Thursday, July 14, 2011

(Day 31) On prairie scenery and wind and western hospitality...

July 13th saw me up with the sun sitting in the living room writing the 2nd installment for Day 30.  It was the first time on this trip that I have actually saw the sun rise!  So much for being an early riser!  The day dawned somewhat overcast and the weather gurus were predicting the possibility of rain as I travelled west.

Breakfast was enjoyed with Dawn as we talked about her plans for her trip east.  She is so looking forward to seeing Allan and the children.  I do hope that everything works out for you Dawn.  I'll be sending you good thoughts and do stop in for a visit with Peg.  She'd love to see you.

Dawn thanked me for going out of my way to come up to see her, I joked that she was just lucky I found a few crooked roads that came northwest - otherwise she would have been out of luck, now its back to bald prairie.  She was quick to inform me that there were some turns and even some hill between Dauphin and Saskatoon... and she was right!  There was also something else waiting for me...

Leaving Dauphin the hills continue to roll and the road winds softly around those hills that the road builders were too lazy to go over.  Clumps of poplar trees dot the landcape and there is even a large enough stand of spruce to warrant a sawmill somewhere between Dauphin and Lake of the Prairies.  Along the way there are many Ukrainian Catholic Churches just on the outskirts of places with names like Hillsburg.

Leaving Shell River the road dips into the valley that forms the Lake of the Prairies.  Crossing the bridge across the lake I was now in Saskatchewan - the province where Isaiah 40:3-4 has been lived out:

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
   the way for the LORD;
make straight in the desert
   a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
   every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
   the rugged places a plain. 
As I rose out of the valley on the Saskatchewan side the horizon spread into the distance and out of the southwest came a wind, with gusts that we so unpredictable that they threatened to blow me off the road.  This coupled with the B-Trains that blasted by every 10 minutes made for a very interesting ride.

I quickly got in the habit, when I saw a truck coming I would go to the very far right of my lane so as to avoid the worst of the blast.  Nevertheless my head was still getting buffeted around.  Little did I know just how much!!


I made it into Yorkton, SK and really needed a break!  Cruising the streets I could not find and independent bakery or cafe.  Robin's or Tim Horton's, those seemed to be the only two choices.  I chose the lesser of two evils and parked myself at Robin's and settled into a booth with an Apple Fritter and a Sour Cream Donut (bad, I know) and a cup of hot water into which I poured my Starbucks Instant Coffee.

It was here that I met Allan, a man on the cusp of retirement from CP who talked briefly about what he would do once he retired.  It was clear to him that he wouldn't be sitting around after 34 years of working daily and hanging out of the coffee shop wasn't going to cut it.  We also talked about our children and their accomplishments and the need for ever more education to make it in the world.  He wished me well on my journey to told me to be safe in that wind.

Leaving Robin's I headed to a Shell Station on the north side of town, filled up and headed northwest on Highway 16.  The wind, out of the southwest was absolutely brutal!  At Elfos I stopped briefly to see the Icelandic Settlers monument and regain my strength in my battle with the punishing wind even as I pondered the wind that I experienced in Iceland last summer and how similar the land is (big and open) and climates (wind and more wind) are.

Pleasantly, the landscape was once again dotted with little lakes and clumps of trees and as my head was pushed from side to side by the ever present wind I caught many glimpse of ducks in the overflowing sloughs and ponds.  This was the Quill Lake International Bird Area.  Ducks and Geese and Swans were in abundance!

A little further west, looking to the horizon to the northwest, I thought I was seeing things.  It looked like water - and a lot of it.  Come to find out it was Big Quill Lake and it is full this year!  And, I am sure the birds are loving it!

At Dafoe, where the road jogged to the north before it continued west I stopped for another break.  It was lunchtime and I needed a rest from the ever present wind.  Population: 50  Businesses: 2  I drove by one, a grain company and ate at the other, the 24/7 Travel Centre.  Here you can have a shower, rent a room, fill up your rig with gas and get a great meal.  What to eat when in the west?

How about a Western with Fries?  The waitress asks, "What soup would you like?"  Puzzled I looked at her and say, "It comes with soup too?"  She looks at me like I'm from another planet and smiles and says, "Yes dear, and I'd recommend the Pea Soup with Ham, the peas are local but I don't know where the ham came from."

As you can see from the picture I had the Pea Soup and the Western and while the bike had to work a little harder moving my butt down the road I don't think I was blown around as much by the wind!!

Before long I was nearing the outskirts of Saskatoon and that's where I began to have problems from head to toe.  A large truck passed me and all of a sudden I heard and felt a flapping on my head.  A gust of wind had caught my visor and ripped it from one side of the helmet.  I stopped to re-attach it and that it when I noticed that the sole of my riding boot was flapping around at the toe.  As my Mom says, "when it rains it pours".

As planned as I arrived in Saskatoon, I went looking for a store to uy a new set of ear buds.  The ones I had failed in Manitoba.  I stopped at Best Buy, got an ok buy, came out to the bike and noticed that my helment had fallen off the bike and the visor had detached from the helment.  Down on my hands and knees in the parking lot I found one button, one complete latching mechanism and one latching mechanism minus one spring.  I pocketed the parts, strapped the visor on the back of the bike and plugged a motorcycle shop into the GPS.  As I was heading that way it dawned on me that the shop may not even have what I need... it would be better to call first.... so I headed to Linda and Neil's home and brought my problems with me...  along the way the shield (unbeknownst to me at this point blew off the back of the bike!

