Saskatchewan

Big News! – August 3, 2006

(For those reading this for the first time, you might want to look at “About” before continuing)

Well, I have some little things to tell you and then some BIG NEWS that I’ll leave to later in this note!

Hungarian Puli

Hungarian Puli

We are still scuttling across the country at a pretty fast rate and are now in Saskatchewan! I almost didn’t make it out of Ontario because the Lady needed to stop at a rest stop (and not to rest) and while she was busy the Man befriended a most incredible dog (he thought) called a Hungarian Puli. It was about 3 feet (.9 metre) high and covered with thick black/brown dreadlocks that covered his whole body and hung right to the ground. The Man had arranged a trade for ME and actually had the dog in the car when the Lady came, rescued me and dumped the dog! Whew! It was a chilly hour or two after that but sweet sheep that I am, I forgave him, after all he is only a human being.

The continuation of our return trip can be pretty well summed up in a paragraph.

007-Storm Clouds (03)_watermarked

Storm Clouds

From the remnants of the Canadian Shield with granite and limestone outcroppings, spruce and birch forests down into the flat, flat prairie terrain of Manitoba. Skirting around the northeast corner of Winnipeg to head north through more flat grasslands with fields of golden wheat, electric yellow canola, armies of sunflowers, green alfalfa, combines, balers, swathers and harrowers. Running up the east side of Lake Manitoba, squeezing through The Narrows near Reykjavik (Manitoba, not Iceland) and landing in Ste. Rose du Lac for the night with it’s replica of the Shrine of Lourdes and it’s claim to fame of being the Beef Capital of Manitoba. The next day rolling westward through more farmland but now with hills and groves of birch, poplar and spruce thrown in. Crossing into Saskatchewan near Roblin and on through Yorkton, Foam Lake, Kandahar (Saskatchewan, not Afghanistan), Melfort, Prince Albert, Spiritwood and finally . . . my birthplace Chitek Lake and home of Herman, the Maker of Socks and his Lady of Chitek Lake, Ruth.

Cows

Cows

It was good we finally arrived somewhere because that Man was getting quite nauseating about his new passion – cows. He kept going on and on about how contented and happy they looked. I can’t see what he sees in them myself. We kept having to slow down and gawk at groups of cud chewing beasts huddling around in small groups in the sweltering, muggy heat. The Man stopped to take ANOTHER picture of a cow and while he was doing that I went over to a group to give them some wise blessèd sheep advice. I told them that in hot weather they should stand at least one metre apart, not almost on top of each other, because it would be a lot cooler that way. They just continued standing there, chewing and burping and chewing with blank looks – I don’t think they’re contented, I think they’re oblivious. A bunch of sweaty, fly covered, prickly, over-heated walking leather suitcases.

Chitek Lake Barn

Chitek Lake Barn

We made a very hasty drive to Chitek Lake because the Man made the mistake of letting me hear we were heading that way. Even with a sock in my mouth and being stuffed in the trunk he could hear my baaing with excitement. We arrived yesterday afternoon and THEN IT HAPPENED . . .

The Lady of Chitek Lake knew I was coming so thought it might be nice if I had someone of my own ilk to spend time with while I was here. So . . . she invited Jake to dinner on the night of our arrival.

Jake and Miss Ewe

Jake and Miss Ewe

It was LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT for the both of us (I’m sure he feels the same way). Jake is a fine looking sheep who has just finished his apprenticeship at Shepherd School. You will notice that he is wearing a sheep sheath that kinda looks like a dress (BUT IT’S NOT!). This is because he has just been sheared and he is feeling a little self-conscious. I must say it makes ME feel a little under dressed but it hasn’t interfered with our relationship and I do still have all of my woollies. We have spent the day together and things are developing quickly. Jake feels he would like to see the West Coast so it has been decided that he will come with us. Naturally, I will stay in the back seat and he will stay in the front seat. We don’t know what the future holds but I did tell him the story of the Man’s grandmother who met her future husband at a party, three days later got engaged, one month later got married and immediately sailed to Costa Rica to live. Jake started twitching a bit when he heard that story so I changed the subject and mentioned how I always wanted a hamster farm but needed someone who could shepherd them – that perked him up.

