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Saskatchewan
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June 7- Day 31

Woke up. At rest heart rate: 65bpm, but the tent is virtually a sauna now (and it's only 6:30) so that might affect the results?

It's on days like this when I feel like everything is right in the world. It's warm but not hot, there are clouds, but not overcast, everything feels peaceful.

I think I'm finally settling into the traveling groove. It just takes longer when you're by yourself and constantly saying goodbye to people.

Noah's Gourmet Dining Tips: Chew some beef jerky till tender, then before swallowing, begin eating your Zoodles. Repeat process until Zoodles are finished. Bon Appetite!

I could have left at 8, but wanted to visit the Wildlife Interpretive Center here, which doesn't open till 9. I've seen that term "interpretive" used a lot in relation to museums and wildlife, and I think I know what they mean by it now. The two girls I interviewed yesterday work here as interpreters, and I think this is about, literally, interpreting what they see. So if they take you on a tour, they don't just tell you "there is a redwing blackbird on that tree", it's probably something more like "that redwing blackbird is a vital part to the local ecosystem, listen to how it sings in order to let others know its boundaries. If its habitat were to be lost, Mother Earth would once again suffer." that kind of thing, perhaps even more ethereal than that. New Age hippy crap.

The salt mine here is immense. It's so weird to think they can just keep dredging the stuff up from the lake (they only use one side of it, the rest is wildlife lookout). Apparently there is a huge salt deposit under the earth here left behind during a glacial period. Every time they take the salt out, more leaches into the lake to replace it.

I'm hearing different bird songs as I go further across Canada, not all familiar. Some are probably unique to this area. I recorded one of them for later use.

One of the girls from last night came and opened the place up. I helped her, actually, raising the Canadian and Argentinian flags (it's an international bird sanctuary, and so there are five flags flown, including Mexico and two other countries, not sure which). I haven't raised or lowered a flag since public school! We talked some more, and I found I was partly right in my assumption of what an interpreter does. They are supposed to explain the environmental problems and ecological system in ways that the layman can understand. But this girl's personality gave me more of a "New Age" feel to it.

She's eXTREMELY nice, but shy and a bit lacking in self-esteem. She's deeply spiritual, but not religious. Kind of a mix of Gaia and native beliefs. She and her friends even have "Indian" names for one another.

(Oh, on a side note: I read a book by comedian George Carlin, which had an interesting argument for the term "Indian" is not insulting, as some PC folk would have you believe. They were not called Indians because of India. India at the time was called Hindustan or something similar. The term Indian probably came from Columbus' description of the people, which, while I don't remember the whole sentence, ends in "In Dios" (the entire sentence was something like People Of God). He also pointed out that a lot of Indians resent the term "Native American" anyways. I thought it was interesting.)

Back to the bird place. I took some pamphlets and information as keepsakes, as well as a Regina tourist book, which should come in handy. As I mentioned before, the girl there was cute, shy, and lacking in self-esteem. I could also tell she liked me (either for my personality or my adventurous spirit), so I flirted with her a little, which seemed to make her day. Hey, I'm here to please! (Note to Gillian: I swear, she meant nothing to me! ;) ) . I'm still not entirely sure why I did flirt with her, though. I think I saw a bit of myself in her from my awkward years (as if they've ended), and it never hurts to make someone feel special.

Onward...

Get this: An old house on top of a hill by Parkbeg, beside the only gas station (one of only a half dozen buildings in the spread out area). I asked a local about it. Built around 1908, lived in by successive generations of the same family, and eventually abandoned thirty years ago.

Time to explore...

The inside is anything but empty, but it is in shambles, and gives the feeling of antiquity, like it had been this way for a century, but there are things here that ring of the not-too-distant past as well. It also has all the appearances of hobo-dom. There are a couple old mattresses strewn about, bits of ceiling and wall plaster all over the floor, and just the usual empty-house garbage. But then amidst all that you find some little interesting items.

An old catalog with 60's fashion. An old Spirograph cover, dated 1968. There are weights here, just like Don used to use. This house used to be steam heated, apparently. I'm typing this bit on top of one of its parts. A guide to farm practices, dated 1966. Several old style Laurentien color pencils.

Basement is a no-go. But I see more old stuff down there, as well as the ladder that would have let me down in the first place.

Upstairs. At first I thought the floorboards were weak, but it turned out to just be drywall I was crunching on. Built a hundred years ago, abandoned for thirty, but in remarkably sturdy condition. There are scraps of clothing around here, very bright in color. Amazing how well they kept their color, but what could possibly have faded them? Not sun or rain.

Then in the next room I see... a bunch of children's handprints??? Who's that standing in the corner???

OH MY GOD GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!!!!

Heh, just kidding. Bit of a Blair Witch joke. But this house does kind of remind me of it.

The attic is inaccessible as well, but I don't think there is much to see up there. Still, if I had a partner on this trip we could have found out.

Well, that's it for here, onward to Regina!

Taking my noontime siesta at Caron. About 20 or so klicks from Moose Jaw. Lunch consists of jerky, a cereal bar, the last of the Oreos from ice cream lady, an orange, and lemonade. Don't you guys miss me telling you what Ilan and Shannon were eating instead of this crap? I'm at a picnic table under the shade of a tree. Man, I'm getting some good tailwinds at last! It didn't really hit me how good they were until I tried riding against it!.

