Monday 30 September 2019


I'm feeling much better so we're on the road again. Driving was pretty dicey between Assiniboia and Regina. There's not a lot of snow but the roads are icy. Looks nice but...just outside Regina we passed no less than a dozen vehicles off the road into the median. Some were still there, some had been removed but all left telltale tracks in the snow. As you can see I only clean what is absolutely necessary from the vehicle.
As the morning warmed up a couple of degrees I paid for that as huge amounts of snow blew against the windshield and cascaded down from the roof. Finally Karen had had enough and cleared it herself.
We're staying in Moosomin, a small town about 20 kilometres from the Manitoba border. That's one more thing I love about road trips - discovering places you never knew existed. As we approached the town, sure enough, a moose ran alongside the Subaru for about 5 minutes.
I'm always happy to arrive at our "home" for the night. It's a refreshing new adventure every day.

Sunday 29 September 2019


Just a short posting today. By the time we were set to leave I felt absolutely horrible. After trying all the things that should have worked we decided to go to the hospital because it's a small one and we knew we wouldn't have to wait around. We were the only ones there so were seen right away. Bottom line, they flushed me out and sent me on my way. It was close to 2PM so we decided to stay here an extra night.
It's just as well. This is the first day we haven't either driven or toured somewhere so I guess the rest is good for us. The weather was also very bad for driving. We are just on the edge of the horrific prairie storms. Today it went from this... this.
Better luck tomorrow.

Saturday 28 September 2019


It was punishing cold today. Temperature around 1 degree but a wind so cold it brought that down to minus 15. It's only been fall for a week!
Castle Butte is in the Saskatchewan Badlands. Many say it is difficult to find and if you didn't know what you were looking for that would be true. It's on a private ranch but you have to ignore all those warnings and forge onward.
What it is didn't concern me as much as the fact that it was here at all. I must say the Saskatchewan landscape has been the biggest surprise to me. It sure isn't all flat fields of wheat folks.
I felt like I was circling Canada's answer to Devils Tower as we made our way around to the back side. As I recall we darn near froze when we were at the Tower with the kids in the early nineties.
This side is riddled with little caves. We entered one as far as we could which was not far at all. We had no idea what to expect but nothing came charging out at us so we were good.
St. Victor has petroglyphs which we saw but were unable to take full advantage due to the weather. As if it wasn't cold enough the glyphs were high up on a butte ridge. The wind actually shook the car.
GPS is a marvelous invention and can be very useful. However, there are areas that are not mapped and they become quite useless evidenced by this view as we left the petroglyphs in St. Victor.
Well my beloved Subaru can no longer be referred to as new. We took a stone hit when we got off the gravel road onto a PAVED road. Not just a little stone chip - this is an eight inch crack with a bullet hole in the middle. Hope the windshield lasts until we get home. It will need to be replaced.

Friday 27 September 2019


We had a wonderful time in Grasslands National Park so it was with some sadness we left this morning. It was a relatively short drive north through rolling hills in the rain...
...being watched all the way.
We stopped to see the Plesiosaur in Ponteix. Will the Subaru be eaten or will it survive to see another day?
We are now in Assiniboia for two nights. A nice hotel in a small Saskatchewan town. Stay with us.

Thursday 26 September 2019


I have a real thing about signs and notices. I find they are totally inadequate if not entirely missing or provide useless information. Here's an example...this is on a flyer aid in our room, something that anyone over four years old would know - but funny.
I guess I can't take any rattlesnakes or bison home with me.
West and East Grasslands National Park are separated by 150 kilometres of land that is not part of either park. That made for a long day. It rained all day (until we returned of course) but was a good drive. One wrong turn took us past an access road. Enroute we came across a herd of pronghorn antelope. That's why I didn't make the turn - that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
The Badlands Parkway is a one lane road with two way traffic. Probably a nightmare in July and August - not a problem today. We didn't see anyone travelling in either direction.
The Badlands are unquestionably what distinguishes East Grasslands from West. Even in the pouring rain it was a bit of an awesome sight. This is Saskatchewan?
On our return journey something darted across the highway. I quickly backed up (no one on the road) because I never turn down the opportunity to see the local wildlife. Sure enough, there he was, as if he was waiting for me. Wyl ie sat watching us the roadrunner got away.

Wednesday 25 September 2019


There's something about a sunrise that gets my attention - even more than a sunset. I guess it's the promise of a wonderful day to come.
There is a labyrinth on the property where we're staying. A place of solace, reflection and meditation. It was very difficult not to think of Ruth as we walked it this morning.
It was cool (about 8 degrees) and windy but in a lot of ways a perfect day for a nice hike. This is not the most comforting thing to see as you start your trek.
This was certainly not what I pictured Saskatchewan to be like. These are mountains around here. A 100 metre rise over about a kilometre - not extreme but certainly more work than driving. It was very reminiscent of a hike we took with our friend Dave in Arizona in 2012. The Go John Trail was much like this - well except for the cacti.
It was incredibly windy at the top. I found myself desperately looking for something to hang onto - PS, there is nothing.
On the return trip we had some welcome visitors. They were quite close so we waited for them to cross the path before proceeding. Don't want to get between mama and the kids.
Our home away from home at Grasslands is a loft suite above the double car garage. Unbelievably peaceful and quiet - except for that constant, howling wind. Seems rather gothic at times. Werewolves of London anyone?

