You are currently browsing the daily archive for September 5, 2009.

It’s only 6! It feels later. But I was definitely at my motel before 5, thanks to the time change. I’m in Saskatoon, SK. It’s a kind of pretty-looking city to drive through, though I’m staying in the airport district–not the pinnacle of loveliness. I did accidentally park right in front of the room I ended up getting, so that was kind of great.

I didn’t do it yesterday or the day before, but I have once again updated the map. As you can see if you click on it, I’m very close to the half-way point; I’ll pass it tomorrow. 392 miles driven today, with only one stop–there were a couple of opportunities, but they involved driving way off the highway or being psychic enough to know there’d be a Tim Hortons or A&W at this one, when there was no such thing at the last three. Although it wasn’t that fun to do at the time, I’m kind of proud of myself. I didn’t know I could do more than 200 miles at a stretch.

Fewer miles to drive tomorrow–roughly 330–and I’ll cross into Alberta. Googling to find out when the time will change, for me, again, I have learned that the answer is “Eh.”* Alberta’s on Mountain, along with Saskatchewan, but there’s apparently an area of British Columbia that is all weird, being on Mountain sometimes and Pacific other times. So I won’t know what time it is for a few hours, around Dawson Creek. I think I’ll be OK, though. ;)

Gas is expensive. 3/4 tank is roughly $40–which makes sense, at a dollar a liter. And Canadian dollars are roughly equal to American dollars right now, though they (the Canadian ones) are a little lower. Just a little. None of this was terribly surprising, in any grand sense, but I admit to a little bit of sticker shock.

Also, I’m just going to throw this out there: the Midwest freaks me out. I don’t like the flatness of it. It’s lovely in its own way, definitely, with the various shades of grain and fields of sunflowers(!!)–but the scale of things is all wrong, because there are no clues on the horizon to help you parse anything. I need mountains or something. Buildings would do. Or oceans–lovely oceans! (They’re flat, yes, but somehow it works for them.) All this flat land unsettles me. And driving through Minnesota and even part of North Dakota, I was certain a tornado was going to sweep in and kill me. (The sky was darkening. I won’t say “I’m not crazy,” but give me half-credit on this one. There were even rain showers off… somewhere in the distance. Hard to say how far, like I said. But I had greater than no reason to worry! Don’t judge me! (:))) Luckily, no tornado paranoia struck me in Manitoba or Saskatchewan, despite it looking like the American Midwest (well, they’re connected, I hear) and also despite the wind. Today was less windy than yesterday, but only in that it was sneaky, ninja gusts, rather than a sustained gale.

The hills and trees I mentioned yesterday were a lie. It’s still fairly flat, though I went through some neat valleys. I got a picture or three–and I really hope one comes out–of this strange gulch that paralleled the highway for a few miles. It was neat. And, like I said, Saskatoon is pretty; there’s a fair bit of greenery around. So I don’t know whether to expect more flatness or more hills tomorrow. I’m definitely increasing in elevation each day–around 800ft, when I started the trip, to 2598ft at my current location. I choose to believe that’s why the gas mileage has been lower, though I think it’s probably time to put some air in the tires, as well.

The speed limit is usually either 100 or 110 km/h (a little over 60 to a little under 70 mph, if my speedometer is to be trusted), with drops to 80 as intersections approach. And they are still, largely, intersections, rather than exits. Most of them don’t have stoplights, either. (I’d be interested to see statistics on injuries.) So I can continue to travel at the same speed I’d been traveling in the US, without fear of being pulled over, which is nice. (I’ve seen a total of one police car, and that was in Manitoba. But I assume they’re out there. So I keep it close to the speed limit, even when I’m keeping up with traffic.)

Things I’ve listened to today: Dr. Horrible (I’m going to be so sick of it by the time I am finished with the drive) and other musicals (Evita, My Fair Lady), until a splitting headache made me stop–I actually pulled into Regina with the radio off; Girl Talk; the Juno soundtrack; the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack (it felt appropriate); and a few random songs. Yesterday was much more of a girl band day, with some Pink and some Liz Phair thrown in around the standard musicals and mashups. I think I listened to all of the Grey Album, as well.

