It’s really kind of neat how things travel. I don’t mean obvious things like cars and people but rather small somewhat insignificant items like the pen I used for writing this blog entry draft.
Let’s forget for the sake of this discussion the journey from China (most likely by container ship) to the distribution center and so on, a path that could span thousands of kilometres, and instead on where the pen has travelled since it was handed out by the business.
The pen was manufactured and labelled for the Windtower Lodge and Suites in Canmore, Alberta. I am not sure if the next step in its journey was direct or not but it eventually ended up in Nordegg, Alberta which I’m using as the ‘first step’. Let me take this opportunity to give a shout-out to everyone at the “straight-forward lodge style hotel”, 160 Kananaskis Way in Canmore Alberta, as their offering of this pen to someone inspired this blog entry for you today. Thanks.
First step, Canmore Alberta to Nordegg Alberta.
The distance from Canmore to Nordegg is 252 kilometres by highway, most likely it travelled in the pocket of a tourist as they made their way around “the loop”. The loop, as it is known to several merchants along highway 11 is a circle of highways that connects Calgarians to the Rocky Mountains and back again. The circle is defined as Highway 22 north to Highway 11 west to Highway 93 South to Highway 1 East which eventually runs back into Calgary. I will talk about ‘the loop’ another day but for now let’s focus on the shortest route between Canmore and Nordegg.
The 252-kilometre step takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in western Alberta. Beginning in Canmore, Alberta you need to take the Trans-Canada Highway, known as Highway 1 in Alberta and British Columbia, north-west to the resort community of Lake Louise.
According to Wikipedia “Lake Louise is a hamlet in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies, known for its turquoise, glacier-fed lake ringed by high peaks and overlooked by a stately chateau”. It sounds as lovely as it is in real life. The area boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery in the area and less common amenities include high class ski resorts, canoe docks, skating rinks, wildlife center and hiking trails, most services transition between the seasons and are thus available year-round, weather permitting of course. The town of just over 1,000 is situated in the Rockies at a modest elevation of 1,600 metres.
Next our first step takes us into Banff and Jasper National Parks, two of the most accessible and frequently visited national parks in the country. Banff National Park is the oldest national park in Canada established in 1885. For my American readers that is just eighteen years after the Dominion of Canada was founded (1867) with the signing of the British North American Act that united four new provinces together. The Banff National Park received over three-and-a-half million visitors during the 2014/2015 season and has an area coverage of 6,641 kilometres square (2,564 square miles, or larger than the city of Anchorage, Alaska, the 4th largest city in the U.S. land coverage).
I visited Banff National Park several times between 2014 and 2017 via Highway 93. You can expect to find many photo opportunities as you travel this usually year-round expressway cutting up through the Rockies. Please take caution to use the designated pull-outs and picnic areas to take pictures as the winding highway filled with blind curves and unpredictable weather conditions can be quite dangerous for pedestrians. During the time, I lived in the area, the highway had at least one fatality each year as the result of a vehicle collisions.
After Banff we take Highway 93, known as the Icefields Parkway, north to the Saskatchewan River Crossing. The Saskatchewan River Crossing, or just “The Crossing” to locals was so named when fur traders, explorers and adventurers used this spot to cross the North Saskatchewan River on their way to British Columbia in the 1800’s. Since then a full service resort including hotel, store, restaurant, gas station and local tours has been construction.
Bit of advice, while the restaurant meal is decent both it and the store are expensive. I bought a regular bottle of iced tea and a snack there for almost $2.50 more than the same items cost in nearby Nordegg, Alberta. As for the gas, don't even think about it! The last three years running a litre of gas at the Crossing could run you anywhere from 25 to 75 cents PER LITRE more than the isolated hamlet of Nordegg just 100 kilometres west or even the tourism driven town of Jasper 100 kilometres north. The Crossing is located at the intersection of Highway 93 and Highway 11, our next turn.
Highway 11, or the David Thompson Highway as it is named, is a 318 kilometre stretch that includes some of the most accessible hiking trails in the Rocky Mountains. The stretch from Saskatchewan River Crossing to the town of Rocky Mountain House is approximately 200 kilometres and drivers will notice a significant decline in elevation as they go from Rocky Mountains to foothills to rolling ranch lands.
A must have book, that I will write about another time, is called “The David Thompson Highway Hiking Guide” 2nd edition by Jane Ross & Daniel Kyba. This second edition of the very popular hiking guide was produced in 2016 following two years of substantial public demand. It is the most comprehensive, easy to follow and beautifully pictured book available on the market today for a very affordable price of thirty dollars. If you are hiking or visiting the David Thompson Country you simply must pick up a copy of this book published by Rocky Mountain Books I will write about the hiking trails and “DTH11” another day but for now our pen has almost arrived at its first stop, the community of Nordegg, Alberta.
The hamlet of Nordegg in west-central Alberta is located within the municipality of Clearwater County. It is in the North Saskatchewan River valley in the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains about an hour east of The Crossing. A former coal-mining town named after Martin Nordegg once boasted a population of approximately 2,500 people in the 1940s and had state of the art amenities including a hospital, retail stores, banking, postal services and railway. The Brazeau Collieries mine made international headlines in 1941 after a large underground explosion billed twenty-nine miners. Following a couple fires and a decrease in demand for soft coal due to the development of the diesel engine the company and mine closed permanently in 1955. Millions of dollars in Federal and Provincial grants have gone into the restoration of the mine buildings and site. A land exchange with the Province of Alberta has stimulated re-development in the town-site of Nordegg. The community of 250 residents maintains postal services, retail stores (convenience, fuel, beer/liquor/wine, an ‘on again off again’ public school and a granite quarry supported by dedicated community efforts, provincial resource management and tourism.
The pen made its first stop here in the community at a small outdated and under-serviced convenience store, before hitching a ride 191 kilometres to Red Deer, Alberta and the next stop in its journey east.
Second step, and next blog entry, Nordegg Alberta to Red Deer Alberta.
Ad Revenue / Orange Key Fund Pending Donations to Charity:
of that balance the total donated to charity was:
Open a Tangerine account with my Orange Key
and get a bonus!