The final day of our drive from Ottawa to Calgary, I treated myself to a maple glazed donut with my morning coffee break at Tim Hortons. Will enjoyed a hot chocolate. Thank you, Tims, for providing restrooms and caffeine boosts for us essential travellers. After our stop in Swift Current, the temperature dropped in the Saskatchewan countryside. We passed fresh snow on the fields beside the road.
Our next highlight was a scavenger hunt through Medicine Hat, Alberta, to find a Subway restaurant for our takeout lunch. We plugged the first one into our GPS, which directed us to a suburban shopping mall. The restaurant was closed. The next closest one was across the highway. It was open, but the clerk said the restrooms weren’t working.
We continued our quest to Subway # 3, downtown. The GPS announced that we’d arrived, but we couldn’t see a Subway sign. We followed the riverside, past a splendid train station in the historic downtown, and crossed the bridge to the next Subway. Closed. We plugged in Subway #5.
Its neon ‘open’ sign glowed. We pushed restaurant door open. Eureka!
“Can we use your washroom before ordering?” we asked.
Armed with our foot-long tuna sandwich, we left the town and decided our best bet for a scenic car picnic lunch was a range road. We turned off at the first reasonable one and parked at a wide point in the road with a distant view of Medicine Hat. As we took out our sandwiches, a pickup truck rumbled behind us and stopped.
“Do you need help?” the driver asked.
“We’re just here eating lunch.”
“Okay.” He smiled and drove onto the highway.
After lunch, we were into the homestretch of our five-day journey across Canada. One more stop in Bassano for gas, restrooms and a non-memorable snack from the convenience store. Approaching Calgary, we saw the skyline. Soon we were cruising the Deerfoot Trail, in no-longer-rush hour traffic. Minutes later, we turned into our neighbourhood and drove by our fitness centre, its parking lot empty. To our right was our library., closed; our mall, closed except for Shoppers Drug Mart; our Safeway grocery store, thriving, but changed inside by the new social distancing protocols.
Now I’ve been home for five days and find the restrictions easier to handle in my own place. Will and I feel less isolated here in our familiar surroundings and with opportunities to meet neighbours on the street, from a safe distance. We can each do a variety of activities around the house and yard, as well as clean up the crumbs in our car from the picnic lunches. In Ottawa, we didn’t have our bicycles. Yesterday, in beautiful spring weather, we rode around Calgary’s Glenmore trail and I’ve rarely seen it as crowded. All of sudden, everyone has discovered walking. Who knew it existed and could be fun?