A few days ago, while still in Leduc, Alberta I started looking at my maps of stops that I want to visit and which route I wanted to take. Nordegg Alberta is on my list as well as many other smaller towns that were further north, closer to the 16, Yellowhead highway. Still somewhat undecided I drove from Leduc to Drayton Valley. I stayed the night in the Walmart lot. The next day I woke up and had to make a decision to whether I would travel North or South next. North to Edson and the 16 or south to Rocky mountain House and the 11 to Nordegg. I had looked online for mentions of random public land camping spots but to no avail. I was stumped.
At a certain point I gave up and flipped my trusty coin. North it was and I headed up to the 16 and into Edson. Arriving in Edson I stopped at the tourist information and quite randomly asked the girl there if she knew of some free camping spots. She told me about a spot by the river and how to get there. Awesome!
I found the spot, talked to my new neighbor a bit, unhitched, got settled, made some dinner and got some rest. The next morning I decided to go exploring with the truck. I started out on a loop that goes south a bit, loops around back up into Hinton, also on the 16 highway. This loop takes one through a couple of the old towns I had mapped and wanted to check out. However, at a certain point I got to the intersection for the forestry road that drops down to Nordegg. I decided what the hell and started the 116 kilometer trek down a bumpy gravel road. With the recent rains some sections of the road were pretty saucy and some sections had some serious potholes. None the less, I continued down this path convinced that it would be worth it. Well, it wasn’t.
The historic town of Nordegg is National Historic site on private property that can only be seen via a guided tour. I went into the town and saw the tour ending at which the guide told me that there are only two a day, on the weekends and the last one I’d just missed. He stood waiting and watching, making sure I was leaving. I did.
I searched Nordegg online and saw nothing about guided tours. I saw no signs, not even in the newer part of Nordegg as you enter town. I saw no signs stating that “this is where to sign up for tours” nothing. So I left, without a single photo taken and drove the 116 muddy kilometers back up to where I started.
Disappointed, sure. But as I drove back I had much time to reflect and it occurred to me that everything about the last few days was telling me not to waste my time with Nordegg. Had I ignored the coin toss and went that way I would have A) Not found the free camping spot I write this from. B) Would have had the same issues with the tour guide bullshit had I even stayed long enough to try and go up there with my trailer. C) Would have then had to drive down around and back up to Jasper which is where I want to cross through to BC.
So had I just listened to what the signs were telling me all along I would have saved myself a days worth of muddy backroad driving, a tank of gas and the frustration of coming all the way back empty handed. I surrender a certain amount of my decision making to “things happening as they’re supposed to” and even as I write that sentence I guess that today did too. Maybe to show me that I can’t see everything, some things will just not happen as I expected. So with that in mind I simply enjoyed the drive home and even after a couple of the other towns turned out to be busts too, I simply accepted that today was a dry day photographically, plain and simple. Funny though because as I resolved to that fact things changed, I saw deer, I saw bighorn sheep, I visited the Beaver Boardwalk in Hinton and had a great time taking photos and video until the weather changed.
So I guess all I’m saying is that sometimes, that thing you really want is simply not meant to happen yet. That maybe the way you handle those disappointments can also open up more doors to other things that are just as fun. Today was a driving and learning day. I’ll sleep well tonight.