“Geographical center of Canada” read a momentous sign posted alongside the Trans-Canada Highway near the town of Landmark, 30 clicks southeast of Winnipeg. “It’s official,” I exclaimed, “we’ve made it to the half-way point!” As the summer sun shone assuredly in the still prairie sky, icy roads, budget crunches, and manic interview schedules quickly receded in the rearview mirror, and for all that I caught myself breathing a sigh of relief.
“Wanna stop somewhere really quickly to celebrate?” I asked Jon.
“Sure. But do you really think you can find an iced latte worthy of the occasion around here?”
I didn’t. We pulled over a long while later, surrendering to the half-hearted enticement of a non-descript gas station mart.
Manitoba was pleasant. Though it was inimical toward gradients—as popular lore rightly had it—its landscape was calm and serene. The people acted as friendly as their license plate motto promised them to be. And the fauna was amicable too: fireflies flew endearingly in the moonless night, red foxes popped up curiously amidst sparse bushes, and timid mosquitos drew far less blood than their homicidal reputation had us fear. Gourmet coffee was just about the only shortcoming. As a result, the Starbuck’s Mocha Frappuccino found in the convenience store fridge had to suffice for an improvised parking lot celebration. With it we toasted to the remaining half of the country. It was the end of June, 2012: one full year before our scheduled arrival in Newfoundland.