Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Day 12 - Lethbridge to Calgary

Today is officially the half way mark, and we've covered some serious territory. We learned today that a town we passed through a few days ago has since been hit by floods following a rain storm. Cache Creek is a bit of a disaster area. It was one of the places we were going to stay but I chose Ashcroft instead. Gut feeling more than lucky choice.

The 250 k drive from Lethbridge to Calgary started off with a stopover back at Kipp Yard near Coalhurst. We sat and watched a lot of kick shunting - or kick-off switching I think it's called - where the locomotive accelerates with a load of freight cars, a guy operates the coupler release bar (running beside the freight car) then he radios the loco engineer to hit the brakes and the freight car rolls into the pre-selected track by guys operating manual turnout levers. It usually goes really well and is fully of wonderful noises of freight cars banging into each other, but if you push too hard the freight car crashes into the one already on the track and things get damaged, if you push too slow then it gets stuck on a turnout. Yesterday everything went perfectly but today the loco engineer was a bit fast and some almighty bangs were heard....hoping like heck that huge tank of LPG wouldn't erupt. Train spotter stuff.

A Union Pacific Canpotex freight departed westbound so we continued to the next grade crossing to watch it pass. The sky was heavily overcast so any photos taken weren't that flash. Either that or I'm useless at using my camera.

Grain empties departing Vulcan. They usually start out as very long trains but once they've dropped a few cars at each silo, it soon gets smaller.

We continued north back to Calgary taking the back roads and ended up at Vulcan. The townsfolk have embraced their name and they decorate the town with Star Trek stuff. A huge day of mourning when Leonard Nimoy passed away.

The first sight to greet you at Vulcan.

The main reason for going this way was to see the grain elevators and maybe espy a train or two. One train seen and lots of grain elevators. Massive structures.

Grain elevator and silos at Vulcan

We continued to High River then went straight to the Hotel Blackfoot - this place is superb.

I took the guys for a tour around various places where you can see trains roll by but the weather turned sour and the traffic was diabolical, so we ended up back at our favourite haunt at Alyth Yard where Jerry (a local raifan) was waiting for our arrival. Lots of switching and one or two trains passed through. I managed to lock the scanner onto the radio transissions of the ground staff and that made the experience a bit more interesting and logical.

By now we had confirmed what we suspected - the Satnav database is way out of date as she was trying to send us across roads that were blocked off by new freeways, and she didn't recognize roads that I was on. Luckily Lawrie was handy with a map and we managed to get the Neverlost system unlost.

Driving the back roads of the Alberta plains - ho hum.

Owing to the lack of eateries in the vicinity of our lavish hotel, I managed to convince the guys to go into a pub for a pub meal which turned out to be OK but a bit of a new experience for the other generation on this tour...they weren't impressed with the music or the volume... I got the barmaid to find out what a song was that was playing - Papillion by Editors. It talked to me (I liked the 90's techno sound and the Indie voice of the singer).

As you can guess, not much to report. Lawrie and Grant seem to have a wonderful time no matter where we might be, because there's always an old car to stir Lawrie up or an old tractor for Grant to get excited about somewhere. David loves containers, so all it takes is a double stack train to go by and he's happy.
There's a permanent haze blowing through from the north from all the forest fires and the sky is now overcast - not cold unless the wind picks up. Tomorrow we go to Edmonton - via back roads again.

This hotel is soooo good. Either the guy at the desk did his homework before we turned up or he's a genuine All Blacks fan.


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