The Hitchhiker's Guide to Canada Day 9: Gus

Ben Collins reveals a day of two halves as he hitchhikes his way in to the great plains of central Canada

It was hot and it was humid. The rain lashed, the wind blew, the lightening flashed and the thunder shook the very ground I walked on. It was to say the least not my weather of choice for attempting to hitchhike...

...Nevertheless it was clear from the radar that this storm was going nowhere fast and with the best part of 600km standing between me and my next host I did not have the luxury of waiting it out.

So having donned my waterproofs and covered my backpack I set off on my merry old way down in to town where one long bus journey later I made it out to the city limits.

To my dismay, the clouds here were in fact darker, the rain was heavier and the wind was a lot stronger. Whilst pondering on what to do I chose to take cover from the elements and hid myself underneath a large highway bridge.

Sat there with my legs tucked up close I did for a minute feel just a little sorry for myself. Hiding under a bridge in Winnipeg was not what I had in mind when I came to Canada but then I smiled for I figured it was moments like these that made this journey the exciting adventure I had been longing for.

Walking up the hard shoulder of a two lane highway cars sped pass me at 110km/hr, between them kicking up enough spray that I almost immediately looked (and felt) like a drowned rat.

Further still, the approaching electrical storm was making the overhead power lines buzz with fury and as I went to get my sign from my bag I questioned if I would make it off the highway before I was either hit by a passing car or electrocuted from above.

But doing my best, I pulled out my smile, I put up my sign and I hoped for the best.

However, unfortunately, my smile, my sign and my hope had all been blown away within a few short minutes.

Stood there, I was left with just one thing that I could rely now on - peoples' pity.

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- - - Thumb's Up in Winnipeg at 11:35 - - -

Ride 019: Gus. 581km from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Regina, Saskatchewan
A French-Canadian truck driver and singer-songwriter, Gus was very French, very crude, warm, friendly and ever so funny. 

The skies cleared, the Sun shone bright and as we entered the great plains of Saskatchewan the World it seemed just opened up before me. Sat in the most almighty sized truck I hung one arm out the window and with Gus singing along to his own recorded French-Canadian country music at full volume I had a tingle run the length of my spine as I realised...

...This was a perfect moment. Having battled for three hours in a severe storm this morning I was now as happy as I think can be. It was moments like this I chose to hitchhike across Canada and oh my God, was it worth it. 

Six great hours later and I sadly part ways from Gus on the outskirts of town but did so with two of his CDs which I will keep fondly. From there I made the hour or so walk around quarter of the ring road during which I pondered what waited for me.

All I knew was that my host, Jordan, was in his early 20s and as a student I expected little more than small and dirty home that he perhaps shared with one or two others.

My God... How wrong would I turn out to be.

- - - Pack Down in Regina at 18:15 - - -

Today at a Glance
Awoke in: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Sleeping in: Regina, Saskatchewan

Time travelling: 07hrs 40mins
Distance travelled today: 581km
Rides today: 1

Planned arrival time: 16:00 - 19:00
Actual arrival time: 18:15

Highlight: Riding with Gus
Lowlight: Battling with the wind and rain

Total Time Travelling: 40hrs 59mins
Total Distance Travelled: 2,637km
Total Rides: 19