September 10th, 2021

on the res

Maple Creek → Shaunavon → Val Marie → Grasslands → Kincaid → Assiniboia

I am in my tent perched on the edge of a coulee. It's pretty much a badlands with just a few tufts of grass. I just stood on a conical hill and looked right to the edges of the earth, all around me, and didn't see a soul. I sat, with wind whipping around me, and watched the sun set.

But how did i get here?

Last time i left y'all i was in Maple Creek, my first Saskatchewan overnighter. I resolved to head for Shaunavon along the 724 "highway", which is actually a gravel road.

Anyone who says the prairies are flat is lying, or maybe they just never strayed off the Trans Canada Highway. There was as much climbing to Shaunavon as any big day of hills in BC. It's almost more grueling, because although the hills have a fairly low grade, they keep climbing for 5 or 10km non-stop. In a car you might not notice or care, but on a bike it means you are constantly working, you can't rest at all. Add to that loose gravel roads, stiff crosswinds and headwinds, direct sunlight with no shade all day, nowhere to stop to pee, or get a drink, or buy some food... Seriously, it is much tougher to cycle in the prairies than the mountains.

Admittedly, part of the pain is self-inflicted because i continue to flirt with the continental divide. I crossed into the Saskatchewan River watershed, but the Milk River keeps pulling me back.

I still love the relentlessness of riding in the prairie, the heat, the simplicity. Maybe a little dehydrated, i start to hallucinate, little floaters and flashes in the corner of my eye, things popping in and out of the matrix, illusions. Was that a bug, a bird, something running through the grass? Or is my imagination just creating phantoms? Truly a magical place.

Somewhere along the road to Shaunavon i realized i was making a Christmas song as i counted the things i saw. 1 combine harvester, 8 farmer's trucks, 2 SUVs and a pair of Hutterite colonies. I also saw countless grasshoppers, and butterflies, mice, hawks and deer, and an oil derrick in an oil field.

Twice a farmer pulled over to talk to me. The first one was all like "you don't see many cyclists up this way". Nope. He had that farmer cadence that i remember from living in various smaller towns growing up, where you expect them to answer immediately, but they just pause and think for a minute, then continue as if nothing happened. Another farmer pulled over and asked if i was lost, then tipped his hat when i said i was on the way to Shaunavon.

A lot of people wear cowboy hats in Saskatchewan.

There was a spectacularly silly downhill section. The sign said "9% next 2 km". On gravel. It is nerve-wracking going that steep down a loose gravel road with a crosswind, because when you get slightly out of the hard rutted-down section, which you definitely will, your bike just starts to slip out from under you, but you can't correct course or you will definitely stack it, so you just softly ride the brakes and let it veer further and further off the edge of the road, hoping it'll either get traction again or slow down enough you can put a foot down.

I succeeded on that 9%. I failed earlier today coming into Grasslands National Park, but fortunately had slowed enough that the fall was largely harmless.

When i got in to Shaunavon and pitched my tent i took a walk round town to see what was open. Nothing was open. It was deader than dead.

Well, one bar was open, but the kitchen was not. I got a beer and sat down trying to ponder my next steps. The only food they had was bags of those Indian snacks like Bombay mix, which actually seem marginally more nutritious than a bag of chips. I picked out a chickpea ganthiya and some plantain chips.

And that's when the town's apparent social fixer invited me to play pool. At first i thought she was inviting me to join a group of her friends, but it turns out she had somehow managed to gather every lonely construction worker in the bar together to build a little drinking party out of nothing. There were a couple of welders fixing farm machinery down in Frontier, there was a civil engineer doing roads near Climax, and several other guys, none of whom were Shaunavon locals, but all in town on some kind of contract work. Some had been there for months, others just showed up today, like me. "So, is this all there is in Shaunavon?" said one. It's hard to tell in these prairie towns, because there are always far more storefronts than actual operating stores. The population everywhere has been trending downwards since the 1980s. Turns out that there is more stuff in Shaunavon, but because of Labor Day everything was closed.

It didn't matter. Our local party organizer J had her phone's Spotify linked to the stereo and tried to play everyone's favorite music ("oh you like electronic music, what's your favorite Skrillex song?") She bought rounds for everyone and set up teams for pool. It turned out to be a surprisingly fun little evening. I tapped out after 3 beers, because i knew i'd be cycling again the next day. Although i wasn't sure where.

