On Sunday New Year's Day, in 1978, we woke up in a motel in Billings, Montana. The temperature was -20F, but fortunately, our car's block heater was plugged in and the car started with no trouble. We drove through Montana, and crossed the Canadian border at Sweetgrass. We declared bringing in $145 worth of items each. Custom officials didn't even look at all of the stuff we had in the car. The panes of used greenhouse glass from my uncle's greenhouse in Indiana, the old bikes I had bought during my time at the Goodwill Store, and old gardening tools, all became Canadians.
We drove from distant town to distant town always topped up the Scout with gasoline, because we were afraid a lot of filling stations would be closed because it was New Year's Day. In Calgary and Banff, we also topped up. All of our car's lights began to flicker, which didn't fill me with a lot of confidence as we headed up the lonely Icefield's Parkway which linked Banff to Jasper. It was a beautiful night drive; it was so clear (and cold), the stars sparkled like jewels.
We got to Jasper late, probably after 10:30. We remarked at the elk walking around on the motel lawns, in the empty town, but our mood changed when we ran into trouble; all of the gas stations were closed, and we didn't have enough fuel left in the gas tank to drive the two additional hours needed to get home to McBride. There were no gas stations en route. We were stuck; it was very late at night, very cold, and the motels were full. There was not much else we could do, but just to sleep in the back of the Scout, then in the morning when the gas stations opened, we could fill-up and make the drive home.
We picked a dark quiet corner in an empty restaurant/gas station parking lot, and unpacked our puffy Eddie Bower down sleeping bags. (bought in those early years when Eddie Bower sold camping gear, not clothes.) We made ourselves as comfortable as we could in the cramped back of the Scout, and eventually fell into sleep in the cold uncomfortable, inadequate space we had.
Tomorrow’s blog: Arriving home to some surprises.
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