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So, here I am, in Brandon, Manitoba. The GPS disagrees with Google Maps on big decisions, and I don’t know why. It wanted me to drive back down I-29 and get on I-94, this morning. (Since I’d already wasted a bunch of time driving past Fargo–it did not impress me–and then driving back, when I learned that there aren’t motels between Fargo and Grand Forks, I was disinclined to acquiesce to its suggestion. Also, I wanted to get out of the US before the holiday traffic started.) Now, it has me taking 1 all the way across Canada, rather than going the faster way to Saskatoon, then hopping on 1 (aka the Trans-Canada Highway). I didn’t really notice until I was committed to the route. So, there you go, I guess I’m taking the south road.

Things have been going OK, mostly. Some bloopers: The GPS thing. The motel-search thing. Grace broke a blood feather, and it bled (just a little) two nights… pretty much up until I bought styptic powder, which I have not yet (knock on wood) applied. The other night I got a beer with one of my Madison friends at BW3 (does anyone know where the third W comes from?) and had a hard time walking straight–who knew “pint” was not the standard size? Today, I drove away from a gas station with my fuel thing open; I heard it making noise and realized it just before a car full of guys–who seemed friendly and hippie-ish–passed me and indicated it. I think they saw the tail end of a curse word–one of the obvious ones–because they moved from pointing helpfully to laughing sympathetically, then drove off. Also, we could solve the continent’s power problems by installing wind generators along the Trans-Canada Highway in Manitoba. Seriously, the cross-winds were terrible. Are terrible, always, I suspect. And the non-highwayness of it is very strange, to me. There are traffic lights, which isn’t so strange after life in northern Virginia, but there are these weird cross-roads where people have to speed across the highway… two of those people, right in front of me, were tractor trailers; I had to pretty much stop, to keep from hitting them. All over ND and MB, it’s super flat, and it’s hard not to get distracted by the antennas when I see them–they’re huge, and they must have awesome coverage. (No, seriously, it seems like Canada has taller antennas.) Which is to say, I had to correct so as not to drive off the road, one or two times, so now I try not to look at them.

I found a fruit stand! I can’t get the photo off my phone, because Canada is apparently a “roaming” area for Verizon (not just “extended network”). Eventually, I will. It’s notable because there were none between Pennsylvania and Manitoba! I had this fantastic Wisconsin cheese and some Triscuits, but no tasty fruit to go with them. The first couple stands in MB had signs that said “turn now,” rather than “turn in 3km”; the people who planned well made the sale! (Maybe I will spin this into a library-themed post, at some point in the future.) Other photos I promise: a field of sunflowers (out the side window), some kind of giant grain-processing thing (out the side window … taken because man are those things huge!), a poor picture of the Budweiser plant, and probably some other things. I didn’t get any photos of it, but the soil in North Dakota is this weird blackish brown.

The Canadian border crossing was painless. I had to park and go into the office, but nobody wanted to see the birds or make me fill out a form or anything. They just wanted to see the health certificates and have me wait five minutes, and then I was on my way.

Two days without being able to really post–I know more happened. But I’m super sleepy and kind of distracted. I’ll share my pictures, and that’ll be the end of today’s post. I’ll do what I can to find Internet-enabled accommodations tomorrow, as well, since the phone’s spazzy.

There’s the car, packed. There’s Grace, in front of the Pittsburgh skyline from 279. There’s a truck being dragged, so that it faces like it’s driving toward you, which terrifies me. There’s the Chicago skyline from … maybe too far away to see it well. And there’s a mobile chapel, which I found rather strange (note the antenna … whoa). My Twitter stream has a picture of me in front of the Wisconsin sign (Dale’s right–it was an awful picture of me) and a picture of a car dragging a big cheeseburger and ice cream cone, which seemed odd.

Seriously, I’m distracted, so, you know, sorry if the phrasing and paragraph structure are a little weak. I’ll compose better tomorrow. ;)

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September 2009