Follow the adventures of Bryan Thorp as he lives his dream of riding across Canada from coast to coast.
Day 27 - July 9 - Thu
Maple Creek, SK - Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park - 37km
We woke up to wet tents; that's the 2nd nite in a row for me, but Neil's had 4 wet nights in a row; I would've, too, if not for getting sick. Is that a blessing in disguise?
We broke camp and headed for brekky at the BC Cafe on Jasper St. And, no, the waitress didn't know what the ¨BC¨ meant in the restaurant name! I think I got my cheapest pancakes yet of the tour there: 3 for $4.50. Once brekky was done with, we then headed for the hills... literally.
Although Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park was only just over 30km to the south, it was a gentle climb most of the way... about 475m. The weather was very windy too, giving me an average speed of less than 15km/h - my slowest yet of the entire tour. Although I felt fine physically, I can't explain the poor performance.
As we approached the entrance of the park, we encountered the strongest winds yet of the tour, I'm guessing well over 50km/h. To top it off, my bike computer showed that an extremely steep, but short hill was rated at 22%, plus we had a headwind going up that one! It was tough, but I didn't stop or walk.
Things kind of went downhill from there, weather wise. We'd arrived by 12:45, had our camp setup, and then it rained for the remainder of the day. We got soaked walking 1km or so to the showers. Memo to self: If you're warm and toasty in the tent, DON'T go out into the rain, no matter how bad you stink!
This has to have been one of my least enjoyable days of the tour thanks to the rain and nothing to do: no book to read, no access to the Internet, stuck in tent... is this what is meant by 'cabin fever'? I caught up on any lack of sleep I might have had!
Day 28 - July 10 - Fri
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, SK - Shaunavon, SK - 129km
Well, it was pretty wet when we broke camp in Cypress Hills. I was quite disappointed not to have been able to explore here, but I didn't have rain gear, umbrella, etc., and would've just got soaked with no way of getting warm and dry, save for buying a resort room. So, I'll have to come back here someday.
The SK gov't has evidently pumped a lot of money into this park, and there's all kinds of stuff to do here, including horse-back riding, paddle boats on the lake, hikes, biking (who'd want to do THAT?!) and the list goes on.
While it was raining/drizzling that morning, Neil and I grabbed a small brekky in the 'cafeteria'. I can't remember, nor did I note, what I had, but it wasn't a healthy choice. Not that they had oatmeal and flax meal available, anyhow. I'm REALLY having a tough time eating nutritiously on this tour. North American restaurants seems to be clueless about offering healthy meals, in my opinion. Four coffees later, the liquid sunshine had let up significantly and we decided to finally head out.
This is the day I finally connect with the Red Coat Trail, which I've never travelled before, and is one of my personal objectives for my tour (it keeps me off the TC, too!). The RCT is the route the North West Mounted Police - the predecessor of today's RCMP - took from [roughly] Winnipeg, MB to Fort McLeod, AB, in 1874. The march/ride's objective was to establish law and order in western Canada.
So, we moseyed on down in a southerly direction on Hwy 21, which would connect with 'lucky' Hwy 13, the Red Coat Trail. Along the way, we saw 2 deer running across a field at a pretty good clip - 30 km/h? - and they jumped the fence beside the highway and crossed a few hundred meters in front of us. I don't think I've ever seen that on a highway before, and one can easily see how those animal/vehicle accidents happen, especially at night.
Eventually, we get on the RCT, and come upon Robsart, SK. I have no idea why this tiny community is even on our maps, as I'm sure 75% of the buildings are deserted. We did see a mother pushing a stroller down the wide gravel street, and we had a dog as a companion for our 20-minute visit, but Robsart is definitely on its way to becoming yet another prairie ghost town. Amazingly, on the front of a deserted business, I found a working public phone, so I made a call home.
