Saskatchewan: June 15-20
Wednesday June 15 (continued)
Passed another provincial boundary
today into Saskatchewan, and at the same time we crossed another time
zone as well. But we’re still just 1 hour ahead for now because
Saskatchewan does not observe daylight savings time. I can see why –
it was still light out until well after 10PM, even without the extra
hour. Both of these seemed to come up pretty fast, it’s due to
cutting across just the bottom part of Alberta. It’s quite narrow
there, we only spent 2 nights in the province.
Speaking of provincial borders, there
was a noticeable change in the quality of the roads as soon as we
crossed out of Alberta. Both highway 1 and 3 were fantastic coming
through Alberta (better than BC, from what we saw), as were any of
the backroads that I saw. Highway 1 seems to be in pretty bad repair
at this point, I have heard that it is not great through here or
Manitoba. I say we raise the price of a loaf of bread by a penny and
give all the extra money to the farmers of these provinces so they
can keep up the roads!
The other difference at the border, which was entirely
unexpected, was that it immediately got hilly as well - we are just
north of the Cypress Hills. Not huge hills, but a couple of 100m
climbs. Our route through Alberta had been really flat by comparison.
Campground in the Bullrushes
We are staying in a great campground
here, about 35km past the border. The Eagle Valley Campground. I am
really surprised that it is hilly here, I was really expecting that
it would be much flatter here. A lady in the Laundromat here said that
they’ve been through Saskatchewan a few times and that there are
long stretches was absolutely no camping facilities or anything. We
will have to pick our destinations fairly carefully for a while.
Bike log: 81 km, 361m of vertical,
average speed 22.6 km/h
June 16- Maple Creek to Gull Lake
Not many miles covered today due to a
really strong headwind! We are also dealing with the sparse towns
through Saskatchewan. If it came down to it, we could stay just about
anywhere since the van is pretty self contained, but we are trying to
stay in campgrounds that have a shower since at the end of a long
ride it is really nice to have a hot shower. Today, the next town
along that had camping facilities was about 56 km down the road, a
long way at the snail's pace of 22 km/h that I was grinding today! It
is too bad because I did not really want to stop here, but pushing
through to the next town would have made tomorrow difficult.
Although this is not a photo of the
town, it is symbolic of it. There is not too much here, and what is
here seems to be past its prime. The campground is well kept up
though - it is maintained by volunteers from the museum.
Webb Access denied!
This was too good of a photo op to pass
We are having troubles finding places
that offer Internet connections - this is really unexpected. Perhaps
the days of the Internet Cafe are dwindling, since anyone who really
wants access gets it at home, and hotels offer it for travelling
businessmen. We tried the library here, and although they had
internet access, they would not allow me to hook up my laptop, even
though their Ethernet hub was sitting right on the desk in front of
Note: I have finally managed to find
access in Swift Current - the library here also denied my laptop but
TM Genik computers was kind enough to allow me to borrow their link
for an hour. Thanks! First time I could get on the internet since
The quality of the road's shoulder
continues to be really bad here. This photo partly does justice to
it. The light areas between the patches is really rough to ride on -
it is essentially rounded stones held together at the base by tar. I
guess it is similar to riding on alligators, but without the danger
of having your leg bitten off. Riding on that stuff all day
definitely takes a toll - my arms and back were giving out by the end
of the day, before the legs. Another unexpected!
Funny thing about riding into such a
strong wind is that when you come to a hill, you get a little break
from the wind, making it easier to peddle. I usually do not have to
switch gears for the hills.
This picture should give you some idea where I was when I took it.
We both got a kick out of seeing these "famous" place names on
road signs. Hard to believe we are here.
Friday, June 17
Bike Log: 89.5km, 450m of vertical,
average speed 19.5 km/h
June 17 - Gull Lake to Herbert
I am going to stop saying that I can't
believe how bad the weather was today and that it can't get any
worse. Today was even worse than yesterday! I really can't believe it
(OK, I said it one last time)! Can you feel the wind blasting out of
this photo? What a headwind!
