A Travellerspoint blog

June 2019

Lethbridge - Sunny Days

Summer in the City, Coulee Brewing

sunny 25 °C
View TaJ 2019 & TaJ 2019 June 27 to Aug 15 & TaJ 2019 - June 13-30 on Rooseboom-Scott's travel map.

We spent June 28 and 29 in Lethbridge, Alberta's 3rd largest city, with a population of about 110,000. Jenny lived her from 1984-86 and again from 1993-95. She says the city has grown considerably since her time here.

We camped at Bridgeview RV Park, which has a beautiful setting along the Old Man River, tarnished by the fact that it lies directly below Highway 3, the main route into the city. The showers are pretty good. However, with Friday night came the filling of the campground, leaving the facilities badly in need of cleaning by Saturday morning. Lots of kids as school is now out for the summer. Truck noise is a bit extreme, but it does quiet down enough that we can sleep undisturbed. Here is TaJ and Sully in our lovely site along the river:

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It was time for an oil change for Sully to complete all of our required maintenance. We got two stone chips repaired, new tires as well. After the oil change was done Jenny and I checked out Coulee Brewing, where we had a sampler. We bought a 6 pack of Nut Brown Ale to enjoy on the road.

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On Saturday we took in the Farmer's Market at the Exhibition Grounds. It was very interesting, with many Hutterite colonies selling their fruits, vegetables and baked goods. While there we came upon the 5th annual Festival Latino:

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We had Tamales for lunch and watched the local Latino population dancing for the crowd:

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After returning to the Bridgeview, we did a 4 kilometer hike from the campground through the Elizabeth Hall Wetlands down to the mile long railway bridge that spans the Old Man River. It was built in 1909 and is just over a mile long! Still in use today.

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We have enjoyed our stay here and are glad to have the maintenance done on Sully. We head on to Creston BC and will spend Canada Day there. Our next blog entry will be from Osoyoos, like on July 3.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 15:17 Archived in Canada Tagged lethbridge coulee_brewing Comments (0)

The road ahead, June 27 to Aug 15

The plan for the next 50 days

sunny 20 °C
View TaJ 2019 & TaJ 2019 June 27 to Aug 15 & TaJ 2019 - June 13-30 on Rooseboom-Scott's travel map.

It is Thursday, June 27, 2019. It has been rainy much of the day and Jenny and I have gotten the laundry up-to-date, downloaded our GPS watches and had a bit of a shopping trip around Lethbridge. We have been searching for a copy of Season 1 of Corner Gas for our Texas travel buddies, George and Karmen Reid. We found it today, one day after we parted company with the Reids! Well we will hold on to it and give it to them on our next go-round.

However, it is now time to turn our attention to the upcoming mid portion of our trip...the 50 days between now, and when we start for home on August.

Here is the map:

We have Camping reservations for much of the Vancouver Island leg of the journey, without them it is difficult to ensure there is a place to stay.

Getting onto and off Vancouver Island, with a trailer in tow can be expensive. Our ferry ride from Vancouver to Victoria on July 18 will cost us about $275. The ferry off, from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert, will be almost $1,500, but that ride north will save us a lot of backtracking and will get us to Northern British Columbia in about 18 hours. If you are ever contemplating taking the ferry on this northern route, you should be aware that a reservation is a must in the summer months. We made ours back in March.

When we get to Manning Park, we will be met by my daughter Danielle and family for 4 days of fun camping before heading back to Danielle's home in Mission, BC, where we will park in her driveway for a week. We will visit our good friends, Jim and Mary Klimek, and son Eric for 3 days in Deep Cove.

I worked in Victoria for 22 years. I left in 2002 and have many old work friends to visit and get reacquainted with after my long absence in Nova Scotia. I'll also try to catch up with my son Matthew, perhaps to shoot a bit of pool.

One of my favourite work buddies, Lori and Gary Kirk, live out by French Beach Provincial Park and we shall make use of their showers as French Beach has limited facilities. I think we might tip back one or two beverages to the good old days.

We meet up with another travel buddy, Debra Duncan at Cowichan River, and her boyfriend Victor. Debra and Victor will join us on the excursion to the Carmanah/Walbran, a provincial park of giant trees at the very end of the logging roads out past Cowichan Lake. 1000+ year old trees.

