Washington Road Trip Journal

"Goin' on a Field Trip"

Day 3 - Portage La Prairie, Manitoba to Lethbridge, Alberta

by David "Sumoflam" Kravetz

Aug. 31, 2007: Today was another long drive as we went nearly 700 miles through Manitoba and Saskatchewan and into Alberta.

This was an enlightening trip as we were able to really see that Canada, in many respects, is a foreign country when compared to the United States.  The obvious differences, such as the metric system, money and Canadian flags flying everywhere were not much of a surprise,  However, here were other things we did notice -- the Trans-Canada goes through towns and has stop lights.  There are no real "freeways" as we know them in the US.  The English accent is much different.  It seems like everywhere one goes to get gasoline, the pumps are full service...yes, someone comes out and pumps gas and washes the windshield.  There really are quite a few differences.

Driving Trans-Canada Highway 1

We left Portage La Prairie a bit late since we had gotten in so late.  It was difficult to get up. We were soon heading west towards Saskatchewan.  Along the way we made a brief stop in the small town of Virden, Manitoba and got a map.  Almost every little town in the three provinces seems to have a small tourist information center.  Virden happened to be in the middle of oil well country.

 

Tourist Info centers are in almost every little town along the way.  We were the second Americans this year to stop here.

Our second stop was at the Saskatchewan visitor's center

 

L- Sumoflam does Saskatchewan    R - Solomon in front of the Saskatchewan and Canadian flags

 

The drive through Saskatchewan was pretty much uneventful.  The roads are long and straight and there are mainly prairies and a few lakes.  Here are a few of the scenes:

 

 

Typical long roads.  Sunflower farms dotted much of Eastern Saskatchewan

 

 

More long roads.  Along the way we saw many salty lakes and even some HUGE piles of salt.

 

And we saw some interesting Canadian ingenuity......

 

A trailer converted to a motel...classic Trailer Park Troubadours stuff

 

A caboose converted to an ice cream store

 

One of the things that was really nice was the full service gas stations.....

 

They fill the gas and wash the windshields for you.  Look at the old gas pumps...no credit card readers

 

Of course, there were places to stop along the way.  One of my more anticipated stops was in Indian Head, Saskatchewan.  I had seen pictures of this huge Indian Head statue and most definitely wanted to stop.  The Indian Head below was officially unveiled on August 4, 1985.   The statue is 18 feet high (with the head itself being 10 feet tall).  It weighs approximately 3500 pounds and is made from metal pipe, metal mesh and cement.  The statue was designed by Don Foulds of Saskatoon.  It is very easy to get to, just off of Highway 1 in Indian Head.

 

 

Indian Head, Saskatchewan

 

We continued westward around Regina (yes, I figured out that there was a loop south of the city....) and then onward to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.  I had been to Moose Jaw once before back in 1972 as part of the C. M. Russell High School (Great Falls, Montana) marching band.   We went there for an international marching band competition.  Of course, that was a long time ago and I had forgotten everything.

 

The main item of interest for us in Moose Jaw is the giant Mac the Moose statue.  It puts yesterday's Orange Moose to shame.

 

 

"Mac" the Moose Jaw Moose -- which lost its jaw!!

 

Mac is the world's largest moose statue.  As with the Indian Head statue, this one is made of metal piping, mesh and cement.  It is about 32 feet tall and weighs about 10 tons.  It was completed in May 1984.  Recently its jaw fell off and now sits in the visitor's center, where t-shirts are being sold to try to get the money to replace it again.

 

Had we had more time, we would have visited the famous Tunnels of Moose Jaw.  But, we had to move on towards Alberta. 

 

After entering Alberta, we stopped in Medicine Hat to see the Saamis Teepee.  This teepee was constructed for the 1988 Winter World Olympics in Calgary and was later moved to Medicine Hat. It is 215 tall and 160 ft in diameter at the base.  It weighs approximately 441, 000 pounds.  It is built to withstand 150 mph winds.  Saamis (SA-AH-UMP-SIN) is the Blackfoot word for the eagle tail feather headdress (hat worn by Medicine Man - or Medicine Hat).

 

 

The Saamis Teepee in Medicine Hat, Alberta

 

At the Medicine Hat Visitor's Center, there was also the "Weather Stone" and it even had my name on it....

 

 

If the rock is wet, it's raining...if the rock is white, it's snowing...if the rock is moving back and forth, it's windy...if the rock is hard to see, it's foggy...

if the rock is casting a shadow, it's sunny...if the rock is cold, it is cold out....if the rock if hot, it is hot out...Weather Stone - Never Wrong!

 

Our final stop along the road to Lethbridge was in Bow Island, Alberta, home of a couple of statues:

 

 

Pinto McBean - designed by Jane Osborne and erected in 1992.  World's largest putter,

just a couple hundred yards from the Pinto McBean statue.

 

We finally got into Lethbridge at about 8:30 PM.  We were met by guitar maker Crafty Jack Burger (Jack Axe Guitars), who is also a big Flamingohead.  He is the one making plans for the Trailer Park Troubadours to perform in Macleod, Alberta on October 20.  I have been long-distance friends with Jack for a few years, but had never met him.  It was so nice to meet him and his wife "Little" Debbie.  We got into town and went straight to dinner at an unusual restaurant (fits the trip folks!!):

 

 

Ric's Grill -- Water Tower Restaurant

 

The water tower was built in 1958 and originally held 300,000 gallons of water for the city of Lethbridge.  By 2000 the tower had become obsolete and was scheduled to be torn down.  In 2004 the tower was refurbished and a two story restaurant was built into the tower.  One enters the restaurant from an elevator at ground level.  Ric's Grill is the name of the restaurant and they have good steaks, pasta and seafood.  We really enjoyed it and the evening view of Lethbridge was wonderful.  But, more importantly, the company -- Crafty Jack and Little Debbie -- was fabulous.

 

We then spent the night at Crafty's house.  He and his wife were marvelous hosts.

 

Day 1  Day 2  Day 4  Days 5-8  Day 9  Days 10-12  Day 13  Days 14/15  Day 16

Roadside guidance provided by......

 

See more of Sumoflam's Trip Journals

sumoflam@sumoflam.biz