Tuesday 24 September 2019


The weather looked iffy so we decided the Ecotour Scenic Drive through the park would be a good option for the day. About 5 hours of driving which included several short hikes made for a very enjoyable day. Lucky we selected this option because our voyage was cut short by a horrific storm. I would have bet any amount that a tornado would have developed.
We started by gassing up in Val Marie. Made me feel like I was in Tuktoyaktuk again.
On the way to the park we came across several abandoned homesteads. Sadly, an all too common sight in Saskatchewan.
There is far more variety in the Saskatchewan landscape than I ever imagined.
Once in the park it paid to pay attention. This is usually the sort of shot I would Photoshop but I didn't need to. It really was there - near the sign!
There are numerous signs warning you are entering an area of high wildlife collisions. That is a little misleading. Perhaps it should say a high rodent squashing area. There are thousands of these guys along the fringe of the roadway, all popping out to have a look as you pass by.
Our final stop provided a bit of entertainment - memories of our days out west with the boys in 2002. Oddly enough we have not gotten any better at this in the ensuing 17 years.
Shortly after that the weather changed dramatically as we had been warned might happen. The sky got black, bolt lightning all around and vicious gale force winds. With thoughts of flash floods and tornados the closure of the road we were on made it easy for us to decide perhaps we'd better head back.

Monday 23 September 2019


We didn't get out of Moose Jaw 'til around noon - hence the lateness of this posting. We stopped for awhile to watch the barnstorming insanity of the 15 wing air force pilots. 90 degree landings, touch and go, we can only hope our commercial airline pilots are this good.
The topography changed on today's drive. It didn't get flatter, as a matter of fact it was actually a bit hilly in some spots, but the view seemed to get even wider. Less trees, more sky, quite pretty.
Apparently construction is a curse everywhere - but here? Really? Is that light necessary? I mean I can see all the way to Montana from here!
We are at The Crossing at Grasslands now in Grassland National Park, very close to the US border. It's a beautiful spot - our own loft suite. We have a BBQ so I'm good for just about anything.
We'll be here until Friday. This is the farthest west we are going on this trip and is actually our "destination" if you will. From this point we head back east.

Sunday 22 September 2019


Today was a lot of walking but an enjoyable experience. Someone suggested we hadn't walked a great deal so I said let's walk downtown. Very nice but about 12 kilometres round trip. Moose Jaw has an historical downtown area that is very picturesque. Many vintage buildings like this police station. Do the production people at Murdoch Mysteries know about this?
Also of note are numerous murals painted and sculpted throughout the downtown area. There are in excess of 50 so this is a tiny sample.
Tomorrow we head south just about to the US Border to Grasslands National Park. Overcast and rainy weather is forecast for our visit there - not good because it is a dark reserve for viewing the night sky.

Saturday 21 September 2019


We chose to stay in Moose Jaw for four nights because we knew Regina was close enough for a visit on one of the days. It's only 80 kilometres away - less than a trip to Toronto from our house. Our mission there was to see the RCMP Heritage Centre. A thorough history of the force from its NWMP beginnings to present. The Training Centre known as The Depot is a six month intensive session - not everyone who starts finishes. When I was 18 that is what I wanted to do but in those days they had this silly rule that you had to be able to see without the aid of corrective lenses. My early onset of myopia put a quick stop to that career path.
It was kind of on the way back to Moose Jaw, a mere 70 kilometre detour, to visit Rouleau, known better to all of us as Dog River.
Home of the beloved Canadian sitcom Corner Gas, the set has long been dismantled but there are vestiges of the glory days evident all through town.
The town is a lot larger than we were led to believe on TV and many of the buildings on the show were not sets but actual buildings. They have maintained the fictional names on some but all have plaques crediting their Dog River personas.

Friday 20 September 2019


Despite being a small city (150,000) Moose Jaw is quite fascinating. The Tunnel Tours are a major attraction and rightly so. We took both of them. The city has many tunnels beneath used in Prohibition by numerous rumrunners and even Al Capone according to many and early Chinese immigrants. Many lived underground 24/7 for many years. The sets are amazing and the tunnels are real.
A picnic lunch in a nearby city park was quite nice on this glorious day - the end of summer.
Moose Jaw is home to the Snowbirds stationed at 15 Wing Canadian Air Force Base. It may have been them we saw practising insane 90 degree straight down landings. Surprisingly there is not a museum or display onsite save a few classic aircraft.
The area immediately adjacent to the base is quite pretty in its own right.
You can't visit Moose Jaw and not have your photo taken with Mac the Moose. He is missing his antlers because Norway has a bigger moose and Canada will not stand for that. Mac is destined for a huge rack to take the lead once again.