if a bird had managed to fly into the bus during Will’s bathroom trek. It turned out to be a prairie dog, whose holes we had noted not to step in the night before, but hadn’t realized were actually occupied. He didn’t seem distressed to have us there, but did have something to tell us, which he continued to do for some time. I’m sure the locals think of them the way we do squirrels, but he was a really cute little guy, with his pipe-cleaner tail straight out as he scurried away from the site.

After finishing our laundry and blogging a bit more, we headed for the West Edmonton Mall for their opening time of 11am. We checked out all the crazy stuff – the replica of the Santa Maria, the hockey rink, the waterpark, and the amusement park. We settled on “glow in the dark” mini-putt (which was really black-light mini-putt) as our activity, after eating food court food (I couldn’t resist the pun of the “Butter Chicken & Naan Stop”).

Leaving Edmonton meant that we were now in territory covered by the Milepost, a massive 800-page magazine. It was originally conceived of as a guide to travel in Alaska, but the 2008 60th edition covers both Territories, BC, and the western half of Alberta as well. The mile-by-mile highway logs seemed like they would be pretty useful when I originally saw the publication in the bookstore.

We also left highway 16 for the first time in days, headed north on 43. After a quick grocery stop we ate at the visitor centre at Fox Creek, a tiny town with a big information centre; apparently bigger than they needed, because half had been turned into a gym with weight machines.

DeBolt (pop. 150) was supposed to have a campground, but we couldn’t find it, so asked some locals outside the hotel/bar and they suggested a campground a ways along the highway. It involved taking a logging road for 9km, down a pretty steep hill. It was worth it – once again we were in a tiny campground of only a dozen sites, right beside a river, far from any noise except our neighbours playing charades by firelight.

Total so far: 4131km.

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