Going Out West


This isn't May 28 as the title (2012-05-28) of this
page suggests. I am writing about the past. It is July 9 today.

We left Toronto on May 28 and drove about 4 hours west to Wheatley Provincial Park a few kilometres from the American border near Detroit.

The next day we drove about 5 hours to Indiana Dunes State Park on the south shore of Lake Michigan near Gary.

Our plan was to travel 4 or 5 hours a day, rest and relax for the remaining 19 or 20 hours.

That was the plan but, for some reason (I forgot) when we reached John Michael Kohler State Park north on the west coast of Lake Michigan near Sheboygan, Wisconsin we turned westward and drove until dusk arriving at...

William O'Brien State Park on the St. Croix river late in the evening of May 31.

Sunrise June 1...

The St. Croix River, a section of the Voyageur trade route to New Orleans, was flooded with muddy water only a few miles north of where it converges into the Mississippi River.

From that place on, all the rivers and streams we crossed across the continent and back were flooded over their banks, chocolate milk with sediment. The nesting duck lakes and field ponds, more settled, were flooded too.

The plan to drift across North Dakota and Montana stopping off at National and State Parks to enjoy the land shattered at Fargo, North Dakota.

The primary plan to visit old friends and family in Western Canada trumped the leisure. We drove another full day to Minot, North Dakota.

We crossed back into Canada at Portal, North Dakota. The garbage cans at the gastrak filling station were overflowing. The young woman behind the till and her friends were talking about the party they attended the night before. It must have been a Saturday on June 2 and it must have been a wild rural outdoor Friday teenage party.

We shipped train loads over the border at Portal. It was a mysterious place for me. The Canadian Pacific record keeping ended and started there.

The roads were pitted, rough, dirty, the kids hanging out at the last cheap, American gas station were disheveled and hung over. It looked to me like an impoverished Mexican/American frontier town not an important highly profitable crossing.

North Portal is in South East Saskatchewan and is over 8 hours from the Alberta Saskatchewan boundry.

We decided to overnight at a commercial campground/trailer park in Medicine Hat, Alberta so that we would arrive in Calgary around noon on Sunday, June 3.

I should have taken some pictures but, after I connected the water and electric all I wanted to do was rest and have a sip of vermouth.

Commercial campgrounds have two basic varieties of campsites; long term and short. The RVs that are established in the long term spots are also of two classes, rich retired couples probably visiting relatives and poor transient labouring families working like cowboys out of pickup trucks as rural proletariat.

Some campsites are small compounds of hard walled and tent trailers and campers used as bedrooms and kitchens that probably will never go down the road again. It's difficult to imagine how people manage and how they wound up renting a bit of space, power, and water. I wondered how the children ranging from babies in strollers to teenagers doing their toiletry at the communal washrooms manage to get an education. What is life like for those people? What a terrible struggle it must be starting off with so little.


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