Canada Road Trip Photography

Starting the Road Trip | Pt. 7

Between Elkwater and Medicine Hat

It took much longer than we expected—the first estimations aimed for ten days after my arrival. We spent more than one and a half months finishing our preparations, and we might have learned something about patience. For the last couple of weeks, we were rotating between Medicine Hat and the monastery of junk, aka the workshop in Elkwater.

Nothing extraordinary happened until two young trigger-happy “preppers” showed up with a truck full of guns. That was some unexpected entertainment for me since I didn’t have such an excellent opportunity to witness the unnecessary waste of money with loud booms and smoke since I left the army. Jens just kept being very focused on his work while I could manage some unfinished business I had to complete. Most of those things needed internet access.

It took exactly the time needed, and we still feel like living in the flow. Everything worked out fine, and we did the best we could to accomplish all points on our list. In the beginning, it was unreal to leave Medicine Hat; even though I felt a bit melancholic when we had to say goodbye to all our housemates and neighbors who supported us so kindly, I was still happy to leave.

Canada Road Trip Photography
Pincher Creek gas station photography

Next Stop Lethbridge

Finally, we went with a small stopover in Lethbridge, where we got some Indian spices and met an old flatmate from Medicine Hat who recently moved to this town. That was when we met Curtis again – a very talented musician just like Cam, the owner of the house we stayed in for the last weeks. They are great individuals who inspired us very much.

Canada Road Trip Photography
Skateshop somewhere along the road through Alberta

Overnight in Pincher Creek

While we proceeded westbound, Jens suddenly felt like doing some skateboarding at a skatepark in Pincher Creek he had visited before. At the same time, he crossed this part of Canada on his bicycle about one year ago. So we went there, and while I was eager to prepare our first Indian masala with tofu, he was doing his little tricks on a mini-ramp.

The meal was about to be ready when an old Native American came along. His name was Birten, and he was a member of the Blackfoot tribe. When he arrived and greeted us, I knew exactly that he would be our guest of honor for this evening. From the very first feeling, I could anticipate what his background story was. He got in trouble with law enforcement for drunkenness, and he had fights with other individuals who ended up in a whole pile of criminal charges.

Jens and I were listening to the whole sad story, and we offered him a plate of my curry masala. We tried to convince Birten that it is never too late to change his self-destructive path even though he described himself as an alcoholic, which is always a tricky situation since this kind of addiction is one of the worst and most common issues in the western world.

Canada Road Trip Photography
Just a glimpse into a typical hockey arena in Pincher Creek, Alberta

The Spirit Of Alcohol

I talked pretty openly about the spiritual background I could see. From my perspective, alcohol is like an entity – a spirit in this sense. In Germany, we even refer to it as “Spirituosen” when we talk about alcohol in general, and it has the Latin word “spiritus” in its root or radical. So, in my opinion, he is possessed.

There should be a remedy in his ancient Native American tradition to treat that kind of illness. I recommended that he have a sweat lodge ceremony to free himself. That could be a good start to a process that might take the rest of his life.

Ultimately, we didn’t know whether the universe instigated this encounter in a way that we had been chosen to give our humble part to direct Birten in the right direction or whether he just mirrored our unconscious addictions. Anyhow this meeting is still stuck in my mind and makes me wonder. I felt so much sympathy for his persona because I could feel the honest and kind soul he is.

Later on, other locals gathered in our little circle, and we had some pleasant conversations. It was a great start to our journey. We continued the next day. The landscape shifted from flatland to the typical view of mountaintops when you are approaching the Rockies. We proceeded westbound, and for the next two days, we were able to set up camp at friends of Jens. For example, we slept one night at a fellow called Brad Smiley in Creston. His personality matched his name. A nice guy we spent the evening with.

Canada Road Trip Photography
Alberta and British Columbia Travel photography

Challenges and the Spiritual Tech-Support

The next day we had terrific weather again, and we could take a swim in Kootenay Lake. However, the whole ride was not without challenges. The road is long and windy. Also, our vehicle gave Jens some good quests to solve. On one occasion, the engine refused to start, and the next day a part called “regulator” died a tragic death.

At least one of our batteries mourned its loss by crying toxic acid. Jens immediately switches into a problem-solving mode whenever something happens, making him super-focused, like a predator who likes to hunt the malfunction as if it were wounded prey.

I sit calmly since I am of no actual “physical” use in this kind of situation, except for some minor assistance like turning on the ignition on command. I have an inner conversation with the universe in which I kindly ask for help and support. Sometimes I pray some mantras, and it always works out fine in the end. Even Jens sometimes can’t say what had the more significant impact on the process since sometimes the malfunction disappears because Jens opened the hood and touched a few cables. I guess it is the mix between the physical and the spiritual aspects.

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