Today is a driving day. We get up and drive. Our target is to get past Medicine Hat, Saskatchewan, and head south to Canada 13 to finish the eastern journey to Winnipeg. Or, in internal terms, to get off the freeway. To let the body release the accelerated vibration of freeway driving. To return to driving through places people live.
It’s a long drive. As we approach Medicine Hat, I stop to look at the map to choose which southern exit to take. I choose Gull Lake. We exit there and drive through town in 5 blinks into vast wide-open prairie, dotted with building clusters that are farm houses, barns, and other out buildings. We’re driving about 90 kph instead of 120 kph.

fullsizeoutput_18d6At first this emptiness feels odd. There’s nothing and no one here. Then what IS there begins to seep in.

The different grasses. The cattle. The planted fields of grain. The horses. The clumps of trees around water. The sky. OMG! The endless expanse of sky and clouds. In the distant eastern distance there are thunderheads and rain lines, slowly moving and transforming. The hill patterns change from slow undulating waves to shorter, faster and deeper waves, then back to long, low, slow waves. The road is mostly just straight as far as it is seeable.
fullsizeoutput_18e1I’m looking for options for stopping. The roads into the fields don’t have gates as they do near the freeways. One of them might work if nothing else presents itself. We get to the first town, Cadillac. A few buildings. A gas station. It won’t take my US credit card, and is closed, so won’t take cash. I still have a half tank. Onward to Ponteix, a town on the map in the smallest font, but Bold, which means it’s bigger. Ponteix has a downtown street. There’s a sign for a park. Not just a park, a Regional Park. I head there knowing that some city parks allow overnight camping for a small fee. As we arrive, I see that there’s a day use area, a camping area, a golf course, and a swimming pool. I drive in. There are about 10 campsites. Nicely laid out with bushes and trees between them. I pull into one on the end. Sherman and I get out to walk. I see a sign to pay the fee either at the town hall or at the pool. We walk to the pool looking for a self-service payment system like I’m used to seeing in US Forest Service parks. I don’t see anything that will take money.
fullsizeoutput_18eeWe walk back to the van. The man in the spot next door asks if I’ll help him with something? He wants to move a picnic table from the spot next to his. Sure. I give his grandson Sherman’s leash and we carry the picnic table over. They live in Port George, BC and are on a dinosaur trip, visiting all the dinosaur sites in western Canada. That morning they’d been to see the most complete T-Rex skeleton. An awesome Grandpa and Grandson summer journey! They were here hoping to have a good night view of the Plessian Meteor Shower. This was supposed to be the peak night. I set my alarm for midnight. But when it rang, I turned it off and thought, I’ve gotten up to see this before… And went back to sleep. Sleep in a quiet place and not a truck-stop is very different sleep!
3359.7 miles so far. Amelia is doing great. Highways. Byways. Dirtways. Oil change in Winnipeg.