Edmonton, AB- 3,434 km/ 2,234 mi
“We look at prairie and we see a great emptiness, a void that staggers the psyche and leaves much too much room for a mind to wander.” – Randy Winter
There is a reason they call Saskatchewan “the land of endless sky”. Today we actually reached the prairies and they were everything I had imagined- endless expanses of frozen field stretching as far as the eye can see. Above, a dome of cloudless sky- robin’s egg blue above fading to baby blue and then almost to white at the edges- as if the sky were a piece of litmus paper dipped into the snow where sky meets land at the horizon’s edge. And endless highway that runs unfurled ahead of you for miles- making the road seem very long indeed. The road at times disappears only momentarily over the slightest of rises or bends in the road. There are times when it looks like you might just drive off into the clear blue emptiness. Almost every slight bend in the highway is preceded by signs warming the driver which way to anticipate the highway turning. The land is so flat at times that the highway appears to simply be swallowed up by the surrounding landscape- one minute there is road, the next only white plains above which curl the remnants of last fall’s crops, barely pushing above the drifts of snow. I suppose it is beautiful in its own way but the openness is disconcerting to someone who has grown up among hills and vales and finds comfort under the heavy shadows of trees and amid light-filtered forests. The sun is too bright and too unrelenting. There is nithing about this place that calls to me and I find my pulse quickening at the smallest stand of scrub brush that crwds the highway. I do not hate it but I will be well-pleased when we are past this stretch of travel. Hannes said that when he went to visit the University of Oklahoma they told him- “any fool can live among forests and mountains but it takes soul to live among the prairies”. In all honesty they can have all the soul they want, I’ll take my forests and remain a fool.
Tonight we are staying at the Hostel International, Edmonton. It is comfortable, if not idyllic. It was nice to arrive before dark for a change and it gave us a chance to play a game of pool and hit a few ping pong balls around and unwind a bit after 3 long days of driving. This is my first stay at a hostel and, other than the extensive amount of hair on my blanket, I would say it is quite decent. Shannon and Hannes find it a bit “institutional” compared to other hostels that they have stayed at, which are much more hippie, as they describe it. For now I have nothing to compare it against and a softer bed than the night before so I can’t complain!