I left Calgary this morning prepared to dislike Oyen, Alberta. I admit it was a bit unfair of me, seeing as how I knew nothing about the town, not even where it was located. But I’d just arrived home, and I was harbouring some resentment toward Oyen for taking me away from my beloved bungalow so soon, even if it was only for the weekend. But, in the few hours since I checked into my time warped room at the Antelope Inn, I’ve decided I like the place. There isn’t anything special about Oyen, its a small town west of Drumhellar (near the SK border, I know now) but its… pleasant. I guess because I live in the city these days, small towns hold a strange fascination for me. I feel like I’ve gone somewhere exotic, and have taken the same pleasure in exploring this little farm community as I would in a foreign country.
We ate dinner tonight at the 90’s Restaurant, eagerly grabbing the table by the window so we could observe the happenings on Main St. Only a 3 minute walk from the Antelope, its got metal chairs, plastic beaded curtains and fake plants which combine to produce just the atmosphere you’re looking for in a small town eatery. All the “90’s Favorites” have been scratched off the menu, but they serve good Chinese food at a reasonable price. It was popular with the locals on a Friday night, ordering what must only be an Oyen speciality – bacon fried rice. Unsurprisingly, the only excitment on the main drag was a pickup order for a guy with a “White Lighting” vanity plate on his much older Ford sedan.
Walking off the ginger fried beef afterwards I passed by the collection of a few stores and restaurants including the Sears Catalog outlet. There’s a pool, and a hockey rink and seven churches. My hotel, which has the original 1970’s towels I’m sure, is across from the police station, kitty corner to the Greyhound and next door to the museum. The houses are smaller, with satellite dishes mounted too low, and cement figurines on the front lawn. I think I might have developed a bit of a crush!
I’m a little worried I’ll be less enamored with the whole small town thing tomorrow morning when I wake up to instant coffee, and a day of work. Hopefully the thought of the shadow figure grave stone I saw on my drive out here will still bring a smile to my face.