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Saskatchewan
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June 5- Day 29

SASKATEUWAN!

I mean, SASKATUANE!

I mean... THE NEXT PROVINCE!

I'm over it. Granted, I had my moments of weakness yesterday, and started a little slowly today, but within ten minutes I was in the groove again. I guess I'm just not good at good-byes when I'm by myself. I'm in much better spirit now. The good weather helped. Not to much headwind.

I got up quite early, before 7. I usually force myself to sleep until 8, but I figured "Why bother? The sooner I get up, the more distance I can cover, and the sooner I'll be in Ontario."

The way I'm aiming now, I expect to make about 150K per day for the next week. That's 1050K in a week for those of you who don't care for math. If I keep that pace, I should be on the Ontario border by Sunday evening.

There were only two small towns before Saskat... the next province. Both of them were the usual "gas-station-and-a-couple-of-houses" kind of set up. The water here is supplied by wells and not recommended for drinking. What's more, it's a good 60 or so klicks to the next town once you're in Sask, so at the last town on the border (Walsh), I replaced my 1 liter broken down and patched together water bottle with a 1.5 liter bottle of mineral water, and filled up my 710ml bottle with filtered water from the greasy spoon next store.

I entered... the next province with no grand displays in sight. The welcome sign was a quarter the size of the Alberta sign across the street and simply said "Saskat... The Next Province, Naturally"

(Note to self: learn how to spell)

You can't travel a single klick without seeing a bunch of gopher on the road. At least a third of the time they were road kill, the rest were road kill in training. I saw a herd of buffalo by the Cyprus Hills! I also saw some white tail deer, a hawk or eagle, and plenty of moo-cows and the other usuals.

By noon I had covered 75K, half of what I wanted to do. Not bad. A lady at the last gas station told me it gets hottest between noon and 1 (or sometimes 2), so I decided to stop at this point for an hour or so and beat the heat. Another advantage to the early start.

The place I stopped at was the only easily accessible place with shade trees. Upon exploring it I feared I might have stumbled upon my own private Blair Witch Project. The house was abandoned, locked and creepy. It had a bunch of junk all around outside... Including a bunch of scrapped bicycles... (previous victims?)

Further exploration led me to think that maybe this place was being used as a pot growing operation. I've seen enough on TV to have an idea of what's involved. Of course, this could explain the missing cyclists... (dun dun DUN!)

Hey, give me a break! This place is BORING! I have to make things interesting somehow! And don't give me that crap about the back roads being better. They are about 25 percent nicer, but 50 percent longer and 100 percent more stressful in navigating. Talk about diminishing returns!

Never did run into the cyclists. Chances are, considering I go faster on this terrain, I never will. But who knows? Maybe they will bike longer than me, or be in better shape. Maybe I'll catch up with one of the others from Lake Louise?

Lunch consisted of an orange, beef jerky, and a few handfuls of GORP (or GORPAC in my case, since there's chocolate in it). Satisfied without being full. Why they charge extra for mineral water beats the hell out of me, it tastes just like filtered. I just wanted the bottle.

Well, that is probably it. To be continued when I find a place to sleep.

Time spent cycling: 6:21:52

Distance traveled: 133.54 km

Total distance: 1805 km

Average Speed: 20.5 kph

Maximum speed: 43.6 kph

Current Location: Ice cream lady's house, in Tompkins

Finally ran into the two cyclists that Elaine mentioned! I was taking a nap in the shade when I heard a voice, I looked to the road and saw them passing by! I waved them down, introduced myself, and quickly enough I joined them for the day.

BIG MISTAKE!

These guys are pros who go touring every weekend with a group. They average around 24kph and have been making more than 200-250km a day! By the time we reached Tompkins both my knees were in utter agony (I had to walk up the last hill, even though it wasn't much of a climb).

They are packed even lighter than I, and for good reason. They're motel travelers. They've got the whole trip planned out by the day, and have to make it to a major city each night to get a room. But what they lack in adventurous nature, they make up for in sheer power and endurance!

