[Editor’s note: Along their eastward route to Ottawa, The Tyee's new national reporter Jeremy Nuttall and his partner Mao Yanhong are chatting with ordinary Canadians to find out what they think should be covered in the capital. They're also filing dispatches from the road. Wondering who Jeremy is and how this journey came to be? Check out our introduction here.]
It's been said the best way to understand your own country is to leave it for awhile -- that and saving a day's drive to Ottawa led The Tyee south to Canada's neighbour.
We crossed into the U.S. and made our way through northern Montana's bounty of golden hills and green mountains before reaching the badlands of Wyoming and South Dakota.
There's something sobering about zooming through Montana and Wyoming, where many vicious battles with First Nations were fought, then ending up in a place where a massive sculpture of European descendants is carved into a rock.
But if you don't think about it too much, you can enjoy the amazing accomplishment of Mount Rushmore. What Canadians would deserve a place etched in stone?
I spent some time hanging out by an SUV with B.C. plates in the Mount Rushmore parking lot, hoping the driver would return so I could ask them. No such luck.
Chasing a kinsman
Then, on the drive into Rapid City, a grey Volkswagen pulled up beside me and began honking its horn.
When I looked to the side, expecting to see someone railing at me for god knows what, a young man in a blue shirt was giving me a thumbs up.
As he sped away, I noticed he had B.C. plates. A gesture of goodwill from a kinsman!
Surely, I thought, if I can get hold of this chap he can give me some input into what Canadian leaders would deserve a monument as massive as Mount Rushmore.
I followed that car down the windy roads of South Dakota like the sheriffs after Martin Sheen in Badlands until we hit the grasslands again and his superior power -- in a car not packed to the brim with the weight of two people's lives -- carried him off into the rusty brown horizon.
I was left to ponder Canada's icons and founders myself. Which are worthy of Rushmore-esque immortality?
On to Milwaukee!