Sudbury was great. The generosity and good nature of Dawn and Lia really took the edge off the road.
I caught a ride with Dawn from Sudbury to Winnipeg, a drive of more than 20 hours. Dawn had never done a drive that distance alone so I was actually of some worth as I am a pretty good driver and I take the responsibility of keeping the driver awake and alert when I’m not driving pretty seriously.
We drove straight through all the way to Thunder Bay and finally had to pull in a rest stop too exhausted to drive but not before we saw a moose, a fox, and some deer. We also almost accidentally crossed into the United States. It was terrifying. Never mind that my license is expired…that’s in another country anyway.
Day 2 we saw lakes, moose, bear, coyotes, another fox, and plenty of beautiful scenery.
It was a fun road trip and we picked up another hitch hiker named Terry along the way. He told us that he had spent almost 2 weeks trying to get out of Ontario.
Ontario is huge and to drive along Lake Superior is more like driving along the ocean than anything else. Terry was hitching with his dog Tessa. I wish I were hitching with a dog. It reminded me that hopefully I will be able to see my dog in Bellingham, if I ever make it there.
It was totally sad to part ways with Dawn in Winnipeg. Her and Lia instantly felt like friends and I knew that I was going to be heading back out into the rough and lonely road. They made me feel like I was at home in a place I’d never been. From the truck stop Dawn dropped us at, Terry and I parted ways too.
I found a truck that was heading to Calgary but wanted to wait for 2-3 hours and I foolishly decided to hitch instead. I found a ride with a woman named Sonya who said she was going to Regina and could drop me off at the next truck stop.
On the way to the road from the truck stop I accidentally stepped in a swamp and covered my shoes, socks, and the bottoms of my jeans with muck. Then I got the ride with Sonya, who seemed pretty stoned and drove erratically while offering me hits from her joints.
Instead of going to Regina she told me she had to go by her sister’s house and let the dog out and then she would come pick me up in a 1/2 hour. This was about an hour before sunset. We had traveled several hours and were still an hour outside of Regina.
She dumped me pretty much in the center of the prairie and again told me that she would be back in about a half hour. Then she left and she never came back. I stood there trying to hitch a ride from nowhere for hours and hours.
Then it started to get really cold, then it started to get windy, then the trucks started flashing their brights at me. If I hadn’t of thought she was coming back, I would have arranged shelter but as it was I was stuck and couldn’t really leave. It was fucked. I don’t know what happened to her, but she put me in a pretty bad situation. My suspicion is she got stoned and fell asleep.
I didn’t really have the luxury. I didn’t know where all this bad luck was coming from but then I realized I’d left my lucky traveling hat in Dawn’s trunk. That hat has helped me with a lot of rides. Now it was in Dawn’s hands and I hoped she would take good care of it.
Thankfully despite my lack of a hat, a traveling salesman (Praise Bob Dobbs!) named Ivan stopped to see what I was doing there, found out I didn’t have anyplace to stay, and told me about a dry thicket about half a kilometer up. He also gave me a blanket he had in his trunk. I slept like a log in the thicket though I think I heard some coyotes in the night nearby. It was cold but not deadly.
This morning I caught a ride to Regina from an out of work electrician and since then I have been trying to escape from this place. It is windy, hot, and cold all at the same time. There are no couch surfers here. I have tried the highway, the secondary road, and the truck stop. No luck yet. Except that here at the truck stop there is a free wi-fi connection and a very nice old waitress.
I hate the Prairie. It fucking blows.
(Originally published 29 May 2009)