Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Geeks Were Right

“I get to grind these teeth and peek through timeIf I could bring things back, they'd feedback wildWhen I saw the future the geeks were right.”

I had a great sleep  at the motel in North Battleford, crashing out at 8:30 pm after having a good dinner. I woke up just before midnight for a glass of water but fell back asleep again until 7 am. I left a good tip for the cleaning staff to cover any mess I made.

There was a cool north wind blowing, which was like a grazing sidewind that was not too offensive. The road continued flat along the North Saskatchewan RIver, relatively featureless except for the signature grain elevators breaking the horizon. It's sad how they are tearing the old traditional wooden ones and replacing them with concrete industrial structures.

These old grain elevators are disappearing...

...replaced by these concrete monsters

Sometimes the landscape looks like a giant flag of Saskatchewan

After 50 kilometres, I turned off the highway at Maymont in search for something to eat. I found a dusty old village that was barely hanging on, and out by the railway line, a faded century old hotel and bar.  This was obviously a local farmers' hangout as they seem to all know each other, and eyes were all on me as I walked in as an outsider. Super friendly place though, and I had a great soup and sandwich that could not be more homemade. The bar keeper even threw in some free rhubarb  cream pie she had bought from the Hutterites in the next village.

The sign on the door was shabby chic without even trying

Awesome chicken and bacon soup

And what were these farmers watching on TV? Top Chef on the Food Channel!

My free pie!

Most of Saskatchewan's main highways are built with wide shoulders. Not because they are trying to be cyclist-friendly, they are meant to accommodate extra wide farming equipment, sometimes a lane and a half wide. It's often overwhelming when these combines pass me but they go along slowly barely twice my speed with enough warning from behind.

Another 50 kilometres later, I stopped at another town for some refreshments. Radisson is one more small town in obvious decay, its main street toothy from empty spots where buildings used to be. I walked into a general store/flea market that had a sign for soft ice cream, and when I told the woman I was biking across Canada, she wated to return my two dollars I had paid her for the cone. I insisted she keep it, as not only had I had enough of charity last night, I told her that one of the great benefits of cycle tourism is that money gets spread out to small communities along the way instead of just gas stations and bigger centres that drivers tend to favour. She said Radisson used to have everything from flower shops to book stores and now they were all gone, along with the six grain elevators they tore down. The only people left in town were retired farmers who rented out their land to larger mechanized farming corporations. <cough> Monsanto drones <cough>

Crossing the North Saskatchewan River for the last time

Something tells me this is curling country

These chatty stops plus two flats made my day longer, and in the end I was racing towards Saskatoon in order to catch the check in desk at the University of Saskatchewan's summer residence which closed at 8 pm. I caught the woman shutting off the lights in the office as I rushed in loudly saying, "Oh shoot". She was cheery enough to reopen the wicket and turn on the computer to register me in. Whew.

There was a Sci-Fi camp going on, and out on the leafy campus grounds some kids were running about with clipboards on some sort of scavenger hunt, while others were carrying mats, likely to go star gazing.

“Predator skills, chemical wars, plastic islands at seaWatch what the humans ruin with machines.”

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