Day 4 - July 4th Tuesday
Distance travelled for the day - 703 km
Total distance for trip - 2858 km
Route - Winnipeg - Moose Jaw
Shadows lengthen; the sunlight fades from cloud to cloud, kindling their torn edges as it dies from softness to softness down the prairie sky. A lone farmhouse window briefly blazes; the prairie bathes in mellower, yellower light, and the sinking sun becomes a low and golden glowing on the prairie's edge (p. 61).
Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell
Who Has Seen the Wind is a Canadian classic. First published in 1947, it is a story about a boy growing up in a small town on the Saskatchewan prairie during the 1930's. It was part of the inspiration for this trip.
Wednesday I got off to a late start. I had some work to do in the morning and some conference calls. I also had to wait for the rain to stop. Winnipeg was experiencing a thunderstorm with rain pouring down and some flashes of lightening. Not good weather for a motorcycle.
Around noon the skies cleared and I took advantage of the reprieve. They were calling for more thundershowers in the afternoon. It was time to get out of Dodge while the getting was good.
It took a lot longer to get out of Winnipeg than expected as I spent almost an hour in traffic. When I finally hit the road the prairie was in front of me. Big blue skies, fields stretching for miles, the open road and the wind.
And all about him was the wind now, a pervasive sighing trough great emptiness, as though the prairie itself was breathing in long gusting breaths, unhampered by the buildings of town, warm and living against his face and in his hair. (p.13)
The prairie met all my expectations and more except that I think Manitoba is flatter than Saskatchewan. I had imagined endless wheat fields in Saskatchewan but it's much more diverse.
I rode the Trans Canada Hwy west for about 330km to the Saskatchewan border.
High above the prairie platter-flat the wind wings on bereft and wild its lonely song. It ridges drifts and licks their ripples off; it smoothens crests, piles snow against the fences. A meadow lark sings and it is spring. And summer comes. A year is done. Another comes and it is done. Where spindling poplars lift their dusty leaves and wild sunflowers stare, the gravestones stand among the prairie grasses. Over them a rapt and endless silence lies. This soil is rich. (p. 300)
From the border I rode straight on through to Indian Head where I stopped for gas. It was a fortuitous stop because the fella working behind the counter, Robert, offered some advice. He was a motorcycle rider and at one point had 20 cars and 4 motorcycles, that is until his wife got it all in the divorce. He was a colourful character.
- That there was road work ahead near Regina and they were enforcing speed limits with cameras and huge fines. Apparently the government had already collected $8 million in fines since the work began.
- If I wanted to see the scenic route I should take the next exit
- To prevent a wind wobble on my bike when passing big trucks I should take a wider berth around them
I took Robert's advice and took the scenic route. As it happens, this was the route that Bruce from Kenora told me about and I was pleased with the result. This is a little piece of heaven tucked away off the highway. With it's proximity to Moose Jaw it would make for a very nice summer vacation spot.
Photo of the lake and valley.
The sun was setting and another leg of my journey ended in Moose Jaw. I stayed at the Temple Gardens Hotel & Spa. Where the young woman at the front desk gave me a discount because of the late check-in. It's located in the historic downtown area of Moose Jaw. And offers Canada's largest therapeutic geothermal mineral water pool. "The naturally warm waters in this indoor/outdoor rooftop pool are pure relaxation for weary muscles and sore joints." (From the hotel website) "Named one of the world's Top 10 Spas for Mineral Springs."
What a better way to recover from the 1000's of km I had travelled over the past 4 days than to sit in a gigantic Epsom salt pool and enjoy the night sky. I slept very well.