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Saskatchewan
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June 6- Day 30

I'm writing this from Swift Current, where I rest and wait out the rest of the noon-to-two heat. I've done over 80km so far, and my average speed has so far been over 25kph! That's what happens when you have zero headwind. In fact, there might have been a little tailwind today, but if so it wasn't noticeable.

The weather is supposed to get cooler and possibly rainy. I've seen no indication of that, but with this heat, cooler temps I can live with.

I started the day a bit slow, not actually leaving town until after 8. I cut my tension bandage in half and put it on both knees, to be safe. There was no sign of the ice cream lady who let me stay there, so I posted my farewell poem to the back door and was off. First, I stopped at the local convenience store for some jerky, then spent the next few minutes fixing up little things on the bike. The ice cream lady saw me and stopped by to give me a travel lunch. She didn't get home until 10 and thought I was asleep. Then when I got up she had already left, but had intended to invite me to breakfast had I got up earlier. She gave me a mini pizza, a dozen Oreos and a Sprite. I couldn't tell her that carbon pop is a bad thing for traveling with... besides, it couldn't hurt during my siesta.

When I got to Gull Lake, I noticed there was an RCMP outpost there. Guess who got an interview with the local constable? Heh! Another feather in my cap for hard-to-get interviews! He was eXTREMELY nice and definitely a quite, gentle, religious man. What the hell he's doing in the RCMP I'll never know! Of course, maybe that's why he's stationed in Saskatchewan (Learned to spell it! Hooray!). He served great coffee, too, by the way.

After that it was boring boring boring all the way to Swift Current. The water I had filled my bottles with was so blah that it was almost revolting! The gatoraid helped, but then I ran out, and diluted gatoraid in blah water IS revolting!

In Swift Current, it took me a moment to get my bearings. I didn't want to risk accidentally passing the mall I needed, but found it right at the end of town. The Superstore there, unlike others that pretend to be a warehouse, IS a warehouse. The cigarette area is caged off from everyone in the center of the store, and a person punches your receipt as you leave so you don't come back for doubles of everything. It's that big.

I bought a knee brace at last. I would have bought two, but they only had one of the type I could afford (the others were 50% more, and designed to restrict movement rather that just apply pressure). So I bought two more tension bandages just in case. One for the other knee, the other in case the brace thing doesn't work out. So far, so good, however. I have the brace on the knee which has given me the most trouble, the left.

I found a lady at a sandwich shop willing to heat my pizza, after explaining my situation. So I'm sitting here now eating and resting, waiting for the sun's wrath to pass.

Saskatchewan is a very understated province. There is no major boasts or signs of provincial pride like I've found in Alberta or B.C., their licence plates have no slogans on them. Because they don't use daylight savings time, it feels like even their time is wishy washy. Half the year they're on Alberta time, the other half they're on Manitoba time. Even this mall is completely ordinary. Nothing individual about it. Even their flag is simple and understated. There is no cowboy mentality I can find, nobody says "howdy", there is no discernable accent. There is nothing here that is indicatively "Saskatchewanian", and no obvious attempts to do so. All the stereotypes of Canadians being reserved, polite, not-patriotic-but-not-unpatriotic-either, all seem to be epitomized here. Granted, I've only been here two days. My stay in Regina will probably confirm or denounce this theory. As far as multiculturalism goes, I've seen a few Asians and East Indians, but that's it. This place is whiter than Antarctica for the most part.

I'm hoping to make a total of 167km today, that will bring me to Chaplin roughly, I think. If I make it, that will both beat my old record of 166km, and in addition to yesterday's total bring me back on track with my 150km a day total. But I'm not stupid. If I have to stop, I will.

Several times, I tried unsuccessfully to interview a Mennonite. While friendly, they refused for obvious reasons: they don't really think about the future. Pity one of them wasn't willing to take a chance.

Time spent cycling: 6:21:52

Distance traveled: 178.82 km!

Total distance: 1983 km

Average Speed: 25.8 kph

Maximum speed: 51.1 kph

Current Location: Public campground, in Chaplin.

WHOO-HOO! Forget 167km, I kicked some butt! Weather (and Buddha) providing, I'll make Regina easy tomorrow. According to the map, it's only 151km from here.

Now for some problems. First off, the knee brace didn't work, so both my knees are in tension bandages. I might try the brace on the other leg tomorrow, but this begs the question: WHY? Most people don't need one, yet I have two! Am I doing something wrong? I think there are only two possibilities: either I'm doing something wrong in my peddling, or my muscles are developing disproportionately. This might be causing some slipping and rubbing with tendons or muscles or something. But then, I'm no doctor. Either way, the bandages stay on until I figure out a better solution.

Second, as a result of this, I think another day of rest is in order, but I want to make the most of it by having internet access. Therefore, Regina is the only way to go. But I don't want to spend forty bucks for two nights. Solution? I'm pulling an all nighter in a donut shop or equivalent, like I did in Portland, Maine. I'll finish reading Around The World in 80 Days and maybe they'll let me use the phone for the internet. Sounds like a plan.

