My Life on the Road: Headed for Texas, crazy cold in Claresholm

With my wife's gig in north central Alberta spinning down for another year and the cold charging hard at us like a bull moose in rut, it's once again time for us to head south. This year, thanks to the two weeks it took me to replace a lost passport, we started off later than we would have liked.


We left Calgary late in the day. No matter how much lead up we have, there always seems to be a few last things to do. Saying goodbye. Picking up snacks for the road. Double checking our rig's engine, air bags, air brakes, tires and all else. Even after receiving my passport last Friday, we waited until today–Wednesday. The weather was too coarse to risk in the rig.

We aimed at Lethbridge as a first night target. Not far, but out of Calgary and within reach of the border early tomorrow morning. As the dusk settled in, we noted that our headlights were not up to the task of leading us. The bulbs would need to be replaced. But not tonight. We made for Claresholm: a highway pass-through town on the road south. By the time we pulled off for the evening, it had already hit -10. We lurked through town, the size of a semi truck with our Jeep in tow, searching for a dark corner of asphalt to call ours for the night. On with the generator. On with the furnace to warm our dog and our bones.

Unhooking the Jeep in the cold is a finger-sore pain in the ass. We decided to walk to the closest restaurant–we hadn't planned on stocking the fridge until we were across the border. Not a block away was a roadhouse. We'd passed it on the way in: Douros. An Italian joint if the specials on display out in the snow were anything to go by. It looked warm. We were sold.

With the cold, I found it hard to care about my keto diet. We both ordered heaping piles of pasta. Doing so was one of the best decisions I've made in months. As we finished dinner, we realized that we had misread the weather. It would go down to -10 in Lethbridge. It would hit -17 in Claresholm. While plugged in to shore power, we knew that we could keep the RV warm in temperatures as low as -10. Off the grid? That's a different story. In order to wake up with out frostbite, we would have to run our diesel generator and propane furnace all night. For the cost of topping off our diesel and propane reserves in the morning, we could just as easily rent a room for the night. So we did. Carrying our pillows, pooch grub, and bathroom kits with us through the late fall Alberta freeze, we walked two blocks to a two-star hotel. $10 extra dollars on top of $75 and the dog was inside. Good enough.

My wife had a bath. I listened to the conversation in the next room through the broth-thin walls between us. Voice One thought he was spending too much money on online gambling. Voice two said that the oil fields up north were opening again. No need to worry about small change. Their talk turned a lots of corners: How Amazon was big enough and rich enough to stop the next world war. That they found some trans women attractive. That Trump was a lunatic but some of his ideas were fine. I tapped on a white noise app on my smartphone. Their blather faded away in a wash of sound.

Soon, the talkers fell asleep. We followed, soon after.