Under big skies, The General keeps moving

EVANSTON, Wyoming — Even a general has to obey the law.

The large bronze sculpture of Maj.-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock started the day’s travels pulling into an Oregon truck stop, where driver Ken applied a pair of those “WIDE LOAD” banners to the front and back of the truck. It’s because of the sculpture’s height from the ground, and the need to meet regulations in some of the jurisdictions ahead.

But while this attention-getting measure was done to comply with rules of the road, it’s also fitting that The General’s one-vehicle motorcade be garnished with something that tells the world this is no ordinary cargo.

After leaving Oregon, The General tracked through southern Idaho, where the speed limit on the Interstate for cars (but not transport trucks carrying generals) is 80 miles per hour, or about 130 km/h. Trucks have to settle for 70 mph.

Then he cut through the top of Utah, past Great Salt Lake (not the most scenic body of water you’ve ever seen), up a geologically incredible valley on the Eisenhower Highway (rock formations Fred Flintstone would love), then breezing along the I-80 into dusty and spacious Wyoming. (Things you learn from a road atlas during a road trip: Wyoming has the smallest population of any US state, even Alaska. Wyoming may be dusty and spacious, but seriously, why would more people live in Alaska?)

On this first full day (Wednesday) of his travels home, The General covered 885 kilometres, making his way through changing topography and weather systems, leaving behind mountain glens for starkly poetic landscapes of coulees, rocky slopes and arid plains, pretty well devoid of mankind and stretching for as far as the eye can see, usually toward some hazy mountains barely discernable on the horizon.

People wanting out of the rat race should take a cue from The General and drive through southern Idaho and northern Utah. He didn’t have much traffic sharing the highway, mostly transport trucks and pickups driven by seniors towing their fifth-wheels home for the season.

It conjures up Ian Tyson songs in your mind, even if the only one you know is Neil Young’s rendition of Four Strong Winds. You’ll see mockingbirds, grazing black cattle scattered across stubbled hillsides, irrigation wheels, creeks following their ancient courses through the prairie, occasional groups of wind turbines nowhere near anyone’s house, road signs warning not to stop on the highway during of blinding dust storms, a chain of truck stops named Stinker, tumbleweeds, and big skies. Really big skies.

Folks like former Brock student Stuart in Ann Arbor, Michigan have emailed, asking about The General’s path ahead. He plans to take the I-80 east across the heart of the continent and connect with the NY State Thruway this weekend.

If he changes his mind, you’ll read it here first.

Whichever path he takes, he’s getting closer to home.

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