I said i wanted to go to Grasslands and J said "why would you bother going there, it's just more fields! We have fields here too!" Her suggestion was to go to Swift Current, and when i said i wanted to avoid the Trans Canada Highway she suggested Ponteix, the next "big" small town due east. I still wasn't sure.

The owner of the bar was more concerned about how i would get "home" to BC, and told me i could save a bunch of money by booking on a new regional airline that just started up, but i'd have to book a month in advance so i should do it now!

Anyway, i went to bed.

Right about now is when usually i'd have a -o- to separate another day, but nope, still here in my tent on the prairie.

I woke up and decided to go to Val Marie, the town closest to Grasslands. I figured if i had another intolerable day of gravel riding, i could still nope out and head north back to the "big" small towns, but at least if i went to Val Marie i could talk to some locals there who might have a better idea of my options to see Grasslands.

I sat down for breakfast at the Shaunavon diner (finally, things were open again), and just as i was leaving i met a dude who Got It. Some dudes just Get It. Either because they've bike toured before, or maybe they hoboed around before, or they're just outdoorsy in general. He immediately realized i wasn't the "get across the country as quick as possible" kind of tourer, otherwise i wouldn't be in Shaunavon in the first place. When i said i was thinking of going to Val Marie, he suggested i go south to Climax and then east instead of "stair stepping" a shortcut through the gravel roads. Why? "Because there is beautiful valley on the way, Frenchman Valley, it's really chill, you can crash there if you don't feel like biking all the way today, there is a Bible camp on the river, but they're not using it right now, so you can probably camp on their grounds overnight". Now that's useful advice.

I followed his advice and rode south to Climax along the sealed highway and made much, much better time than on the gravel. There was one section where a road team was resurfacing some of the road. Over here you have to wait for a pilot car to lead you through the construction, because it's often 5km long of single lane, one-way traffic. But the construction guy waved me through and told me to stay on the shoulder.

Right in the middle of the construction, just as i was getting stuck behind the resurfacing truck, a guy in a white pickup rolled down the window and said "you should've picked the other lane", calling me by my first name. It was the civil engineer from the bar last night! Ha!

After getting through the construction i zoomed down the coulee to Frenchman River, and it was beautiful. It was yet another of these epic huge glacial melt valleys with just a piddling little brown river in the middle, barely a creek. It's such a wacky geological anticlimax, it appeals to my sense of humor. I sat by the side of the bridge and ate an apple, then tackled the long, arduous climb back up the other side. I saw the Bible camp, but decided to push on to the actual Climax.

I need to tell you a story about Climax. For years my friend R and i have been calling it Sonono due to the postal code being S0N 0N0. But how do two tech workers from Toronto end up talking about Sonono?

Well. Back in my post-Brexit depression, i basically had two plans. Either take my savings and travel the world, or take my savings and try to buy the cheapest house possible in Canada, so i could retire early and never work again because i fucking hate work.

Obviously i chose the former option, since i ended up on a boat to China. But i took the latter option fairly seriously too.

The only place i could afford to buy anything where i also thought i might find the weather tolerable was southern Saskatchewan. Basically i did my Köppen climate analysis of Canada, realized that the only places worth a shit in the whole country are Kamloops area, Osoyoos area and a section of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan in the heart of Palliser's Triangle. Of which the only place out of those that has affordable property is southwestern Saskatchewan. Because, as we now know, there are almost zero services out here and most of the land doesn't have useful water (it has to be trucked in).

I found one property that was empty land right by Climax that i could afford. I had a dream to rewild the land back to native prairie and live in a tipi (or more realistically perhaps an RV) while getting it set up to be relatively self-sustaining, like put in a greenhouse or try grow some corn or something. I even got as far as contacting the real estate agent before realizing it would be a dumb idea because staying in the same place forever sounds like the worst possible life.

Nevertheless, it captured R's imagination, and we started a running joke that we should just get out of the rat race and build a homestead in Sonono, just two spinsters sick of it all, sitting on the porch drinking lemonade. Probably with vodka in it.

We spent so long using Sonono as code for "fuck work" that i completely forgot that Sonono was also Climax, until i got there.

It would be a nice place to live, except for the stupid fucking political signs for the Conservative candidate. Nowhere yet in Saskatchewan have i seen a sign for the Conservatives, despite the fact that the party has swept the entire province for years, so that might give a clue as to the type of people living in Climax. Imagine living in what is practically a single-party state and then doing propaganda work for that very same party. That's essentially the Chinese model. Anyway, Climax. It's on the ass-end of nowhere, more grasshoppers per square foot than a freakin' night market fried insect stand, endless horizon of yellow grass, two grain elevators, dozens of abandoned buildings...

