Canada 2013

Day 03

June 17

Since there was nothing around for supper, I don't figure there will be anything around for breakfast. I reckon I'll find something on down the line, but I just don't realize how long that line is gonna be today. So I'm up early as usual and bid a fond adieu to Kenmare and head for the Canadian border.  
I pass a picture perfect homestead with the windmill steady at work. If they have dairy cows, I'm sure they've been up and at it a long time before I left the motel. 
Now here's a place I'd like to sit for a while with a fishing pole in hand just to see what I could catch. 
One thing is for sure, it don't get no more straighter or lonelier than this. But straight and lonely ain't always a bad thing.  
I can't help but laugh as these are the kind of cows you sure don't have to milk.  
It's less than 50 miles to the border, so I fortunately beat most of the folks. Plus this crossing is not exactly in the middle of a teeming metropolis either. 
After answering the usual questions about guns and such, they wave me on through and I now am in the 'Birthplace of Medicare' - Saskatchewan. 
For the most part, this is flat as a pancake farming land that stretches as far as I can see. But then ... 
I come upon this eerie landscape. I'm noodling in my head why all of a sudden the drastic change from orderly, pleasantly plowed farmland to what looks like some mad giant's sandbox with dirt scattered everywhere. 
But then the unpleasant answer comes to me a little piece down the road. These are your classic stripper dumps where they pull back the soil to get at the minerals beneath. I've seen some operations where they actually put the parcel back close to what it was before they started. Obviously this one doesn't subscribe to that as I see acre after acre of tortured and twisted land. 
Mining and doing right don't have to be mutually exclusive but too often they are - usually fueled by greed. Thankfully I leave that scene behind for one that is much more pleasant to the eye. It is interesting to travel this area as these appear to be really shallow lakes. And it is easy to see the transition from a haven for fish and wildlife ... 
to a slowly evaporating resource ... 
to a bog in its final stage. 
The large grain elevators are scattered along the road, standing watch by the railroad. Out here, it appears that the railroad plays a much bigger part of the transportation scene than back home.  
As I continue to battle a fierce crosswind, I really understand why trees are planted around a homestead. With no hills or natural forest to brunt the wind's force, you have to come up something to provide a little relief. I can only imagine just how cold the winds must be in the dead of winter in these parts. 
I look up ahead and it don't look like a promising prospect for keeping dry.  
Every now and then you see an old elevator built out of wood instead of the modern steel. I have to imagine that the construction of this structure was quite a challenge but it seems to have held up pretty well.  
So far there have been no prospects for anything that even looks close to breakfast. Since I'm getting close to needing fuel, I pull into the first fuel station I find in Moose Jaw. 

This happens to be a full-service place, but I pump my own gas out of habit. The attendant comes out and says -

"You want me to clean your windshield?"

With two days of bug guts and other nasty matter stuck to it, I figure I'd better pass. If it's done wrong, I could end up with a windshield full of scratches.

"I appreciate the offer, but I think I'll pass" I tell him.

"Where you from?" he asks.

"Well, I left Nashville Tennessee Saturday morning and I'm headed for Alaska then out to Victoria."

"Man, you're making some good time, I'd say" he adds as I follow him into the store to settle up. This place reminds me a lot of one of the service stations I worked at as a kid. But this one is replete with puppy dogs which always bring a smile to my face. This one wants me to buy him some Dr. Pepper but I tell him he's a bit too young for such a strong libation. He decides that he will seek attention else where since he feels he is digging in such a dry hole.


Blackie here wants to play ball sort of, but he keeps bringing me the ball then taking it away.

I love dogs cause they will love you when nobody else will. But the stomach is reminding just how long down the line has been, so I ask the gentleman who took my money -

"Anywhere around here to get a good breakfast?"

"Oh yeah. Just straight up the road. Smittys is good" and then he reels off some more places. I figure top of mind is good enough for me, so I thank him and head on a quest for Smittys.

