Canada: Masks and Meadow Lake

No one out here is wearing a mask. We noticed a shift even before we left Ontario, with people in smaller towns walking around like there’s no pandemic devastating the world. But once we got to Manitoba it was like a parallel universe, and it’s only continued as we’ve moved further West.  Here, we’re more of a pariah for wearing masks than not wearing them. I think it makes people think we’re feeling sick. But we feel just fine and even got tested for COVID before we left! Don’t worry, we obviously both tested negative. 

‘I tested very positively in another sense this morning. I tested positively toward negative, right? So I tested perfectly this morning. Meaning I tested negative. But that’s a way of saying it: positively toward the negative.’

You know who.

Having that 4km long q-tip shoved up my nose and into my brain was possibly the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, but well worth it. At least the ladies working at the clinic were lovely. 

We’re pretty self-contained when living in our little trailer, but we’re still walking through job sites and going to grocery stores and gas stations (though I pay from my phone whenever possible). There’s always a big bottle of hand sanitizer present, and a sign about keeping 2m of distance from others, but that’s about it. Sometimes a mask will be “required” to enter a store, but once we’re inside no one is actually wearing one. 

Surely everyone out here is getting the same messages as I am from our pal Justin? 

But I guess when the number of cases is so low in these small towns it’s hard to get people to feel like there’s anything to protect against. One woman at a job site even proudly proclaimed she’d flown to Maryland, USA in June and she was totally fine, which made her believe the whole thing was being blown out of proportion. I told her one of our family friends got it and was hospitalized, but she just shrugged and said we all have to get it at some point. 

I’ve never been more impressed with people’s ability to read one headline that suits their beliefs and then blatantly ignore all the others than I have been during COVID. 

So we continue to wear our masks and freak everyone out while simultaneously protecting them. 

We’ve mostly been staying in provincial parks near our job sites. Sometimes they’re half an hour away but we don’t mind the drive if it means we get a nicer campsite. But when I saw a campsite in Meadow Lake for $25/night and only 7 minute drive from our job site… I had to take it. I knew it wouldn’t be glamorous, but it’s just one night. How bad can it be?

Haha. Why do I do this to myself? 

The answer is bad, very bad. We couldn’t even find it, for starters. Google lead us to the back of a baseball field. We just circled the park until we found the entrance and followed the pot hole-riddled road to the campsite area. We couldn’t book in advance, but the person I spoke to on the phone insisted it would be fine. That maybe should have been a red flag.  

The entire grounds reek of sewage. It’s inescapable. As soon as we pop up the trailer the smell seems to settle into our space and it’s actually more pungent indoors than out. I swallow not one, but two gnats or mosquitos while setting up. The gnats and mosquitos are absolutely everywhere while we’re setting up. And they have no qualms about flying straight into your mouth. I accidentally swalllow not one, but two bugs on separate occasions just moments apart. I try to cough them up but it’s too late. Will I soon have an un-itchable mosquito bite? Only time will tell.

I’m not sure what’s worse – the COVID swab or unintentionally eating a bug.

Reviews for this campground include things like “beautiful spot for an evening walk”. But no one mentions the permanent poo smell? The person who checked us in was very proud to announce that the bathrooms are cleaned twice daily and should be *spotless*. But it’s just a hole in the floor and the biggest spider I’ve ever seen has taken up home in the corner of the room. When will I ever learn that you get what you pay for?

Fortunately we have to rush off to our job site in town, which doesn’t smell like poop. We pass by a sign for “Assman Field”, on the baseball diamond of the park where we’re staying. That’s a real thing – I could not make this up. Why would I lie to you?

We almost booked two nights here but will thankfully be moving on tomorrow. And because there’s no fire pit and it smells horrible where we live… it’s the perfect time to forget cooking and go for a date night at the local watering hole. It’s a quick walk to a spot called Garfunkel’s, attached to the Super 8 Motel.

We’re the only people in the whole bar, except for the few people who sometimes emerge from the slot machine room next door. They filter in and out, claiming their winnings or stocking up on more change to keep playing. Our waitress is missing all but three teeth, and helps us choose the best wing sauce for our romantic meal. The beer is cold, the portion of everything is insane and the wings are honestly fire. 

Back to the Assman Campground we go, to pack up as many of our things as possible so we can get tf outta here in the morning. 

If you liked this story, check out the rest of my Cross-Canadian Road trip tales. And if you want to feed my tea addiction while I’m writing from the road, you can now send me a virtual tea with this fancy button:

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