Monday, 11 July 2011

June 30th: Saskatoon to Wakaw

   Have you ever been so mad that you felt your brain was melting? I have, and there is nothing fun about it. For the thousands of unbelievably great people we have met accross this wonderful country there was bound to be one person who would be "the bad apple". Downey and I had the displeasure of meeting our bad apple of our journey on this day.
   It all started on a beautiful day in Saskatoon. We had packed our gear and had started biking outside of the city. The day actually started better than usual. A couple of saskatoonians had recognized Downey and I from the news segment the night before and came up to us to offer their support. It was quite a lifting experience and a memory I will always cherish.
   The day started to sour as soon as I looked at the map of our route. I'm not sure how I mistakenly ended up taking the wrong numbered highway, but its a mistake Downey and I ended up paying for dearly.
   The first problem about our predicament was that it took me and Downey hours away from the route we were actually supposed to be on. The second problem lay in the fact that we met one very sorry individual on the road. Case in point:

   Downey and I were heading down the wrong highway east. This highway did not afford the luxury of a paved shoulder, so Downey and I already had to fight for room on a single laned highway. That alone is a stressful experience, to put it lightly. Enter our bad apple driving up behind us in his big black pickup truck honking his horn while passing us and trying to literally more than figurtively run Downey and I off the road. He then proceeded to yell profanities and insults at us while gesturing wildly with the most middle of his fingers in our general direction.
   My mind could not comprehend what this reckless yahoo was so angry about. My face was frozen in an expression of confusion while a deep cloud of anger started brewing inside of me.
   The next event perplexed me even more. The truck pulled over just a ways down the road. Now I'm not going to lie to you, Downey and I are no angels, and I would be lying if I neglected telling you that we may have thrown our own swears and gestures in his direction. But only as would be appropriate from someone in a situation similar to ours.
   When I saw this guy pulling his truck into park and waiting for us, I could only imagine the worst was waiting for us. The normal thoughts before a fight were running threw my head:

     "What are the chances he has a weapon? He is in his truck so chances are pretty good. How about friends, is there any more of them?"

   And then another thought runs threw my head.

    "Should we keep going?"

   There is after all quite a bit to lose on my part. I'm in physical danger, not to mention I can not afford any major injuries. Other thoughts like, if a fight does start, the odds are bad for us wether we win or lose. The problem was the alternative didn't look any brigher. What could we really do? If we were to stop, how long would we have to impeded progress because of this bully? Whether we turned around or stopped there would always have been that unresolved problem down the road. I did not want to leave a challenge unanswered. This problem would be met head on, because there was no chance I would be turning around.

   I maneauvered my bicycle to run parrallel to Downeys.

   "Hey Downey, I don't know what this guy down here wants, but I'm guessing he is not about to wish us luck with our travels."

   "You think?" Downey replied.

   "Just remember whatever happens, we've got each others backs. Make sure your shoes are unclipped and try to stay as relaxed as possible"

    As we neared the truck I tried to keep my mind open to any event that would unfold. My mind was planning for conflict aversion, but my body was ready. I jumped off my bike and eased into a slow jog towards the truck.

   "What was your problem back there?" I asked

   The driver was still sitting in the drivers seat and his response got me off guard.

   "Next time, I'll run over you!"

   Downey was approaching the driver side door from the right hand side when buddy panicked and turned the ignition. The motor roared to life, our boy slammed the transmission into gear and took off turning a hard left and my mind could not comprehend what I was seeing. This boy's truck plowed right on over the front wheel of Downey's bike. Once the truck had cleared Downeys bike, I found myself picking up a rock and angrily throwing it into a field of soil. This guy had successfully made me lose it.
   Downey was no more amused, his emotional state was clouded with a brewing anger. When buddy left, he left in his dust two steaming kettles with no spout to relieve pressure.
   While Downey cursed, I brewed. There was no chance of freeing my mind of what I could have done differently, of ways how I could have vented my steam at this individual or how happy I would have been if we met this guy down the road with a flat.

   With our heads hanging low, and Downey's front tire wobbling at a new frequency, we corrected our highway direction and started heading towards Wakaw. To say that our spirits were low would have been an exageration of how high they were.

   A couple hours later when we rolled into Wakaw, we were met by a local "Don" who inquired about where we had come from and where we were going.

  "We just came in from Saskatoon" Downey said

   "Shoot... Thats a long way"

   "Yeah, it sure felt like it"

   After a couple more questions, and upon hearing of the bike's failed tire-on-tire romance, Don was determined to help us. He took off from the town gas station and went out to find someone to host us for the night. He returned in a short period of time and asked us to follow him.
   Downey and I followed his car to the local bar where he told us to leave our bikes outside and come in to have a drink with him. Downey locked up the bikes, and we headed inside.

   "Hey Tina, these two guys are biking across Canada. Get them two pilsners."

   The bartender looks at both Downey and I and says while handing us two beers:

   "You don't say? Well right on boys. These are on the house."

   Don explained the bartender Tina was his wife. He also explained to us that he had found us a willing host family. Then he went on to apologize for the behavior of the young driver. He hoped that the experience we had gone through hadn't painted all of Saskatchewan with the same bad-coloured brush.
   We followed Don's car once again and he led us to a lot just outside of town with a trailer home and a beautiful yard. There was a family and a couple of friends in the back yard of the house having a bonfire. Downey and I rode our bikes over to them. Don and the Oldest man talked for a little while, and Downey and I made use of the time by introducing ourselves to the rest of the people present. Not long after we met everyone, they all started to feel like friends to us.
   The familie's name was the Boiteau's and they were more than happy to have us over for the night. They opened their home to us and we gratefully made use of it for the night.
   The night was wrapped up by Downey and I finishing a nice cold beer at around two oclock in the morning. I strummed the blues out on a guitar that I had found in the Boiteau's home. It has been a trying day, and it ended a bluesy night.

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