I’m actually in Auckland now, since it’s taken me a while to get into a position where I can actually write down the next stage of this journey. However I want to finish talking about Canada before I get onto what I’m up to now I’m in New Zealand, so you’re going to have to hold on for now.
Also note my highly imaginative renaming of my site. Can you tell what I did yet?
My last post finished in Sudbury. I wish that my journey had finished there as well but unfortunately there was about three thousand miles of Canada left before we would actually be able to stop moving. A theme of the various stops that we had to make was that the places we were stopped in were either extremely unremarkable, or we were just nowhere near the actual centre of the places we were in. A case in point would be Thunder Bay which is either just a thin stretch of warehouse units or I was nowhere near the actual bloody town.
In a spectacular moment of utter stupidity whilst we were out foraging for some food in the brief twenty-minute hiatus we had in Thunder Bay I managed leave my passport on the counter in some fast-food restaurant and I only noticed this fact about five minutes before we were due to set off again. Cue frantic running across a busy road and madly dashing about inside the restaurant barking at people if they’d seen plastic folder left anywhere.
Otherwise the journey continued in extremely slow fashion in a relatively uneventful manner. We passed through a whole bunch more of unremarkable Canadian towns and villages and eventually the rugged beauty of Ontario gave way to the wide stretches of the prairies that make up the bulk of the interior of Canada. It is worth noting though that it took almost the entirety of the first day to actually get out of Ontario. This is partly because Ontario is absolutely massive (The UK would fit within Ontario eight times alone) but also because the roads weave, wind, duck and dive and largely do a whole bunch of geographical gymnastics that seemed rather out of place after the rigid lines of Toronto.
Sometime towards the end of day two we finally arrived at Winnipeg, capital of Manitoba and the first major city we were due to pass through on our way to Vancouver. Yet again my plans were foiled. We had a six hour layover here and even with our massive delays when leaving Toronto we were still looking at around four or so hours to wait for our new coach. However rather than being in the city the Greyhound station was – surprise! – not in the bloody city. It was in fact at the airport, nowhere near the city, but then that didn’t really matter too much because the fleeting glimpse we got of Winnipeg was unremarkable. Maybe it was the drizzly rain and dreary skies. Maybe it was the fact that I was in no small amount of pain from buggered muscles and cramped legs. Maybe it was because I was so damned tired after nearly two days on a fecking coach. Whatever it was I really didn’t care about whether or not I got to see Winnipeg in the end.
What was annoying though was that in all of Winnipeg airport all we could find to eat at was a bloody Tim Hortons. Now I’m a fan of Tims and I’m already missing it but God dammit I wanted some proper food! Not a lasagne in a pot! Oh well.
Whilst we were waiting for our next coach just about every machine in the waiting area broke down, which was weird. One by one they all busted and then ten minutes later after a ‘This machine is out of service’ label had been placed on them some overweight kid waddled up to them and jammed some coins into them anyway, because apparently he couldn’t read or something, and then lost his shit about losing his money. There was one brief moment of ‘faith restored in humanity’ when I watched some guy win an Angry Bird stuffed toy in one of those grabber arcade machine things and then promptly give it to some unrelated little girl who’d been playing nearby and walk off. A rare moment of class.
As a side-note the coach had airport-security level stuff going on, bag searches and everything, which was rather intimidating. I suspect this was in response to the Incident of the crazy Japanese guy who decapitated a guy with a sword. Yeah.
The trip out of Winnipeg towards Calgary was, at least at the beginning, a fair bit more enjoyable. We were split across two coaches this time and most of the noisy drug addicts went on the other one meaning that not only was our coach a damned site quieter but it was also half-empty and that we could spread out a bit and for the first time in two days. We both took separate chairs and I managed to make good use of this extra space during the night to get absolutely no fucking sleep at all. Again.
The prairies outside of Winnipeg had an eerie feel to them at night-time though so I didn’t mind too much. The sky was empty of clouds but there was a fiercely bright full moon casting a weird hue over everything. I saw my first ever shooting star whilst idly gazing out over the vast expanses, which was kinda cool. In the far distance there would periodically be weird looking flashing lights – presumably radio towers or something – and also the ominous red lights attached to electricity pylons that reminded me of Dear Esther of all things.
That’s enough for Part 2. I’ll finish this off with Part 3 in a few days time, then I can talk about Vancouver, my departure from Canada and my first thoughts on Auckland. So at least I have plenty to talk about for a while!