We'll pause for a day to say hi to another old work mate, Brian Wallace in Nanaimo before heading north, with Deb and Victor to Prot Hardy where we will camp for 7 nights and explore the very northern tip of Vancouver Island.

We will take that inside passage ferry ride to Prince Rupert on Aug 8. It is a bit like taking a cruise as the ferry follows a similar route, but no overnight stays...18 hours and you are there.

From Prince Rupert we will head to Stewart BC ( and Hyder Alaska) to take in the grizzly bear feeding in a local river. As many as 15 bears at a time in the river as you watch from an enclosed boardwalk above the festivities.

Our last stop on this leg will be Hazelton, where will will rest and begin the serious job of planning the route home.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 17:26 Archived in Canada Tagged the_road_ahead Comments (1)

Grasslands, Cypress Hills, Writing-on-Stone

Petroglyphs, Trailer Repairs, Gravel Roads, argh

rain 14 °C
View TaJ 2019 & TaJ 2019 June 27 to Aug 15 & TaJ 2019 - June 13-30 on Rooseboom-Scott's travel map.

As this blog entry is written, we are in Lethbridge, Alberta, and have traveled 9,500 kilometers since leaving Millville Nova Scotia on May 8, 2019. We are officially at 50 days of travel, or 1/3 of the way through our journey.

June 19

This was a travel day, which turned out to be much longer than we anticipated. It had poured rain overnight and the campground was soggy in the morning. Any place that was not gravelled was pure mud. We worked our way to readiness to depart by 9:30am. It was with reluctance that we said goodbye to Grasslands National Park. Really great stay here, and we would like to return some day.

The way out was 25 kilometers of soggy, muddy gravel road. By the time we hit pavement, TaJ had added 100 pounds of mud. The roads in this part of Saskatchewan are extensively patched, and while not perfect, are at least driveable.

Jenny and I stopped at Wood Mountain, where Sitting Bull and 4000 Sioux warriors and their families fled after the Battle of the Little Big Horn. This provincial park is on the site of the NWMP fort that was established in 1879. Here 25 NWMP kept control of the natives for 4 years, until Sitting Bull returned to the United States.

Our destination for the day was Cypress Hills Park campground at Elkwater, on the Alberta side of this inter-provincial park. As we worked our way west we stopped for supplies then headed for the southern approach to Cypress Hills, only to discover that we were faced with 50 kilometers of gravel road…yikes! We decided, with George and Karmen, to backtrack and head up to the Trans Canada Highway and come into Cypress Hills from the north. It added almost 125 kilometers to our day’s drive and made our arrival a very late 7:30pm. Supper was at 9:00pm and luckily, I had made plans for something simple, Caesar Salad and sautéed shrimp.

Exhausted from the day’s travels, we crashed for the night.

June 20

We had noted that our trailers had suffered a bit of damage from our trip out of Grasslands. TaJ had a hanging sewer pipe (the strapping holding it in place had snapped) and on George and Karmen’s Airstream, gravel had broken the drain for their fresh water tank. Repairs were going to be necessary.

We headed in to Medicine Hat to get parts to repair the damage and to do laundry and get internet time after 6 days in the wilderness. Dropping in on a few breweries would be our reward for being in a city!

We found the best laundromat we have ever used in our travels. The Posh Wash was tremendous, plus it had wi-fi. George and I wandered auto parts stores and I got the stuff I needed to work on repairing TaJ’s broken pipe.

We went to the Medicine Hat Brewing Company for lunch and a beer tasting…this place is very nice.

We headed to the Public Library so I could access wi-fi time to post the last blog. We tried one more brewery in the downtown area…Travois Brewing. Now, since I was the designated driver, I got to have a 4 ounce taster at this last stop. I take my driving seriously.

We got back to Elkwater campground late afternoon and decided to put off the repairs until the following day. The weather was uncooperative to say the least. Cold, and rainy. Here we were, on the cusp of the Summer Solstice, and the high was 10 degrees. It dropped to 3 degrees overnight. On the plus side, not a single bug has marred our travels this year.

