Day 4 was the end of the Best of the Bad, ending (for us) with a great pancake breakfast first thing in the morning, put on by a Three Hills community group (their Historical Society, I think, but I’m disconnected right now and can’t check).
Then it was hitting the road to take the rented van back to Calgary. After Calgary, it was a long, boring drive south to the Sweet Grass Montana border crossing. There are very few to no traveller’s services on the drive — rest stops, picnic parks, and the like so we ended up eating lunch in a deserted parking lot in High River.
The only interesting thing on the rest of the drive south was the Alberta Visitors Centre about 10km from the border. We stopped there for a break and took some photos of the cool dinos and rock formations they had there. We also grabbed a geocache that was there, but in the process of doing so we had to take the RV down a secondary road that ran on the outside of a hay field.
We’d seen a car driving around this field earlier while looking at the dinos and wondered what on earth they were doing. As we went down the dirt road, this car came at us and stopped along side. Inside were a very elderly man and two equally elderly women.
“I don’t suppose you want to help us count bales, do you?” asked the man. ” Not particularly,” I responded. “I counted 70-odd the first time but only 53 the next,” he went on. I surveyed the field. “41 that I can see from here,” I told him. He eyed me. “Where ya going?” he asked. “Montana” was my terse reply. I just wanted to go get the cache. He was clearly curious about why I was attempting to take an RV down this dirt road along side his field. I was curious why he was driving a nice sedan around a hay field, but really just wished he’d continue along his way.
He feigned disinterest and I took the opportunity to wish him a good day and continued 100 m down the dirt road. I turned the RV around, parked it and then Dad and I hopped out and hiked 100 m further down the road to where the cache was. The old guy trailed us in his nice sedan until we left the double-track road to go get the ammo box nestled up against the post of what must have been his field.
I don’t know what he must have thought we were doing, but he wasn’t so concerned to ask us directly.
The border crossing was pretty uneventful. There was one lane out of 3 open, and about 10 vehicles ahead of us. There border agent asked us a minimum of questions, and we were on our way.
Northern Montana is boring. The rolling fields of Alberta gave way to uncultivated, featureless rolling grass fields. For hundreds of miles. The apparent population density is shockingly close to nil.
There is one thing Northern Montana has in spades, though. Wind. Lots and lots of wind. I was fighting the steering wheel the whole way, trying to keep the rig in one lane or another. Driving straight generally consisted of keeping the steering wheel turned 15 degrees. We went around some corners on the highway with the steering wheel actually turned the wrong way for the corner. Boy is that disconcerting.
Eventually we encountered civilization and then we were in Great Falls. We didn’t see much of Great Falls, so I’m not exactly sure what makes the falls (there weren’t any particularly large hills nearby) nevermind what makes them Great. Also, it was quite hot. Over 34 degrees in the RV. Fortunately we had a fully serviced site and were able to turn on the RV’s air conditioning. Unfortunately, the heat combined with an over-tired toddler and a late supper turn Q’s stomach inside out. Repeatedly. And, we needed to do laundry, and that ended up being a long and complicated process in itself.
All in all, a long, tiring day.