Did you know that driving through rural Saskatchewan in the pitch dark while it's raining/sleeting outside is utterly terrifying? Particularly when you're a single female who doesn't do a lot of rural driving?
Yeah...so, my plan for the day had been to get up at a reasonable time and drive from Banff (where I stayed last night) to Swift Current (about 7 hours away, or less if you push the speed limit), leaving myself a nice chunk of evening to soak in the hotel hot tub and watch trash tv. And this would have happened had I not gotten in touch with my former graduate supervisor/boss and made plans to meet for lunch in Calgary. We had a lovely sushi lunch together, but by the time I got through the brutal traffic and dropped her back at work it was 2 PM. And then I just had to go to the Farmers' Market to get some more BC fruit. (Seriously, the nectarine that I had the last time I was there tasted like it was grown in heaven's garden. Such fruit makes a prairie girl weep.) And the Farmers' Market is next door to IKEA, so add another hour for wandering in a daze through their giant warehouse. (Fortunately I knew what I wanted, otherwise I would've lost at least two hours.)
Even with these diversions, I still could've made it out of Calgary in time to avoid driving in the dark. But then, I had one of those moments that we all regret later - a moment of thinking that I knew what I was doing. Sure, I had a smart phone with me that could've provided me with turn-by-turn instructions for getting back onto the highway, but I used to live in Calgary and I could figure it out myself. (I couldn't.) So instead of driving a few short blocks onto the Deerfoot trail, I meandered my way through streets I've never seen, getting further and further from my destination. When I finally gave up and consulted my smart phone, I had managed not only to get myself to a very inaccessible part of Calgary, but also to land myself in the middle of rush hour traffic. Fun!
So, needless to say I did not get on the highway at a reasonable time and I did not make it to my hotel in time to soak up some hot chlorinated goodness. Instead, I discovered that there is no darker place on earth than rural Saskatchewan after the sun sets and that fields of deer that want to jump in front of your car are even scarier when you can't see them. And that my fingers go numb very quickly when I cut off all blood flow to them by holding the steering wheel in a death grip.
Fortunately, I found my hotel with minimal aimless driving through town and my pre-booked room was waiting for me. Just as I was just getting settled in and my heart rate was slowing to less than 150 bpm, however, the door to my room was flung open by a strange man, who was followed by a very pregnant wife and two ankle biters. It seems the front desk had inadvertently assigned another family to my room and given them a key. Great! Makes me feel really secure! The poor woman looked like she was about to cry, and the youngest of the ankle biters did just that when told that he couldn't stay in the room. Fortunately there was still another room available in the hotel, as I suspect there would've been a lot more tears if the family had been forced to go elsewhere.
(Okay, okay...I'm not so heartless that I would send a pregnant woman and her two tiny children out on a rainy night to find another hotel. I would've given them my room. But I would've muttered under my breath the whole time I was driving to the other hotel. Take that hotel that can't keep its room bookings straight.)
And now, sleep. I must get up early tomorrow so that I won't have to spend a second day driving in the dark.