And a damn fine burger. I went into the town diner and ordered the bacon cheeseburger with fried onions. It was a very, very good burger. The bun was buttered and toasted. It was just gooey enough. I usually don't like plain old burgers that are essentially just slabs of unseasoned meat and American cheese, i am a much bigger fan of stuff like Mexi-burgers or "gourmet" burgers with blue cheese or mushrooms or some other ingredient that actually introduces flavor to what is otherwise a terminally bland dish, but this plain old burger was about as good as plain old burgers get.

Needless to say there was nothing vegan on the entire menu, aside from a side of fries.

Continuing on to Val Marie, i stopped in at the grocery store in Bracken, barely a blip of a community, but they had Dutch licorice (aka "drop") and bischuit en hagelslag, which i can only translate as melba toast and chocolate sprinkles. You eat them together. I know that sounds weird. It's a Dutch thing. I've noticed several of these farming communities have a surprising amount of Dutch snacks that you never see in big city grocery stores. I asked the shop owner and she said there are a few Dutch farmers and they ask to get Dutch snacks ordered in, so she orders it in. Now that's a kind of service you'd never get in a big city store.

I also noticed a lot of locals run a tab at the grocery store, maybe only paying the next day, or the next week.

After Bracken i decided to take a shortcut across a gravel road to avoid an unnecessary southward wiggle toward the US border on the main road. That was a nice choice, since the gravel wasn't too loose, and after a bit of climbing i had another one of those 2km long downhills, although slightly less nervewracking than the previous day due to a more worn road.

And yeah, Val Marie. I immediately booked it to the Grasslands visitor center, before i even set up my tent, and it's there that i met the parks officer who gave me the excellent suggestion to take a walk up 70 Mile Butte at sunset and camp in the backcountry the next night.

Which is where i am now. But it's 9pm now and i am tired so i will stop here and continue the story of getting to Grasslands tomorrow.

It's been an awesome few days. Saskatchewan is the best.

-o-

Just popping on briefly to say i am currently waking up under a tree behind an abandoned building in Kincaid.

Grasslands was awesome. The sunset hike the other night was incredible, although slightly scary when i went to cycle home and discovered that my front light was out of battery, despite my recent charging it. I hope it isn't busted. Fortunately i also had my headlamp along, which i wrapped around the handlebars to provide some form of visibility on the pitch-black highway back to town.

The next morning i got my backcountry camping pass from the visitor center, and some water from a coke machine (due to Val Marie grocery store not opening till later in the day), then cycled to Grasslands. It was a fairly short ride up the highway, then right turn onto a gravel road and into the park.

It really is a bit like a real life Westworld. A lot of the land that is now Grasslands was formerly ranch land and some crop fields. The government is slowly purchasing and rewilding the land. The first thing you see when you get in is a big prairie dog colony, which would've been a fantastic novelty if i hadn't already seen one in Badlands National Park in South Dakota. But it's still cool, to see all these little holes all over the place, and rodents popping their heads out, looking left, looking right, chirping for a bit, then running to a different hole. I'm not really interested in wildlife from the point of view of animal-watching, but i love knowing that the animals are out there, living their lives, doing their thing, building a little functioning city of their own. It makes me happy to know we can actually share our planet with other species rather than evict them, enslave them or murder them.

The bulk of the park is a stretch of the Frenchman River valley and the coulees that run into it. I cycled down to the main campsite to have lunch, took a walk down to the river, which some ambitious folks had forded to hike out to an area where the buffalo had last been seen, then headed for my allocated backcountry zone.

The zone extended for several miles past a particular trail going through the foothills and coulees on the southwestern side of the park. I didn't want to venture too far toward the border of the park, since that would just be farmland again, so stuck to the trail up through the foothills and down into some very deep and steep coulees that were challenging to ride my bike down. The main "summit" of the trail was a very steep scramble up to the top of a conical hill that there was no way i was getting my bike up, even pushing. I left my bike at the base of the hill then climbed to the top and looked around my domain for a place to camp. I spotted two white boulders on the next ridge over that seemed like a good landmark, and resolved to camp in the coulee beyond those.

So that's what i did. Wheeled my bike off the trail, following buffalo hoofprints into the badlands. A smarter place to camp would probably have been in the grassy foothills earlier in the trail, or maybe deep in the valley, but i figured if i was getting backcountry camping rights, i should set up in a dream spot.