Back on the RCT heading east, we came upon an angry badger at the side of the road! Neil said the badger was growling! Quite a bit of wild life on the prairies, in addition to the ubiquitous horses and cows; and yes, the cows still watch us cycle by out here, with the same intense curiosity as their BC and AB cousins. Also, there sure are a lot if dead gophers in the road here, surprisingly, because my research shows that the RCT can have as few as 200 vehicles/day.
We're kind of on the outskirts if the Cypress Hills area, so it's sort of hilly, but nowhere anything like the mountains, of course. Nevertheless, when one expects the prairies to be flat, and they ain't, well that's a bit of a 'downer'. :-(
After only about 35km from our mornings campsite, we come to our 1st town of significant size that day, Eastend. Neil and I were debating about the reason for the naming, of the town and the seeming lack of imagination. I thought perhaps it might be Londoners (England) who moved there. A quick check of Wikipedia didn't turn up the reason for the town's name. Eastend is nestled in a small valley and the downhill ride into the valley is simply beautiful. It was beautiful enough to break the cyclists' rule of never stoping on a downhill; I stopped a few times for photos. I wasn't sure if the white cliffs were limestone, a la Dover, England, or 'white mud' as Neil suggested.
Anyhow, we walked into an Eastend bar looking for a meal, and whoa! This bar was like right out if a western movie: a long, old, well used bar, wood floor, dimly lit, and a bartender with a cowboy hat. Two Lycra-clad cyclists somehow seemed out of place in this bar, I assure you. Oh yes, some real nice Harleys were on the street in front of the bar. Anyhow, the bar's cook wasn't in yet, so no meals, but Jack's Restaurant just down the street was open.
So, off we went to Jack's. Despite, the restaurant name, Jack's was Greek. I ordered a pasta which wasn't quite like anything Anton's on Hastings St. in Burnaby, BC, would serve, but hey, pasta is fuel for cyclists and it served a real need!
Now that we were all fueled up, we headed for Shaunavon, approx. 94km away. We split a $58 room at the Stardust Motel, which has seen better times. It actually wasn't our 1st choice, which had a ¨No Vacancy¨ sign posted. We welcomed the shower, washed some clothes and dried our tents out. Oh yes, again we didn't see any other touring cyclists today.
Day 29 - July 11 - Sat
Shaunavon, SK - Lafleche, SK - 152km
We woke around 07:00, got packed up but walked to the main street for brekky. We got there right at 08:00 when the Chinese owner was opening up. There seem to be a lot of restaurants and motels on the prairies run by non-English and French, e.g., Greek and Chinese (and other Asian) seem common. I've also detected resentment in all provinces, so far, of minorities. E.g. one campground owner in BC moved from Burnaby, BC because he wasn't happy with ¨the East Indians taking over the trucking industry¨ in the lower mainland. Yup, racism exists here in Canada, but coming from Greater Vancouver, where we have a very diverse ethnic mix, I was kind of taken aback by some of the comments I've heard.
Back to brekky: the owner came over to our table, scratched his armpit, and took our order. The pancakes I ordered were just slightly south of cooked; perhaps the griddle wasn't quite hot yet, as we were the 1st customers. The bill came to just over $4, coffee included. I gotta say that most of our meals have certainly been pretty cheap! This one may have been cheap, but I also voted it as worst if the tour so far.
Neil and I walked round Shaunavon and got close up shots of the grain elevators. The old fashioned grain elevators are getting very hard to find on the prairies, as they are replaced by more centralized silos, that may not even be on the rail lines. I wonder if rising fuel prices will reverse that trend?
We hit the road and somewhere around Admiral, SK, we came across 4-5km of gravel on the RCT. It was really no big deal with my fat Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, especially if you follow the track created by vehicles. However, if the gravel had been recently graded and one were on skinny tires, it might be more of an issue to ride on. Around the spot where the gravel ended, we came upon a large bridge - in the fields - that did not have a road on it! It must have been decommissioned years ago and the old road was either ripped up or totally overgrown. Strange.
