Day 44 Eastend to Ponteix: Striking Oil - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

June 13, 2011

Day 44 Eastend to Ponteix: Striking Oil

With a sunny day and just a short jaunt to Shaunavon planned, we dawdled over to Charlie's for breakfast. We joined the now familiar (in any small town) knot of eight older middle aged and/or retired farmers gathered for breakfast and gave Rene our order. It was just him running the place today, but he was unperturbed, intermittently hanging out with the farmers and checking on our bacon, eggs, and pancakes. We of course were unperturbed as well. Hey, we're retired too, eh?

When we did finally leave town we found a flat road, more sunshine, and slight tailwind. We spun along with not much effort. Now we saw why "oil" seemed to be a topic in Eastend - with the crews patronizing everything from the motel to the coffee shops to the campground. Here on the east side of town were increasing numbers of derricks. We had our closest look at one, much better than the glimpses from a speeding car. They are so iconic as they seem to bow to the ground, much like those perpetual motion drinking ducks from the dime store.

There were many oil derricks east of Eastend, but they petered out by Shaunavon
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Oil fields are not as pretty as other fields
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Oil field opportunities on a notice board in the cafe
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Many flooded fields in evidence
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We are sitting now eating a roast chicken from the Co-op food store, on Centre Street in Shaunavon. We are under shady trees outside the library/museum but not because we scouting the town and astutely chose this place. Rather, at the west entrance to town is a confusing sign that directs you away from the town, for the "scenic" route. Even on our bikes we had almost zoomed right past everything before stopping to wonder wha happened. Had we been in a car, we never would have found the place.

Where we came in at the north end of Shaunavon there is a mini construction boom going on. At a quick glance it looked like the developing suburban area of any large town. After that the first thing we hit was the Coop grocery store, which also has a big town look. And then the library - big town like as well.

After just a few days in Saskatchewan, we are very used to small town things. Little stores, just a few small houses, and streets we can cycle down backwards. So the hint that Shaunavon was not like that got us off on the wrong foot with it.

A little more cycling back South revealed that Shaunavon has an authentic Saskatchewan small town core and that the glitzy additions are just additions, glued uneasily on to the base. The combination does not work well, though. When we entered a very spare café we asked what they had that could go with coffee. The lady pulled from the freezer some Costco muffins and some grocery store cinnamon buns. I went for the bun and it went into the microwave. Dodie was served coffee too, though she did not ask for it and doesn't drink it. Being Canadian, we didn't make a fuss. The total bill for plain coffee and one 39 cent at the grocery store frozen bun was $6.00!

Shaunavon is proud of its women's hockey star
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No idea why these elk were in Shaunavon, but we like elk.
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Shaunavon suburban development due to a mini oil boom
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Shady "real" street
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"Real" supermarket
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Picnic site for us by the "real" library
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A display at the library
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We see lots of these prairie dogs by the roadside
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But this is likely the closest we will get to seeing a moose on this trip
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The authentic downtown
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Hayley in a Shaunavon uniform
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The authentic theatre
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Very spare and sparse cafe
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One of three restaurants in town. This one very sketchy.
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A little turned around after having doubled back to avoid missing the town, we asked a lady on the street how to get out of town. 'Just take any road, they all lead out of town', she replied.

We read about the tornado that hit here a few weeks ago
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The tornado was seriously mean
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This sprayer nailed Dodie. She felt ill for 1 1/2 hours after.
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We saw deer at play today, as well as this antelope.
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How about this for a pleasant cycling road!
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It's a bridge to nowhere, but very "architectural"
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This sprayer is reluctant to monkey with Dodie!
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Deer, antelope, coyote, and bison were all seen today.
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Crighton - yet another ghost town!
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Chrighton, or not
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A classical shot of an abandoned house
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We decided to make the dash to Ponteix. The road became more rolling that it had been before Shaunavon. By evening we reached Cadillac, which had a government sign indicating there was camping there. However that was the first and last sign and we didn't see it, so we pressed on.

Arriving as is customary now on a 100 km + ride just at sunset, we found the camping area at Ponteix quite easily. We did not find, however, any tables or real sites or the washrooms. We asked a man who was filling a large water tank at the town's water supply nearby, and he whistled up the person who is in charge of the site on his cell phone. That person was at home, in the bath, and just said 'camp anywhere' and the washrooms and shower is open. We did that, and for tomorrow are set to explore this 'real' Saskatchewan small town before launching another long push east. A glance at the map tells us there are lots of long days ahead, but now the road and the weather are 'all fun'!

Ponteix has a French flavour. More on Ponteix tomorrow
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We were plagues by mosquitoes the whole day. The ones in this shot are not on a screen or window, this is just a shot into the open air!
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Today's ride: 120 km (75 miles)
Total: 2,464 km (1,530 miles)

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