Day 54 of 62

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We continued west and tried to balance a desire to make time against a desire to experience the countryside. Although the day started out nice, Saskatchewan’s weather quickly made the choice for us, and when the rain began in earnest, we drove as far as we could. In Lloydminster, on the Alberta border, we decided that was it for the day and tucked in to a local hotel.

Today we slowed briefly to 60 km/h for a crew working there, using a big wooden template to paint arrows on the road surface of the closed lane. In our seven weeks so far, this leisurely worship of the continent’s roads, we have seen all sorts of roads and every possible stage of road construction taking place. Particularly because it’s summer, this creation is taking place everywhere at a feverish rate. We’ve driven on asphalt, concrete, tar, gravel, sand, dirt; roads every shade of black-grey-white and brown-tan, even red clay in places. One stretch of curving highway was being doubled in size, a parallel two lanes added some yards further north, with a big valley of grass in between, and this single project stretched over 30 miles, every bit of it in progress at once. Several places warned us about rock being excavated with dynamite and, as we observed, with men and machines hacking and crushing; other days for miles front-loaders were dumping piles of crushed rock to form a raised platform for the road-to-be. Fines double in work area — construction next 47 miles. Nearly every day we’ve had to follow a swerving detour around a crew filling in and smoothing out the surface of the road, sweating in the fumes of tar and oil, patiently changing their signs from “stop” to “slow” based on a signal or the voice in the walky-talky. We’ve seen signs being installed and obsolete signage being replaced. We have even seen the other end of the road’s lifestyle, where the old section points now to nowhere and the weeds almost obliterate the concrete.

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