While writing about Rumble Alberta (RA) back in June, I was struck by just how fun the whole experience sounded. I have always loved a good road trip and had been getting the itch to get out on the open road. A province-wide scavenger seemed like a great way to scratch that itch while getting to go on a mini-adventure, all within a weekend in my home province.
I found the perfect weekend for it in mid-July, from Friday, July 16 to Sunday, July 18. My son Zenon and I would tackle the open road while my wonderful wife would get some peace and quiet at home to enjoy some well-deserved (and much-needed) rest and relaxation. With 44 different routes to choose from, I left it up to Zenon to decide where we would go. He decided on the Northwest Route #6, a roundabout path starting in Slave Lake, passing through High Prairie and then heading up north to Rycroft. From there, the route plunged south through Grande Prairie and Grande Cache, hooking a dogleg at Hwy 16 to continue east through Hinton and finish up in Edson. Piece of cake, right?
Once we had picked a route and committed to this expedition, the next step was to register with RA so that we could earn points by completing challenges along the way. The registration process was pretty straightforward and relatively painless. There is a $100 fee registration fee with $20 going straight to your choice of nine different charities or non-profit organizations. After registering, you are free to enjoy as many routes as you like until the event ends on October 3, or take a favourite route multiple times if you prefer.
Next step, we downloaded the History Check app. This app has information about the different stops and checkpoints along each route. It is also the portal for participants to upload their pictures. Pretty much every challenge involves taking selfies at various locations, scenic pictures at specific viewpoints or lookouts, or pictures of receipts from frequenting affiliated businesses, hotels, or restaurants. Submitting these pictures through the History Check app is how participants earn points from the challenges. At the end of the event, the people with the most points from the various challenges can win some pretty great prizes.
There are a number of checkpoints and challenges along each route, and participants are free to take part in as many as they would like to; there are no requirements for how many challenges a participant must complete. While in the planning phases of our journey, Zenon and I had the lofty goal of visiting every location along our route and participating in every available challenge. Our naïve dreaming didn’t quite line up with the reality of how long it can take to find the multiple checkpoints and get our pictures.
We started out relatively early (for a day off) on Friday morning. We began by visiting the RA checkpoints in Swan Hills (they weren’t a part of this route, but we figured that we might as well pick up any points that we could) and picking up our RA swag bag at Super A. The swag bag was great; it contained some treats, snacks, promotional items from local businesses and the Town, and coupons. And it was all packed into a reusable shopping bag from Home Hardware.
Next, we were off to Slave Lake to officially start our route. We visited every location and completed every challenge in Slave Lake and along that stretch of hwy 2 (Kinuso, Joussard, the Signing of Treaty 8 Historical Marker on the side of the highway, and Enilda) until we got to High Prairie. In High Prairie, we stopped for lunch at one of the restaurants affiliated with our tour (gotta get those selfies!) and realized that it was already after 4 PM. This meant that we had only covered one hour’s worth of driving over the course of a few hours. I had made a reservation for that night in Grande Prairie… which was still a roughly three-hour drive away, not counting any further stops to complete any more challenges. I thought of our big plans to complete every challenge along the route and decided that we needed a new game plan. Every challenge… good lord, what was I thinking?
We completed two more selfie challenges in High Prairie after lunch before getting on the road again to head north. Meeting little traffic and making great time, we stopped in to Falher for a couple more selfies and continued on to Rycroft, where we completed two more selfie challenges before making a beeline to Grande Prairie. We were running late and didn’t stop for any more challenges until we got to our RA affiliated hotel (where we had to take a selfie by the hotel’s sign, at the front desk, and in our room for more points). The hotel offered a discount at the restaurant in the same building for RA participants, but it was 8:45 PM by the time we finished checking in, and the restaurant stopped serving at 9. Oh well, there were other places to eat.
We were up early the next day to get on the road and make our next appointment. We drove through some of the most stunning Alberta landscapes that I can have seen for quite some time as we threaded our way down to Hwy 16, bypassing the only checkpoint along the way in favour of trying to get to the day’s big destination before 1 PM. When we reached Hwy 16, we went on a detour from our Rumble Alberta route, heading west into Jasper for a little whitewater rafting. Zenon had never been rafting before, but he’s a big fan now! We spent the rest of the day in Jasper before rejoining our route and staying the night at an RA affiliated hotel in Hinton (with the associated selfie binge for more points).
Thankfully we were able to sleep in on Sunday. Once we were packed up and had some breakfast, we were ready for the last leg of our route. We completed two selfie challenges in Hinton before getting back on the highway. By this point in our journey, both Zenon and I were pretty worn out, and Zenon was itching to get back home to see a friend with whom he had made some big plans for the rest of the day. We ended up bypassing the few remaining checkpoints and challenges in favour of getting home at a decent time.
After having the chance to participate in RA, I would highly recommend the experience to anyone. Even though our big dreams of hitting every stop along the way didn’t pan out, we had a fantastic time. One of the great things about this event is that you are free to plan your trip however you would like, in whatever way suits you. Zenon and I could have easily had a blast spending another day or two on this route, but we did what worked best for us, and it was awesome! Taking part in Rumble Alberta was a great way to spend some quality family time together while seeing new sights, enjoying some new experiences, and sharing a lot of laughs along the way.