It’s officially summer for everybody now and many hard-working folks out there have thoughts of the family vacation or weekend getaways. Some people have plans while others just wing it, driving around to get away and see what they can see.
Renowned local writer Conni Massing has been doing this for a decade now with several of her friends, both men and women. Together as the Buffalo Gals, they have spent time each year coming together from their various home locations in Calgary, Edmonton and elsewhere and then piling into a van to explore a different corner of Alberta each year. Done purely in the spirit of exploration and just goofing around, these adventures formed the basis for Massing’s chronicles that have now turned into a kind of paean to our magnificent province. They didn’t check out Capital-EX or sing the praises of West Edmonton Mall. This gang of intrepid adventurers sought out the Gopher Hole Museum in the bustling burg of Torrington. They had no interest in mainstream attractions.
That’s only where their adventures start. Back in 1998, Massing heard second-hand that the place existed and a proverbial light bulb just clicked on. She decided it was something she had to see herself, but not alone. All good road trips require good company to share in the experience, so she gathered what she called “a casually thrown-together gaggle of pals.” Once they were first assembled for that one purpose, suddenly all of the goofy dream locations started sprouting. The Passion Play in Drumheller. The cook-your-own-steak cowboy bar near Patricia. Calling it a social experiment that would likely test the strength of the fabric between multiple friendships, they set out.
That first time out they get to the quirky museum and then make the other stops. Jack Kerouac understood the value of the road, even if it’s just a dirt road that leads only into the middle of a farmer’s field, for how powerfully it can bring people together and feel truly alive. Once they accomplish this first trip, the Buffalo Gals immediately knew that they had to do two things: keep doing it year after year and write the stories for personal pleasure. Massing figured that it would serve just as well for posterity as a published work as well.
And it does. The author gives it the royal treatment complete with records of conversations and personal pictures of the sights, including the statue of Francis the Pig. There are checklists, recipes and the always-useful maps for use as reference points for the more obscure locations or just in case any reader dared to take on the same wild ride as these folks did.
This was a great book to read. I think I should keep it in my car for the next two months, just in case I’m driving around and don’t want to travel by the plan. I laughed at Roadtripping and was endeared by the Gals, but mostly I just wanted to be in that van, riding along with them.
Roadtripping – On the Move with the Buffalo Gals
By Conni Massing
Brindle & Glass