Friday, July 15, 2011

(Day 32) On wrong roads and making it right...

Boy did I screw up this morning!  But before I tell you how I screwed up let me give you the list of reasons why I messed up (AKA excuses)!

  • it was raining
  • the gps was in the bag
  • my glasses were fogged up
  • I was in a rush
  • it was really raining
Now, how I screwed up?  Coming out of Saskatoon I took the wrong road.  I turned off of Circle Drive far too soon and ended up on Highway 16 instead of Highway 14 as planned.  As I drove along I kept thinking I was going northwest - but - I didn't listen to my instinct and kept on going... right to Battlefords!!  Not where I planned to be!!  With this thought past my next thought was "Anna will be disappointed,  She had been to Battleford and Meadow Lake as a teenager on a school exchange and has long wanted to visit again.  Sorry you were not with me Anna.  I was a pretty as you said it was - albeit I did not see much through the rain!

I stopped at the tourist information booth and had a look at a map and figured out where I needed to go.  The clerk at the booth was very helpful and assured me that all of the roads I might take would be paved.  Off into the rain I went again!  Heading southwest on #29 toward Unity.

It was beautiful country!  Again I was seeing a Saskatchewan that I didn't know existed: rolling hills, lakes and even the odd turn.  Despite the rain I had to stop and take a picture here - cause it had all three!!  But things were to get ugly soon!

I had the GPS set on "shortest distance" and I now know that I should have left it in the tank bag,,, it told me to turn left onto #787 (TWSP RD 422) so I did - it was paved.  20km in it turned into a muddy gravel slop.

The next 19km were the worst 19km I have ever road on a motorcycle.  The road was as slick as KY Jelly and the puddles were scattered in such a way that there was no missing them!  I was never so glad to see pavement in my life.  I turned left on 21 and headed south to Unity.

In Unity I stopped at the gas station, filled up the tank and consulted my map again.  As I was doing so the woman writing down licence plate numbers (as a result of the number of drive-aways) came to chat.  I told her where I was trying to go and how I got here and how I was going to zig and zag my way down to Acme and she said, "Sometimes when you've made a mistake its better to take the direct route to make it right..."

There are many layers to that good advice!  Based on this I followed her recommendation and headed straight south to Kindersly on #21 passing through Kerrobert along the way.  Just past Kerrobert there were flaggers on the road.  The road was flooded!  I guess there were torrential rainfalls in the area the night before.  By this time the sun is out and I am baking inside my gear.  Fifteen minutes later we are underway and I drive through the twelve inches of water that covers the road.

Arriving in Kindersley I was famished!  It has been a long time since that slice of toast with Neil and Linda!  Chinese Food!  I had a craving!  Through the streets of Kindersley and I arrive at the Silver Dragon.  I order and shed a layer of clothes and tuck into the first course (sorry no picture I was too hungry): an egg roll cooked only as they do in some western chinese restaurants!  The egg roll is dipped in batter and refried!  No cholesterol there!!  This was followed by more food then I could eat.  Not the best I have had - but filled the hole in my belly just the same!

Leaving Kindersley I was finally heading in the direction I should have been at 9am this morning: west!  What should have been a two hour, 200km ride to Kindersley had turned into a 365km adventure of four and a half hours!  It was good to be on the right road - and I was kind of glad it was a straight as an arrow and I could pick up the pace!

Red is the route I travelled.  Purple is the way I should have gone!!

The welcome to Alberta sign never looked so good!  Passing Cereal I could see storm cells int he distance and debated stopping and putting on the rain gear... that would take time.  I can ride through it I thought.  And i did.  Passing a poor Harley rider who was struggling to get his jacket out of a saddle bag as the rain beat down on his tattooed arms which poked through is very cool looking vest!!

I gassed up again at the Service Centre located at the junction of the #9 and #36 and with Hanna in my sights I was getting close!  As the #9 ended and turned into the #27, I came onto the 582 (Range Road 312 I think), just south of Three Hills, I made my second mistake of the day.  As above, let me give you the list of excuses first:

  • I was a little saddle sore.
  • I wanted to get to my destination.
  • I wasn't paying attention to my instruments.
  • I was focused on the storm cell that was sitting directly over the place I wanted to go.
I didn't offer any of these as Officer Erickson asked me if I knew how fast I was going as I topped the hill...  I was caught dead to rights and I knew it.  I confessed that I did not know how fast I was going.  He informed me that I was doing 134 km/h as I topped the hill and that was a $219 fine.  He then asked me where I was going.  I told him I was on my way across the country but I would be staying with Jerry Wittstock for a few days before heading onward.  Officer Erickson asked me if I thought I could slow it down and I readily assured him that I could.  With that he said, "Carry on then."

This was grace.  In no way did I deserve this act of leniency.  He had me cold.  I can only say thank you and you are a credit to your uniform.  When I arrived at Jerry and Barb's, Jerry told me a little bit more about the situation with the County Officers and also informed me that Officer Erickson was recently given the Award of Excellence from the Alberta Association of Community Peace Officers.


Please note: I in no way used Jerry's name thinking it would get me off.  I simply told the truth of where I was heading.  It was only as I drove into the storm cell over Acme to Barb and Jerry's home that I realized he might have thought I was dropping names.  I wasn't.  But I did have to call Doug Price and pull his chain later that night!!

I safely negotiated that stretch of gravel road that leads to the Wittstock's and found shelter from the raging thunderstorm with Barb and Jerry and Emilia.  The difficult part of the day was done!

After a coffee and a shower I was feeling human again - and Jerry put a beer in my hand as we put meat on the BBQ and sat down to catch up... and truth be told there wasn't a whole lot new to catch up on... after all they had just left our place a month earlier and I was here the month before that!! But it was great to connect again and I look forward to the next couple of days as I do some maintenance on the bike and maybe connect with a few others in the area.

By 10:30 I was nodding off on the sofa and woke up enough to find my way to bed.

Tomorrow is a new day... on the Sabbath Road...

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