Hailing in Herbert
The wind was blowing so hard by the end
of the day I was only doing 15 km/h (less during a gust), and I was
using the same gears that I use to climb Mt. Douglas! What made it
even scarier was that there were these horrible dark clouds closing
in as I approached the endpoint - it was a race against time! I just
made it, because after we got into the campsite it started to really
pour like I've never seen, as well as hail - the size of marbles!
Then, the lightning started - at one point probably one flash per
second. The campground we're staying in is a little weird as the hail
was falling into the shower when I was in there...not really sure how
Now that I've had 3 days of this, it is
getting easier to deal with mentally. It would be nice to be making
better time, but at least I am getting somewhere. You just have to
forget about the speed and the time, put your head down and go. At
the end of the day, you make what you make.
Storms and country roads
Still lots of really cool vistas around
- the open prairie! Having never been here before this trip, I never
knew Saskatchewan had so much natural beauty. To hear some people
talk about it you'd think the whole place was covered in gray paint.
We BC'ers are a bit conceited and spoiled, with the mountains and
ocean, but the landscape here can be truly stunning. Very cool!
In the storm
The wind is blasting so hard right now
that the whole van is shaking! Even in Tofino, I haven't seen rain
come down this hard for so long - this is a real thunderstorm! I
can't imagine being in a tent in this. (Note: I found out the next
day that a tornado was sighted about 100 miles from here. Yikes!)
Bike log: 200.3km, 592m of vertical,
average speed 36.8km/h
June 18 –Herbert to Regina
Another great day with some good
mileage due to a tailwind! That’s the first time I’ve cracked the
200km mark, and it felt great! I woke up prepared to slog through
another headwind, and maybe make it to a small town on the west side
of Moose Jaw, but when the wind started to pick up it was from the
west. So we figured we’d make it to Moose Jaw and spend the day
there – still a decent distance at around 135km for the day. But,
we got there around 2PM, and I still had plenty of energy, so I
snarfed down a Mr. Sub and we went for Regina – another 65km. It
was not a problem at all, just the arms and back getting a little
sore again from dodging the potholes and riding over bumpy pavement.
Reed Lake Saskatchewan
It may be due to all the rain that has
been falling lately, but we have been seeing lots of little lakes
along the way. This is Reed Lake, and it is an important stopping
point for migratory birds of all kinds. I guess the wind does not
bother the birds at all. Yesterday during the huge storm I saw gulls
soaring way up into the clouds - probably just for the fun of it! I
would if I were them.
Mortlach, your basic small town in Saskatchewan
When we pick a meeting point up the
road, we have been picking small towns (villages really) that are
indicated on the map. But, you never know what they are going to be
like when you get there. Some are practically non-existent! We passed
through quite a combo of towns today, Uren, Piapot, and Secretin. This little town, Mortlach, was at least still alive!
We have finally hit the flats. Boy, was
it flat between Moose Jaw and Regina. Checking the log from my GPS,
it appears there was 1hill of 20m over those 65km, and nothing much
else more than 5m. You can see for miles!
Sunday, June 19
June 19 – Rest day in Regina
It has been a week since my last rest
day - I don't feel too tired but it is great to get the rest. There
haven't been a ton of great places to stop and spend a whole day
though, so we've wanted to keep moving. We also could not find a lot
of campgrounds right close to the city (not surprising really) so we
opted for a hotel for 2 nights - what a luxury! Cheryl and I both
really enjoyed the change and we had a great time here, but we are
also really looking forward to hitting the road again tomorrow.
Wascana Lake in Regina
It is weird to be back into
“Civilization” again. Regina is actually a city, about Victoria
size, and the first one of that size we’ve been into since leaving.
(We skirted around both Lethbridge and Medicine Hat). From what we’ve
seen, it is a really nice city – no doubt this is the season to
visit! Unlike Victoria, there aren’t so many shops and restaurants
in the downtown core. Surprising at first, but when you consider what
the weather is probably like here 9 months of the year I guess it
makes sense. Also unlike Victoria, there aren’t so many tourists,
which cuts down on the restaurant density. Still a nice place to
visit though, Wascana Lake in the middle of town is great! We took
the well cared for path that goes all the way around it.
