The Coldest Place on Earth

Joel's Journal - January 5, 2018 - Volume 3 - #5


The Coldest Place on Earth 

Having lived in northern Alberta, I can confidently say I’ve felt true cold. 

When the ambient temperature hits -40C, without a breath of wind blowing on your face, it’s like the earth has become the largest walk-in freezer. 

However, this cold snap currently freezing the entirety of southern Ontario is like nothing I’ve felt before. 

Recently, M and I went to Montreal for a few days away together ahead of the new year. We had icicles forming on our eyelashes as we walked down the street. I haven’t heard Gandalf’s engine making this groaning cranking before growling into life since I was out west. My breaths freezes in the air inside my car for almost a full 10 minutes before it gets warm. 

Last night, while heading to the subway to meet a friend for some beers and the Leaf game, I was wearing five layers of clothing: t-shirt, long-sleeve, sweater, hoodie, jacket, and I was still cold. On my way home, the wind was like cold hands constantly pulling at the back of my jacket and reaching freezing tendrils beneath the layers. 

In summary, this is getting ridiculous. 

Whenever it’s awfully cold like this, there’s always one place I think of, without fail. It’s like these cold winds blow open a door in my mind that always leads to that highway rest stop in Saskatchewan, the place that will forever be the coldest place on earth in my opinion. 

I’ve had a busy day, so I’ll let my 2014 journal fill in the rest.

Thanks for reading!



January 2014 - Regina, SK

No snow this morning, but it sure as hell made up for it with the cold. I was worried about my car, but Gandalf proved strong and started without a hitch. My battles with the cookie tin continued as I was packing it back into the car. Sliding from its perch atop the milk crate the tin upended, spilling my grandma’s cookies all over the driver’s seat. I laughed it off (or maybe it was a growl) I picked them up and returned them to the tin before heading back to the hotel for breakfast.

Saskatchewan in the summer is a gorgeous place, golden fields and wide flat expanses bathed in sunlight. Not so much in the winter. The fields are snow covered and the grass that does poke through is brown and dead looking. The wind whips bitterly over the land looking for some skin to freeze and the only wildlife are the dead foxes and deer littering the sides of the road. These latter are petrified and preserved by the cold and look almost lively enough to get up and walk away. Other than the cannonball-sized hole in their gut where hungry scavengers have opened them up for a meal.

It’s a morbid place, not just for animals either.

I stop to fill up the gas tank and while there I decide to empty my own tank. I find the bathroom around the side of the small combination gas station/convenience store/diner. The two doors are tucked beneath a corrugated plastic overhang and both sit a little off-kilter in their frames like crooked teeth.

I’m hesitant to enter, but I’m not sure where the next stop will be down the road and the cold is biting at the exposed skin of my neck. I open the door and flick on the light as I step in.

The closet sized room is a horror. Paper towel, toilet paper and assorted bits of trash litter the ground beneath a single bulb, glowing dimly above a greasy mirror and clogged sink. The toilet is choked to the brim with brown paper towel. A plunger rests upended in the garbage on the floor, it is caked with once wet and now dry toilet paper.  A failing air freshner tries to cover up the smell of something worse.

The worst of it all is the walls. It’s as if somebody gave a schizophrenic a Sharpie and locked them inside. An extremely vulgar schizophrenic. Words twist and turn themselves all over the walls, even the ceiling is tattooed with curses and crude drawings of male genitalia.

I’ve gone this far though so I do my businesses while reading crude jokes about my mother, threats on my life and all the assorted things wits with markers have done in that small closet of a bathroom.

I’m really thankful I wore my gloves.





Joel Wittnebel