April 17, 2019
Fergus Falls, Minnesota – Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
The graspability of the earth struck me today, when I crossed the boarder into Canada.
I drove in a foggy, unfocussed haze through all of North Dakota, which, may be the best description anyone could truly come up with for the sad state. I’ve driven through her once before with the same lack of intrigue.
I was nervous about crossing the boarder by vehicle, as I’ve only ever entered other countries through airports. I was driving a massive truck, loaded with an array of belongings, plus I had a dog with me. I thought, for sure, I would hold up the customs line as several officers stormed me, searching, asking confusing questions.
Fortunately, Canadians are far friendlier and more hospitable than those in our pessimistic nation. I was not detained or imprisoned; I was welcomed instantly without so much as having to roll down the back windows of my truck.
Relief overcame me, for some reason, entering Manitoba. I didn’t realize how much stress I was holding about leaving America. It was symbolic, more than anything else, for the distance I was undertaking. Another one of those big deal realizations. I just drove to Canada after driving across America. Not everyone does that.
I stopped in the town closest to the boarder, Emerson, Manitoba. It was, perhaps, the tiniest town I had seen up to this date. Its largest commodities were a post office, a church, and a gas station. All of the roads were dirt.
I played fetch with Ralphie in the small church parking lot of Emerson until I felt like I was being watched by the seven townspeople who called this obscure location home.
On the outskirts of Winnipeg, I started feeling the exhaustion I’d pushed down from lacking a real night’s sleep. I was so tired. I pulled over at a gas station to get something to eat and drink in hopes of exciting my body. Unfortunately, it had totally slipped my mind to call my bank and let them know I was leaving the country, so I couldn’t buy anything. I got a hold of my bank back home, but the lock wasn’t removed right away. I wasted about an hour by parking in the back of the gas station and taking a surprisingly restful nap, curled up in the front seat of the truck.
Eventually, I was able to get a snack and fill my gas tank.
A valuable philosophy that I learned to embrace in high school is “just wing it”. That’s totally what I did once I got to Winnipeg. I decided to head towards the prettiest thing I could see from a distance, which I soon found out was the Canadian Human Rights Museum, located in a cute, hip area called The Forks. It sat along whatever river runs through Winnipeg. I wanted to get some miles out of Ralphie, so we made two large laps, blindly, where we were. We ended up trekking over five miles.
I had an interesting interaction in the parking lot of The Forks. An elderly man, attempting to pay for his parking spot close to where my truck was parked, appeared to seriously be having a rough time with the automated parking meter machine. I wanted to be a respectful youngster who offers assistance to the technologically impaired, so I approached him, with my friendliest smile, and asked if he was struggling .
As I watched him show me what he’d been trying to do to process his credit card payment, I immediately saw that he simply wasn’t inserting his card deeply enough into the machine for it to register. I attempted to explain to him what the issue was, with small difficulty, due to realizing that French was his first language. With my big, friendly smile, I tried to put my hand over his and push his card into the machine with a bit more force.
Instantly, he now believed I was trying to rob him. He pulled back as quickly as his aging body would allow and insisted, with body language, that I should be on my way and he’d be just fine finding somewhere else to park. I didn’t want to make him any more uncomfortable than I already accidentally had, so I apologized for alarming him and wished him luck as I turned and walked into The Forks shopping market.
Something I may never stop missing about living in my hometown is the universal trust people of the town have for me. Somehow, I know everyone or at least know of them and could bring up some line of mutual relationships we had. I’m not used to old men thinking I’m trying to steal their credit cards.
I explored the market, which appeared to be an old factory-turned-mall. It was completely rad. It reminded me of this place close to Franklin, Tennessee called The Factory. All of the stores in this place were locally owned and unique to the Winnipeg region. I wish I had multiple days to check it out in total, but I didn’t. I had enough time to wander for about thirty minutes, buy a magnet, and get a coffee, and I needed to get back on the road.
When I exited the shopping center, I passed the old man, who was still struggling to pay for his parking spot.
I did it again. I forgot to feed myself in a timely manner. I turned into a grouch, once more. I wanted to get out of the Winnipeg traffic before I stopped to find food, but I made the grave mistake of failing to realize that there is no sign of civilization for many miles after leaving Winnipeg.
On my phone, I looked up the nearest Wal-Mart and found it to be in Brandon, Manitoba, two hours away.
Upon arriving, I went inside Wal-Mart to find my dinner. I was nearly overjoyed to find that the McDonald’s within was still open, after all, it was close to 11pm. This wasn’t one of those fancy 24/7 location Wally Worlds. I ordered a chicken sandwich with fries and was wildly disappointed to taste a significant difference in the Canadian version of McDonald’s BBQ sauce.
I ate my food in the parking lot outside while Ralphie ran around off his leash. Then, somehow, our new normal was to cuddle up in the backseat of our beastly truck and sleep soundly, as if we were back at home. Wherever that is.
Day 3 Mileage Total: 414
Liv – Authentically