Pickups charge down side-roads towards the highway, plumes of silica fog hanging in their wake. They are driven with the impunity of those who know they will never come across an unexpected corner. Those drivers are right. Welcome to the prairies.
The gentle rolling wave of the prairies is in full effect now. Pointed toward the horizon grain elevators become landmarks. Clusters of popular stand out, a relief of green against the fall’s golden grain. These are not golden fields waving in the wind though, I’ve missed that. Hay has been cut, and grain harvested. As far as the eye can see is a close-cropped blond buzz cut. Bellow that stubble lies sunbaked dirt and dust.
I’m on Highway 2, unable to bring myself to ride the linear joylessness of the 1, and my suspicion that its smaller sibling will offer more points of interest is borne out.
A plaque in front of a poorly executed fake windmill in Holland takes pains to point out that the town has nothing to do with that nation. “The village was named after the first Postmaster, Mr. A. C. Holland, who moved his post office to the village from its original location in his home west of Holland.”
It’s like the line from Animanics; where Dot and Yako Warner introduce themselves, then deliver the punch-line of, “No relation.” The fake windmill is a convenient tourist attracting identity crisis then, a gag of “no relations” maturity.
On main street I grab an ice cream at a nearly non-existent general store, and zip the liner out of the Ducati Tex Motard jacket. It’s warm out, and the late summer temperatures in October are delicious after my cold crossing of Ontario.
The 2 junctions to the 10, and becomes a massive construction zone. To suppress the dust, the entire stretch has been watered, creating a slick sheen of mud about an inch deep. The Multistrada’s front end hunts and drifts. The rear slides about with minimal provocation and I’m struggling to maintain my position ahead of traffic. I really should have had the front tire replaced in Winnipeg. It’s badly worn, but I was being conservative with my budget and decided to push through.
The Multistrada is going where the mud and the ruts take it, I’m just providing gentle guidance. I pull to the roadside, the wave the traffic by, and throw on my hazard lights to signal my crawl up the 10. By the time I reach the turn-off to regain the 2 the Multistrada and I are covered in quick drying prairie mud. We look like we’ve been through a war, but really it’s just an adventure.