October 18th, 2009:
We went to Alberta last Wednesday, to visit Sandy and Blaine Cisna. Travel was pretty good until Kindersley, but then Doreen took over and drove to Hanna. As soon as she got into Alberta, she ran into slushy conditions and had to run the wipers every time she met a vehicle. There was considerably more snow in the fields, and lots of swaths still out, more than in Saskatchewan. When we got to Cisna’s, it was obvious that they had had a fairly heavy snowfall, and just that morning. Blaine said four or five inches. It warmed up Friday and Saturday, and most of the snow disappeared.
Most sloughs along the way were frozen over; some had just a little open spot in the middle. Sandy watched some ducks trying to land on their dam, and sliding all over the place. By this afternoon, there was a lot of open water.
Kindersley has a big, beautiful mall, very clean and well-maintained, but it seems to be having the same problems other malls in smaller centres are having. A very large area at the east end, where I believe Saan or one of those types of stores was, sits empty, and another large area where there used to be a furniture store, as well as a few of the smaller bays are empty. It seems a shame, because it is an awfully nice building. There used to be a coffee bar out in the main arcade where I would have coffee while Doreen browsed the shops, but even that is empty now. Wal-Mart opened a store two or three years ago and not far away. I wonder if that is why the mall is having such a tough time of it.
Our car has a feature that shows our average fuel consumption in terms of litres per hundred kilometers. It doesn’t show decimals so can only be so accurate, but on that flat, straight highway between Saskatoon and Kindersley I tried it out at different cruising speeds. At much over 113 kmh, it switches to 11 l/100km; at below 103 kmh it switched to 9 l/100 kmh, a difference of 10%. Since driving is much more pleasant at 103 kmh, we adopted that as our ideal cruising speed. I suspect we could save another 10% by dropping down to about 93 kmh, but then even the farm tractors would be passing us. Slowing down by 10 kmh meant it took us about an extra half hour to get to Cisna’s place, but more enjoyable driving.
There is just no colour in the foliage in Alberta, as in Saskatchewan; the leaves have turned brown and curled up. Even the underbrush is drab gray-brown.
A hail storm went through this area in early August; it made a mess of the vinyl and aluminum siding on the north side of Cisna’s house, and carpenters are at work installing new siding. Their roof had interlocking shingles and they didn’t seem to sustain any damage. They got off fairly easy as they have big spruce trees north of their house; without that shelter their north windows would likely have all been broken. Their vehicles were under the trees so were spared, and their camper trailer was parked at a little lake a few miles away where the hail storm didn’t reach.
Blaine took me for a drive through Carstairs town and there were very few houses that didn’t suffer some damage. It seemed every third house had shingles piled on the roof, or had already been re-roofed. A few windows were broken, and aluminum siding and metal doors were badly pebbled, but vinyl siding had huge holes punched in it. The hail came in from the north-west with a horrendous wind.