Driving to Alaska: Day 4

April 18, 2019

Brandon, Manitoba, Canada – Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada

I am alone.
I’ve been driving for four days, alone.

I go in and out of cell reception. The “me” blip on my navigational map blinks on and off every other half hour to remind me how isolated this highway is.

Every mile I drove, today, was palpable. Every person I saw in a new town seemed stranger to me than the last. It didn’t help that the deeper I drove into Canada, the more signs were written in French and the less conversion signs from kilometers per hour to miles per hour speed limit signs there were.

The urge to call family members and feel like I was still connected to humans, that were aware of my local, rose in me.

I spent hours on the phone with my Aunt Janet. She and I use this app to communicate called Marco Polo. It’s like video chatting except you send a video or so at a time for the other person to respond to when they have time, you don’t have to answer in the moment. It’s been the main form of interaction I’ve used to stay in contact with a lot of people back home or in other parts of the country than me.

Anyways, Janet was a huge comfort, being able to respond during a time that I needed someone. I asked her to entertain me for awhile, as I drove, and she ended up sending me a twenty minute video tour of her home, which of course required my responses and those struck more conversations.

She’s also someone I’ve been able to go deep with in talking about my marriage and infertility and the constant quest inside myself to find true purpose in life. I was able to share with her some of the thoughts and prayers I’d had, thus far, on my cross country (countries) drive. She was the connection I needed to keep me sane today.

I could find nothing to stop and see and no one to visit along this day’s course of travel. I don’t think I spoke to another human, in person. Even when I pulled-off to get food, I used a self-help kiosk and then couldn’t build up the social strength required to ask for BBQ sauce when my tray arrived without it.

Well, I take that back. Once, when I stopped to pump gas, this kid was going around to all the customers demonstrating some cleaning product for tires. I let him give me his entire spiel, as it takes some time to pump thirty gallons of gas. I smiled as he spoke, and on another day, I may have purchased the tire cleaner. But today, I had to find a kind way to say, “Look, buddy, I’m just trying to survive and convince myself that I’m not completely alone in this world. In this moment, tire cleaner helps me do neither of those things, so move on.”

For the life of me, I have no memory of finding or driving to this park, pictured below. It appears to be on the ridge of Regina, Saskatchewan. If it weren’t for the location tags on my photos, I wouldn’t even know that much. I was very tired and very much in a state of highway hypnosis. Wherever I was, it looks beautiful, and I look thankful to be out of the truck.

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There was this train that drove parallel with me, along Highway 1 through Saskatchewan. I went hours as the only person on the highway, heading west. The train became my traveling companion for a day’s time. I didn’t want to lose track of it. I felt a link to my own existence through this train. I convinced myself it was the only proof I had of the outside world still being there. I clung to Train like a child latches onto a parent when in fear. I was thankful for a gas tank that, when full, provided me 500 miles of travel without having to stop for more gas, at a risk of losing my new escort through the country.

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As much as that train meant to me, I don’t remember when I stopped seeing it. I don’t remember if it turned direction first or if I did. I only really remembered that I’d been with it at all when looking through my camera, later. My pictures are sort of the only memories I have at all form April 18, 2019.

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Day 4 Mileage Total: 560

Liv – Authentically

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