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Day 6: Winnipeg to Swift Current

The Ontario licence plates on our Smart were starting to pay off today. During our first fill-up of the day in Austin, Man., the attendant joked, Boy, that car of yours must get pretty good mileage. Did you get all the way here on one tank?

  • Gray modern car closeup on black background.

SWIFT CURRENT, SASK. – The Ontario licence plates on our Smart were starting to pay off today. During our first fill-up of the day in Austin, Man., the attendant joked, “Boy, that car of yours must get pretty good mileage. Did you get all the way here on one tank?”

Almost, Bub.

But you can see the wheels churning in people’s minds. They see the way-out-of-province plates. They start to add up the kilometres in their heads we must have driven to get here and—ta-da!—instant respect.

Or sympathy, I’m not quite sure yet.

When you have Ottawa’s Experimental farm as your agricultural context, experiencing the expanse of unpopulated prairie landscape is almost surreal. The side roads running perpendicular to the Trans Canada run off to the horizon without a bend or turn in sight.

Day 6: Winnipeg to Swift Current
JOHN LEBLANC FOR THE TORONTO STAR
Oh, give me the wide open spaces.

From Winnipeg to Swift Current, Olivia didn’t have to navigate much and I didn’t have to turn the wheel much. If nothing else, Olivia now knows where Shreddiies come from.

We thought today was the day we’d make a breakthrough in improving our fuel consumption.

But we battled head-on 40-to-60 km/h westerly winds upon leaving Winnipeg. Beyond having to keep my foot planted on the accelerator to keep up with traffic, it also made keeping the Smart between the lines a bit of a challenge.

Problem was, whenever another vehicle would pass from the other direction, they would remove the pressure from the wind. I would then have to quickly correct for fear of being sucked into the oncoming lane of traffic. It was almost as if the larger vehicles had some kind of gravitational effect on the less massive ForTwo.

We planned on stopping in to check out the automotive branch of the Western Development Museum in Moose Jaw. It has about 50 vehicles dating from about 1900 to 1981, including a 1914 McLaughlin. But it was closed by the time we drove by.

It can get a bit lonely driving out here. On several occasions, we had the Trans-Canada Highway to ourselves. At one point, between Moose Jaw and Swift Current, it had to be at least 15 minutes without another soul on the road. Creepy.

Day 6: Winnipeg to Swift Current
JOHN LEBLANC FOR THE TORONTO STAR
At last — something that’s vertical, not horizontal!

“This is like one of those apocalyptic movies were the rest of the world got blasted and we survived,” my navigator mused.

“Cool.”

Then we would get passed by someone in a minivan late for soccer practice or a 4H club meeting, and know the world must be okay after all.


Day 6: Tuesday, June 26,
Winnipeg to Swift Current


Distance:
834 km

Average fuel consumption (L/100 km):
5.2

Weather:
Severe winds, partly cloudy, 21C

Smart car sightings
: 3

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