Day 9: An early start

452 miles
14.5 mpg
$17.34 (Can$24): Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Elkwater, Alberta, Canada

46 years ago today, before I could even walk, I wanted to drive. If only 11-month old me knew what I was getting into. Only 8,000 miles to go on this trip.

I started my day at 3am, taking a few 360 shots before a wind storm kicked up.

Then, by 5:30am, I hit the road running.

It was a lot of driving, on one-lane roads through sections of Montana that only have two radio stations: Christian, and one that actually played “Bad Boys” by Inner Circle. The whole thing. With a straight face. Like it was never the theme song for Cops.

Mid-day, after only 1,200 miles since my last adBlue warning light…

When VW notified owners of the TDI/diesel fix, they warned of lesser MPG and greater use of AdBlue (DEF). I guess they weren’t kidding. I hope when I had it filled six days ago that he didn’t fill it all the way up, because at this rate, I would need to carry 63 pounds of DEF with me – just in case. Remember – we’ve established that there is 1,661 miles between dealerships at one point in my trip. I called ahead to Lethbridge VW in Alberta, but since I wasn’t sure I could even make it to them (400 miles), I stopped into a NAPA in a little down town, and picked up 5 more gallons of DEF. I called Garnet VW (my home dealer) to ask about the DEF capacity, so I could gauge how much to put in it. The service department didn’t know, and forwarded me to parts. Parts said I should look in the manual. There’s nothing in the manual about capacities or specs, but the figure is buried in 3 pages of narrative and warnings. And don’t even try to google it. So thanks, Garnet VW (they’re usually pretty good, but sheesh).

It took 4 gallons (with a capacity of just less than 5). I have 4 gallons left for the journey. I might buy a few more…

Do I really need to do this every 2,000 miles? I’m also checking the oil. I expect to need to add another quart in the Canadian Rockies somewhere. I went ahead and made an appointment at Kendall Volkswagen of Anchorage (Alaska) for my 10,000 mile service. I’ll need it.

As I got closer to Canada (crossing over at the tiny but friendly Wild Horse port of entry), it seemed everything got eerily CinemaScope. With no horizon. As if the earth was flat, and at the Canada border, I would drop off into space. The road was narrow and shoulderless, so it only fed my delirious daydreams.

But like most of my days, there was a pay-off.

No filter, people. The sky is that gorgeous. Like all the clean air in the world gravitates toward the poles, and we in the mid-Atlantic get all the earth’s second-hand smoke and coffee breath.

And on a deserted stretch of the tiny road, I made this little video for you of the day’s best scenery.

And Mom, before you ask – I wasn’t operating a camera while driving. I set the drone (propellers off…) on the dash, and had it take video with its nice steady gimbal.

Little by little, I’m learning how to splice and edit video. Maybe by the end of the trip, I’ll be half-good at it. Or at least pick the thumbnail image. Baby steps.

So tonight, a scant 300 miles from Banff, I set my head down in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. After all the flatness, and rolling fields of grass, this park seems to come out of nowhere. All of sudden – bam! Pine trees.

It’s like the forest from the studio lot in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. You remember: The scene where Cary Grant realizes that Eve Marie Saint is going back to James Mason, for certain death. And she “scoots” away in the heaviest unibody car ever made – a ~1958 Lincoln.

See you tomorrow for more driving adventures.

5 thoughts on “Day 9: An early start

  1. Thank you for sharing Big Sky Country. Now I know what that really means. Didn’t even miss the cowboys. Wishing you a peaceful night In the pines.

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