Big lakes, small lakes, puddles and pools, rivers and streams. This is the landscape we get to see once we leave Toronto to the west. A water landscape that seems endless. Actually, really beautiful if this wouldn’t be the kingdom of the mosquitoes. The small nasty creatures come like the lakes and streams in all imaginable sizes and shapes. Their one similarity is blood sucking! Some of them bite so hard that one bleeds afterwards. They even drive the domestic moose out of the woods into the sun. Unfortunately, those great animals beside the roads are very shy and quickly disappear in the dense forest once you try to get closer to them. Despite the annoying mosquitoes we enjoy this varied route. We often find great overnight spots on a lakeside or a riverfront and during the day we gain good distance.
We were warned that after Winnipeg there’s nothing but the endless vastness of the prairie. Until Calgary it’s roughly 1500 kilometers of boring grassland. No curves and only endless fields. We found it not so bad after all. It’s true, a cruise control and a lane-keeping assistant would be a nice-to-have, but we are moving on quite quick nevertheless.
We experience a lovely evening with the parents of a friend we met a couple of years ago on a trip in Cambodia. When she saw on Facebook that we are in the neighborhood she makes this homestay at her parents place possible. They live in the middle of the grassland in a small village right on a lake. They pamper us with a delicious dinner and we enjoy the lively dialog and get a lot of insights of the Canadian everyday life.
Halfway to Calgary, our engine suddenly starts to stutter and black and white clouds of smoke come out of the exhaust pipe. After some research in the internet we learn that the Canadian diesel apparently has an extremely low sulfur content. Especially for older engines this circumstance can lead to difficulties. We then refill our fuel tank and add a special diesel additive. This does not seem to fix the problem completely but at least it’s a lot better.
Before we reach Calgary, we visit a national park called Dinosaur Provincial Park. The landscape reminds us more of a lunar landscape or Australia than of Canada. In this area, the most dinosaur fossils have been found worldwide. Somehow the landscape fits into the primeval times and while we’re hiking along the paths we’re fantasizing how life must have been 65 million years ago with dinosaurs hunting prey or grazing.
By the time the skyscrapers of Calgary appear in the distance, we can already see the majestic and snowcapped peaks of the Rocky Mountains on the horizon. Those will be our next stop along the way.