*I still pronounce “eh” as a soft “e,” not as a hard “a,” despite two days in Canada. But that’s not what I made this side note to tell you. This is: I saw a print ad for some kind of study guide that promised kids could get an “Eh+.” I chortled. I love–and I’m not being facetious, here; I am totally serious–I love the the Canadian accent. It varies a little, from province to province, it seems, but it makes me happy in all its incarnations. It sounds like it’d be impossible to yell in Canadian (other than cheering for your hockey team). I hope to keep that delusion throughout the rest of the trip. ;)

The weather has been gorgeous the whole trip so far. It looks like it’ll hold until Edmonton, where suggests “cold and rainy.” That’s two days out, though, so it’s hard to say. It’s still hitting 80 degrees Fahrenheit and has been all through every state/province so far; George has a thing that shows the external temperature, and it got up to 82, in Manitoba, yesterday. I figured I’d be wearing my jacket by now. Not complaining, just sharing my experience. :D

As I move north, I’m noticing some autumn colors in the trees–when there are trees. North Dakota was a little sparse, as was a lot of Manitoba. Half of Wisconsin was sparse, and half was this beautiful, hilly, tree-y area with rock upcroppings(?); that was where I first noticed some color change in the trees. Part of my drive yesterday seemed to be moving into some hills and tree-covered areas, as well, so I’m pretty excited to see what today holds. I’m a smidge further south than I’d originally anticipated (I did ponder driving through Regina–locals seem to pronounce this with a hard “i”–but decided against … and the GPS decided for, so that’s where I’ll be this afternoon–I’m hoping to make Saskatoon today, which will put me right on schedule).

The schedule in my head now looks kind of like this (though I still haven’t sat down and really examined The Milepost the way I’d hoped to):
* 9/1 – Indiana/Michigan border – 329.2 miles
* 9/2 – Madison, WI – 283.9 miles (that’s a measure to my morning coffee, not to my friends’ house)
* 9/3 – Fargo, ND – 553.9 miles (that will be the record for the trip)
* 9/4 – Brandon, MB – 348.9 miles (see? shorter? not worth it to drive so much in one day that I can’t the next)

* 9/5 – Saskatoon, SK – 385 miles
* 9/6 – Edmonton, Alberta – 326 mi
* 9/7 – Dawson Creek, British Columbia – 367 mi – beginning of the Alcan
* 9/8 – Fort Nelson, British Columbia – 283 mi
* 9/9 – Watson Lake, Yukon – 318 mi
* 9/10 – Haines Junction, Yukon (stopping in Whitehorse) – 367 mi
* 9/11 – Tok, AK – 293 mi (and customs)
* 9/12 – Anchorage, AK – 320 miles

I was going to try to go a little further per day to get into Anchorage by Friday, to sign the lease on my apartment. But I just don’t think it can be done. There’s little enough between stops that, unless I want to sleep in the car, I’m kind of going to have to go with these locations and mileages. It sounds like the woman at the rental company might be willing to meet me on Saturday. So, fingers crossed, there. Also, that puts me in town in time for the last farmer’s market of the season!

The other thing that occurred to me, while I was driving, that I meant to mention, was that maybe this is the right way to do this move. I think a flight and, bam, I’m in Anchorage… that might be a little too sudden. This really gives me time to think and transition and absorb the change. Also, I’m on the road all day and too tired when I get to the hotel to really be doing much, with respect to the library world. It’s a good break.

I do wish I had a travel companion. The birds are by turns wonderful/adorable and miserable/screamy, much like a travel companion might be. But they aren’t interested in my snark about Minnesota drivers (seriously, people, you have all this space out here–use it and don’t merge in front of me and then slow down!), and they don’t tell me jokes or sing along with musicals with me. (If the government has a monitoring device in my vehicle–there’s no reason to believe they do, except that it’s funny–I pity the fool who has to listen to it. All of Dr. Horrible is more or less sung in my range, but some of the other things I like singing along with aren’t.) I could make better time with another driver, as well, obviously.

So, if anyone’s reading this blog and pondering doing a similar trip… take someone with you. For real. If you have an unemployed friend with a penchant for travel, offer to buy their ticket back home. It would be money well spent, not just logistically (more driving per day) but also for companionship. I’m not desperately lonely, but I’m missing conversation… as Dale can tell you. I think we spent an hour and a half or more on Skype last night. … I’d just call more people when I take breaks, but I think Verizon would be really terrible to me, as far as roaming charges go. :/

Anyway, didn’t mean to end on a complainy note. Really, the trip’s been going well. I’m tired, but holding up. I like Comfort Inn a lot. Motel 6 is also fine–the one in Fargo seemed like some sort of weird dorm, in some ways–though I wish they had wifi. Super 8 is my least favorite, just because that one branch was built out of cardboard; I’d give them another chance, figuring that can’t always be the case. But, yeah, I’ve been sleeping OK. The birds are holding up all right. (They get really grumpy after about 4pm, on the road. But so do I, so that’s OK.) Like I said, beautiful weather. So, you know, things are good.

Also, I’m far enough north that all the motel parking spots have electrical outlets.

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September 2009