Tomorrow we’re back on the road though we’re not too sure of our route. The Lady and the Lady of Chitek Lake are out playing bingo tonight so we may be penniless by tomorrow and not going anywhere.

Chitek Lake

Chitek Lake

While Jake and I spent time together today the Man and the Lady went kayaking on the lake. It is a very beautiful spot here – lots of forests and small lakes. The community of Chitek Lake is quite small most of the year but the population swells during the summer with lots of cottages and a large campground.

Chitek Lake Sunset

Chitek Lake Sunset

We have been having thunderstorms for the last three or four days, spreading from Saskatchewan through into Manitoba and Ontario. The weather is a little cooler here (apparently there was actually frost a little south of us last night) and we’re glad we missed the sweltering heat that they have been having in Ontario.

Oops . . . Jake seems to be dozing off so I’ll get back to you soon.

Til later,

Miss Ewe

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Musing in Manitoba – June 5, 2006

Hi there – a new province and a new time zone – two hours ahead of BC!

Last night after I sent my email from Assiniboia the Lady got a phone call from their friend Glen who lives in Ladner, BC with his wife Shirlee.  Glen had just received my email and had to phone and tell the Lady that Shirlee had just arrived in Assiniboia to visit with her mother.  This morning the Lady and Man went to the care facility where Shirlee’s mom is living and there was Shirlee standing at the main desk.  Quite a surprise for her!

After a bit of a visit we headed southeast to the Big Muddy Badlands. The weather was a bit cloudy today but warm, 23º C.  The radio was giving out severe thunderstorm warnings for the afternoon and evening which made the Lady and I nervous but guess who was chomping at the bit to be in the middle of it all.  He is definitely wired differently!

43-Towards Big Muddy

44-Towards Big Muddy

The Badlands turned out to be a little smaller than the Man thought but still, while they lasted, worth the drive.  The surrounding landscape is a series of high, eroded sandstone mesas and buttes with lush, green rangeland (yum, yum) running between them.  The area has a strong history being the onetime hideout for the Butch Cassidy Gang and the refuge that Sitting Bull and his followers fled to after defeating Custer.  The Man did MISS ONE TURN-OFF which may be the reason the tour was less than expected.

 

 

 

45-Towards Big Muddy

 

49-Antelope

Antelope

We continued travelling east through a real mix of countryside, all of it beautiful.  After the Badlands there were rolling hills and again large ranches of grazing land.  Lots of green grasses, wild sage and wildflowers.  Later in the day the rolling hills continued but now covered with groves of elm and cottonwood trees.  We crossed the border into Manitoba and noticed quite a change in the appearance of the towns and ranches (and roads!) that we saw.  Seems like there is more concern for outward appearances here.  

 

51-Last Stand

Last Stand

 

We are now staying in the small town of Boissevain.  Tomorrow we may go explore Turtle Mountain to the south of us and perhaps go kayaking again!  I’ll let you know how it goes – guess I’ll need to find a large patch of grass to munch before jumping in the kayak.

Til later,

Miss Ewe

p.s.

Safety First

A Miss Ewe Safety Tip for the Kids:

I recently received an email from some of the Man and Lady’s grandkids expressing concern that though the Lady was wearing a life jacket in the kayaking photo, I wasn’t.  There is a reason for this.  As you may have noticed, I am kind of small and finding clothes and lifejackets can be a real problem for me (other than my socks and woollies).  So . . . we herbivores (eaters of grass and shrubs) have a little trick we use when boating.  If we eat lots and lots of grass quickly we fill up with gas and get what is called Bloat.  As I mentioned in my note, just before we went kayaking I had been sampling all the new grasses up in the Cypress Hills and I had worked up a good bloat.  The Man said I looked more inflated than the kayak and if I fell in the water I’d look like a fuzzy iceberg. I  knew I was unsinkable and in perfect condition for my kayak ride.  But remember, this trick only works for herbivores (and some vegetarians) so you humans ALWAYS need to wear a life jacket!

