JOURNEY

RV odyssey from Alberta to Saskatchewan

  • 1400 kms traveled
  • 8000 years of Plains history
  • 01 sunset saddle and saloon stop

We were up for anything on this trip. We set off from from Calgary in our super slick RV to hang out with prairie bison, meet real Mounties, hike among desert hoodoos and climb red coulees. Along the way, we explored proud Blackfoot heritage, climbed into a bomber cockpit, and earned our cowboy credentials at two working ranches. 

Day 1
Stunned by a World Heritage Site
Picked up cowboy hats in Calgary and drove to the Nanton Bomber Command Museum where we got to climb into the cockpit of the legendary WWII-era Lancaster bomber! Back on the road, we met Blackfoot guides at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump who explained that 6000 years ago, the earth trembled with the sound of bison stampeding downhill. After the hunt, they turned hides into shields, horns into spoons. Nothing wasted. On the plaza, the drummers and dancers swept us off our feet. By evening we created our own ritual: fire, friendship, and smiles that went on for miles.
Day 2
Bison beats and outlaws
Ten-hut! Off to the Fort Museum, home to the Northwest Mounted Police. Apparently, the early Mounties were formed to fight outlaw American whisky traders moving into southern Alberta. The Fort has great old-time exhibits and First Nations history, and hosts the famous Musical Ride. We drove to Waterton Lakes National Park next, where prairies meet mountains, deer, cougar, and bison. Huge, huggable bison, right by the road! Their massive heads swathed in woolly shawls. They arrived at the park 50 years ago, but you'll swear the just roamed in from the Ice Age.
Day 3
Frank & Falls
Seeing the immense field of fallen boulders at Crowsnest Pass sent a shiver up my spine. This was the eerie place where in 1903, a mountain came crashing down, burying parts of the mining town of Frank. You can feel it in your bones when they share the personal side of the tragedy at the interprative centre. Back on the road, we pulled into Castle Falls and fell in love with the turquoise waters. So many waterfalls. Jeff wore his lucky cowboy hat at the swimming hole. Four grown adults all fighting for the rope swing. A solid Youtube moment.
Day 4
Red coolees & cooling off
We went back a few thousand years on the hoodoo trail in Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. It’s this gorgeous valley with clay mounds and coulees. To cool off we got tubes and went on this wild float down the Milk River, fingertips raking the water. Later, we explored the reddish sandstone boulders in Red Rock Coulee where if you stand on them on a clear day, you can see Montana’s Sweet Grass Hills 100 kms away! In Medicine Hat, we had to check out the huge First Nations Saamis Teepee. Spiritual healing, plus take-out Tim Hortons coffee = embracing Canada’s living heritage.
Day 5
Of trout and trotting
We let out a whoop, whoop, crossing the border into Saskatchewan. The guys unpacked their fishing gear and tried to coax the trout from a gorgeous lake in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. We lounged on the dock, feeling at one with our cool drinks. By afternoon we arrived at the century-old Reesor Ranch. Met some authentic cowboys who showed us how to bridle and saddle our horses. Looking out over the valley from the saddle, we felt like legends come to life. On the way back, I made a kissing sound, and the horse picked up his trot. Wish that would work on my husband!
Day 6
City slickers unite
Heeyah! Up early for horse training at the Reesor Ranch. Fresh air, eagles circling overhead. Wonderful. Later on we drove to La Reata Ranch. Set alongside a river, with rolling prairie hills, and canyons, the place is right out of a movie. We met Mr. Blue and Oreo (my two favourite horses) who seemed happy to share their land with cattle, coyotes, and four tenderfoot city slickers. Saddling up, we rode by the river and drifted into a prairie sunset. My heart swooned. Turns out the Wild West was in me all the time.
Day 7
Saluting the sunset
We learned the art of roping today and soon discovered why the Calgary Stampede won’t be calling anytime soon. We drove on to the RCMP “Depot” where we tried dashing red Mountie tunics. Like little kids, we couldn’t help saluting and snapping pics with the real troops, who were all great sports. Soon, we heard the ping of the snare drum and the moaning bagpipes. The troops filed in for the Sunset Ceremony with their wide-brimmed Stetsons and tall riding boots. The crowd cheered, the cannons roared. Golden. It's why I've decided to end all of my vacations with a pageant march.