Moose Jaw is not exactly a big place, so I am about out of town before I notice the Smittys sign off to my left. This will be my first dance with Smittys - but not my last. 
I order my usual - an omelet of some form of pig meat and cheese and some hot chocolate. I had no idea there were going to bring me out a washtub full of it. 
While I'm enjoying that, they hustle up the main course and it looks mighty tasty. 
But as I turn my head to look around, what is on the plate somehow mysteriously evaporates before my very eyes. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it ... 
With enough grub to keep Mr. Stomach quiet for a while, I settle up and get back out on the road. I notice this very nice barn and small silos. I don't figure they give those structures away for free.  
Although the sky does not look promising, I just ride on without putting on my raingear. As flat as it is out here, I should see the rain a long time before I run into it. I've also learned to watch the oncoming traffic to see if they are using their windshield wipers. That's a pretty good indication of what they just came out of.  
As I pass these lakes, I remember this is the same road Alain and I traveled last year, but in the opposite direction. This was the way Dave, my GPS said go while Mary, his Garmin GPS said go the other way.  
This old barn looks like it could use a roof job, as well as the other outbuildings surrounding it. It won't stand long unless that bit of business is tended to. It's a lot like our lives - taking no action about our problems don't make things better only worse. But I reckon you make do as best you can until you can do better. 
Off to my left, it doesn't look too good. When the clouds start trailing down to the ground like this, it usually means some pretty nasty stuff.  
But thankfully the front doesn't seem to be moving so I just keep on moving and enjoying the scenery. 

Soon it's time for fuel for Frost and fuel for me, so we pull off and tend to business. It's populated enough in this area where fuel stops don't have to be so closely considered. But that will be changing for sure in a day or two. The lady inside asks me as so many before her -

"Where you headed?"

"Oh, up to Alaska I reckon then out to Victoria" I reply. I figure I'll have this line down pretty well at the rate it's going.

"Alaska, wow. I've always wanted to go there" she says.

"Well, don't wait too late. Set a date and get after it" I advise her.

I figured out a long time ago that most folks just want and don't do. There may come a day when I can no longer ride, but I won't be sitting at the house wanting and wishing I had ridden places.

Mostly out here is just nice highway occasionally punctuated by small towns. I reckon that fancy bridge off to the left must be where the original highway ran before the four lane was put in. 
And I can't help but wonder what stories this old house could tell if it could speak in a language I could understand. 
As I pass this lake, I can't really tell just how deep it is with the fence posts sticking up. There seem to be a lot of this where the lake stretches on and on but not deep enough water for a feller to take a serious swim.  
I pass another all wooden grain elevator but this one is well painted. I bet it took many, many days on ladders for that little project.  
As flat as this field is, I imagine a feller could easily fall asleep while plowing. Outside of your rows being crooked, there wouldn't be much else damage from the nap. 
This just seems to be a big area for very shallow lakes. I guess you could call them 'fence post' lakes since so many of them have fence posts sticking out of them. 
As I get into Lloydminster, I notice the city hall has a status of Hope in front of it. That's a real nice thought but most efforts of governments these days offer little in the way of hope for the individual. All the average man gets is plenty of change, but not much hope and not many dollars. 
When I get near my motel for the evening, it seems the city has decided to give me a free obstacle course to negotiate. I have to a couple of back and forths before I find a way into the motel. 
It's another little mom and pop - the Cedar Inn Motel - but it is nice enough. It seems the owners live next door which could be both good and bad for them. I quickly get Frost unloaded and tucked in for the evening. Now it's time for my walk and supper investigation.  
After doing most of my walking, I finally find a place that looks like it might work. It's not too busy but hopefully it will be okay. I order soup and a sandwich and hope for the best. As it turns out, the homemade tomato soup is more like orange water with some noodles thrown in. I finally get my server to bring me enough crackers to give it some body. The ham and cheese sandwich is also interesting. The bread is thick enough but I believe I could read the evening paper through the one slice of ham. And the cheese is nothing to write home to momma about either. But it fills an empty spot and the price is at least reasonable. It doesn't take long to dispatch my meager fare, and I settle up quickly and head back to my room. Tomorrow will put me at Dawson Creek, the start of the ALCAN highway so I pillow my head and drift in to the land that we all seek at night.