 

Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Manitoba, Saskatchewan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grasslands – June 4, 2006

11-Socks

Yeeeaaaah, the Lady and I got new socks!

Hi everyone, finally found Internet access tonight – the Man’s travel plan has taken us to some pretty barren places but here we are tonight.

We had a good time with the Man and Lady’s friends, Ruth and Herman.  Ruth is the Lady’s oldest friend – she’s 106 (baaa, baaa – just kidding).  They have known each other since they were both two years old – many, many, many years ago.  We spent most of the morning in Swift Current, Saskatchewan and then parted ways.

We headed south again hoping to go through Grasslands National Park.  We stopped at Neville where the Lady’s father lived from age 0 to 7 years old.  Main Street had a closed store and gas station, Post Office and museum.  There were about eight streets and we drove around town about six times looking for the cemetery.  We only saw two children the entire time who ran between two houses when they saw us – it was like a ghost town.  We never did find the cemetery and continued our trip south.  We ended up in the small town of Val Marie, another town with one street and many stores closed up and for sale.

We stayed at the Convent B&B, a restored convent/school that was built in 1939.  It was a lovely brick building with lots of oak flooring and woodwork. White duvet covers on the bed and a very quiet room.  We slept well but I woke up early to the sound of a thousand birds chirping – warblers, cowbirds, meadow larks, starlings, and red winged blackbirds.  Then a cow started mooing so I started baaing out the window at them until I woke up the Man and he stuffed my new socks in my mouth.  We had a good breakfast then headed southeast to Grasslands National Park.

Grasslands is a hot, dry area of buttes, mesa and rolling hills.  It can get up to 104º F (40º C) with less than thirteen inches of rain a year.  There are cactus, black widow spiders and rattlesnakes!  The Lady and I REALLY didn’t want to see a rattlesnake but the Man, like a fly to garbage, was dying to see one. Whewww, no snakes in sight.  The area has the only colony of black tailed prairie dogs in Canada and they were great to watch.  In the past couple of months the Canadian government released a herd of buffalo that are deemed to be genetically pure to the original herds that once roamed this same area.  The original herd had been reduced to about twenty-seven buffalo by the late 1800’s but it’s hoped they will now flourish in the park. Unfortunately we didn’t see any but we did see antelope, a burrowing owl and lots of dreaded coyotes.  An unusual, beautiful area though not quite as appealing as Cypress Hills.

We drove a 100 mile (160 km) loop and ended back at Val Marie.  From there we headed east.  The Man has to concentrate when driving because the Richardson Ground Squirrels (a small gopher) gather by the side of the road to test their courage.  When they see the car coming they dash out and stand in the middle of the lane and let the car wheels drive on either side of them.  We were told today that the cowboys here try to hit them – glad I’m not flocking around here.

One problem we found in the Man’s route was that, even though very beautiful and interesting, it is sooo quiet (we passed five cars, two tractors and two herds of cows – with cowboys – in all our travels today) that there are no motels and it seems all the gas outlets (not always stations) close on Sundays. We finally had to change our planned route at the last minute today to find a town big enough to have some gas.

We’re now staying in Assiniboia, which actually has one hotel/motel that was even too sleazy for the Man and three other motels.  The one we’re in now looks like a big tin garden shed but it’s new and clean inside.  Not too sure of our route tomorrow, we’re wanting to see the Big Muddy Badlands in the southeast so that may be where we end up.  If so, we may be out of Internet contact for a day or two (the Internet seems to be a bit of a novelty in southern Saskatchewan).

Til later,

Miss Ewe

Categories: Cross Canada Road Trip, Saskatchewan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Cypress Hills – June 2, 2006

Well, the Man was thrilled to bits last night because he got to stay in an almost sleazy motel which is his idea of a fun time!  The supposed high speed Internet was no speed so I wasn’t able to tell you about another great day.

