From Calgary to the Mountains


Day 2 began with sun in Calgary, but the clouds were building in the mountains.  It was the beginning of several mostly-gloomy days in the Rockies, but at least the drive through the rolling plains west of the city was beautiful.

It takes a while for Trans Canada Highway 1 to leave the sprawl of Calgary behind.  Once I passed the giant hilltop ski jump that was constructed for the 1988 Olympic Games, the subdivisions abruptly ended.  Between the edge of the city and the edge of the mountains, the landscape rolled gently.  Heading westbound is the best way to enjoy this section of Trans Canada 1, as the mountains slowly grow larger ahead of you.

I turned off the 4-lane highway for just a moment, to take this picture.  The entire landscape was inspiring, and at this point, the clouds were still beautiful.

As I got off the highway, I received my first lesson in the Canadian vernacular.  Up here, a crossing like this one is called a “Texas Gate” — which I found particularly amusing, since they’re not called that in Texas.

Lac des Arcs

As Highway 1 arrives in the mountains, Lac des Arcs is one of the first places to pull off the highway and take in your surroundings.  The only thing spoiling this beautiful view of the lake…

… is the surprisingly out-of-place Baymag and Lafarge Canada plants.  Baymag processes magnesium carbonate ore shipped in from British Columbia, making magnesium oxide — a substance that’s used in animal feed, fertilizer, and Milk of Magnesia.  Lafarge produces cement, using limestone quarried from one of the mountains behind the plant.  Lafarge also built the company town of Exshaw, which surrounds the plant.  You can get a closer look at it all from Route 1A, the Bow Valley Parkway.

After Lac des Arcs, the former coal-mining town of Canmore is the next stop.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s the time-lapse dash-cam video of the drive from Calgary to Canmore:

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