Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Road Trip to Yellowknife, Day 9: Lac La Biche to Saskatoon

Text and images (c) Robert Barry Francos, 2010
Images can be made larger by clicking on them

On our last day of travel, I awoke early at the Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park campgrounds at Lac La Biche, Alberta. The sun was shining, and it was a bit cool, but a lovely morning. As the campground is on a peninsula, I decided to go and explore a bit on my own. The trail was easy to follow down to the beach, where I saw a number of birds, including pelicans. The trail continued along the riverside to another beach. It was a long way, a mix of boardwalk and dirt trails, but the variety of flowers and mushrooms were splendid, and the lake itself was calm, a good sign for the coming day.

When I came back to camp, John and Ian were starting to prepare breakfast and coffee. Ian pointed out he had spent the night with a bug, and it climbed out when he left. He pointed it out on the tent. It was huge, and one I'd never seen before. Later I heard it had quite a bite, so I'm glad Ian was left intact. Looked like something from a '50s radiation drive-in flick.
Starting the final leg of our journey, we continued on Route 55, which temporarily joined with 36 for a few miles, when we hit construction. In fact, we hit road work in spots a lot all the way back. I started taking pictures of the people holding the Stop sign. One saw me do it, and looked really perplexed, like, "wha?"
Back on a solo 55, we stopped off at a Tim's for coffee at Cold Lake (AB). On the east end of town was these sailboat signs. Our side said "Come Again," and on the other side was a welcoming greeting for Cold Lake.

East of the town of Peerless (AB), there was road paving construction.
Even with all the delays, we made it into Saskatchewan in the very early afternoon, and arrived in Meadow Lake (SK).
We stopped for lunch at the Homestead Family Restaurant and we all had, for some reason, pizza. I know you want to ask, so I'll tell you it was no better or worse than could be gotten in Saskatoon, where the consistent "second best pizza" prize tends to go to Pizza Hut. That should put it in perspective. But I digress...

All around the restaurant, I found some interesting things, so I stopped and took some photos, of course. This sign for a fishing store piqued my interest, perhaps for the leeches, or maybe the fireworks (in idea, not practice).
The Waikiki Motel and Inn had a sign on top that make it appear at first like it was the Coke Motel.
Across the street was this storefront, which appears to be the Nifty '50s Diner and Hercules appliance service shop.
Near the "Coke Motel" was the Fidrock Cafe, made to look like a castle, but with stucco on the edifice.
Behind the Waikiki Lounge (I am assuming it is connected in the back to the Waikiki Motel) is this side door to buy beer by "off sale." I'm sure it's legal, but with that door, it looks kinda shady.
Down another road was a string of chain food stores, even more than those that can be seen here. We liked the idea of the local diner, instead.
When we stopped, the car was coated with dead bugs, including a butterfly that had gotten caught in the driver's doorhandle, somehow. When we were eating, we were seated by a window where we could see the car, and could watch the birds have a field day eating the bugs, and thereby cleaning the car. They did a decent job.

Getting back into the car, I saw this sign. There is a strong religious and conservative movement in the prairies. I shuddered at the message.
When we left Meadow Lake, we headed down highway 4, which took up straight south. Along the way we found this attractive place as we drove by.
At the town of Glaslyn (SK), we turned east again, on route 3. The town has a great grain elevator, which has been kept up. Many are falling into need of repair.
Here is what the newer elevators look like, which are replacing the icon ones.
At Willness (SK), we saw one of the unused elevators, which made me kind of sad. They are such beautiful structures. At one point, this must have been a bustling one because it has an addition to it that is as large as the original.
At Shell Lake (SK), we headed south once again, on the major highway that would take us home. It was getting around dinner time, but we did not stop; we were getting relatively close. We estimated our time of arrival would be around 7 or 8 PM.
Route 12 is beautiful, a mix of different types of landscape, and a diverse joining of farms and towns. In fact, Saskatchewan in general is a lovely place.

Off in the distance near Martin's Lake was this decaying barn, surrounded by a field of canola that was behind in its growth due to excessive rain that has been plaguing the province.
Driving down small (though major) roads in farm territory can be interesting at times. This thrasher came by and took up most of the road. We had to pull over onto the shoulder just so it could get around.The road ahead to pointing straight to home...
...but... as the old Yiddish proverb goes, "make a plan and God laughs."
They dropped me off after 10 PM, but not before I had the chance to check the mileage, of course. The day has been 642 kilometers / 400 miles, with a total of 4570 K / 2840 M for the whole trip, door to door (mine... add another mile in total for John and Ian to get home).

Needless to say it was good to see my partner after 9 days, and to have some eats. It was a joy to sleep in my/our own bed.

The journey was wonderful, filled with places I had never seen before, meeting new people, and having a good buddy bonding experience with new friends.

Footnote: Just a week later, John and Ian wanted to know if I was interested in a drive up to Skagway, Alaska, in a couple of weeks. Wow, these guys are motivated, Jack. I had to say no, because I cannot leave the country yet until I receive my proper documents. They still haven't left yet though, so perhaps it was more of a desire; but it is certainly one I can understand. Certainly, more road trips will follow, but perhaps not until next year.

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