Eventually, about 60km from Shaunavon, we came across Cadillac, SK. Gotta love some of these town names, eh? I'll have to research that one, too. Anyhow, we enquired at the town gas station - few small towns have a station anymore, btw - about a restaurant for lunch and were directed to the Cadillac Motel. It didn't look like it was even operational, but after trying a couple doors we again found ourselves to be the 1st customers of the day.
Our hostess was Cindy, an ex -Quebecois, who moved out west to help her friend run the bar/kitchen. Although the hotel bar wasn't quite as spectacular as the one in Eastend the day before, I'd still like to someday watch an NHL game in this bar. That'd be cool and the perfect environment for that activity, IMO. The bar sometimes has live bands, and apparently, last year, they got Prairie Oyster to play there... and this bar/restaurant can't seat much more than 60 - 70 people!
Anyhow, I felt I could do with a nice salad, but I didn't see one on the menu. Cindy offered to make me a salad from scratch, and, boy,did she out do herself. She came back with a beautifully arranged, large colourful salad made of lettuce, cucumbers, red peppers, carrots and a few other items I've since forgotten about. Nice! I also had a tasty chicken burger with that. Again, the bill was low: all that plus a bottomless cola for $13.25 before tip! Neil and I very much enjoyed our lunch in Cadillac!
Moving on, we came to Pontiex, probably a good 20km from Cadillac. Pontiex seems to be a still thriving Francophone community, and indeed it's one of the rare full service towns on the RCT. However, it's a click or two off the RCT, and we were determined to press on and do a big-ish mileage day. Neil and I made sure to get our picture with ¨Mo¨ the plesiosaur on the highway outside Pontiex.
Back on the road, we were doing decent time with a tailwind. At one point I looked at the side of the highway, and saw a monument with a plaque on it - perhaps 30 meters off the road. I called out to Neil, and we checked it out: it was a monument put up to document the previous existence of the only sod schoolhouse in western SK. The weird thing is, there were no highway signs indicating the existence of this point if interest. How many vehicles would even see the monument, which was surrounded by high grass and barely had a rideable path to it. The SK gov't sure could do a much better job on the RCT. Indeed, the road surface so far has been abysmal, but still better than all those bumps on the Icefield Parkway (for comparison). I remarked to Neil at one point that the highways ministry must have let their most junior people work on these roads, as the quality of the patch jobs were pretty poor.
Perhaps 30km down the road from Pontiex, we came upon Aneroid, SK. Sheesh - they sure made up for boring place names like Eastend! Wikipedia says this of the town's name: "The most popular version of the origin of the name is that the first survey party lost its aneroid barometer on the present townsite. Many of the streets in the village are named after surveyor's instruments."
We rolled into town approx. 0.5km off the highway, and asked about a place for a pop or ice cream. It was in the mid-30s by then and we could do with a bit of respite, although I must say, I have been fortunate to not have had any really hot weather yet on this tour. I'm sure it'll come, though. Anyhow, the gentlemen said there was no place in town that sells pop/ice cream, but ¨what would you really like to have?¨ I said a cola would hit the spot.
He explained that there was a big wedding in town, and then we realized all the campers were not in a campground, as we thought when we saw them from the highway, but just parked on the streets and in empty lots. From the outdoor seating arrangement off the wedding, it looked like from 120 - 150 guests were in town, way outnumbering the residents. One of the gentlemen, David, went into a Quonset hut, where the reception was apparently being held, and a few minutes later came out with two Kokanee beers! Gee, ain't prairie people the best? :-) Thanks David - that was indeed nice! Those beers sure went down quickly!
The next town we stopped in was Hazenmore, where we had a nice, but more big city-priced, dinner at the Red Coat Inn. We were enquiring about campgrounds and motels further on down the road, and the owner, a Greek by the name of Gary Toyes, came out and offered the use use of his big screen, wireless laptop so we could research our options! Nice! Thanks Gary! Btw, for any cyclists reading this journal, there has been complete cellular coverage so far along the RCT (1x, too). That wasn't necessarily true for the Yellowhead (Hwy 16) from Prince Rupert, BC to Jasper, AB, where I encountered dead spots on my mobile. I'm guessing it takes a lot more capital to set up a cellular network in the mountains than on the relatively flat prairies.
