I have made my way north in a giant beast of a rented truck. The ride was only unpleasant for its extreme length – almost 12 hours straight of driving. I enjoyed watching the landscape change though as we progressed north – the rivers seem so much wider, the land rolls and buckles into more hills, endless trees have replaced the familiar fields of wheat and canola. We were surrounded by suicidal maniacs though who persisted in passing when it was definitely not advisable to do so – squeezing between semi-trucks at break-neck speeds. I was informed though that today was ‘a good day’ – apparently they are usually much more reckless. I see now why they call it our most deadly highway.
I realised that in my mind I have pictured Ft. McMurray as an Old West town complete with mud streets, quaint boardwalks, women in hoop skirts, and saloons filled with brawling patrons (apparently I am correct on that last point). Somewhat disappointingly, the town looks like any other, albeit with far more giant motels and hotels, restaurants and diners to support all of the transient workers.
While out at dinner I was briefly left alone at the table. I felt like I was immediately sized up by the various workmen present – I’m not sure if I was about to be thrown over a shoulder and carried off or if they were trying to decide if I had enough muscle to do any decent work. Perhaps I shall avoid late night walks alone though, just to be on the safe side.