Groaning as I dragged myself out of bed yesterday, I profoundly wished for a day off. My painting is suffering from being overtired and ill with a cold that will not end. But that was not to be: any day off is a day longer on the road. We gassed up and left Swift Current, Saskatchewan, well, swiftly.
My husband suggested that we stay in Winnipeg until Friday to see the Blue Bombers play. As daft a notion as that is in and of itself, it would have put us even farther behind, time-wise. My goal is to be in Ontario on Friday night.
For most of its length, the Trans-Canada Highway runs fairly close to the United States border. That’s where most of Canada’s population is. As we approached the Manitoba line, we were leaving the Palliser Triangle. This region spans the three prairie provinces and continues down into Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas. Hot in summer, cold in winter, it’s so dry that it doesn’t support trees naturally. However, its soil—a lovely dark chocolate color—is very fertile.
Manitoba is the geographical center of Canada and as such marks our halfway point. We began to see scrub oaks and willows along washes and riverbeds. The Assiniboine River wasn’t visible from the road, but it jitters around like the writing of a seismograph needle on the map. I pictured a gentle stream swishing back and forth in an old eroded channel.
At Brandon, we turned off the Trans-Canada and headed north on Route 10, looking for a place to paint. The landscape was suddenly looking very Midwestern. Farms replaced ranches, towns were more frequent, and the tree cover grew more abundant. Golden light poured down onto the newly mowed hayfields.
And then, with a mighty screech, the SUV powered down and refused to move. A turn of the key elicited nothing but a click. It could only be a failed alternator.
We sat and read silly novels on the roadside while we waited for the Canadian Automobile Association to send a tow-truck. Boy, am I grateful for their international reciprocity, as well as for global roaming on our cell phones.
Even in funny money, this is going to be costly, but at least it will be quick.
In the meantime, I have a loaner. I drove down to the Assiniboine River. It looked like the Erie Barge Canal.
I’ve gotten my day off, and this is forcing me to take the time to do our laundry. Then forward, and even if I’m cruising through Winnipeg at game time, I refuse to stop and watch the Blue Bombers.