Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Southern Winds

Regardless of your inclination, proclivity, intent to purchase or ability to imbibe, you will not be afforded the opportunity to have a beer on a patio in Pincher Creek, Alberta.

Audrey's sister Vera had flown in from Ontario for a visit over the Labour Day weekend.  Rather than simply dropping her off in High River to rendezvous with the parental units, she suggested we go camping in the vicinity, which is how we ended up at Chain Lake, about half an hour west of Nanton in the Porcupine Hills.

Unless you're a fisherman or a boater, there isn't a whole lot to do around the lake itself, but there is lots to see and do within an hour's drive, so we drove down to Lundbreck Falls, on the Crow's Nest River.

A lovely spot, but it doesn't take too long to see, so we took Vera's suggestion and drove to the Oldman River Dam, a structure surrounded by controversy while we were in college.

If you ever have the opportunity to drive around this area, I highly recommend it.  Beautiful vistas or plain, ridge, and coulee, from the Cowboy Trail of Highway 22 to the Dam itself, it is a topography that fires the imagination.  Aside from the highway itself, there are landscapes where only the telltale power line or gigantic wind turbine serves to let you know what century you are currently residing in.  No wonder so many Hollywood westerns have been filmed in the region.

After the dam, we ended up at the Heritage Acres Farming Museum, a 180 acres of land donated by the province to a club dedicated to chronicling the agricultural past of the region, and containing many buildings moved there to avoid being flooded when the dam went in two decades back.

Hot and thirsty, we drove into nearby Pincher Creek, (named for the valuable piece of equipment lost there by prospectors from Montana and discovered almost a decade later by Colonel Macleod's men) hoping to have an outdoor beer before returning to camp.  Alas, many motels, and some lounges, but nary a patio in sight, despite a population of 3,600, and enough consumers to justify a Wal-Mart.

"Do you suppose it is just too windy for them to support a patio?" I mused as we drove out of town.  "You can't really have a patio without umbrellas, and this whole area is dotted with wind turbines.  Maybe it's just unfeasible?"

No one really wanted to argue the point; we were all too tired, and there were beers back at camp.

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