On Monday, I thoroughly enjoyed an experience most people would appreciate just about as much as a root canal without anaesthetic. I drove 800 miles across the Canadian prairies in 12 hours, stopping at hours 5 and 10 to fill the car’s tank and empty mine. I’ve been making that trip pretty frequently lately, but I’m still not tired of it.
There are many things I love about driving across the prairies alone. Not the least of these is the opportunity to sing along with my music at the top of my lungs without losing friends and/or straining my husband’s tolerance to its limits.
Auditory abuse aside, a drive across the prairies in good weather is about as close to heaven as I expect to come. I love the places where there’s nothing to see but a long, straight ribbon of highway that vanishes into the big blue sky with no visible human habitation in any direction. And I love the variety in the rest of the drive: sloughs and open fields and occasional clumps of trees; isolated farmsteads and little towns; foxes and coyotes and deer and antelope and (once in a blue moon) a moose; hawks and waterfowl and songbirds and all kinds of other critters.
There’s room to breathe out there. When I get out of the city and into the open prairie, my joints loosen and my muscles relax and my soul heaves a sigh of relief and soars up to meet that blue, blue sky.
Mind you, I’m a freak.
Most people consider a drive across the prairies about as stimulating as watching paint dry. Beige paint. They’re delighted when they finally arrive at civilization.
I consider civilization an annoying but necessary hiatus in the pleasure of my drive. To wit:
At the first gas station, I waited approximately forever outside the women’s washroom, only to find that the kid who was using it was taking so long because she was industriously clogging the toilet with paper towels and who knows what else.
If I’d known, I could’ve gone straight to the men’s in the first place. And don’t get me started about men’s washrooms.
At the second gas station/sub shop, I arrived exactly in time to:
- Have a guy slip in front of me to pay for his gas, only to engage the clerk in a lengthy conversation about “Where’s the best place to eat in Virden?” Not satisfied with the clerk’s initial answer, he diverged into, “But what if I want Chinese food? But what if I want ribs? But what if I want…” You want to live, buddy? Get outta my way.
This delayed me enough to…
- Have a woman slip in front of me and slam the door to the women’s washroom in my face. Repeat the above waiting experience, this time with trepidation. Fortunately, the toilet was still functional by the time I took my turn.
However, this set up perfect timing to:
- Have two women slip in front of me at the sub counter, only to order multiple subs. Each. With great indecision about toppings.
I’m not sure whether the drive helped or hindered my retention of equanimity. On one hand, I was happy and relaxed when I went in, so theoretically it should take longer for me to reach maximum annoyance. On the other hand, the normal vagaries of humanity seemed extra irritating after ten hours of solitary bliss.
What do you think?
Any other prairie lovers or long-distance drivers out there?