Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Flashback Road Trip Part 5: On the Road Again...Calgary to MB.

September 19, 2011  
Travel Itinerary: Calgary, AB to Portage la Prairie, MB.
As I leave at dawn I know I am going to marry the night with a hotel room and a glass of wine.  Though it is dark now I know the sun will eventually light my path, within an hour or so, but I do not feel comfortable driving into the night as the roads are producing sizable animal debris. (Observation, as the land gets even the road-kill has changed from small varmint to what could have been a deer head over there and the deer body over there.  Note: For lunch, something vegetarian.

The town of Bassano has farm yellow plains under melancholy skies.  The fields are scattered with brown as cattle make the appearance of our Canadian frame.  It is cool today and the air is dry but the sky is wet. I am the only Honda mixed with transport trucks and pick-up trucks, empty flat beds and farmers with soft pedals.  No one is in any hurry to get anywhere.The soundtrack of my moment is the radio proving to be a distraction for the next hour or so.

Spoon, Gimme Fiction, carry’s me from Brooks to Medicine Hat. (Calgary to Medicine Hat. 290km: Medicine Hat, We are the gas city!) (http://www.medicinehat.ca/)) Outside of Medicine Hat two RCMP officers have pulled a tanned 4-door car over to the shoulder of the Trans Canada.  The car is completely torn apart.  I double check my speed – I am teetering 110km as I adjust my speed, and accelerate.   The countryside leading out of Alberta is relatively straight with only a few bends and pulls.  The colours are brown and dusty yellow and I have a scary image associated with a set of thick black tire marks that skid off of the highway at a point where the road levels off next to a rather large gully. I have a lonely stare at this particular thought.  

Side-tracked with gas stations and coffee shops, rituals and celebratory reliefs of a traveller, I am humoured by its repetition.  Somewhere in Saskatchewan I am asked, Is that a pot plant? by a stunted man, a gas station attendant well-over 40 years old and under 5 feet tall. He fills my gas tank and leers into the passenger window as he inspects my over stuffed vehicle.  He sidesteps and washes my front windshield, a little too interested.  He eyes up the plant sitting on the floor.  It is my house-plant named Puka (pronounced: poo-ka, a Pachira Aqcuatica: she is green, five leaves in her stem like a hand, five fingers extending from her palm.  She is planted in a red clay pot with sentimental value or least I think so.) I tell him it's a 'money tree,' and he replies disappointed, Oh, Anyhow, I thought you were brave.   I will count this as the second gas station observation, the first was in Golden while I was on route to Calgary by a middle-age man who asked me across the parking lot.  Social barriers are knocked down when someone mentions pot.  

Regina sings "Lungs," by Florence and the Machines, (http://florenceandthemachine.net/ ) and what is that smell!?  I breathe out this pungent smell that formulates a taste of rancid packaging as yellow wheat fields reel through the looking glass of my rear-view mirror. 

Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.  Super 8 Motel. , it is raining, again.  Today, 11.5 hours in total.  I had breakfast in Alberta (TC#1: 110km/hr), lunch in Saskatchewan (TC#1: 100km/hr) and dinner in Manitoba (TC#1: 100km/hr).  Alberta’s flat open road lead into Saskatchewan’s rolling and tufted landscape as shrubs and pockets of sparse trees manipulated these grasses into something coarse and attainable.  Passing through Swift Current the picturesque terrain flattened completely next to Reed Lake and then into Morse, and I felt like I was driving on water.  Then into Manitoba the scene evolved once again into these undulating hills as meadows began to realign my peripheral.  And then the rain moved in.  And then dusk set in.  And here I am cozy and snoozy...

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