Sunday, May 09, 2010

Sunday Drive 13: Northeastern Square

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Start: 309165 km
End: 309413 km
Driven: 248 km

I drove east out Highway 5, enjoying the clear winter conditions. I wasn't the only one out playing in winter, there were plenty of people zipping around the mostly empty, snow-covered fields on snowmobiles.

It was very, very bright out. But it wasn't too cold, nor particularly windy. A very nice day, in other words.

Highway 5 is a pretty important highway in Saskatchewan, so I expect it gets ploughed fairly quickly when it snows. The generally open terrain allows wind to blow snow off of the road surface and into the ditches, which helps keep things clear, too. This means the ditches fill with snow; this is good for the snowmobilers, but any car, including powerful 4x4s that slide into a ditch are almost guaranteed to get stuck.

I turned north on Highway 2, which on my maps appears as any other central-Saskatchewan highway: straight and flat. But this part of the province is the Minichinas Hills, forming prairie pothole terrain. The highway engineers who designed and built Highway 2 apparently felt this was sufficient justification to put a few curves in the route, much to my delight.

An actual curve in a Saskatchewan Highway!

Back to the usual...

More curves! Oh happy day!

I felt a strange desire to drive something massively overpowered, thoroughly impractical, and distinctly Italian at ludicrously unsafe speeds on this 50 km stretch of Highway 2. My little old Japanese beater was fun, too, though. At Wakaw I turned west onto Highway 312, the same road upon which I'd seen a coyote back in November. It's actually a pretty boring road, although the excellent weather partly made up for that.

Despite being a bit less travelled than either Highway 5 or 2, Highway 312 was also completely clear.

I reached Rosthern, and discovered the local park, Valley Regional Park, is very close to the main highway. However, the entrance to the park was not ploughed, and I didn't feel like getting my car stuck (again).

There are deep furrows from previous, more adventuresome wintertime visitors to the park. Other, shallower tracks were made by snowmobiles, which tend to skate over snow that my car would sink deeply into.

I completed my journey back to Saskatoon on Highway 12, running south from the broad bend in the road where 312 angles south before joining the bigger trunk. Once back in Saskatoon, I noticed I was being followed by a car very similar to my own, a late-80s Honda Prelude. This isn't particularly noteworthy - I know of at least 4 other such vehicles besides my own in Saskatoon (a blue one, two reds, and a black), but this one was running a light configuration that I would like to emulate.

Note the fog lights are lit, but the main headlights are off and popped down. I would like to run my car like this during the day, with the fog lights improving my visibility (especially important on two-lane blacktop) but the headlights down for (slightly) improved aerodynamics.

I have seen some instructions on Prelude-specific forums on-line, but I have yet to really explore the electrical system of my car. Currently, the only way I can get the fog lights to come on is to have the headlights on and up; turning off the headlights after turning on the fog lights turns everything off. The driver following me may have added after-market lights, another option I've considered: in the picture, his fog lights are slightly to the inside of the headlights, whereas mine are vertically in line. I've noticed, though, among the wrecks I've picked over at junkyards (n = 2) that fog lights vary considerably between otherwise very similar cars.


Kitty Hannah said...

What a fantastic way to spend your Sundays! Do you ever set out without maps or destination? Apologies if I missed something more trawling through the archives might answer. Anyway, I enjoyed the wide open spaces you took pictures of. Here, the wide open spaces are of a more liquid nature: ocean, ocean and more ocean.

TheBrummell said...

My Sunday Drives are my sanity-release valve; weeks following a driveless Sunday are more prone to symptoms of mental illness. So, I burn gasoline to modulate neurotransmitters.

I have not yet set out completely without direction or maps, at minimum I need to pick a compass direction to take me out of town. The major highways coming out of Saskatoon extend North (Highway 12), North-northeast (11), Northeast (41), East (5), Southeast (16), South-southeast (11), South (219), Southwest (7), West (14), and Northwest (16). Having now taken inventory, it occurs to me I could start rolling dice to determine my initial directions.

Often my actual driven route will deviate from my planned route, more frequently in summer when my car is less likely to get utterly stuck on the rarely-maintained "grid roads" of central Saskatchewan. Sometimes, too, my maps contain errors or I simply miss a key intersection, and end up somewhere else.

This is the province with the ocean of grain, so your analogy is apt.