Unmugged in Medicine Hat

Arrived at Medicine Hat 8:30 p.m. with a plan for the all-night layover. I asked a cab driver where the movie theatres are: Medicine Hat mall (where else?), about a $13 cab ride. Could i walk there? Oh no, you can’t walk that far. Categorically impossible. So i wandered instead, and immediately stumbled upon a bus loop, and caught a bus to the mall, which turned out to be about an hour’s walk away. What’s wrong with these old folks that they can’t remember life before the almighty car?

To my surprise films were showing till 10 p.m., even on a Thursday, so i caught Wanted, with Angelina Jolie and one of the nondescript male stars i no longer keep track of. I’d read Christy Lemire’s positive review on CBC that made me want to see it.

Underwhelmed. Neat effects, interesting idea (if a bit of a stretch), but the male lead was annoying and the camera work was MTV and A.J. was, well, A.J., as always. Another dozen over-the-top stunts involving people killing people in ever more novel ways: when will we get to the end of that road, i wonder. (With time to kill beforehand, i snuck in to see the first 20 minutes of Hancock, with Will Smith as a down-at-heel superhero in need of a PR makeover, and that one looked better all round.)

Got out at midnight, with 4 hours to bus time. I walked mostly back via the city network of unlit, winding trails through forest and green space — a highly unnerving three hours of pausing to listen for lurking muggers or drunken youth gangs, scouting out flight opportunities into the bush, and berating myself for stupidity in inviting disaster. One hand on my little LED flashlight, knife at the ready in my pocket, stealthing along on the gravel path … i met exactly four living creatures in the whole three hours — two amorous teens, a doe, and a cat — and they all startled the shit out of me.

In my dubious dark-path wanderings i found the very spot where Sylvia and i launched our punt in our 2004(?) row/drift down the South Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan River system, ending up in Lake Winnipeg 6 weeks later. (I’ve got to get that page posted again.) Aty least i think it was the same spot — it was 2 a.m., dark, and the river was quite a bit higher than i remembered.

It was a huge relief to get back to lit streets again, then the sanctuary of an all-night Tim Horton’s. But the layover time flew by like the snap of a finger.

The 4 a.m. bus from Medicine Hat was packed full, to my surprise. People like to travel all night? I barely got a seat, and all but wrecked my neck trying to sleep for the next few hours — it’s not humanly possible — but slid into Regina happy under the sun and eager once again.

Author: Greg Blee

Poster to my own gregblee.ca blog, and others.

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