[10pm, somewhere on the Trans-Canada between Sault Ste Marie and Marathon; police are stopping every vehicle to check seatbelts and any signs of d.u.i. The officer inquires as to what exactly it is that we’re hauling; from the passenger seat, Dana, roused from his nap and still in a half-awake haze, interjects.]
Dana: Just a whole lot of cache. We’re doing a canoe trip.
D: Twenty or thirty boxes of cache. We’re delivering them to various people across the country who’re doing us big favours.
D: And a canoe.
Me: Food boxes.
[Disaster narrowly averted.]
* * *
[Hugo, having just flown into Thunder Bay to join us for the remainder of the drive westward — and ever prepared to take on driving duties for “the straight, flat bits” — finds himself in the passenger seat on wildlife watch, lest any wayward moose cross our path.]
Hugo: [pointing just off to the right of the road ahead] Holy f—ing s–t!!!
Dana: [gripping steering wheel, heart now pounding like sneakers in a clothesdryer, damn near veers off the road] WHAT.
H: I think that was a f—ing starling! G-dd—it, man!! [reaches for binoculars; loves birds]
* * *
[11pm, Calgary AB; I am sitting in the darkened driver’s seat of a 17′ UHaul truck parked illegally (or at least incompetently) on a downtown residential street, watching a shadowy figure in camouflage pants, black longsleeve, and crazed beard dart from one townhouse to the next. At each front step, he fumbles to plug a small black box into the electrical outlet, breathing heavily, nervously glancing left, right, left, right. Passersby look on with suspicion. This man is neither a terrorist nor a burglar; his name is Dana, and his cellphone just ran out of battery power.]