I mean, obviously the dream spot is right on top of a cliff, next to one of those ancient tipi rings, where you can survey the prairie for miles around. But realistically i knew camping on top of a ridge would be painful with the wind, plus it'd ruin the view for other hikers, so i settled for a higher point that still gave me a view of the buttes across the plain, but was nestled deep enough that my tent just looked like another boulder.

I did not avoid the wind. Dear God, the wind. The wind is so fucking strong. Finally, a use for trees. Windbreak. But there are no trees in Grasslands National Park. I thought getting behind a hill would block me from the southerly, but it doesn't matter in the prairie, the wind just whips about from every which way. I took a nod from the indigenous peoples and gathered a bunch of rocks to weight down my tent on every side (no chance of a peg sticking in the dusty soil). Then i went on another sunset hike.

The haze was bad. After i got out of the park i checked to see what was causing it, and i think it was the fucking wildfires. Still. Again. In this perfect dark sky preserve, the kind of place where looking up at the stars you should be able see the whole Milky Way... it was like looking through a dirty mirror. Oh well, such is life on the prairie.

It's a tough life. The wind is ceaseless. Dust gets everywhere. My tent was rustling and snapping and bending over, pushing up against my body, all night long. It got to a point where the howling of the wind was the natural state, and when the wind briefly paused i'd abruptly wake up, like there was a disturbance in the force.

I slept well. I opened my tent door and looked out at the ridge and it was awesome. On paper i was only about 5km from the trail head and maybe 1km off the trail, but i was completely in my own little bubble of peacefulness, it felt like i was the only person in the world. Just awesome. I could've easily stayed more nights.

Well, if i had enough water. Because that's the other thing. You can't filter the river water because it's too saline. There is some potable water trucked in to the main campsite, but only one spigot, and the last delivery of the year was Labor Day weekend. When it's gone, it's gone, so everything you drink you have to bring it in. That's a challenge for a cyclist.

When i got back to the trailhead, where there was a single bar of signal, i called the visitor center to let them know i was alright, then set off for Mankota.

On the road out i met a couple of photographers. They had fabulously long zoom lenses and presumably were trying to get the perfect wildlife shots. They were also both backcountry camping in different zones of the park, and we talked about the haze. One guy said he woke up at 2am to get the perfect night shots but the horizon was just too high. I shared his disappointment. The other guy said "you should've been here a few days ago, i could see 3 degrees below Sagittarius!" He said it with such a thrill i guess that must be impressive, so i reacted appropriately. Then they started nattering about the best places in Canada to go to get the widest possible nighttime horizon. Photographers, man, they are something.

Cycling to Mankota was another grueling prairie leg. Lots of long, harrowing hill climbing, interspersed with unsatisfactory downhills due to the headwind. There was nothing to take a picture of because the haze was so thick. There weren't even any birds singing, it's like a blanket had been placed over the land. Then again, all the frazzled post-harvest crop fields looked barren and depressing as hell anyway after the infinitely varied shades of tan and cheerfully resilient plant and animal life of the actual native prairie.

Mankota was eerie. It really feels like the end of the world. I know i say that about every prairie town, but it just keeps getting worse. It's the first place i felt uncomfortable since the "North Idaho" stretch of BC between Creston and Cranbrook.

The cops were there, pulling someone over. That's weird enough on its own, since none of these prairie towns actually have a police station. Either he was called down from 100km away by a local busybody, or there really was a criminal in town. Conservative signs were up. And the one bar left standing in town had another sign whining about COVID relief payments. It's gotta take a supreme asshole in a town of 100 people to blame their employees for being too lazy to work. Either it's pure political theater and actually there aren't any staff shortages, or you are explicitly calling out Alice or Bob, someone literally everyone in the town must know, because there is only one bar, and only one kid to work as a server who didn't already move to the city, so what the fuck?

Then i get in and say i'm thinking about going to Winnipeg. "Oh you don't want to go there. It's bad there. And it's getting worse." Admittedly Winnipeg is one of the most dangerous cities in Canada according to the statistics. But what most rural white people mean when they make some vague, non-specific statement about the cities being "bad" is that there are too many indigenous and/or "foreign" and/or homeless people there, and that makes them feel unsafe, regardless of whether or not they actually are unsafe.

Well, congrats, y'all made me feel unsafe in your town.

I ate a burger and then left.