June 21

Cold, and damp. I spent 90 minutes under TaJ, securing our sewer pipe on a temporary basis, until we get some decent weather. Poor George, spent almost 4 hours working on his Airstream. He was cold to the bone after his efforts, and it was only a good three finger belt of Bourbon that brought him back to the land of the living.

Jenny and I did a power walk in the late afternoon to work out my kinks from crawling around on the ground for so long, and I did feel better after the walk. It rained the rest of the evening and I put out the awning to cook supper…beef stroganoff over egg noodles. The rest of the night was rain and wind. We were tucked down in the forest, but it was a cold and chilly summer solstice.

June 22

Quite possibly the coldest hook up to travel of this trip. Everything was sopping wet and I was chilled to the bone by the time TaJ and Sully were ready to go. We stopped in Medicine Hat to shop for our stay at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park. It looked like just a 250-kilometer drive, but a washed-out paved road, and our aversion to taking TaJ on gravel, sent us on a 100-kilometer detour before we arrived at this magnificent park.
The campground is set amongst the hoodoos, down on the banks of the Milk River. For the first time on this trip we were in a full campground. It was Saturday and all 54 sites were filled with weekend campers. The park is just 12 kilometers from the US border.

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June 23

We climbed up the trail through the Sandstone cliffs, through the Hoodoos to the visitor centre. Surprise, they have wi-fi out here. Writing-on-Stone has the greatest concentration of rock art in North America, some of it dating back 3,500 years.

Much of the modern era art dates from 1730 onward and the petroglyphs were carved into the sandstone walls of the canyon with deer antlers or bones. We booked the afternoon tour to the back part of the property, which can only be accessed with a guide. The cost is $19 per person. This 2-hour long tour takes you to the most protected parts of the area. Writing-on-Stone is under consideration for designation as a World Heritage Site. Prior to 1977 much of the art was defaced by people carving their names into the sandstone, which is now illegal.

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The most recent rock art carved by a Native was done in 1924 and depicts a Ford Model T car, which was used to transport the artist to Writing-on-Stone:

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Our guide was very informative and knew her subject well.

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Along the roadway were several prime examples of prickly pear cactus in bloom.

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June 24

Jenny and I had plans to go into Lethbridge for the day. We had a windshield crack that needed to be dealt with and we also had to get the tires on Sully looked at. Our Michelin tires are 75% worn, after just 35,000 kilometers of travel. Not very good considering they advertise a life span of 130,000 kilometers.

We will be spending 4 days later in the week in Lethbridge and wanted to ensure we could get a windshield delivered in time for it to be installed by the end of the week. We also had to start claim on the tires.

We stopped first at Crystal Glass, where we discovered that they could repair our damaged windshield for $50. Yay, a half hour later we were fixed and back on the way. The tires are proving to be more of a problem. Replacement tires will he around $1,100 and it is difficult to get an assessment of our existing tires from Michelin. The local rep is in Calgary and is not scheduled to be in Lethbridge for 2 weeks to look at our tires. Rock and a hard place.

The other reason for our trip was to meet up with a work mate of Jenny’s from the 1980’s. Heather and Jenny knew each other back around 1983. We had a lovely two-hour visit catching up on each other’s lives over the past 36 years. We agreed to meet for dinner on Wednesday with Heather and her husband Neil.

June 25

Our last day with George and Karmen dawned with full sunshine and warm temperatures. We hiked the Hoodoo Interpretive Trail, about a 5.5 k round trip. The self guided trail has 12 stops, each of which fills in details of the Milk River valley and its history. There are a number of coulees visible across the river. A coulee is a steep walled ravine leading to, or from, a river valley. I got to read the brochure at each stop while my rapt audience listened

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We came upon the shed skin of a Rattlesnake, our only proof that they actually are here:

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Police Coulee is so named because the NWMP established a base there in the 1870’s, to stop liquor smuggling from the US. Police Coulee extends all the way to the Montana border and was a main migration route for First Nations people.

Here are some images from along the trail:

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Our last meal together was chicken fajitas, combined with margaritas that Karmen made. It was a great conclusion to our three weeks together. This was the 16th time we have traveled with George and Karmen since we met on Newfoundland in 2013. Great travel companions. We already have a plan to meet up again in Nova Scotia in 2020.

