We motor on. I have resigned myself to the relentless driving at this point and am just looking forward to getting it over with and still having the long weekend to spend at my parents' camp. The landscape and vegetation look just like Ontario for most of the Alberta leg of the journey. At Lloydminster, we eat some Albertan donuts, get an oil change about 10m from the provincial border, and then eat some Saskatchewan McBreakfast. After that, to my dismay, the divided highway ends, and we are on a two-lane, complete with slow campers.
The scenery flattens out and the rolling hill cow pastures turn into flat land with grain elevators. Also we see a lot of black oil tanks in the fields as we cross two patches of oil country.
At North Battleford we cross the North Saskatchewan River, which has an impressive (especially for this terrain) valley. I think I even spotted a vineyard but I'm not sure. After North Battleford, the divided highway resumes until Saskatoon, then it is two-lane again, but with less traffic so it isn't so bad.
When we hit the road again, the air conditioning in my car conks out again for the first time in many days.
We cross a few more nice river valleys in the otherwise flat landscape, and into Manitoba. The highway quality deteriorates: Alberta 110km/h divided, Saskatchewan 100km/h two-lane with paved shoulders, Manitoba 100km/h two-lane with gravel shoulders, and of course we know what awaits in Ontario.
Munching on junk food and listening to the radio, I'm starting to fade out due to tiredness again as Andrew drives (as he has the whole way) when a harmless looking piece of debris on the road turns out to be something hard that smashes into the bottom of the car with a loud bang. So much for feeling sleepy. It turns out that the exhaust pipe is bashed in and punctured behind the catalytic converter, making the car annoyingly loud but otherwise fine to drive (Andrew says he does not notice a reduction in power). And so, onward we roar, sounding like one of those gimmicked up Honda Civics with the coffee can sized exhaust tips.
Not really a thunderhead
We stop in the outskirts of Winnipeg for gas (our third fillup today) and consumables and try to call my sister Marlene in Thunder Bay but she's not home. Hopefully she's left the key for us, because it is decided to continue driving, deer collision and sleepiness risk notwithstanding, to do a 2200km day and arrive in Thunder Bay some time around morning (keep in mind we are losing two hours in going from Mountain to Eastern time zone).
To minimize the collision risk we hang off the end of a convoy of three transport trucks. Several other vehicles accumulate behind us, and nobody passes even when the trucks lumber up hills at 80km/h. With all their noise and lights and bulk, hopefully they will scare off / clear up any animals that jump in the way, and since such a big truck can't do anything too sudden, you can follow with 20m of separation pretty safely.
All pictures for this day