So Neil and I had decided to shoot for Lafleche, AB, as our destination for that day, as it had both a campground and motel. In the last 5km I faded dramatically... I'm now wondering if there's a correlation between alcohol and poor cycling performance, as this seems to be a bit of a recurring theme with me. Although I've had very few beer on this tour, it seems that sometime after I have a beer, my cycling performance is definitely sub-par.
We arrive in Lafleche and check out the Flying Goose Inn. Yikes, we're ¨in the middle of nowhere¨ and they want $79 after taxes! Well, charm didn't work on the humourless employee, but it was Neil's last night for his tour, so we booked a room. And we celebrated our partnership with a few beers in the bar... During the day I'd developed some chafing, as a result of wearing shorts that had not completely dried out after washing in Shaunavon. I should have known better and probably the only way to get rid of it is to take a day off. I'm due for a rest day - the last one was day 24 - so time to start thinking about that.
Day 30 - July 12 - Sun
Lafleche, SK - Ogema, SK - 135km
Neil and I woke up 7-ish and headed over for the 08:00 opening of the Flying Goose Inn's dining room. The owner was there when we walked in, and he'd also be doing the cooking. I don't know where the regular cook was but we were given Henry Ford's paraphrased line: You can have anything you want as long as it's an omelette or bacon and eggs. So much for my breakfast staple of pancakes! What's so hard about making pancakes, anyhow? An omelette it was. Mmmm, very tasty! It turns out that there was another restaurant open in this small town as we saw on our way out. Also, the CO-OP grocery store was closed Sunday, so one cycling the RCT needs to take that into consideration for supplies.
We rode the 44km from Lafleche to Assiniboia but again, I found it a struggle. Yes, we had celebrated Neil's end of tour last night by imbibing a few at the Flying Goose Inn. Today, at Assiniboia, Neil would be heading up to Moose Jaw to visit his family, and I would continue east on the RCT.
At Assiniboia, we had a buffet lunch. There was another loaded bike outside the restaurant, but we didn't really have an opportunity to talk to the bike's owner. He did briefly stop by our table and we understood he was heading west. Outside the restaurant we got out Neil's Gorilla camera tripod and we each took photos with our cameras, of the two us and our bikes together. Neil was a very good tour partner, had a great sense of humour and I thought we had similar personalities. Who knows, maybe we'll do it again someday? Thanks Neil!
I headed back to the Assiniboia Tourist Info to get the scoop on accommodations and to confirm that Ogema would be an appropriate destination for the day. It would be, but unfortunately, it was 85km and I wasn't really in the mood to ride that far. Ahh well...
Outside the Tourist Info, I met Debbie of Calgary, AB who had her friend Sharon of Langley, BC as her SAG driver. Now, THAT'S a good friend. The 2 ladies had started in Victoria, did the southern BC route - with problems, too - and were planning in stopping in Steinbach, MB and then resuming there next year and continuing all the way to St. John's, NF. Debbie was only doing 60 - 70km/day, and she was following a book's routing, which meant she was headed south to Rockglen today. I could've done with some company, but 2 ladies? I doubt Susan would approve.... ;-)
Well, it was already 15:00 and it was looking to be a stretch to do 85km by 21:00. Up in BC, on the Yellowhead, sunset was 22:30 or so, but 'down here' it's minutes after 21:00, so the riding day is a bit shorter. So I sucked it in and dealt with it. I had a light headwind in my face pretty well all the way, and, as stated before, I was already tired. I somehow persevered, overcame some surprisingly steep hills and rolled into Ogema by 20:45. I quickly set up camp in the municipal campground, had a shower and caught some ZZZs.