Okay, the rest of the trip today. One could say "the usual" and not be far off, but nothing is ever 100% "usual". I had to stop several times to readjust my leg bandaging. Often times at a gas station in each small town I passed. This added rest time, however, helped me make my fantastic time. Oh yes, and I'm finally getting some TAILWIND!!! YEAH! Sure, it's not as much as I would like, but I would rather have a little than none!

There wasn't much in the way of sights at first, but later I passed a lake that was a bird refuge. I saw some unusual birds, even a few pelicans! I didn't know they had them out here, but they were definitely pelicans! I crashed my bike at low speed while trying to take a moving shot of some of these birds (and ended up taking a picture of the crash instead). Nothing serious. Just a slide out.

Toward the end of the day, the #1 divided. Normally there is about 50 feet between the opposing flows of traffic, covered in grass. At this point, it grew to about a kilometer (I could only tell by occasionally seeing telephone polls in the distance), and lasted for about 5 to 10 klicks! There was actually a ranch between the Trans-Canada! I bet they didn't want it that way, but the ranchers refused to give in. Who says you can't fight the government and win? Of course, if they couldn't have gone around they would have annexed the land anyways, but it's still nice to see it. Reminds me of that Bugs Bunny episode which ends up with a major highway being built around his hole instead of through it. I'm sure there is another explanation, but I like to think it was for this reason.

Another thing to note is the extraordinary number of pre-fab portable homes being moved by 18 wheelers along the #1 in Saskatchewan. Every hour at least one passed me by in either direction, taking up nearly two lanes on the highway!

By the time I reached Chaplin, it was past 7. Usually I shut down earlier than this (although that is usually because of weather and/or leg injuries). I wanted to find a house to stay at, because I wanted to do another interview if possible (I haven't got many here, and am running out of time!), but found there was a camping ground/RV site. I figured that nobody would let me stay if one was so near by, so I asked how much it was. Ten bucks! But that did include showers and laundry. Still, ten bucks is a couple days of food properly spent, so I decided to risk asking door to door.

The first woman I asked was sympathetic, but her husband wasn't home and didn't want to say yes without his being there. The second person agreed, but then pointed out that there was a FREE campsite only a few blocks away! Free? With a pay site so near by? How? He told me that this one was owned by the province or some such thing, while the other was private. Then how does the pay one stay in business? I guess it's the full RV hookups, showers, and laundry. This place only has toilets and electricity. Still, makes me wonder.

When I got here I found that it's NOT technically free. It's five dollars if you're not using any electricity, and there is a box to pay in beside the sign. So why did two different people consider it free? Maybe nobody pays and they just gave up? I am tempted to pay, but only have a ten on me. If anyone comes around asking, I'll just ask for change.

Now, Chaplin has two things worth noting about it. First of all, there is enough salt everywhere to make you think you're in the arctic! Major mineral mining here, and my guess it if it's all white and heaped like mountains for miles around, it's probably salt. Either that or this is the largest cocaine refinery in the universe!

Second, there is a bird observatory here. So I'm not lost for an interview! It's nearly 8, and I'm sure they're closed, but I'm equally sure they'll be open by the time I leave tomorrow.

I'm watching an inch worm crawl along the picnic table, very cute, reminds me of Slimy from Sesame Street. I saw two song birds not only buzz a crow in mid-air that was scouting their nest, but actually collided with it!

The weather people are threatening rain, but it seems like an idle threat. I've seen a few scattered showers, but nowhere near me, and who cares as long as I have my tailwind?

My legs are VERY sore today. I'll definitely need that day in Regina.

Whoops, spoke too soon, here comes the rain...

I'm sitting on the grass, in a field, under a large lamppost typing this, looking at the moon and wondering if Gillian is looking at the same moon as I tonight.

The rain didn't last, just a sprinkle and done, but I put up the tent anyways. Two little girls, curious about me, started asking question and I entertained them with my tales as best I could. They eventually mentioned a haunted house nearby, and we talked about ghosts and the like. Two older girls happened by and one of them mentioned a phenomenon she witnessed. The Ghost Train of St. Louis (Sask, not US). She is from Wakaw which is south of here I think. The Ghost Train sounds like your basic swamp gas thing, but she seemed convinced otherwise.

I ended up interviewing the two older girls until it was dark, they gave long answers and long pauses, I had to switch tapes! One is from rural Sask, the other is from Edmonton, Alberta, so I got two different points of view on this one. Both were interesting, and we talked about a lot of other things as well, just shooting the breeze. And guess what? They're the ones that work at the wildlife center here. Sometimes things just work out.

Since it is now dark, I won't be able to read, it's nearly 10:30. Off to bed I must repose... after a snack, I missed dinner.



Onto Day 31...