We’re not sure what to call it. Alberta GTC (Ghost Town Convention), Mini GTC, Abandoned Weekend. Let’s be honest, whatever you call it doesn’t matter because to those who “get it” no name is required. For those who don’t “get it”, no name will make sense.
In this case, “it” refers to a weekend of backroads, abandoned locations, historic places, and otherwise checking out things that fly under the radar of your average tourist.
This is the fourth year in a row we have met together for a weekend such as this, with a focus on places in Alberta. 2014 was the southeast corner of the province, 2015 was the southwest/Crowsnest Pass, 2016 was based out of Oyen, and this year Brooks formed our home base.
It is slightly after 8:30am when our group assembles at a Tim Hortons in Brooks. We are a smaller group than in past years. It’s not unusual that life gets in the way and not everyone can make it. It was only through the good fortune of my work schedule that this happened to be my weekend off.
Jason and Becky with young daughter Kayla are in one car, joined by Chris and Connie of BigDoer.com fame. Emily and I are in our own vehicle with Tucker the Dog. Hoping we don’t have a repeat of last year’s vehicle problems (loose lug nuts and a failed water pump), we have once again brought our 2006 Jeep Liberty as our vehicle of choice. We would have loved to have brought our trailer to camp in, but having to work on Monday meant we would have been dragging it all over tarnation on Sunday before heading home. So, the EconoLodge in Brooks is our home away from home.
We set our course northwards out of town, heading towards Patricia. Then it was on to Iddesleigh where a local saw us looking around and drove home to get us a key for their museum. Thanks George!
Back on the road, we make a quick stop in Jenner and then continue further north to Big Stone. Across to Carolside, up to Rose Lynn, and then over to Sheerness where we watched a dragline do its thing. Back south through Pollockville, Cessford, and Steveville. A very full day!
Day two again began at Tim Hortons. We again head north, but instead of going northeast, this time we focus on the northwest. We stop in Rosemary to admire the large Canadian flag painted on Main Street, up to Gem, and then to the Finnegan Ferry. We pick our way over to Dorothy and then to East Coulee to check out the old Atlas Coal Mine bridge. Finally, we drive through Wayne where a large number of motorcycles outside the famous Last Chance Saloon show how popular this area can be, Finally, south of the town, we decide to part ways. For Emily and me this is the closest point to home so it makes sense to start working our way west. Jason, Becky, Kayla, Chris and Connie all continue their adventures south towards the TransCanada Highway and then finally back to Brooks.
The drive home is marked with the comfortable silence that always follows a great weekend of adventures. We think about how lucky we are to have such great friends, how fortunate we are to be able to get out and see these places before they completely disappear, and we think of our friends who were unable to join us this year.