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The Battle Scene petrogylph is the most complex scene depicted on the sandstone walls of Writing-on-Stone. Here is an enhanced image of the drawing, depicting a battle from 1866:

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June 26

George and Karmen hit the road early, headed for Bow Valley. Jenny and I had a more leisurely start to our day as we only had 135 kilometers to travel.

One thing we did need to do was run Sully and the TaJ-ma-Haul through a car wash. Mud and road grime everywhere. There was a huge truck wash in Milk River and we made that our first stop. A half hour, and $28.50 later, both vehicles were gleaming.

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Today is our 50th day on the road. We arrived at Bridgeview RV Resort, in Lethbridge before noon and settled in to our lovely spot along the Old Man River.

We discovered a second stone chip on our windshield…argh! While Jenny hung out at the campground, I headed off to deal with this, as well as work on the tire problem. Back to Crystal Glass, where for $40 this time, stone chip number two was dealt with.

While Crystal was working on my glass problem, I was trying to get through to Michelin to work on a tire solution. Michelin’s phone tree system has no option to speak to a human, and in frustration, I headed back to the tire store to see if they could cut through the crap. Well, a solution did come up, but not one that solved all my problems. Michelin offered $50 a tire, sight unseen. Well, that worked, although not as much of a credit as I was hoping for, at least it was something. We bought a set of Toyo tires and they installed them…like right now and 45 minutes later I was out the door and back on the road. The good news is that by buying them in Alberta I was saving $100 in sales tax!

We met Heather and Neil for supper at Browns Social House and had a great visit. Neil is an archaeologist who has worked at Writing-on-Stone in the past. His retirement goal is to harvest dinosaur poop from the Big Muddy Badlands in Saskatchewan…our kind of guy.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 11:01 Archived in Canada Tagged grasslands writing-on-stone cypress_hills Comments (1)

Bengough & Grasslands National Park.

The Big Muddy Badlands, Grasslands National Park, Hiking, Absolutely beautiful screnery

sunny 18 °C
View TaJ 2019 & TaJ 2019 - June 13-30 on Rooseboom-Scott's travel map.

It is Thursday, June 20, and we have come out of the wilds of southern Saskatchewan and back into the world of Wi-Fi. We have traveled 7,650 kilometers since leaving Millville Nova Scotia on May 8.

June 13

We planned to leave Moose Mountain Provincial Park early enough in the day to stop at Malty National Brewery in Regina, before heading on to our destination for the day: Bengough.

However, George had noted a problem with the trailer brakes on McStreamy (our attempt to find a name for their Airstream) and thought it serious enough that it should be looked at. We scrapped our plans to head to Regina and went back to Carlyle, where George got his brake problem fixed over the course of an hour or two. We used the time to get a bit of internet at Michael’s Café. It turned out to the be the last internet we got until we came out of southern Saskatchewan.

The southeast corner of Saskatchewan has had an oil boom of late, and we saw wells all along the road through Weyburn, where we stocked up provisions for the coming week.

We arrived at Bengough and District Regional Park, where they provide about 30 full service sites: Jenny and I were here in 2017 and were quite taken by the community, even though it is very small, about 400 residents. Lots of community spirit here. Shortly after we were set up, the manager of the park arrived to see if we were settled in. Her name was Cathy and she ended up staying for a half hour or so…very chatty.
We also had our first decent thunderstorm of the trip. Dark clouds built for an hour or so, lightning getting closer until the storm was upon us. It poured for about 30 minutes, a bit of small hail and then it was gone…skies cleared and the temperature dropped from 30 to around 18 degrees C.
Jenny and I walked the town after supper and had a good look around. Strangely enough, we both, around the same time on our walk, said we could live here, with the proviso that we go south for the depths of winter. Eight months here, four months in Arizona, or New Mexico…hmm, perhaps we shall give this some thought.

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June 14

This was our day to show George and Karmen the Big Muddy Badlands. We drove south to Castle Butte, which is a local landmark, used for 2 centuries to guide people across the area. Butch Cassidy, Sitting Bull and numerous outlaws and cattlemen used the Butte as a guide. There is a trail through the area called the Willow Bunch trail, portions of which can still be ridden today.