Earlier today I had seen my first hitchhikers since Lake Louise. I wished them luck, and they the same to me.

They stopped at the ice cream store off the side of the road, working away on soft vanilla cones, where I also grabbed an ice cream (Rolo flavor). At this point I explained that I couldn't go further, and bid them farewell in my personal way. I wanted to make 150km today. If I had gone at my own pace, I would have. But my knees are shot. Fortunately it was only 5, which meant there would be plenty of time to rest. But it could have been spent traveling instead.

(Note to self: get tension bandages or knee braces ASAP.)

Their names were Pierre and Rick. Pierre has a house and offered to let me stay in his backyard in Granby, near Montreal. His phone number is: (450) 378-2297 or at work: (450) 534-6899 I hope to do the survey with him as well when I get there.

I asked about the places one could stay around this tiny town, and was told there was a campground not too far away. The lady at the ice cream shop took an interest in me, and offered to let me stay in her backyard. I didn't even ask! She's 35, but said herself she has the heart of a 25 year old. She did the survey with me, but because of a question she answered involving medicine and natural healing (she's also a masseuse and I assume into homeotherapy), half-jokingly said she couldn't give her name. It might have been half a joke, but I respect it none the less. She actually let me put my bike in her truck drove me to her house! Too bad I couldn't have gained some distance, but unfortunately I have to backtrack to get to the #1. It's not too far, though.

So now I'm in the backyard, and will rest and read more of Around The World in 80 days. Is there anything more grand than relaxing and reading a good book? I think not!

Just a few thoughts...

Sunburn sucks! I keep myself covered up as much as I can in this heat and even when I'm laying down in the shade I feel like I'm still under the noon day sun! This SPF50 crap isn't cutting it. It only seems to work on areas I have already burned and tanned on. For example, my arms are fine, but my hands (usually covered up in gloves, but not now because of the heat) are cooking. They got the same amount of sunscreen, and I reapplied it after noon. Also, I thought I had enough hair to protect my scalp. Wrong. I was told I have three red spots like I did in Chilliwack. Guess my hair is getting screened again.

A problem. If I go through the states, can I afford insurance? Have to look into that. Hang on. I don't even have insurance now! Technically I'm between provincial insurances. I don't have OHIP because I've been in BC too long, and haven't signed up for my BC card yet... AUGH! I'M SCREWED!!!

I heard it's supposed to be cooler tomorrow, but still sunny. I hope they're right for a change. They haven't been yet!

I HATE HEADWINDS! It didn't start off too bad today, but after hooking up with Pierre and Rick, things got a lot worse. That's part of the reason I overtaxed myself without even a significant average speed today! And all the downhills were killed by same said headwind. I don't get it, I'm supposed to be getting TAILWINDS!!! If it weren't for the fact that other people were also traveling at the same time as me, I'd say somebody up there hates me... but maybe they just hate someone else and I'm an innocent bystander... Yeah, as if that makes me feel better...

The plan for Regina: If I can make 150km each day for the next two days, I will be in Regina the evening of June 7. At that time I may or may not stay at the hostel there for two nights to rest up, and see the city. We shall see.

About food: I find it funny when I tell people I didn't bring a stove, and so have to survive on canned pasta, granola, cereal bars, the occasional fruit, and jerky. People invariably say "For three MONTHS?", one of these days I should answer "I was a university student, I lived on worse for three YEARS!"

The tire sealant: It works. I am certain I got a puncture yesterday, and found a wet spot on the rear tire that night, slightly green. Thanks, dad! Of course, the downside is that for some reason I keep losing pressure every week or so... I thought it was supposed to stop slow leaks. I don't know why it happens.

Right now, like in Golden, I'm laying on the ground looking up at the clouds, safe from the sun in the shade. Only this time I'm alone. I'm alone, and it's okay.



Onto Day 30...