It's a brightly lit oasis for truckers not five minutes west of the city on the Trans-Canada Highway.
It may not be fancy — a massive parking lot full of idling semis, a cardlock diesel station and a set of gas pumps, a convenience store, a sleepy 24-hour Denny's and a Best Western Plus motel — but for a tractor-trailer driver who has been hauling freight for the last eight hours, the Flying J Travel Plaza looks a lot like home.
Cory Bodnarchuk, originally from nearby Tyndall, pulls up to grab a Red Bull, a bottle of water and some almonds on his way to Edmonton. His truck is empty now after delivering argon gas for Praxair.
Eating healthy on the road is a challenge, Bodnarchuk says, adding he does his best. He tries to keep fruit and vegetables in his cab and plans his meals in advance.
"Truck stops are full of junk and soda," he says.
When he goes to Denny's — a mainstay truck-stop restaurant — he usually grabs grilled chicken and a salad instead of greasier diner grub. But there are times when he can't resist and orders a burger or steak and eggs for breakfast.
Mike, who doesn't want to give his last name, stands outside the gas station, chain-smoking in a pair of sandals.
His truck is in the shop, but he is hanging around here because he doesn't have a house; he's usually on the road. He comes here often, not always by choice.
"The slang term for the J in the industry is the hook," he says, hooking his mouth with his finger. Flying J, headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn., has truck stops across North America.
There are few options for truckers needing a bite to eat and a place to sleep on the road, he says. Flying J can charge whatever it wants, he adds, and the food quality at truck stops isn't the best.
"But you gotta eat," he says, laughing.
— Erik Pindera
Photography by Andrew Ryan