Run for the Border

Chaos in Print

I drove down the highway, knowing that I was going only east. Feeling somewhat dissatisfied with the world’s largest pyrogy, I knew that I had to get away to another place; another province. I had gotten it in my head that I would go to Saskatchewan.

Now, you’re probably thinking that going to Saskatchewan is a massive endeavour, and so did I, until I realized how close Cold Lake is to the Saskatchewan border. I always forget how close I am until I look at a map. The lake of Cold Lake actually straddles the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan. Day trips to Lloydminister are common for the average Cold Lake resident. In fact, one of our radio station’s clients – the Pearceland Bingo Hall – is in Saskatchewan. As I returned from Glendon, I saw the sign on the highway: “Pearceland: 30 km.” When I hit Pearceland, I hit Saskatchewan. I took the turn and headed due east. I was Saskatchewan bound!

I rolled down the highway, driving into a bitterly cold wind. I find that I enjoy driving. Just heading down the road with hardly a care in the world, the radio tuned to a favourite station and nothing but time to ponder the imponderables. Is there a God? What is the meaning of life? What’s sex like? With the Maritimes ever get a CFL team?

Besides, I needed these imponderables to keep my mind of the view. The prairies truly are a desolate place in the winter. The barren trees…grey skies…nothing but white for as far as the eye can see. No wonder seasonal affected disorder is such a problem in Canada. I hit the gas and kept heading east.

On the other side of the road – the road into Alberta – I began seeing a plethora of billboards. “Alberta is a Checkstop province.” “Buckle up. It’s the law in Alberta.” “Keep Alberta fireweed free. Scrape off your firewood.” Something told me I was getting close. And, if I blinked I would have missed it. A humble little road sign saying “Welcome to Saskatchewan.” I had made it! And I was only halfway to Pearceland.

I kept on rolling, marvelling at how much Saskatchewan looked like Alberta. More desolation. Although, it’s probably really pretty when it’s green.

It wasn’t too long before I hit Pearceland. It’s a real blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of town. I did a U-turn in the parking lot of the fabled bingo hall and started heading back to Alberta.

It’s really easy to know when you’re coming up on Alberta. There’s a gigantic billboard. It’s not even a billboard. It’s a work of art. A sign carved out of pine proudly proclaiming, “Welcome to the Province of Alberta! Wild Rose Country!” There’s even a roadside turnout beneath the sign so you can stop and take a picture. So I did. I even walked back up the road a ways so I could snap a picture of the humble “Welcome to Saskatchewan” road sign.

I jumped back into my car and continued heading down the road. Now, I was able to clearly see the row of “these are the rules of Alberta” signs that I had only read backwards in my rear view mirror. That’s when I started thinking that Alberta really is an ostentatious province. We had a dozen billboards welcoming people and laying down the law. And Saskatchewan? “Hi! Welcome!” Such radically different cultures.

It wasn’t too long before I was back in Cold Lake. I returned to my apartment to find that my computer had mysteriously shut itself off again. But now, I was refreshed. I was relaxed. I was ready to once again tackle the problems that were facing me. And it all it took was the fulfilment of a lifelong dream and a trek to another province.

NEXT ISSUE: Return to the Studio Ghibli Museum

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