I woke to sunshine and an otherwise empty parking lot, the whole lot's worth of Alberta work trucks having already silently snuck away to do work truck things. The Days Inn have modified their breakfast strategy, now including a (typically hyperprocessed and worse-than-the-taste-of-hunger) continental breakfast with the room rate, and not opening the real restaurant so that an actual egg is available until 9:30 am. Meh.
I ate eggs at A&W instead. They were good; it might have been the spite.
A quick 45 minute jaunt eastward in the fresh morning air brought me into the most historic Fort Vermilion. "Most historic," literally -- with the claim to fame of being the oldest settlement in all of Alberta, dating to a fur trading post established in 1788.
Fort Vermil(l)ion itself was splendid. On the southern bank of the Peace River, I found a well-manicured town, full of well-manicured yards, a gas station (eventually, on the third try), interesting historical signage, and the nebulous government "Experimental Farm" (which I did not investigate more closely, curious farmkid though I am, out of respect to how my previous approach to a federal experimental area ended).
The main excitement for the day was exploring a new route to the South, the Bicentennial Highway 88 which was named and numbered in recognition of Fort Vermilion's 200th anniversary. I'm not sure how this road had eluded my map eyes previously, but a colleague and former High Level resident was raving about the route earlier this summer. Not needing to track west at first opportunity, this was the time to take the 88. It proved to be an absolute breeze of a road, and it'll be my new go-to route for trips south by car or by bike. The first 250 km to next gas in Red Earth Creek were the newest pavement, and the road surface was impeccable, and the traffic light. (Far superior to the Mackenzie Highway, which is the de facto route for most traffic between High Level and points south.)
The day was filled with forming cumulus and intermittent rain, sometimes drizzling, other times heavy, but never sustained enough that I didn't dry out before next stop.
South and west of Slave Lake, I failed to find the Klondyke Ferry, despite my route notes ending up at the Athabasca River crossing at a disappointing, crummy old green painted bridge. (Sorry bridge, I'm sure you're great, but you ain't a boat.) Ah, the good old podunk ferry hunt. I guess if they weren't a mission, it wouldn't be as fun.
I pit-stopped in Barrhead for a lovely dinner and catch-up with a friend and former co-worker, then beetled onwards south, rolling into my pre-booked road motel as the stars were just coming out behind me in the dark eastern sky.
Day total: 852 km, 12h25m
Trip total: 1,595 km
Start: High Level, AB. End: Wabamun, AB.
Soundtrack: Zac Brown’s “Jekyll & Hyde” (country for Alberta), shuffle.