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A prairie traffic jam:

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We pressed on to Big Beaver, home of 12 people and Aust’s General Store, which boasts the slogan “if we don’t have it, you don’t need it”. Aust’s has been in business since around 1900 and continues to this very day to provide the area with stuff they need. Once a year, they even bring in lobster, from Nova Scotia. Everyone in this part of Saskatchewan enjoys their services. We sent a postcard to the grandkids from the tiny post office in this community.

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Our next destination was Willow Bunch, where we had lunch at the Jolly Giant Pub. Good food, good beer selection and Wi-fi, which worked out for George and Karmen, who had their tablet with them, but not so much for us. After lunch Jenny and I took a walk about town and met George and Karmen at the local thrift shop, which is only open three days a week and was open that day. They were looking for whiskey glasses and found two great ones…for $1.00! Willow Bunch is one of the oldest communities in the province, established in 1870, and has many links to Sitting Bull in its history. The town is also the birthplace of Edouard Beaupre, who was born in 1881 and grew to 8’ 3”. He died in 1904, in St. Louis, where he was working in a circus. A life size statue is in front of the museum

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We returned to Bengough via a gravel road, where there was a significant number of pronghorns. We got some pictures.

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June 15

Our destination for today: Grasslands National Park, Rock Creek Campground. We planned a 4 day stay at the East Block of Grasslands and headed out early enough to take stops along the way. As we approached Coronach, a group of 17 Corvettes blew by us on the highway. When we stopped for gas at the Co-op we were informed there was a ‘show and shine’ on in Rock Glen, which was on our route to our destination.
We spent a lovely hour walking the streets of another cute little community. These small towns are great little places and the people seem to have a genuine love for the open prairie skies. The car show was well worth the time we spent.

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This picture is for our neighbour Milt:

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We arrived at Rock Creek campground in the mid afternoon, after a 20 kilometer drive along gravel roads.

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This park is remote: when the employees go home at 7:00pm, the campers are on their own for the night. There are just 24 sites here, serviced with electricity and there is water to fill your on-board tank. No showers, and vault toilets. The campground is in a bowl, and is surrounded by low hills. There are no trees, and the dominant feature is the sky…vast and incredibly beautiful. Rock Creek is a dark sky preserve, so there is no lighting after dark except for some very low ground lights near the toilets.

We came upon another R-pod. A 171 model, piloted here by Randy and Denise, from Saskatoon. We had a few pleasant chats with them before they departed the following morning.

June 16

Sunday at Rock Creek begins with Cowboy Coffee where park staff make coffee the old fashioned way, over a campfire. It is a time for campers to ask questions and hear stories about the park and the lands around us. It was a good introduction to the campground and the local hikes. Here are George and Karmen on the iconic red chairs, common to all national parks in Canada:

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Our day was spent doing the close in hikes, the Creek to Peak hike, and another free hike across the open range. As long as you stay where you can see the campground, you cannot get lost…but, if you get too far out, you can spend hours trying to find your way back. They stress carrying lots of water and a compass.

By the end of the day, both Jenny and I had recorded more than 16,000 steps on our GPS watches, which equates to about 14 kilometers of walking! Here is a picture of TaJ and Sully at our campsite:

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June 17

Monday dawned bright, with mixed cloud and sun being the order for the day. We planned on hiking the Valley of 1000 Devils trail, a 12 kilometer round trip. We took lunch, snacks and 2 liters of water. The hike was beautiful, up and down over open range, along ridge tops, past hoodoos and buttes. We looked back after 3 kilometers and could just make out the campground in the far distance.

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It took us about 2 hours to make the end of the hike, where we rested on a ridge top, overlooking seemingly endless badlands.

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We paused for lunch, took a short nap and spent an hour and a half exploring the open areas along the route. Jenny took photos of some of the prairie wildflowers, that are in bloom this time of year.

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We returned to the campground by mid afternoon, tired but exhilarated by the experience. Jenny’s GPS watch recorded over 22,000 steps for the day. Because there are no showers here, we used our indoor and outdoor showers on TaJ to wash off the dust of the prairies!