Linda and Neil were so gracious and helpful.  With a phone and a pen book at my side we located a shop, Recreation Supply, that sold one part that I needed - a face-shield for a Shark helment.  They didn't have a spring kit but they had the they had a face-shield... at that point I took Linda's pen apart... and ideas began to form... Unfortunately the spring in the pen was just a little too big!  Neil knew of an "old-fashion type" Home Hardware that might have something so he called them and sure enough they had a selection of springs.  They also had Shoe Goo to fix my boot!!  As I was preparing to head out on the bike to locate the materials needed for the repair, Neal graciously offered to drive me in the van!  This was so nice:  Riding in air conditioned comfort with the added bonus of a guided tour through Saskatoon!

Arriving at the Home Hardware and making our way to the spring rack we were out of luck...  Hmmm... still fixated on the pen, maybe I could cut the spring in Linda's pen down to size... we picked up the Shoe Goo and while the clerk was ringing it through I pulled a pink pen out of the cup by the register, unscrewed it and ureka... it was perfect!  I asked the clerk to ring in the pen as well.

"That's not for sale," he said.  "That belongs with the register."
"Everything is for sale," I replied.
"That's a Cancer Society Fundraising Pen" the clerk stated.
"So, I will make a donation to the Cancer Society" I offered.
All the while he is clicking on his keyboard.
"Here it is, Pink Pen.  $1.98.  Your total is $10.27"

I left the store laughing, thinking that that is probably the first and last time anyone, especially a man driving a motorcycle is going to $1.98 for a used pink pen!!

At Recreation Supply the clerk I spoke to on the phone took a look at my helmet and said, "That's not a Shark helmet.  That's a Scorpion Helment and we don't stock those and I don't have a face-sheild to fit it either!"

Duh!  Did I feel stupid.  Of course.  It is a Scorpion.  I knew that.  I think the wind must have blew all the sense out of my mind that day!  The clerk was not to be defeated though!  He got on the phone with his Sales Representative from Parts Canada explaining that he might have a face-shield in his house or truck that they could get... Unfortunately the Sales Rep was in Prince Albert but he recommended that we try Proline, the local Yamaha dealer as they carry Scorpion helmets.  So... the clerk from Recreation Supply (sorry I've forgotten your name - email me and I will add it) called the clerk at Proline, Carissa, and while they didn't have a face-shield in stock Carissa agreed to take a face-shield off of a new helmet and sell it to me.

Arriving at Proline, after more of a tour of Saskatoon, Carissa was quickly located and in no time we had a shield off of a new helmet and on mine.  Only one problem: one of my buttons was so warn it would not hold the shield on!  I briefly toyed with the idea of buying a new helmet and then Carissa agreed that she could sell me the buttons off of a new helment too!  With a little coaxing we soon had the buttons off of the new helment and on mine and I was off to the races!  Thanks so much to everyone that helped out in this situation!!  You have reminded me yet again that the world is full of good people!!

Returning to Neil and Linda's home, Linda and I finally had a chance to sit down and begin to catch up - as we sat in the back yard and I Shoe Goo'd my boots.  I then asked if I could take them out to supper as an token of appreciation for all they had done for me and with a little bit of reluctance they agreed - Linda made a reservation at the Berry Barn and I headed to the shower.  On my way I passed by a pot of cabbage rolls and that may have explained Neils reluctance to go out... I was having second thoughts too!  I love cabbage rolls!!

Showered and smelling much better I am sure, we headed to the Berry Barn - a Saskatoon Berry Plantation and Restaurant and venue for special events such as weddings located on the bank of the South Saskatchewan River (link).

Linda had a bowl of Mushroom Chowder and Neil and I had the Barn Burner: Homemade Borsht Soup, Perogies, Vegetables and a Summer Sausage followed by the all important Saskatoon Berry Pie.  I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves!!

Following such a feast we had to go for a walk and the grounds are just gorgeous!  In the distance at a bend in the river there were some Pelicans doing whatever Pelicans do.  The Saskatoon bushes were just loaded with fruit and flowers were in full bloom.  A delightful end to a stress-filled day!

Neil navigated us through the city and provided a bit of a commentary on some of the places of interest as we passed by them, this was interspersed with snippets of conversations about changing policies and procedures in the Church (Neil is the Secretary of Presbytery and Linda is the Chair of Pastoral Relations) and people in the Church that we know in common.

Arriving back at the house Linda granted me access to her washing machine and as my duds were being spun in suds we continued to chat about places we had been and things we have learned along the way.  Linda and Neil are off to Russia next month on a river cruise!  Awesome!  By this time it was too late to call home and chat with Anna as she had let me know that she was heading to bed early.

Along about 10PM (11PM Manitoba Time/12PM Toronto Time/1AM Sackville Time) I headed up to bed and in no time at all was asleep wondering what adventures tomorrow would bring as I crossed into Alberta (for the third time in the last 13 months) to visit with folk that I have been blessed to spend time with four times in the past 13 months - thanks to my work related travel and Jerry's work related travel!

There is a full blown thunderstorm raging outside at the moment and I am in no hurry to enter into the rain...

1 comment:

  1. Glad I could help you Lloyd! Just one note, the sales representative that suggested coming to Proline would have been the friendly and helpful Trent from Motovan.
    Happy travels to you!
    -Carissa

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