Thursday, August 30, 2012

on a clear day you can see forever

Yesterday's post talked about driving... well, today we drove, and drove and drove. Oh and then drove some more. The wide vistas, often with the river valley far in the distance, featured heavily. When this area was being formed by the glaciers they scraped large areas flat but these flat areas were further sculpted by the flow of water from the melting glaciers. This has left the land scarred by gullies and coolies. The river has cut a deep gorge (picture really really small Grand Canyon) that winds through the area. It really is spectacular. I took a million pictures so once I get home and get them all sorted I'll do another post. The photos attached to this post were taken with my tablet, not the greatest but I wanted to share just a taste with you.

Here is how my day went starting with our picnic lunch (I took a few minutes throughout the day to type a few words):

12:30 pm
  We are stopped at the old ferry location outside Empress - we are down by the river, which is flowing blue and green - so beautiful. We are having a little picnic lunch that Mom prepared this morning - sandwiches, pickles, herring and cookies.

On our way here we stopped at a little campground at the turn of the South Saskatchewan - for $10 a night you get a nice little campsite, pit toilets but no electricity. Really pretty and quiet. I think we should plan a night or two on our trip next summer. Carm will either have to get used to no TV (or we bring a little one) or we get a small generator.

Our drive has been interesting - we are passing through lovely vistas and rolling prairies - I love this land! Arne is in the back seat with me so it has been fun getting to know him. He's done a million things, and been a million places. I wish Carm were here to talk with him as I feel certain they'd have lots to talk about. Arne is a lawyer for many of the banks in Norway so knows a lot about the financial crisis and other things that Carm would find interesting. It is great to hear about his interest in restoring Skjenna and learning more about its history. Family history seems to be a hobby for Rolf & Lief as well.

My cousin Dennis is along for the ride as well - it is nice to spend some time with him as it has been years. He grew up on the family farm out here in Buffalo. He lives in Medicine Hat now and clearly misses the farm, at least the Nature side of the farm. He is always the first one to notice a bird, an antelope, or wild flower. I don't think he misses the isolation. And it is isolated out here. We've driven for a few hours, but have only passed a handful of farms. The nearest neighbor is likely miles away. The nearest grocery store, over an hour away.

One part of me could live out here, but the other part couldn't. Maybe coming out for a summer vacation will give me enough of a prairie fix. Have I mentioned how much I love it here? The views just take my breath away and prick tears in my eyes. I wish I was a poet.

BTW - too much wind for mosquitos!

1:45 - stop for coffee in Empress.  Not much in this town, it's pretty much dead. There is a little campground (with electric) that is okay (but not great). For $25 per night you get electric.

3:15 - drive past the house Dad grew up in at Bindloss. It is old and dilapidated, Mom can't ever remember anyone living here. there are a few other houses in the "town" some of which are actually still occupied (just saw a big airstream trailer!). This whole area is depressed and has been for a long long time. We didn't spend much time here, just a slow drive around town. (btw - no campground here!)

Next on the route  we took a short detour to my Aunty Rena's farm. She has long since passed away, but it is now owned by my cousin Dale. It was sad to see the place looking so old and run down - I suppose it always looked like this, but it never seemed that way to my childhood eyes - I loved visiting here, and it is perhaps at Aunty Rena's farm that my love of the land took root.

4:30ish - had a quick stop in Buffalo, a village of 1 house, 1 post office/general store, and an amazing community hall. It's brand new with a kitchen to die for. Where did the money come from to build this? Who goes? What do they use it for?

Next up - look for the sign about rattlesnakes and guess what we saw on the road on our way there! A huge rattlesnake quickly disappeared in the ditch as the vehicles backed up to take a look.

Finally, we turned down the road to Skjenna farm. Maggie, Abigail, Kathleen and James were there to meet us, Melvin was still out in the fields. They prepared a lovely meal for us after which we explored the farm (and took tons of photos).

It is 8:30 pm right now - I'm sitting in the car (away from any mosquitos) and dad is trying to get the troops rallied for the hour and a half drive back to Medicine Hat. They want to get past the "deer stretch" before dusk (which is quickly approaching).  This has been a long day and honestly I'm exhausted - my head is spinning and the quiet of the car is a welcome respite for a few moments, but it was wonderful to see so many sights.

Tomorrow - visit with Uncle Olaf, check out a few campgrounds, and a bbq at a local picnic area (note to self - get some socks and cheap runners to keep the mosquitos away from my ankles - Walmart here we come!).

11:15 pm... we made it... OMG I am so tired... oh, we had to stop I several times cause of all the deer on the road. Dangerous Driving!