We saw Pelicans on Wascana Lake. I
wonder if they stay here all year round or if they are just passing
through? I wanted to toss one of them a watermelon to see if he could
fit it in his bill, but there was a sign up saying, "Don't throw
watermelons into the lake." Plus all I had on me was a
Hi everyone, it's me, Cheryl.
I've mostly just been taking the
pictures, but it's time to write something again. I met this
incredibly spirited and pretty horse in Alberta--what a beautiful
province, and the people really friendly. I've been looking forward
to seeing the prairie for months, but it still caught me by surprise.
The beauty of this place is profound. It creates a physical
sensation, tugging at your heart. The roads that disappear over the
horizon seem to call you to follow them. Every time I start walking
down one I find it hard to turn around and come back.
The weather is also amazing; it makes
the land seem alive. I picked up a book in Swift Current called The
Perfection of the Morning by a prairie writer named Sharon Butala.
The book was highly recommended by Judith Mitchell, one of my profs
at UVic, and it goes a long way in explaining the effects of this
place. I find it hard to put into words, and I know the pictures
can't do it justice. But driving under that huge sky with the wind at
your back is like flying. Cycling it must be great, but I would like
to be on horseback. Maybe one day.
I am really getting used to spending
all this solitary time out in the wild. It's going to be hard to get
back to normal! I find myself playing a lot of country music--nothing
else makes sense out here. Good stuff, though, like Lucinda Williams
and Allen Dobb. Or anything sad and pretty. Yes, this place really
gets into your bones.
Love to everyone,
Monday, June 20
Bike log: 175.6km, 296m of vertical,
June 20 – Regina to Whitewood
A pretty decent ride today – although
we got off to a pretty slow start, what with checking out of the
hotel and picking up a few last minute supplies on the way out of
Regina. By 10:30 we were out onto the road again, and it felt good to
be moving. But, it took a while for the energy level to get up –
kind of weird since I rested yesterday. There was a nice tailwind
(not a blaster like it has been though) pretty much the whole day.
I saw a road sign today for Winnipeg –
weird! Now it feels like we’re really getting somewhere, Regina is
far away from home as well, but when I think of Winnipeg I really
think of a remote place. Especially in the winter! It kind of
reminded me of when I was in Malaysia, driving along, and seeing road
signs for Bangkok. Wow – you can get there from here!
Hot summer day in Saskatchewan!
Summer has definitely arrived. It was
hot today – high 20’s I would guess. The breeze was great for
keeping cool – with both the back and side door open on the van we
get awesome ventilation while still being able to sit out of the sun.
There were also lots of nice little puffy clouds today. They were
blowing along very close to parallel to the highway, and not much
faster than I was moving, so I managed to catch a few of them as I
rode along in order to get out of the sun for a few minutes. The
other thing the wind is good for is keeping down the mosquitos. We’ve
started to get into them fairly bad here – as the wind died down
tonight they came out and are really…bugging us. But a small price
to pay for finally feeling like we have hit summer. I sure feel bad
for the folks in Alberta near where we just passed who are dealing
with all the flooding (and I am glad we missed it all). All the rain
that has fallen around here recently has made it so nice and green
here, it will probably look very different on the way back.
Grain elevators and cell phone towers
Towns of importance around these parts
have a grain elevator (I think that’s what they call them anyway,
but what do I know I live in BC. No good for storing salmon). This is
a pretty typical looking one. They are pretty big usually, and due to
the flat land they are visible for a long way off. It is not unlike
how churches in European towns are visible from miles away and give
you an indication of where the town is. I have been trying to
estimate how far off they are when I first spot them, and then see
how accurate my guess is using the odometer. I am not very accurate,
Distances are really deceiving around here! In the book Cheryl is
reading (about Saskatchewan) the author talks about how around here
distance is an entity, not just a dimension.
The other thing most of these same
towns has is a cell phone tower.
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