June 24

It has been a few days since the last post. NMBL and I have ridden from Calgary to Regina in that time and are now heading back west. We’re currently hanging at Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park enjoying nice weather and the sound of song birds as we swing in our hammocks beside the Saskatchewan River. It’s a very peaceful place. 

We’re not riding long days. This trip is about being relaxed and fresh each morning plus giving ourselves time in case something unusual happens. This tactic has treated us well. Neither of us is over taxed with a ridiculous amount of riding. We do between 300 and 400 km a day giving ourselves time to enjoy a good breakfast, have lunch, and get to the next spot with time to set up of the afternoon. Unhurried is the best way to tour. We learned that lesson last year.

The scenery has been wonderful. NMBL has never really traveled the prairies and I haven’t been here since I was a kid. The horizon seems to stretch on forever. You can see storms rolling in from what seems like a hundred kilometers away. We chased one storm coming out of Calgary. It had a bit of a soft spot in the middle and as we crossed its path on a southward bend in the highway we shot right through that lull. It was windy but we got very little rain. Watching the storm tumble across the prairie as we past it by I was struck by how unique this experience is for a west coaster. Storms jump on us unexpectedly while in the flat lands they announce their arrival and let you play tag with them.

We made our way to Maple Creek Saskatchewan where we suffered our first setback. We had planned to stay at Eagle Valley Park Campground. They were a reasonable distance from Calgary plus they have a Tiki Lounge!  We rolled up, grabbed a spot and started to set up. Oh, remember that storm we passed? It came rumbling in behind us. In no time we were trying to set up in extreme wind conditions. In our attempt to get things set up a part of NMBL’s fly broke. As we didn’t have what we needed to fix it, or so we thought, we had to admit defeat that evening. After loading the bikes back up we set off east and arrived, after sunset, in Swift Current. 

Holed up in a dingy little roadside motel for the night, we tended our bruised egos by going over what we needed to get NMBL’s gear back to working condition. What broke on her fly was a plastic piece that held the line to the fly. The fix? A split ring I had on my key chain. Metal is better than pladtic, right? Besides, we were now that much closer to our most easterly destination. Having slept relatively well we rolled on the next morning to Regina for a two night stay.

Being from the coast one might think that the prairies are dull. Not so! We have seen some truly beautiful country and wildlife. There are many small ponds a sloughs by the edge of the highway. One stood out for me in the twilight ride eat of Maple Creek. The water had taken on the steel grey of the sky above yet the dead trees, branches reaching to the sky like skeletal fingers, took the light of the setting sun. The wood looked bone white while the patch work of remaining bark was black as night, creating a ghoulish sight. Prior to that a hawk swooped across the highway in front of me to perch on a fence post. Unfortunately I hadn’t mounted the camera for this stretch of the trip.

There will be pictures up of our lovely ride from Regina to Saskatchewan Landing today. But not of the gull that I damn near clobbered on the highway. The bird decided that the food in its beak was more important than its life. I had to duck to avoid it! NMBL thinks I missed it by centimeters. Stupid bird.

So here I am in my hammock writing this after a beautiful evening watching yellow finches, swallows, robins, and all sorts of other birds by the edge of the South Saskatchewan River. It’s no wonder some people become bird watchers. It’s incredibly relaxing. One camper just up the way from us has hung bird faders in the trees near their site. They have all sorts of feathered visitors. Just before hitting the hammocks we chatted with a young local man named Joe. He’s a Hutterite and doesn’t stray far from the area. He doesn’t have a computer at home but he did say he can get access to one so I gave him one of our blog cards. Joe, if you read this, come on out to B.C. for your once in a lifetime journey. And let us know when you do. We’ll show you around.

The coyotes are howling. Time for bed.

DES out.