Veggie Voyagers

Couple travelled 30 states and 3 Canadian provinces between 7/07 and 5/08 running their 1987 Ford truck on straight veggie oil. The blog continues with a focus on the natural world and energy politics from a personal perspective

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Prarie Ho

Beauvais Lake, Alberta. The land now is arid with stunted trees and a dry wind, rolling brown hills and interesting farms, some of which are still in use with hand hewn boards or log construction. It’s Labor Day and there are still quite a few people at this Provincial Park, many Mennonite families hiking up the hill to the look out.

M wanted to process veggie oil before we hit Waterton National Park and we usually go to places where people won’t see us and fret about what we are doing but that wasn’t possible this time. I could go hiking or swimming but we stayed up late in Fernie watching “Apocalypto”, a terribly violent movie that cost an incredible amount of money.

Despite my lack of energy we’ve heard and seen a lot on the subject today. First a radio show about the environment (pro nuclear.) There is a lot of hand wringing on the subject of the environment on the radio but the coverage has been weak. It seems like Canada has a way of letting the sharp edges wear off of certain topics.

After we left Fernie, where even the bike paths are coal dust, we went through Sparwood (home of the world's biggest dump truck,) and saw a whole mountain of coal. We found a man trying to sell bio-diesel there. It was noon and we were his second customer of the day. We were told that his bio-diesel is shipped up from the U.S. and that used oil is actually sold on the world market. He told us there were 5 open pit coal mining operations in the Elk Valley, which explains their anti-environmental bias, and he bitterly called Canada “the blue eyed Arabs,” stating Canada has vast oil reserves too.

We were excited to meet him and see his operation:
The cost was the same as diesel and he pays no taxes. The only problem was no customers, even though he knows biodiesel is doing well in other parts of Canada.

We saw a coal fired plant that looked like it had pretty clean (invisible) emissions out of the tall smoke stack. After that, we saw a rock rubble where a mining town (Frank) had been buried under a slide—70 died. Then, soon after, we saw wind power generators (part of a U.S. operation) on the foothills. Meanwhile, the Labor Day traffic streamed past us.

Lastly, a man who stopped by to check on what we are up to, as the inquisitive do, said he is a recycler in the town of Pincher Creek (that has a Walmart.) He says they take and chip up plastic which is sent up to Red Deer to be turned into logs, the plastic bags go to China, the rest goes down to Spokane but there is no Styrofoam recycling.

Almost done, “praise the lard!” I know it will be awhile before we find wifi but Happy Labor Day to all of you! For my social services friends—I saw a rest home in Fernie that said ”Really Good Living for the Really Grown Up.” That sounds like a wish for us all.

Sept. 4th, We are in Pincher, Alberta, getting oil in a back alley at a Chinese Restaurant. We spent the night in the Walmart supercenter parking lot and used their huge bathroom this morning (seating for half the people in the town...) It was amazing to wake to sheer flatness, windmills on three sides, dancing golden daisies on the roadsides. The recycler man told us yesterday, with wonder in his voice, that they were the smallest community where Walmart had located. We were grateful to find a place to sleep since it was dark when M finished processing last night and we didn’t want to pay to stay in the park and we could hear a bear trying to get into the garbage can near by…


At September 5, 2007 at 11:38 AM , Blogger small town girl said...

Hi Chris and Michael- I have bookmarked your blog so I can check on you regularly. Your trip sounds fascinating so far. I have a blog too-
Check it out!
Love ya,


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