Day 31 - July 13 - Mon
Ogema, SK - Weyburn, SK- 88km
I got up around 06:45- No rain last night but there were little spittles on the picnic table beside my tent so I packed immediately, just in case it was going to start pouring soon. I grabbed the usual brekky on the main street of town and then took some photos of the old BA gas station and the very nicely restored train station. Ogema also had a 'pioneer town' and museum that looked to be very interesting to spend quite a few hours in.
Today would have to have been the hardest riding day of the whole trip. If I was asked which is the 'worst' day, it would have to be further qualified, e.g., worst weather, worst discomfort, etc. Even then, taking weather as an example, is 4C and snow worse than 50-60km/h headwinds? No, they're equally bad to me. Anyhow, today was EXTREMELY windy. I had had some bad winds previously, on the way to Airdrie, AB, but the wind today was all day long and straight on in my/face. I had plans for a 150km ride today, but I had to call it quits when I got to the outskirts of Weyburn, SK because after over 6.5 hours of cycling, I'd barely ridden 80km, try as I might. The wind was also blowing me from the shoulder into the vehicle lanes at times, so it was getting dangerous.
At Trossachs, about 30km before Weyburn, there was a ¨Point of Interest¨. Hmmm, must be a federally funded one as SK doesn't mark their POIs, from my experience. Indeedy, it was a marker/monument to Gerald Bouey, the head honcho of the Bank of Canada, appointed in 1973. Some of you may recall his signature on our bank notes during those years. So, Trossachs was his boyhood home... it's a very small town, if it's even a town. The really significant thing about the monument to me, was that this was the 1st picnic table I encountered on the RCT! Whoo-hoo! A decent place to eat lunch, but I had to 'kick' (memo to daughter: it's a figure of speech!) the local cat off the table first. Cats and tuna bagels are mutually exclusive. Obviously, the feds are shovelling a cheque over to the town of Trossachs periodically to maintain Gerald's monument as the area had a Canadian flag flying and a nicely cut lawn. I sure appreciated that picnic table! My tax dollars at work! :-)
Weyburn is a full service town, and it was time for a day off, as I did feel tired even before battling today's wind. So I rode into town and asked for room rates at a few motels and settled for the 385 Motel at $50/nite incl. taxes. The motel wasn't a dump, but it had definitely seen better days, but it suited my needs just fine.
Day 32 - July 14 - Tue
Weyburn, SK - rest day
Well, I dumped some calories into my body, i.e., I ate a lot. There was a Real Canadian Superstore - actually, the 'warehouse' version - nearby, so that was handy. There was also a Wal-Mart about 1km away. Quite a bit of retail space for a town of 10,000 people. The pharmacist at Superstore suggested Zincofax would help heal my chafing issue, so I bought some of that. The winds continued throughout the day, along with thundershowers and dimming of lights.
At one point I did walk to Wal-Mart hoping to find some additional memory chips for my camera (they didn't have my form factor). The wind was so strong that, not only did I have to lean into it, but the bag I was carrying was flying horizontal. My fingers turned blue from the windchill and my toes went numb. I later heard on the news that the wind was 60km/h with gusts to 80. Regina, not far away, had flash flooding. The weather was definitely big news; someone told me that they'd never seen it this bad. Just my luck.
I took photos of some of the older buildings, replaced my bike's chain and did some other minor maintenance. It was nice to be off the bike and to rest, although more pleasant weather would've been appreciated.
Day 33 - July 15 - Wed
Weyburn, SK - Redvers, SK - 164km
I woke as usual around 6:30. The motel had quite a selection of cable channels and I stumbled upon OLN which was carrying the Tour de France! I HAD to watch that, and I did. I packed during commercials and was out by 9:15 when the Tour's stage finished.
