BC Vacation - Calgary to Fairmont Hot Springs

I so wanted to get my butt out of the office, almost from the moment that I was alerted to the problem on MBUSA.com’s live server. There’s nothing like trying to diagnose the cause of a homepage failure when you’re not really sure what happened.

Most of my day was like this. Going from one hot spot to another, barely getting enough time to wolf down some lunch. By the end of the day, I had to make sure that I wrapped up dialogue on three separate projects, ensure that the process was moving on two more, finish a proposal to Danny Sullivan for presentation topics for the next Search Engine Strategies conference, and write a rather lengthy email to about a dozen people to make sure they have some inkling about what the heck I’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks.

Care to take bets that things will still go to hell in a handbasket tomorrow?

I ducked out from work at around 16:15 (I would have left 15 minutes earlier, had I not been so pressed to get everything done before I left), and bolted for home. I gathered the remainder of the things I didn’t pack last night (toiletries, bathing suit, camera, and a change of nice clothes), burned two CDs, shaved, and awaited Alex’s arrival.

We’re taking our first actual vacation together. Alex has been planning this for months. Alex’s father and step-mom have a timeshare condo in Fairmont Hot Springs, a small town about 30 kms south of Radium. (Both of these are in British Columbia.) We would spend a couple of days there, then head off to their house in Maple Ridge, BC. A couple of days there, then back through Three Valley Gap, returning to Calgary on the 8th.

Leaving my house at just after 17:45, we headed first to Market Mall to get something to eat before hitting the road. The mall just reopened with new stores and renovation. It’s extremely nice. A little too nice, maybe.

A quick bite, and we were off towards Banff (Bamf!). We started off listening to one of two CDs I had brought along (compliations of Blue Rodeo and some Country songs — relax, none of the Country was actually mine; I will listen to Country, but I don’t know if I could buy any), but we soon switched to reading a book.

Yes, a book. This is a habit Alex and I started on our return from Kananaskis a number of weeks ago. While I drove, Alex read “Why I Hate Canadians” aloud, a task she continued on our trip to and from Edmonton last weekend. This time, it was my turn, so I read “Mythic Journeys”, which is a book that takes the myths of old and relates them to how humanity exists in the modern age.

It should be a fascinating book. Sadly, it’s not. In fact, it’s not only a little dull (the analysis of the fables is usually longer than the stories themselves), but the sentence structure is quite difficult. It’s almost like trying to read Yoda at times. It’s like the authors decided to try and make themselves sound more educated. (It was probably written by university professors, or by people who wanted to be professors.)

We stopped in Banff (Bamf!) to fill up on gas and acquire some beverages. (All that reading aloud was drying my throat out.) We stayed only long enough to do what we had to, and resumed our drive west.

I switched from the Myth book to one of Patricia Cornwell’s, “From Potter’s Field”. It’s a murder mystery. Much more fascinating reading, I must say, mostly because I can actually get into the characters when reading them aloud. I love reading parts by one character, Marino, because he loves saying “Yo”. I imagine he says it like Sylvester Stallone.

Not far past Banff (Bamf!) is Highway 93, which heads south to Radium, where is joins with Highway 95, which goes between Golden and Cranbrook. We would head towards Cranbrook. Along the way, we’d hit Radium (Radium Hot Springs is the main feature on the sign off the Trans Canada), Invermere (where our favourite ex-patriot jerk, Jude, originally hails from), and also Fairmont Hot Springs, our destination.

Overall, the trip from Calgary to Fairmont is about 300 kilometres. It takes a bit longer than three hours, though, due to the winding roads and varying speed limits. Side trips, such as Market Mall and Banff (Bamf!) also tend to slow things down a bit. The trip was interesting, mostly because I’d never been in this neck of the woods before. So I had no idea where we were or how long it would be until we got where we were going.

As I’ve said before many times, that’s all part of the adventure.

We passed through a string of bad weather from the moment we left Calgary. From about 18:30 (the time we left Calgary) until about 22:20 (the time we got to Fairmont), we went from good to bad to rainy to good to foggy to rainy to stormy. It was raining in the last 50 kilometres.

We didn’t see much of Radium, as it was quite dark when we rolled through. We stopped only once as we headed towards Fairmont (a red traffic light). It’s a small little place, a bit less prominent than I had expected. But then, it’s tucked inside Kootenay National Park, so I suppose size does matter.

I called Alex’s dad as we started to pass out of Radium, just to let him know where we were. We would have called earlier, but by the time Alex suggested that we do so, we were well out of cellular range.

With our stuff stowed away in our little room in the condo, we finally began to unwind a bit. The four of us — Alex, Allen (Alex’s dad), Jean (Alex’s stepmom), and myself — chatted away and had ice cream and peaches.

I already feel away from the ordinary.