Tuesday, July 12, 2011

(Day 30) On 1 month off and 1 week on the road...

It is hard to believe it but 30 days ago I began this Sabbath Journey and a week ago I left Sackville, NB early in the morning not knowing where the road would lead or who I would meet along the way.  The road has been a blessing thus far.  Each day I have been awed, inspired, humbled and touched by the things I have seen, the air I have inhaled and the people I have met.  Today was no exception.

This morning Hank made me another one of his awesome coffee's!  I thought I was a coffee snob!!  Hank has a full blown expresso machine in the corner of his beautifully renovated IKEA kitchen.  Lots of ideas there for our next renovation project!  With coffee and toast in my belly and gas in my tank I head west... but first I had to navigate Winnipeg construction on the Perimeter Highway!  Wow!  There are lots of infrastructure dollars at work here!!

Leaving the Perimeter Highway, heading west on the Trans Canada I was not disappointed.  Put the throttle lock on and point the bike west.  Too easy!!  Sit back and enjoy the sights and smells: hawks hunting, Red-Winged Black Birds flying from fence to fence, the smell of creosote rising from the railroad ties and the occasional whiff of sweet grass.

Just past Portage La Praire I veered right onto the Yellowhead Highway and subtly the landscape began to change: a little more roll to the praire and a few more trees.  Rolling down the highway I saw a train coming in the distance.  There is something that viscerally draws me to these long trains.  I stopped the bike on the side of the road and went down toward the tracks to catch a shot or two.  And I waited.  And I waited.  I had forgotten how deceptive distances are on the prairies!  Finally the train passed by and I was rewarded with a blast from the air horn and a wave from the engineer.

Continuing northwest I stopped at Neepawa and went into the Safeway where I picked up some noodles and jerky and had the clerk at the deli counter fill my water bottle.  With food and water for a planned picnic lunch I set off to find the home of Margaret Laurence.

I remember reading her speech, My Final Hour where she said the following:
So, if this were indeed my Final Hour, these would be my words to you. I would not claim to pass on any secret of life, for there is none, or any wisdom except the passionate plea of caring ... Try to feel, in your heart's core, the reality of others. This is the most painful thing in the world, probably, and the most necessary. In times of personal adversity, know that you are not alone. Know that although in the eternal scheme of things you are small, you are also unique and irreplaceable, as are all of your fellow humans everywhere in the world. Know that your commitment is above all to life itself.
I opted not to take the tour of the house.  It was enough to take a picture of the outside of the house and to be reminded in yet a different way that we all have the ability and responsibility to leave our mark on the world - a mark of open hands, hearts and minds for the sharing of love.  I also made a commitment to myself to read those of her books I have not already read.

Leaving Neepawa it was not long before I arrived at Minnedosa and got a little turned around in town trying to find the junction with #10 North.  A helpful man in a red pickup stopped and pointed me in the right direction.  However, as I cam upon the junction there was a flashing sign advising that the Highways was closed through to Dauphin... I turned around and went into the rest station and asked a few folk if they knew what was going on.  A group of folk travelling to Brandon on a shopping trip suggested that the road was closed only to large trucks.  Sure enough I set out again and went slow by the sign and saw the second screen: "Large trucks".

Enter the Little Saskatchewan River Valley was a reminder the Manitoba is not flat after all!  Rolling hills, a splash of colour here and there and of course just a few more trees again!  About 30km later the road started to get really fun.  Sweeping left handers with lakes and trees and lots of other stuff to look at.

I stopped on the north side of Clear Lake and cooked my lunch:  A feast of ramen noodles (chicken flavour), beef jerky and a granola bar.  All this as I watched boats haul water-skiers on the lake and a mom with her two children playing down at the water side.

Out in the parking lot a pick-up pooled in and two men started to haul stuff to the waters edge.  It soon became clear they were going diving.  As I packed up and made my way back to the bike I struck up a conversation.  One of the men was from the area and the other was from California.  I just had to take a picture!  How many times are you going to see someone from California who has come to the prairies to go scuba diving!!!  They took a picture of me with the bike and promised to send some pictures of what they see "down there".  When they do I will post them here.

With lunch eaten and the garbage picked up it was onto Dauphin.  Passing through the northern end of the park I was lucky enough to see a Black Bear and a Moose.  I didn't stop to get a picture.  It was enough to see them in their natural habitat as I passed by drinking it all in.

As I exited the park I was stuck by the view.  I didn't realize how high I had climbed.  The road seemed to drop right off and the horizon seemed forever away.  I sat there for a few moments appreciating the diversity of the land and a prayer of thanksgiving for safe travels thus far.

I am presently in Dauphin at the McDonald's using their WiFi waiting for Dawn to get off work at 4PM.  We will spend the evening catching up and tomorrow its on the road to Saskatoon where I have been invited to stay with Linda Westcott and her family.  Linda and I served on the Ministry and Vocations Committee of the General Council together for a number of years and it will be good to catch up with her.

Reflecting on the past week I can only sum things up in the words of Dag Hammarskjold, "For all that has been - thanks.  For all that shall be - yes!"

...on the Sabbath Road...

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