After Montana, we blazed our way back into Canada. The drive was long, but the scenery was beautiful. We followed the Rockies north, driving up to Edmonton. It’s a bit of a detour but, there are so many float centers in Edmonton, it seemed crazy not to stop by.
The city itself is primarily made up of workers from the oil fields – high risk, high income jobs that fuel the economy. At least until recently. Our visit was right in the middle of the Fort McMurray wildfire which has displaced a lot of the workforce, forcing 100,000 people to leave their homes. Many came to Edmonton, being the nearest metropolitan area to Fort McMurray. Some already split their time between the two cities, living in Edmonton and traveling to Fort McMurray for weeks or months at a time for work.
It’s understood that, in economic hardship, luxury commodities are typically the first thing people cut back on. Surprisingly, this doesn’t seem to be the case for floating. In fact, more people seem to be trying it to help alleviate the stress, many centers even offering free or discounted services to those displaced in an effort to help in a small way.
We’ve got two more stops in Colorado Springs before heading west. It’s a town known for its military base and long history of weapons testing. With such a large military presence, it comes as no surprise that the float center owners here are veterans, themselves.
After that, we shoot across to Salt Lake City. Utah is filled with gorgeous sights, from breathtaking lakes to stunning painted hills. With an international landmark famous for its effects on buoyancy, Salt Lake City should be pretty familiar with the concept of floating. With five different float centers, and the manufacturer of the Zen Tent out there, there could be some cause and effect.
After that, we head up into Idaho and Montana to close out the Central United States portion of our Tour. We’ll follow the Rocky Mountains north, taking in the scenery along the way.
Denver has been home to a vibrant float community for a long time. Some of the earliest commercial centers that started up in the ‘70s and ‘80s were out here. 30 years is a long time, and most of the old centers aren’t around anymore, but there’s a conscious community that has been floating since the old days and they love how much the industry has evolved and grown.
We now follow the trail of our ancestors, Meriwether Lewis & William Clark, whose expedition started in St. Louis and would, eventually, lead them to Oregon – just like us.
Except, unlike them, we didn’t actually start in St. Louis, don’t have a tour guide from the Lemhi Shoshone tribe, and aren’t carrying flintlocks (except for Graham).
Chicago is home to one of the oldest float centers still in operation – SpaceTime Float Tanks.
We had the misfortune of timing our visit as they were moving to a larger location, the only time in 34 years that they have ever been closed. It is with great regret that we were unable to see their historic float center in operation.
They were trailblazers even before there were trails to blaze – so many float centers in the entire Midwest trace their roots back to a single float at SpaceTime.
We made it back to America, everybody. It was a harrowing experience being in an uncivilized country where they think gravy and cheese curds on french fries is a meal but, thankfully, we’ve crossed the border back to a country where we know that chili and shredded cheese on french fries is a meal. Civilization.
Quite honestly, we might be in love with Canada. We’re definitely making another trip up there. For now, it’s about to MPH not KPH.