The drive to Calgary, for anyone who hasn’t done it, is a stunning visual panorama of majestic snow-capped mountains, endless forest and magical waterfalls down the sides of sheer rock cliffs. The highway winds through the valleys, over bridges, through tunnels and past quaint villages and towns. Vancouver, Kamloops, Merrit, Salmon Arm, Revelstoke, Golden, Banff, Canmore, Calgary. In the winter, it can be a spectacular wonderland of frozen ice and glistening snow.
For those who have made the trip, however, you may also know that it can be a harrowing trip especially in the depths of winter. The roads are often closed, stranding you for hours on the highway in minus twenty-something temperatures, while avalanches are blown down (with dynamite) and cleared off the road. The Rogers Pass (between Revelstoke and Golden) appears benign in the summer, but is a death-trap of black-ice and countless people have lost their lives along the dangerous route. Then, once you get past that stretch, you drive the Coquihalla highway (Route 5) which offers wicked white-out conditions coupled with massively deep snow on the road. When you pass the sign with flashing yellow lights that blinks, “Severe winter driving conditions ahead” your heart should jump into your throat. If it doesn’t, you’ve obviously never driven this road in the winter. Driving is at a snail’s pace (10-20km/hr) and the road becomes of myriad of cars careening off into the ditch, fish-tailing (back-end sliding left and right), and accidents. Truckers gear up with enormous chains on their tires, but unless you have winter tires with the metal spikes in them (yes, they actually exist), you are at the mercy of mother nature and your driving skills will be pushed beyond what you could possibly imagine.
Our children, while they’ve made the trip at least 10 times, have never gotten over the car-sickness that has plagued them since they were babies. Fortunately, one learns from past travels and makes constant adjustments to the planning to ensure maximum preparedness for while on the road. There are times when pulling over is not an option so one must be ready.
- one tupperware container – WITH LID (very important, don’t forget the lid)
- one roll of paper towels
- spray bottle with water and vinegar
- plastic bag
- lots of wet-wipes
- change of clothing for each person traveling
- water bottle
- gum or tick-tacks
Signs of car sickness:
- agitation and restlessness
- licking lips and swallowing
- whining or whimpering….at this point, open a window regardless of the sub-zero temperatures
As soon as you notice these signs, get out the tupperware container and make them hold it. If you are extremely lucky, when the event happens, you will be able to capture all of the ‘product’ the container and quickly put the lid on it to avoid spillage and smell. Then all that is left is some pretzels (they will love the salt), or gum tick-tacks (small, can’t choke on them but very refreshing). On the other hand, if your child loses their focus and doesn’t hit the target, then you are in for a bit of clean-up. Once you’ve managed to get most of it with the paper towels, wait until it is safe to pull over you can use the wet wipes to do a spongebath, remove all clothing and place in bag to be sealed with the papertowels and put into the trunk. The water/vinegar solution can be used if they’ve managed to soak the carseat. It will help to reduce the odor in the car which will be appreciated by the other travellers. Use the towel for them to sit on in their carseat so that they don’t soak their newly changed clothing.
Last week we travelled to Calgary to visit family and celebrate my mom’s 65th birthday! It took us two days driving in each direction and although the way to Calgary was uneventful, the trip back was more of a challenge (see above). The kids really enjoyed playing in the snow, outdoor skating on Bowness lagoon, lots of hot chocolate (it was minus twenty), and running around with their cousins Oliver and Isabella. Not to mention being spoiled by their Oma Chocolate (Chris’ mom) and Opa, Oma Dolphin and (my mom) and Opa Loek, Grammi and Grandpa, and aunty Brenda and uncle Aaron. We had a lovely dinner at Bolero to toast my mom and before we knew it the week was over. Not sure when our next winter driving trip will be. It will take us a while to recover from this one! Next time…Westjet!