I had the usual stack of pancakes at Smitty's, but went for the whole wheat with flax - wow, a relatively healthy option! Not bad! On the way out of town I had 2 things to do: check the bike store for a spare chain and get a photo of the court house. I found the bike store easily enough, and lo and behold, Debbie and Sharon - whom I had originally met at the Assiniboai Tourist Info - recognized me! Apparently, Debbie had also had a terrible time with the wind - at one point a gust had picked her up and threw her in the ditch! No injuries, but they decided to call it a day after that and got a motel room a block from me. They were going to continue on their southern route to Estevan, though. We said our goodbyes yet again. The bike store didn't have my brand of chain.
I then headed to the courthouse, which was built right after the last good harvest before the depression. The style was Colonial Revival, which is the same as my home in New Westminster, BC except the courthouse is on a much larger and grander scale. It sure was a beautifully done brick building (my house is cedar siding, not brick). Apparently, the construction of court houses in this style in the late 1920s symbolized the growing influence of the US on the cultural and economic life of the province.
Time to hit the road.... the shoulder of the RCT all the way to Stoughton, approx. 60km, was simply atrocious; it was either gone, crumbled, potholed or bumpy. I would definitely not ever ride that stretch again nor recommend it. The traffic volume was way higher than the western segment of the RCT, and things got a little uneasy for me at times. On the positive side, I had the most awesome tailwinds of the tour so far.
At Stoughton, I made myself a quick lunch at the Esso station on the highway in the shelter of the building (the wind was still strong). Just past Stoughton, there were new pump jacks all over the place. I even saw oil workers setting one up. I have not seen this kind of density of pump jumps even in Alberta, but then I haven't been all over Alberta. Apparently, Saskatchewan produces 20% of Canada's oil, and is #2. So, all those pump jacks explain the heavy traffic, e.g., tanker trucks, on the road.
The highway continued to be a piece of crap up to around Arcola, where it turned into a beautifully paved new highway. Whoo-hah! Around this area, with the awesome, tailwind and road, I sustained 45km/h for a bit and passed a 'slow' moving tractor - I haven't done that kind of stuff since my roadie days!
I reached Carlyle and wasn't impressed. The town was saturated with vehicles, a lot of them oil workers. Since the wind was still pretty good, I pressed onto Redvers, about 45km away. At Redvers the municipal campground was operated by the Tourist Info, so I got a spot, set up, showered, and caught up on email on the Info's computer. I also filled out their ¨Cyclist's Log¨, which they started in 2005. I didn't have time to review the other logs as I spent an enjoyable time talking to the Info's host, Lorraine and her 8-10 friends, who were sitting in the Cafe portion of the little Info, which was actually a small log cabin. I had a great time answering all their logistics questions about doing a bike tour, e.g., how do you decide which town you stop in for the day? Lorraine and her friends were a really nice bunch of people!
OK, since today is my last day in Saskatchewan, let's summarize the cycling of the Red Coat Trail... Essentially, it sucks. The SK government has not invested one penny, as far as I can see, in providing ANY information kiosks or rest stops anywhere along the RCT in their province. I got tired of peeing at the side of the highway and not having a picnic table to eat my lunch on. OK, granted the government put up fancy RCT highway signs, but that's it. The road is in poor shape, however considering its low volume I don't envision any investment occurring in the infrastructure in the near future. Imagine what a well-documented and promoted RCT would do for southern Saskatchewan! Would I ride the RCT again? No. Do I regret riding it? No. For other cyclists planning on doing the RCT - plan your stops, remembering not every town has campsites, and be prepared for long stretches of no services.
Day 34 - July 16 - Thu
Redvers, SK - Souris, MB - 116km
I was up a bit later than usual, about 08:00. While packing up, a fellow rolled up on his bike and said ¨Good morning¨. He was Jerome who had left Montreal April 27th, and typically rode 60 or so km/day, which is a lot less than I do. Jerome makes a point to explore a lot of the towns he goes through. I generally like to do the same, but unfortunately (?), I do plan to be home by 09/30, latest, so I cannot spend the same amount of time in towns as Jerome does.