63-Cypress Hills (1)

We headed south from Fort McLeod into the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park.  This is an incredibly beautiful place to visit.  The Cypress Hills are a flat topped 2,500 kilometre square plateau straddling the Alberta/Saskatchewan border.  It rises 4875 feet (1,486 meters) above the surrounding plains making it the highest piece of land from the Rockies to Labrador.  10,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age, the Cypress Hills was an island rising above the sheet of ice below covering all the surrounding landscape.  It is covered with lodge pole pines, cypress, wild flowers, marshes and beautiful lakes.  Wildlife includes the dreaded coyote, elk, antelope, cougar and pelican (we only saw one antelope, one pelican and two coyotes but plenty of cows).  Lots of evidence of glacial action with interesting rock formations and erratic rocks left behind when the glaciers melted. 

Cypress Hills is also the site of the Cypress Hills Massacre in 1873 that left 30 Lakota Indians and one white man dead as a result of tensions between the Indians and white traders who were illegally selling liquor to them.  The Canadian government felt a police presence was needed and the North West Mounted Police was formed.  A fort was built at Fort Walsh in the Cypress Hills and things eventually settled down.

 

The Man and Lady thought it would be a good place to kayak which concerned me a bit cause I had never done it before and I had a full stomach and no Gravol.  The Man pulled the inflatable kayak out of the car after rearranging EVERYTHING and actually had it set up in about fifteen minutes!  I jumped on the bow and thought I made quite a beautiful figurehead.

 

59-Miss Ewe Kayaking

The Figurehead

 

The lake we paddled is called Reesor Lake and did indeed have one pelican.  We spent two hours going from one end to the other and it was great.

After we packed up we continued on our way through the park on a road that turned to gravel.  We actually crossed into Saskatchewan on a dirt road that was barely two cars wide.

 

75-Grouse

As it was getting late we headed into Maple Creek, Saskatchewan and drove around the town thirty two times contemplating two dingy hotels and three dingier motels.  We finally settled on the Cypress Hills Lodge run by one of the Twisted sisters.  It didn’t look great on the outside but it wasn’t too bad on the inside.  Went to the Chinese restaurant for dinner which again looked not so nice outside but was spotless inside and a very good dinner.

Back to the motel and to sounds of one of our neighbours who sounded like she was in the last stages of consumption.  Fortunately she left her bathroom fan on all night so that we didn’t have to listen to her too much because we could barely hear each other over the noise.  Managed to get some sleep.  The Man and Lady kept pulling out great tufts of wool from my beautiful coat to stuff in their ears.

This morning we went to the other Twisted sister’s cafe for breakfast (a package deal) located in the Continental Hotel located beside the train tracks. Once again, exterior dinginess but the interior was incredible (a pattern here I think).  The hotel was very nicely restored to its 1880’s condition.  The Lady had spotted a Salvation Army Thrift Shop the night before (I think she can smell them in the air) so she went there while the Man and I sweltered in the car.  The temperature for the last three days has been close to 30 degrees Celsius (which is hot in Fahrenheit).  Not so glad about my woollies now. The Lady came back empty handed (whew) and we then went to the Heritage Centre which is in an old two storied brick schoolhouse with twelve classrooms made into twelve themed displays – parlour, train station, school room, etc.  It was there that the Man remembered that this was where his great-grandfather arrived in 1883 on his way to Calgary.  Maple Creek was the end of the line for the railroad and he had to take a wagon up to Calgary to start his medical practice.  He probably stayed at the Continental Hotel.

We drove around town three more times trying to find the way out and then headed northeast. We’re now in Swift Current and I’m very excited because we’re meeting up with the Man and Lady’s friends, Ruth and Herman, the Maker of Socks, who are driving down from up north.  It is Herman who I think made my yellow socks and I’m hoping for another pair!  We’ll spend some time together and then we are going to keep on a southerly route through some badlands and Grasslands National Park.

42-Jet & Sun Dog

 

Til later,

Miss Ewe

Categories: Alberta, Cross Canada Road Trip, Saskatchewan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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