2012 Jaguar XF Supercharged Alaska Road Trip: Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
September 21, 2012
For some reason, Kurt was reluctant to get out of the car when we were in line at the U.S./Canada border and aim his huge professional camera at the guy checking passports and get a shot of the Jag waiting to enter Canada for the first time in its life. (We'll run into Kurt not wanting to get out of the car once more later on.) Surprisingly enough, getting into Canada with a car owned by Jaguar and bursting with electronics was a breeze.
This leg of the trip, from Idaho (or did we stay over in Montana?) to as far north as we could manage, was incredibly boring. This part of Alberta is huge, mostly flat, and devoid of anything resembling a turn. So, at the expense of making time, we made some detours.
Dan Edmunds suggested this one and, conveniently enough, it's just a few miles away from Mayor Magrath Drive. Mainly, I think, he liked the name and wasn't that impressed with the cleverness or the historical significance/importance of the buffalo jump.
For those who haven't figured out what a buffalo jump does, here goes: North American Indians would dress up as either buffalo, coyotes or wolves, get the heard of bison all riled up and chase them over cliffs. As you can imagine, 1,500 pounds of plains bison does not land delicately when shoved off of a cliff. Lucky ones died quickly, otherwise, they simply had their legs shattered during the fall and hung around until a kind person would come by and kill them for meat/fur/bones etc. It's a hugely effective, if incredibly brutal, way to kill lots of really big things quickly. Buffalo jumps died out after Europeans brought horses to the native people.
According to the Wikipedias, it got its name from an unfortunate young Blackfoot who wanted to watch the buffalo fall from the bottom of the cliff.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump also gave us our first taste of what to expect in Alberta. Those are shotgun blasts. And you thought only Americans shot up their own signs?
Alberta is, by far, the most American place I've ever been -- and I've been to Texas. The speed limit hovers around 110 km/h, but every's driving 120 or higher and our Jag is by far the smallest vehicle on the road. F-250 King Ranches outnumber everything by a margin of, oh, 75:1. They're all towing. They're all speeding. They're all awesome.
This part of the drive, like the ones before it, are simply getting there. This is like the line to get your ticket processed and fingerprint scanned at Disney. It's not fun, but you've got to do it to get to the real stuff.
Once you hit Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek, things start to change.
Mike Magrath, Features Editor