Hi - Stuart again,
Karen will fill you in on Calgary and Canmore later. This note picks up where I left off a few days ago - the leaving of Calgary.
Goodbye Radisson Calgary
We left the hotel early on its 9 O'clock airport shuttle. Our car would not be ready until midday so we decided to have breakfast in arrivals and head off to the desk before noon in the hope of picking up the car a little ahead of time.
A couple from Canberra entertained us on the short journey to the airport. They had been in Calgary to participate in the world dragon boat championships. Both had won medals and Australia had come third behind USA and Canada. Apparently GB have a good women's team but overall we finished a place below Germany (it would be them). We picked up a few tips for the Australian leg of the trip and waved them goodbye as they headed off to finish their Canada visit by driving thorugh the Rockies.
Fruit and toast were consumed (I know - me and fruit!) and strong coffee ingested before we settled in some comfortable seats on the departures level. Karen read her kindle and I wandered round the shops and tourist information centres - anything to take my mind off the driving.
We gotta get out of this place
The time came to pick up the car - paperwork was completed, a Garmin Satnav handed over and instructions given as to where the car could be found. We proceeded to a multi-storey car park that, to my eyes, seemed to be filled with concrete supports and oversized pick-ups jutting out into the driving lanes.
A very helpful car hire rep was helping people find their cars. I got his mate - a monosyllabic individual whose personal doctrine seemed to be that info should be dispensed on a need to know basis. He did not pick up that I needed to know everything as I had never used a Satnav, never driven a fully automatic car and never driven abroad.
We received an upgrade to a brand new Ford Fusion. The upgrade seemed to be on the basis that "employee of the year" could not find the car we required.
I wedged myself behind the driver's seat (I could not work out how to adjust the seat) and stared at all of the dials and the "gear stick". What was I to do now? After pulling, pushing and prodding a few things (man testing!) I asked Karen to dig out the driver's manual and read the relevant sections (girly swotting). We then turned our attention to the Satnav.
It was easy to work and we quickly loaded in our destination. However, we then took 10 minutes trying to put the thing together and put it onto the top of the dash.
When careful consideration of the issue failed I tried brute force and ignorance. Not helpful and I pulled the finger nail of my right hand thumb back (drawing blood I'll have you know) and in the end we gave up. Head bowed in shame I shuffled back to the booth with the Satnav to admit that I could not put it together. "Oh yes" he said, "You're missing a piece. I'll just go and get it". Great.
So, SatNav operational, we started off and I managed to work out the automatic gearbox as I inched out of the car park without scrapping the paintwork on concrete pillars or some hill-billy's tow bar.
Every day is a winding road
What can I say about the journey? The driving was relatively easy, primarily because I did not have to take any left hand turns so have not actually crossed a road yet.
The only issue I had was what to do with my left hand and left leg. Every time I approached a junction I automatically wanted to change down gear so my left hand moved like a part of Peter Crouch's robot dance and my left leg went round and round like a dog's leg during a dream about chasing rabbits. I calmed down after 40 km.
The one thing that surprised me is how quickly some trucks shift on the roads. During the last 30 km to Canmore I seemed to have been transported into the film Duel as a menacing trucker decided to tailgate me at 110kmph at every opportunity. I lost him at the Canmore turn-off.
The car is parked now in an underground bunker below the Falcon Crest Lodge in Canmore and will stay there until we move (in completely the wrong direction) to Edmonton on Tuesday. Karen can tell you about the slum we are in now when she blogs next.
I'm signing off now as my body (after serious trekking today) is mirroring the battery life on the Netbook I am writing this blog entry on - i.e. both are shutting down rapidly although in my case beer is helping the process.
I am off to work out how I can drive around Canada and the US by only making right turns.
Goodbye - Stuart