2010 Alaska Sunk
Part 7 of 15
Hanlon AB Hospitality
Hanlon AB Hospitality
Even though a good night's sleep at the Comfort Inn was delightful, its refreshing effects were, unfortunately, short-term. The Alberta skies were still black; it was still only 7 degrees C; the rain had not let up and I was still damp all over. I got an early start after having a good breakfast and I headed towards Calgary hoping to reach the BC border before nightfall. In no time at all the weather, again, began to mimic the horrendous conditions of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. I began to see peep-hole patches of blue sky here and there but but not enough to make any difference to my level of comfort, or sanity, at that point. Then, the out-of-gas nightmare of Pense started to repeat itself. The Harley started “jerking” ...gasping for fuel and I had to switch to the reserve tank once again. “How could this possibly happen a second time?” I cursed to myself. I saw a sign-post pointing to the left saying “Hanlon”. This is just like “Deja Vu” I thought to myself as I made the turn down a long dirt road that just about consumed most of the gas remaining in my reserve tank.
There wasn't much in Hanlon except for a garage, a tavern and a few homes scattered here and there. I walked into the garage and explained that I was just about out of gas. I asked the mechanic could I purchase a few litres. He said harshly without even turning his head “Do you see any gas pumps here?” I said, “No”. He said, “That's right – there's no gas here.” Feeling somewhat helpless and just a little desperate I persisted by saying that surely you must have a little gas some place in a portable gas can or something, after all, you are a garage aren't you? At that point he laid down his wrench, turned and looked me straight in the eye and said, “Don't you understand English? We have no gas here!” Then he ignored me and resumed working on a pick-up truck. Two things were crystal clear. Firstly, that I was wasting my time here, and secondly, that this man was rude and offensive. I left.
I walked across the muddy street and into the tavern where I saw four guys sharing a pitcher of beer in the corner of the room. I put on my best face and tried to look cheerie while I explained my predicament to them including the fact that I was well and truly stuck here unless I could get a few liters of gas. When I finally asked the question, “Can any of you guys sell me a little gas, just enough to get me to the next gas station?” there was a deafeningly cold silence. A couple of the guys cast their eyes down and shuffled their feet around under the table while the other two just ignored me completely. I felt like I was talking to a brick wall. Finally, I lowered my self-esteem to the point where I was near begging. “Listen guys. I'm on my own. I'm heading across country to Vancouver and I'm really screwed unless somebody can give me a few liters of gas.” There was no response, not even one single word. I turned around and walked across the room back to the exit. As I was pushing the door open, the tallest of the four sitting with his back to the wall stood-up and asked “What bike do you ride?” I said, “Harley Super Glide”. He said, “That's what I ride – I'll give you some gas”. Thank God I wasn't riding a Honda.
Apart from that one man that helped me out of a very sticky situation, I thought that if Hanlon AB represents the hospitality of Albertans – I want nothing further to do with that Province.
It was the extreme weather conditions that killed me. I was down; I was drained; I was defeated and the past week of unrelenting wet and cold along with the stressful out-of-gas experiences of Pense, Sask, and especially Hanlon, AB, did me in. I made the decision at that point to abort my trip. I was in no shape to continue on to Alaska. Neither did I have the strength to to manage the extreme distances I would face once I got there.
This is where Alaska Sunk!
By the time I had woven my way through downtown Calgary and was approaching the foothills of the Rockies it would soon be time to find a campground for the night. I set-up my tent at the Bow River Provincial Park. I didn't notice right away that the rain that had accompanied me for the past eight days had now stopped. Apart from the delightful evening I'd spent at the Holiday Inn in Medicine Hat this was the first rain-free evening I had experienced since leaving Ottawa. Those peep-hole patches of blue sky I'd seen earlier during the day had broken the heavy cloud cover and were now predominant. It was a welcome sight. The highlight of my evening consisted of watching a grizzly bear strolling across a large clearing some distance away from my tent but he didn't show any interest at all in me, my tent nor the other campers nearby. After making my decision to abort the trip to Alaska things began to change for the better. I began to feel that a load had been lifted off my shoulders and that I could finally relax. I woke-up to bright sunshine the next morning.