Friday, August 28, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Left Portage under grey skies. The Weather Channel advised humidity was at 89%. That’s a high number. One wondered if rain gear plus snorkel was required.
We geared up and pointed west through the gloom. The rain was light, but visibility poor. The straight flat road made for easy travel and within an hour or two the rain stopped and the roads were dry. Local traffic thinned out and we had the highway to ourselves.
I had suggested to Grant that we stop for lunch in Minnedosa, the town we enjoyed so much. They have an excellent restaurant there and I rode happily anticipating a bowl of hot, home made soup to ward off the chill.
Grant, in the lead drove past the restaurant, and headed off the highway into town stopping at the coffee shop we’d visited. It’s an old building with fourteen foot high ceilings covered with the old embossed tin panels. The counter and shelving are the original varnished oak. The mod cons are expresso machines and some leather couches.
We’d barely cleared the door when fellow seeing all our rain gear, yelled, “Have you guys been out snowmobiling?”
“Just about,” we laughed.
He was sitting at a table with three men in their sixties. One imagines it was a regularly scheduled meeting with the purpose of resolving important world issues. The caller was a string bean sort of fella sporting a John Deere green baseball hat worn high on his head. In gold embroidery were the words, “Veteran of the Korean War”.
He explained he was just released from hospital following knee surgery, but on a good day rode his Harley. He was 76 and full of curiosity about what we were up to and interrogated us fully. He went out and had a look at the trailer and came back with another barrage.
We joined the three at their table and enjoyed the wonderful company of these three intelligent, lively gentleman.
We learned more about the affect of the weather on local farmers. Crops in this part of Manitoba are a month behind and many fields required re-seeding after the constant rain rotted the first seeds.
Our 76 year old friend in the green hat still tours all over the Prairies with his bike. He’d been all over Vancouver Island and recounted lunch on the PA Quay watching the salmon run.
Seems Grant and my miscommunication was a happy mistake. So enjoyed meeting these gentlemen and seeing their lively age-defying spirit. Lunch at the coffee shop was a latté & cinnamon bun, not the healthiest of options. Also was able to use the “destiny” excuse to justify buying some jewellery I’d had my eye on first time around.
The after lunch ride became much wetter and more miserable. Find it best to ride with my visor up under rainy conditions. It’s the only way I can see the road and I’m hoping the rain will be good for my skin. The straight roads and sparse traffic were appreciated.
Rainfall increased as the afternoon wore on. The wet seeped down my neck, up my sleeves until I was wet through and chilled. My ability to “put on a good face”, “be a good sport about it” about riding in the rain have long gone. I was a grumpy sorry old woman when we pulled into the Howard Johnson in Yorkton.
Words cannot describe the deep simple pleasure of a hot bath, changing into dry clothes and sitting back with a paper cup of Sambuca, TV controller in hand.
That night we used the internet to check weather and picked the driest highway possible. Destination Saskatoon.
Our departure from Yorkton was a gloomy one. An expectant peek through the curtains confirmed the worst. The reality of putting on wet rain gear and slimy wet gloves takes the shine off a new day.
Again, this is the best place to be under these riding conditions. Traffic is light and the terrain flat enough to offer decent warning of approaching vehicles. The road was so straight, you could probably just tie off the handlebars with rope and sit back.
There is a certain beauty to the rainy landscape. Colours are deepened by the rain and the fields of canola surrounded by lines of dark green trees under grey skies would make a fine painting.
About two hundred kilometres from Saskatoon, the clouds broke up and the blue took over. I finally started to feel warm again. At a gas stop, we optimistically took off the wet rain gear.
It’s lovely country here. The canola fields are interspersed with blue fields of flax. Small lakes with waterfowl are everywhere. The broods of goslings are teenagers now and mum & dad stood tall and vigilant as their brood fed besides the roads. We could see them swimming in precise rows, everyone getting fat and strong for their Fall journey.
We were surprised to see signage pointing to the town of Kandahar. Learned later that it was named by Canadian Pacific Railway executives in the late 1800s for a British military victory in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Saskatoon lay ahead under clear blue skies. Our stop there has a mission. Grant was concerned about the lack of tread on his rear tire causing him to slip abit in the rain. He had phoned ahead and found the tire he wanted in one store, and a shop nearby to do the install. This gave us a relaxed lunch break before we headed to the Information booth for advice about campsites.
Saskatoon is a vibrant city with lots going on. it was the weekend and all the campgrounds were all full so we joined the “overflow” crowd in a field adjacent to the Gordon Howe Campground in the heart of Saskatoon. The campground proper is just lovely and we learned that many families from the farms and small towns in southern Saskatchewan were in town for the Exhibition.
The “overflow” area of a campground is perhaps the North American version of a refugee camp. There are no trees for shade or to act as a reminder of nature. It’s very much cheek to jowl. There is a porta potty and a tap, but the sign warns the water isn’t potable.
We've met some very nice folks here and been subjected to some pretty abusive partiers down the way.
When Grant picked up his bike, the mechanic warned him that his rear brakes were quite worn. Grant had a pair of pads with his tool kit and after the tent was up, a tired and sweating guy set to work.
It didn't go well. The young mechanic had neglected to tighten a key bolt. The brake callipers rotated about the hub, denting the shock and pinching the brake line. It is very fortunate Grant is the kind of person who does not let things ride. This mechanical situation could have been disastrous. We intend to return to the shop on Monday morning for words.
Grant is off now washing the bikes. They look absolutely terribly dirty and bug splattered. The term is “Rat Bike”.
We hope to explore the river side parks in Saskatoon today and generally take it easy. We’ve put in a series of long rides in the rain and I for one need a gentle day.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
- ▼ August (11)