In May 2012, my mother-in-law gave us her old car - but we live in Halifax and the car was in Edmonton. So we flew there and drove it all the way back to Halifax. We had great weather and I had a new camera. This is part 2 of a series of blog posts about the trip.
(All of the pictures here are hosted on Flickr - click on any of them to get bigger versions and browse more photo sets).
As we headed south from Edmonton, we were struck by how flat things were. I've lived in flat places like southern Ontario and Ohio, but the horizons there are shorter because of trees and buildings. The flatness in Alberta goes all the way to the horizon, which makes it much more spectacular (yes, flat can be spectacular). Unfortunately, unrelenting flatness is difficult to convey in a photograph!
As we got close to Calgary, we saw snow-capped peaks closing in on the horizon. It turns out that distant peaks are very tricky to photograph well, but we eventually managed to get some good shots. I was discovering how photogenic the prairie can be.
(After lots of zoom shots with my Canon, I took this reference snap with my iPhone - and it ended up being one of my favourites.)
We even encountered some patches of snow along the highway - supposedly it had snowed only a few days ago. They were melting quickly in the 20-degree warmth, though.
I'm an airplane buff, and so we had to stop when I saw a jet fighter and a huge Lancaster bomber by the side of the road. Turns out it was the Bomber Command Museum of Canada. They're still reconstructing their Lancaster, but you can go inside and look around.
I've tended to think of WWII flying as being mostly about sexy high-performance fighters like the Spitfire and the P-51 Mustang. This visit really hit home about how grim bomber command was. Dropping explosives from a great height isn't a particularly chivalrous way to kill someone - and the survival rate of bomber crews was terrible.
The Lancaster is huge but it's also quite narrow, so many crew positions can get the unique experience of having acrophobia and claustrophobia at the same time. Near the bomber they have a big memorial for all the crews who never made it home. I've always had respect for these poor guys, but now I have even more.
We got to Lethbridge in the mid-afternoon and met up with my aunt-and-uncle-in-law and cousins-in-law (are those even proper terms?).
When the weather is nice, May is a great time to travel: everybody is happy with the warm weather, everything is slightly shiny with spring, and the tourist season hasn't started so things aren't too crowded.
There are many places I've only seen in early May, and I'm afraid of visiting them at other times of the year, lest I discover that they aren't as lovely all the time. For example, the only time I've been in Winnipeg was in early May of 1999, and I will always be a sunny warm city for me, full of happy well-dressed people out and enjoying the sun - sort of like Rio or Cannes.
Lethbridge is now in that list of deceptively cheerful shiny towns - along with many places I'll be talking about in the rest of this trip blog.
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