June 18

Jenny and Karmen took off in the early morning for another long hike, to the Red Butte, about a 15 kilometer round trip, if they make it to the end. George and I took the day off hiking. I got some maintenance done on TaJ and then did a power walk of my own, just to loosen up the old muscles after the long hikes of yesterday.

There is a strong wind blowing as I work on this blog entry. Jenny and Karmen returned in the late afternoon and we spent a good two hours watching a thunderstorm build way across the hills. We wondered if it would ever break. Finally, about 6pm the skies opened and it poured for the rest of the evening and most of the night. We woke to a soaking wet campground in the morning. If you step off the graveled paths of the campground your shoes are caked in mud. There will be no hiking here today. But, anyway, we are leaving, heading on to Cypress Hills and a three day stay at the Elkwater campground.

June 19:

A long travel day, from Grasslands to Cypress Hills, made longer by our aversion to long drives on gravel roads. Our original planned route turned out to have about 75 kilometers of gravel and threatening thunderstorms, resulting in a 100+ kilometer detour before we got to Cypress Hills. We arrived at 7:30pm and had a remarkably late dinner at 9:00pm at our new campsite.

We have the need for serious laundromat time and that is on our agenda for the 20th.

The next blog will be sometime mid next week, as we are headed back into no wi-fi zone at Writing on Stone Provincial Park for 4 days.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 13:08 Archived in Canada Tagged bengough the_big_muddy grasslands_national_park rock_creek_campground hiking_the_valley_of_1000_devil Comments (1)

Update and the Road Ahead

Moose Mountain Provincial Park, Map Update

sunny 21 °C
View TaJ 2019 & TaJ 2019 - June 13-30 on Rooseboom-Scott's travel map.

This is a short update for the blog as we are about to enter a really poor area for internet access and will not resurface until around June 22.

June 10:

As we drove through Onanole on our way out of Riding Mountain, we had to get a picture of TaJ with the elk statue at the centre of town:

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We left Riding Mountain with the plan to stop in Yorkton for internet at the local library before heading on to Moose Mountain. The trip was uneventful until this happened:

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A transport truck passing the other way tossed a small rock onto our windscreen and bingo, a crack appeared. It cannot be repaired, so we will be replacing our windshield in the near future.

Moose Mountain has a 300+ site campground, which is virtually empty. This one is $27 as night and provides free firewood, which is a bonus. The campground manager says they expect a complete fire ban at any moment, as the area is rapidly drying out. So we had a fire this evening just in case we soon won't be able to.

June 11

Jenny and I walked the campground in the morning to get in some exercise after a travel day. The four of us headed in to Carlyle for a look-see at this town on the edge of Saskatchewan's oil patch. A really nice little town with a touch of Nova Scotia. Michael's Coffee Shop serves JustUs Coffee, from Wolfville, Nova Scotia. It seems that Michael has a connection to Wolfville. All three of his daughters attended Acadia University and he caught onto the JustUs coffee on his visits.

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In the afternoon, Jenny, Karmen and I did a hike along a grassy trail in the park, which shall forever be known as the TICK walk. At the end, we cleaned ticks off our clothes. Jenny had 7, Karmen 3 and I had one. Yikes. We will be careful where we walk for the next little while on our travels.

The road ahead:

Our week involves dropping into the least populated portion of Saskatchewan, which will limit our internet access. While at Bengough, we will explore the Big Muddy Badlands, before heading to Grasslands National Park, East Block, a great block of prairie farmland converted to a national park and, "where seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day"

We might have better access once we make it to southern Alberta in a week or so. We are traveling with our road buddies, George and Karmen Reid, who have their own travel blog, Reids on the Road. Here is a link to their blog.

https://reidsontheroad2018.wordpress.com/

We part company with our friends after our stop at Writing on Stone Provincial Park, where we head on to Waterton Lakes, while they meander north towards Grande Prairie.

Life is good, and it is better on the road. We carry on with a bounce in our step and a song in our heart.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 07:25 Archived in Canada Tagged moose_mountain windshield_crack the_road_ahead Comments (0)

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