Tuesday, 19 June 2012

On an easier day

As the estimated distance for today was only 67 km, yesterday being so demanding and tomorrow featuring dirt roads, I firmly let myself relax today. I got up relatively late, ate, washed yesterday's clothes and then went to the laundry room to use the dryer. I sat in the lobby of the combined motor hotel and motel and used the free wi-fi to surf the web, catching up on the news and comics. Also the fact that Alice and/or Mark have seen a bear.

Once my laundry was dry, I packed my bags and set of in search of a bike shop and an actual bank ATM. The latter to the form of the drive through ATM at a TD bank. Among the bills it gave me were two of the new plastic fifty dollar bills. These were the first I had come across. A little later, I found the bike store where I got a spare inner tube to replace the one I used two days ago. I then found a grocery store where various edibles were purchases.

After an early lunch, I set off through the rain. At a gas station along the T-Can, I saw a number of Hutterite women getting out of an SUV. A little latter, I saw a pair of big white birds in a pond beside the road. Thinking they were wild swans, I stopped for a photo. As I pulled out my camera, the birds changed position to reveal they were in fact white pelicans! Pelicans are much more fun than swans. I have only once seen white pelicans before and that was at a significant distance in 1985 around the Grand Tetons.

I left the T-Can on a secondary highway that climbed by degrees towards the Cypress Hills. Compared to yesterday, today's speeds were much slower but then the road was tougher. I noticed a pickup turning at a junction in front of me. The owner got out and asked if I was the cyclist going to the Barzee B&B. As I was, he said he was one of the owners and would I like a lift the rest of the way? I wouldn't have minded, but I felt driven by pride to do it myself. Hence, I politely turned down his offer.

At least a half hour later, I came across a stretch of rolling, hummocky land that reminded me of the low terrain between Campbeltown and Machrihanish. The fact it was raining undoubtably helped the mental association. A little further on, I could see the evergreen trees, while not cypresses, were the trees that gave the hills their name. I caught sight of the B&B. As I rolled up the driveway, I was bemused to see the garage door opening by itself. My hosts emerged from the garage where Leonardo is spending the night. I was shown my room in the outbuilding that houses the guest quarters. The rooms are named for early NWMP officers. Mine is Const. Marmaduke Graburn of whom more will be said later.

After abulting, I had a wonderful snooze. I then cleaned and oiled Leonardo before settling down with a history of Fort Walsh and the Cypress Hills my hostess had provided. The slim history was rather interesting. However, I was disconcerted to read that Marmaduke Graburn was the first NWMP officer to meet a violent end, having been shot and killed by some undetermined person near Fort Walsh. There was a likely suspect but there wasn't sufficient proof.

Still, the book has reinforced my desire to visit the place tomorrow. It is just the other side of the Saskatchewan border, more or less within the confines of the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. One mild element of uncertainty is the state of the roads in the park. The park literature states they aren't suitable for all vehicles all the time. Given the rain of late, I will check the latest conditions at the park information center when I go to get a map tomorrow.

It has been a good day and tomorrow I get to visit Saskatchewan for the first time. I will have then visited all the provinces.

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