I had two forward options - continuing east through the parched southern frontier, or head north closer to the Trans Canada Highway and hopefully more services. The guy at the bar said there was a small grocery store north at Kincaid ("can't tell you about Glentworth, never went there"), so i took his advice.

These small Saskatchewan towns have a gas station, a grocery store, a diner or a bar. Pick any two. Or just one. Or none. Never all four. Corner Gas lies. Unless Corner Gas is set in a town of over a thousand people, which'd make sense because that seems to be the threshold where there is a police station.

Kincaid has a grocery store and a bar. I asked at the grocery store where to camp and get water and was referred this abandoned building where i could camp out back like a hobo, but no joy on water spigots ("no one drinks the city water here"). I bought tomatoes and plums to augment my dinner with bonus water content.

I still had 1L in my water bag last night, but disaster struck. I discovered when i unpacked that it has a very slow leak in the bottom. I won't be near any camping stores any time soon so i will have to switch over to a disposable water bottle. I'm not sure they're hardy enough to take the beating they will get, shoved in and pulled out of panniers, supporting the full weight of my bike leaning on them, dropped into a thorny bush on the prairie... Nalgenes are the indestructible superstar here, but they're a bit bulky.

Anyway, this town also has a bar. I figured i would drop by for a beer and see if they could refill my Nalgenes. They didn't have any bottled water left, but i refilled from the bathroom taps, bad city water be damned. 2L plus the liter in my leaky bag should get me to Assiniboia, the next "big" small prairie town where they might have few different options of (disposable) water bottle in the grocery store, more than here at least. Thru hikers tend to reuse Smart brand bottles, because the bottle top conveniently also fits a Sawyer Squeeze filter.

I need coffee too. I will have to get Diet Coke from the grocery store as a substitute.

The bar was pretty dang country. A group of locals all on first name basis with one another chattered about their day while taking the odd swipe at Trudeau and the Liberals. They seemed like a harmless bunch, if you could ignore the casual and weirdly emphasized homophobia. The bartender was a bit more cosmopolitan, moved here from Paris after traveling around Europe. I didn't ask why he moved, but he said he did some work in Ponteix. He was an excellent bartender, able to switch from lowbrow banter to more substantial conversation on a dime. We talked a bit about small town life, and learning new languages. I would've tipped, but he left before i did, and then when i got the bill the new guy just charged for the beers and there was no option to add.

Ah well. I went back to my tent and had a quiet night. Now i will have a light breakfast and pack up my tent, then try make haste to Assiniboia. I checked and i will be able to do early voting there, so that's on my list.

Also on my list is to find a bathroom. With my stand-to-pee device i don't feel too awkward standing totally exposed in the prairie peeing on a fencepost. There is nowhere to get cover, so what else are you going to do? But pooping is another story. In the backcountry you can poop by digging a poo hole and filling it back in when you are done. But next to a farmer's field, or on the grass behind an abandoned building right in town, digging a poo hole doesn't feel right. So what do travelers do who need to poo? Drive to the next town, obviously. Hope that it has a full service gas station or a diner.

Bit harder when getting to the next town takes several hours.

Guess i better get moving.

-o-

This morning was one of the roughest yet. No coffee, i bought a sugar free Rockstar energy drink from the store instead. No toilet, i peed on a tree. Very stiff nor'easterly blowing in on my eastbound journey. I finally reached the flat part of Saskatchewan - no big hills, no coulees - but the headwind/crosswind was so strong i had to work hard for every inch. The haze hung in the air making everything gray.

Then, like a miracle, a gas station appeared. Not the "cardlock" gas stations, which are basically just an above-ground gas tank, a couple of pumps, and a credit card slot. But a real one, with a person inside.

I went in. Turns out it mostly sold farming supplies, but they had a flush toilet and a coffee urn. I used the facilities, then sat down for a coffee at the small table.

Every little gas station and diner in the prairie has a handful of farmers sitting down for coffee in the morning, and this was no different. We chatted a bit about the weather, and how i was happy it hadn't rained too much yet, and how they were hoping for rain. I said tomorrow it'd rain. They said "80% doesn't mean anything around these parts", "80% means 8 drops!" One guy joked that he'd take up cycling straight away if it meant it'd actually rain tomorrow.

