Saturday, January 13, 2018
The Middle of Nowhere
I was in the veritable middle of nowhere. It was cold, I was lost, and all there was around me was ice and snow covered flatness. It could be said I was at the corner of Forgotten and Ignored. Then I saw a sign as I cruised past Tache' township, Manitoba today. It was a big sign, I really was in the middle of nowhere, here at the center of Canada ...apparently equidistant from Cape Spear Newfoundland (which I had been to) and some place on Vancouver Island or British Columbia which I hadn't.
This place was overkill to a degree you rarely see, there were flags, more signs, stone markers, picnic sites, yet more signs, and informational plaque, then a second plaque.
But all told it was about as inviting as a cold windswept place devoid of vegetation could be and then I looked it up....this location is the center of much controversy....you see, it isn't the only place to lay such a claim....
This other place is well over a thousand miles away. The people of Baker Lake, Nunavut, are proud of their coordinates: 64 degrees, 18 minutes, 41 seconds N and 96 degrees, 4 minutes, 8 seconds W. In 1951, someone bushwhacked through the forest on the periphery of town and hammered a sign into the dirt proclaiming, “Geographical centre of Canada.” Billboards at the airport and town hall, as well as the mantra on the town’s pamphlets and website, will not let anyone forget it.
Their equivalent of the mayor, Denis Zettler was quoted as saying. “We’re the centre, the core,” says Denis Zettler, the senior administrative officer of the 1,728-person town. “We’ve got the documentation. We all know it. Everybody knows it.”
Then in 2015, tens of thousands of dollars were spent in Manitoba for the above series of signs and a marketing campaign. From Macleans Magazine, Baker Lake isn't the only other place making this claim.
Well, all I can say is .....Really? This is that important?
The planned park is being built and can you imagine wi-fi hotspots here and a "meeting" spot? I'd ask the local officials "what are you smoking?" But since pot is legal here, we all know what is being smoked. Wi-fi? I don't even have a cell phone signal here. At least in America, we haven't spent much of an effort on this, as the center of America is located out in the prairie in western South Dakota also in the middle of nowhere.
Luckily, it looks like all we've spent about 10 bucks on this piece of roadside Americana, nearby there is a pole and a FLAG out there. Even that looks used. I can't find my picture of it, but trust me, it isn't worth the 22 mile one way trip north of Belle Fourche. The farmer does warn online about rattlesnakes....but invites you to look around and enjoy yourself.
So what the heck am I doing up here in Manitoba?
What else? I am chasing birds...some I know, and like to find and others I want....sometimes you got to go left to go right, west to go south, or north to go east.
I cruised up to Roseau, Minnesota with the aim of hitting my favorite bog for owls....cause it was sort of on the way. To get great grays you have to be there at first light so that meant I was hitting the road at 3am. It was just a little brisk when I pulled into the home of Polaris snowmobiles. I got to my spot and there was one, then another....
Great Gray owls at dawn....could anything be finer? Then I looked at my thermometer...
It was cold outside....dang cold......-31F (-34C) and that was not windchill. Burrr!!!.....I've birded up here at -36F, this is cold, This bog in Lost river State Forest is probably routinely the coldest spot in the lower 48 states, it just doesn't have an official place to record the temperature...
Gosh my "flat tire" warnings all went on when I hit the bog.
then the Canadian Customs official looked at me when I told him what I was up to...."You came up to do what?" Then..."You are heading where?"
Here is a road to nowhere I drove on right after the border looking for Manitoba ticks. I'm facing south. The trees at the end of the road are American trees, the deer standing in the road down there is in Canada, as where I am standing. If it wasn't so cold, I may have tried to walk 50 feet into America, just to see what happened, but just the deer did...and nothing happened.
So, I'm sitting in a hotel in "The Peg" watching football; waiting for my morning flight out. Where I'm off to? A place that is is 50 degrees warmer than here, but that isn't saying much.....
Maybe I'll order room service...
Gosh, even the Eagles/ Falcons game looks warm by comparison, and for me, I'm just going from the Middle of nowhere to the center of nothing...and back again.
The fight for the Center of Canada.. Their out here spending $200,000 on this project so far, and now Baker Lake is starting to spend their own money, personally, I'm voting for the unnamed lake in Nunavut comes complete I hear with their own black flies....now there would be a place on everyone's to-do list, .The Center of Canada fight....who knew?
Don't forget your booties cause its cold out there....it's cold out there everyday