Friday morning, the drive begins.
The destination: Calgary. The route: via Small Town X, Y and Z The goal: Find some Green and White.
I give myself a good hour of driving to really get focused, and let the sun rise, before I embark on my first adventure.
I pull into the Tempo along the highway at Vanscoy. Make a few phone calls and then proceed to take the garbage out of my car and grab a coffee at Robin's Nest Café, Vanscoy's version of Riderville. The Robin's Nest Café is covered in green and white. The brunette serving the coffee lets me know, "Yea, the owner (Quinten Odnokon) is obsessed." How can you tell?
To no one's surprise, he too is going to the Grey Cup and was just fine to pay the $350 to acquire a ticket. He's a season ticket holder and the Riders mean a lot to him, to say the least. Love these kind of people.
After a few more words, Odnokon gives me a hearty Rider Nation handshake and I'm on the road again to rejoin the procession to Calgary.
As I leave, I notice that the sign outside the gas station reads, "Go Riders Go...Bring Home the Cup." Typical Saskatchewan.
Maybe the best moment of the trip: I'm driving just beyond Harris and seemingly in the middle of nowhere is a Riders flag flying high above a field alongside the highway. Gorgeous.
I stop in at Rosetown next with my main goal to see the well-documented water tower with the Roughrider-esque font. But before I get there, I notice a place called Riches Antiques. There must be something ancient with a Riders logo that's way too awesome.
Turns out there is. But it's not for sale.
Among the old toy fire trucks and glassware, a No. 34 Roughriders jersey hangs in the window. It was made for his three-year-old son, Carley, to wear while they watched the 1976 Grey Cup on television. Sorry to bring it up, but yes, the Tony Gabriel one. It's one of those pieces that you just don't part with.
My next stop is in Kindersley, where I enter the local liquor store wondering if they're having to stock up extra on Pilsner and the like for this weekend.
I find out that's not really the case. The manager said she couldn't order any more of the Rider Nation 30-packs because they were sold out, but other than that, it was business as usual.
I also discover a Chilean wine that comes out of Grand Prairie with "Rider Pride" as the logo. Something tells me Saskatchewan fans are doing a lot of watching football and sipping on Chardonnay. Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt it.
Back on the highway and the weather turns sour. Clouds and snow take the place of the sun that I was driving in before. Welcome to Alberta. Fortunately I brought my Hawaiian shirt, my parka and rain jacket just to cover my bases.
Oh, quick note. As I enter Alberta, it tells me that "In case of an emergency, dial 911." Is this just an Alberta thing?
The next town that perks my interest is Hanna, and just for my disillusioned buddy back home, I decide to check out the home of Nickelback. I wonder if the town will be like their songs. You know, everything looking the same and rather bland. It's better than I expected.
I walk into the A&W to catch the local scuttlebutt but it seems there's not a lot of excitement about the Grey Cup.
Maybe it's because the front page of both the Calgary Sun and Calgary Herald have Riders fans on the cover. That stings.
My solo dance party within the confines of my car continues as I near Calgary.
I think I can hear the HEN-REEY wails already. Must be close.
And there's Calgary. Yup, Green and White has taken over Cowtown.