I had a longer chat to one of the other guys, and he said going east i'll pass Lafleche, then Limerick ("their co-op is linked to ours") before Assiniboia. I asked if all the farmers' co-ops around Saskatchewan are actually farmer-owned, or if they were a chain, since most of them have the same signage. He said they used to be all locally owned in each community, but now because the communities are dying they need to team up with other communities to keep them all alive. I said that the co-op structure explains my observation that some of these stores have unique imported snacks that you can't find at regular grocery stores, or even at other co-ops. He took this as an opening to talk about immigrants. He is pro-immigration, he said his family got here in the 1600s so all the anti-immigrant folks are just as much "immigrants" to him as the ones they complain about. He said "we have a guy from India in the next town, at the bar and grill, he gets ingredients from a guy in Regina, and cooks real Indian food!"

Well, obviously i had to check that out. I finished my coffee and plodded through another hour of wind till i got to the bar and grill in Lafleche. I got the menu and it was all the same shit that every other prairie diner has. Literally, all of them are the same. They have: "Denver" sandwich (sandwich with an omelette on it), roast beef sandwich, club sandwich (ham and bacon), BLT, burger, cheeseburger, bacon cheeseburger. That's it. Some places have a caesar salad, which isn't vegan so what's even the point. Some places have wings and pizza. I said i heard that they do Indian food here and struck up a conversation.

K said that they only do Indian food first Tuesday of every month as a special occasion. I said it's been almost impossible to eat vegetarian since i got to Saskatchewan (i didn't bother saying "vegan" since that's just pure crazytalk round these parts) and i am so sick of eating burgers everywhere, i was really hoping to find something different. The guy took pity on me and asked what i liked. I listed off some dishes and he said, you know what, i can make you a palak paneer and garlic naan. He asked if i wanted spicy and i said yes, please, please, for the love of God fucking make it spicy. (I said it slightly more politely in reality. I am just so tired of this limp form of cookery that equates "spicy" with a thin smear of mustard instead of mayonnaise on the burger bun.) He cocked his eyebrow and i figured he was skeptical. So i used the Canadian trump card and said "i'm from Toronto". That's like going to an Indian restaurant in Germany and saying "i'm from the UK". I.e. i fucking know what South Asian food tastes like, so please make it properly. After that he asked if i wanted an Indian drink too and i figured since i am going all-in on Not Vegan with paneer, might as well get a lassi too. Where else am i going to find a meal like this in the prairies?

So off he went, and i got my palak paneer, naan, lassi and some red onion, cumin and pickled chili for a side. It wasn't the greatest Indian food of my life, but standing next to all the ultra-bland prairie food, it was practically a flavor bomb.

Turns out K is also a YouTuber, making stories about life in the prairies for the folks back home in India who have a very Toronto-centric view of what Canada is actually like. He asked to interview me for his channel, but i said no, because i am camera-shy. He said he really likes living in a small town because people all respect one another and support one another. He said the once-monthly Indian food thing was an idea from a customer and it turned out to be a big hit with the locals for whom it must be wonderfully exotic.

The food and the chat cheered me up, and i got back on the road with renewed vigor. One good thing about the nor'easterly is that it appeared to be blowing the smog down to Montana, so the skies started to get vaguely blue-ish and i finally felt some sun on my skin. It was still a hard ride, but i arrived at Assiniboia just after 3pm. It was only a piddling 75km from where i started, but after a miserable morning and a solid early afternoon of fighting the wind i decided to stop.

First of all, i visited the community center which had an early voting setup for people who were out-of-province. I voted, not that it will probably help much in my district (which is fairly predictably Liberal at the provincial level and Conservative at the federal level), but i figure i have invested enough into Canada over the past year or so that i deserve to have my voice heard. I voted for the NDP candidate who is a human rights lawyer. Then i checked into a motel because i need to recharge.

And here i am. I have no idea where to go next. I was half-hoping to blast through to Weyburn for tomorrow then follow highway 39 down to Estevan, mainly because i think it's interesting to have a diagonal road in the prairies (you know things are boring when you get excited about a diagonal road), but if the wind stays sucking then i will probably do another piddling leg to Ogema. It would be nice to see some other scenic parts of the province, but i think they're mostly north of the Trans Canada Highway now, and i'm not sure i want to do a big northern detour into areas where it is much more likely to be cold and rainy.

I have exhausted my inspiration. There is no Canada left for me to "do". America needs to open their goddamn borders already.

Alright, i am going to hunt around this town for vegan food. I will almost certainly fail. Then i will try to find instant coffee that doesn't suck and some oatmeal to replenish my Ursack. Oh, and a water bottle. Wish me luck.