Chef Noah says: For a taste treat, try eating your Oreos with some Country Time Lemonade! Mmmmm-mmmmm! Don't mix your jerky with Oreos, however, that would be foolish!

I was mistaken about the Saskatchewan licence plates. Some do have a slogan: Land of Living Skies.

I noticed this place has a Bible College... too good an opportunity to resist. I had to find a teacher and go for an interview. Turns out there was a funeral that day. Great timing. Oh well, move on.

Time spent cycling: 6:21:52

Distance traveled: 161.96 km

Total distance: 2145 km

Average Speed: 26.8 kph

Maximum speed: 58.0 kph

Current Location: Tim Hortons, in Regina

REGINA! (a much easier name to spell)

I'm beat. Right now I'm at a Tim Hortons, waiting for the manager to show up and hoping she'll let me pull off the All-Nighter plan. If not, I'll have to look for another donut shop. Come hell or highwater, I'm doing this! Hope I don't regret it.

Okay, she let me stay! Yes! Now, I wonder if I can get her or someone else to let me use the phone late this night...

Another sign of Saskatchewan docile nature. They use both the sideways signal lights like Alberta, and the vertical ones (presumably so does Manitoba, have to wait and see).

My left knee is not happy. The tension bandage isn't even able to fully prevent the pain. I just don't understand! Where's Mr. Miagi when you need him???

At least if Dad and I were in a plane crash in the mountains I wouldn't have to worry about him eating me. He likes his meat medium-rare, and I'm definitely well done. I radiate warmth everywhere I go, and confound people in buildings who could have sworn the place had air conditioning just a minute ago...

Before I got here I passed Moose Jaw: "A Friendly City". I saw there was a Canadian Forces Base there, and again was tempted for an unusual interview. Turned out to be 10km too far out of my way for my liking (which is to say it was 11km away). However, I passed a couple of churches...

I had hoped to speak to a priest or pastor, and I did. One for children. That was fine with me, I was surprised anyone was there, this is Wednesday after all! But she was a good interview, and gave me two perspectives: religious and a bit of teacher.

So that was all for Moose Jaw, except for some film on the way out (the camera is acting a bit funny, what could be wrong? Too much Noah abuse, maybe)

I saw the usual wildlife, a lot of it dead (I should have kept count of all this road kill. A cross-Canada road kill count!), a lot of them were skunks. One deer was completely EXPLODED on the side of the road, bent over in half the wrong way. Yuck.

Regina was a long ride from there, 75K with no decent stops. The distance was supposed to be 151 from where I was and here, but it came out to 165. Part of this is explained by all the diversionary trips I took, maybe some from all the swerving I tend to do, but some is probably computer error.

After Moose Jaw, the tailwinds became more akin to crosswinds, not helping me nearly as much. I think they're north or northeast, because when I turned into Regina I slowed TO-A-CRAWL...

After reading mom's letters in Brooks, I've come to a decision. One of the place I'll be stopping at is Queenstown, to find what Wyatt and I called "The B House" because of the big "B" on the front of it. It won't be hard to find, since it's right beside the historic Laura Secord there. Maybe I'll see the motel we stayed in for a time, I have a few memories of that place, too. Hope you're there with me for that, Wyatt.

A strange sight here in Regina. Right outside the Tim Hortons there is a highway sign saying "To 11", you know, the usual directional sign. Above it, however, obviously of the same manufacture, is a black sign with a coffin shape inside stating quite simply "FATALITY". This isn't the usual cross on the road or flowers. This is government issue. Perhaps a test to see if drivers are careful when these signs are up?

I feel yucky all over. Can't wait for a shower, or at least a sponge bath in the washroom here.

I just thought of that disastrous attempt of mine to bike from Toronto to Vancouver a couple years ago. The one I quit after only one night on the road? I realize now the disaster would have been if I didn't quit when I did! I saved myself a LOT of pain, and possibly danger from riding on that crappy bike for such a distance. Not to mention the headwinds I would have encountered! THEN to have to do the Rockies??? Whew! I'm glad I quit on the second day!

Okay, time for some real work. I've thought about it before, now I'm going to do it. I'm going to write a couple of travel articles about my trip, and see if anyone is interested. Hopefully Gillian will be able to help me out on her end, since I'll be mailing them to her. But I'll go over the details with her on the phone later.

I just looked at my watch. It's 8pm. That means I have TWELVE hours to spend here, at least! Hoo boy. Wanna bet I finish Around The World in 80 Days by then?

I'm at 30,000 words in this journal, by the way.

COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE (X-tra Large... shudder... shake... tremble)

A local cyclist noticed my bike, so I went out and gave him the lowdown of the bike and the trip. In return he clued me in on the place to go for bike tune ups. Dutch Cycles, near Saskatchewan and Angus, is a family run business which is so top notch, the owner is called in as an expert witness by the police. Looks like I found the place to get Viaticus Rex tweaked!

It's amazing how busy this place is at night. It's full of older men and women even after 10pm!

I just finished my first article. No idea if it's any good, but it's done. Basically it's about the last half of the BC trip, where I ran into everyone. Hard to fit that in 1000 words, though (which it has to be, apparently).

Noah's On The Road Housekeeping: To make any donut shop feel like home, just spread all your gear in a disorganized fashion on the table and chairs!

I like it when people pity me. I was asking the lady at the counter which items were more filling than others ("to make my pain go away" heeheehee), and she gave me two apple fritters for the price of one.

Still plenty of people here at midnight, so I guess I have to move on to...



Onto Day 32...