Jerome did reiterate what I've tried to convey in these periodic emails/blog: get off the beaten track, explore but most importantly, TALK to people! Jerome also stated that he has not, and will not, pay any fees for camping in this country. That's awesome and I wish I could do that, but as in last night's situation, where Redvers had a campground, at the Tourist Info for $10, that works fine for me, as I don't want to spend valuable time searching for a free spot just to save $10. That's why Jerome is only doing 60km/day. We all have our limits/criteria and make choices, or perhaps, the apt phrase would be ¨Different strokes for different folks¨.
It seems Jerome is highly educated in the economics field, yet last worked in the technical theatre area, which interestingly, my daughter Glenys, is also studying. I didn't quite understand why he dropped everything to do his 2 year bike tour, but we exchanged personal contacts and I invited him to camp in my backyard when he gets to the Vancouver area. Jerome and I talked for 3 hours and thus I left for breakfast at 13:00 - that's the latest yet, but I'm not sweating it as I'm enjoying meeting and talking to everyone. The daily mileage 'requirement' of attaining 125/day is secondary.
Well, breakfast service at the '3 Brothers Family Restaurant¨ on the highway in Redvers was long over, so I order a fettuccine dish for lunch. Very nice! I was on the road by 14:00 - haha! I made Souris, MB as my destination for the day, something like 110km from Redvers. The highway was crappy again, not the beautifully new paved section.The SK/MB border was only about 20km away.
Upon entering Manitoba, there was only a small sign saying that one had arrived in MB, and it wasn't worth taking my picture in front of it. Perhaps there's something more impressive on the TC? At the border, for the 1st time on the tour, the paved shoulder became a gravel shoulder (the RCT in MB is Hwy 2). Oh oh. That means I'm sharing a lane with 18-wheelers. A very significant portion of traffic is large trucks, and the wash from those trucks coming toward me is like running into a brick wall of air at 100+km/h or more. I have to hold on to my bar ends tightly to minimize my sideways movements. If I get a second truck passing, but going the same direction as I am, that truck tends to suck me in toward it. So the riding itself requires more focus just to ensure survival, and it becomes less of a tour.
One of my tour objectives was not to ride the TC east of Winnipeg due to its.lack of shoulder. That, of course, applies to any highway on this tour, but my alternatives aren't practical at the moment. I'll stick it out for the day, and revisit my options tonight. Fortunately, after 18:00 traffic dropped dramatically on the RCT, so I practically had the highway to myself for 3+ hours.
Shortly after I crossed the SK/MB border, nr. Sinclair, MB, I came across the ¨DollHouse Project¨, undertaken by Heather Benning. Jerome had advised me to watch for this, as it was another unmarked/unsigned attraction. This house is apparently a chilling monument to the decline of the prairie farm. An artist was commissioned to remove the back wall from a home and replace it with Plexiglas, so that one could look into the home, as one would with a child's dollhouse. The home was staged circa 1960's style, e.g., chrome kitchen table with Arborite top and vinyl-covered chairs. This represents the era it was abandoned. It was pretty cool to find that in the middle of 'nowhere'. There's some good photos at this link: www.theexpertsagree.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/heather-bennings-dollhouse/
I stopped in Reston, MB, at about the day's 50km mark for some grocery topping up and took photos of many older buildings. A very nice town. I also had my second meal. The air raid siren went off at 18:00 and it seems, shortly after, all businesses closed up. I was going to make some enquiries about the lack of paved shoulder on the RCT at the local gas station, but even they had shut down. Ahh, the big city boy in a small town.On another note, I can't remember the last time I heard and air raid siren - probably in the '60s - but it was kind off freaky/eerie.
Well, 55km or so to go to Souris, MB. I basically went into 'automaton' mode and just churned out the clicks. I forgot about the time change - there were no reminders at the border, and I rolled into Souris' Victoria Park campground about 3 hours later at sundown. I got a tent site on the riverbank, unfortunately there's goose droppings all over the place. I'll make sue to wash my hands after breaking camp this time. :-(