Day 46 Lafleche to Ogema: The path and the plan - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

June 15, 2011

Day 46 Lafleche to Ogema: The path and the plan

It's morning and we have wifi right now, so we are taking the opportunity to put in the map (below) of where we have been since the last map (Missoula). A second map (also below) shows the planned route from here to Winnipeg. Should we find wifi tonight we will update this page. On the other hand, with GAME 7 coming up, we do not expect anyone to be reading about the lame Grampies, On the Go or otherwise!

Another sunny day, and we have ambitions of making it to Ogema. The 130 km distance will be our longest on the trip so far. At first we think to make a quick getaway with a snack from the Coop grocery, but it is not open yet. So we resign ourselves to a sit down breakfast at the Flying Goose. The owner comes over and asks the UQs. We learn that he, like so many, (a) used to live in Vancouver and (b) has children or relatives in Nelson, or Cranbrook, or Coquitlam, etc. Also like so many others, he prefers Saskatchewan and feels uncomfortable when having to visit in the mountains of BC. We are beginning to feel the same, though its not the mountains (which we still love) but the traffic and crowds that we abhor.

A gift of blueberries from the owner of the Flying Goose in Lafleche
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Back on the highway again, Dodie makes the observation that we have not seen a train yet in Saskatchewan, though the track is not abandoned and is often paralleled by the highway.

One other thing that has been with us all along but has been too subtle to mention is ducks. There are ducks everywhere here, of many varieties. They are floating on the flooded fields and in the ditches. They explode from nearby and flap away at high speed. The ducks are part of an abundant birdlife, not including the bird sized mosquitoes that are with us and entertain us constantly.

Two other ubiquitous elements are cows and the big sky. The cows are mostly Black Angus, with good representation also from Hereford and black/white face. As with all cows and most other animals, they love Dodie, and frequently race along in their herds by the fences, as she calls to them. The sky too, is of course everywhere, and the Big Sky is a well worn cliché.

Today I formed the impression that the whole scene on the left side of the road was not real. First off, the cows had been drawn as crude black rectangles, with their white faces daubed on also as crude rectangles. The green grass and blue sky behind also seemed too stereotypical to be real. Do they make holodecks this large? Anyway, Dodie seemed to disprove my theory by calling the cows over and showing that they could run. Actually, so what? I said it was a holodeck, not a painting!

These cows are too crudely drawn to be real?
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Big sky
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Assiniboia has the same naïve charm as the other towns we have passed through. There are no secrets in Saskatchewan - everything is out in the open on the flat, and nothing is bigger than few blocks. As the towns go, though, Assiniboia is size jumbo. Instead of a one block downtown, here it is three. The Co-op grocery store is jumbo, and there is an authentic CIBC branch.

At the entrance to the town was a strange tourist info spot, featuring a collection of stuffed African big game animals and a farm implement that stacks square hay bales into six bale stooks. The man that invented the implement used his profits to go big game hunting. On his death, the collection was donated and put on display.

Not so sure the yellow ones are my favourite
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The Africa display
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Sour puss
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Around the corner, there were festivities going on at the Co-op gas station. Members were getting their dividend cheques and burgers were on the BBQ, to raise funds for the local hockey team. We joined in and scored two burgers for our donation. We bumped into a man who turned out to be the president of the whole Co-op operation for the region. Co-op is a big thing here, with gas and oil, building supplies, and grocery operations. The president directed us to a local museum and an art gallery, but as true plebeians we were more interested in ferreting out the bakery.

Mega seed storage at Assiniboia
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Co-op is big here
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Dodie engages the President
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Good thing, too, because the stuff we picked up there kept us alive for the next six hours of pedalling.

Assiniboia main street
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Central Park - smaller than the one in New York!
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The bakery
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Not Montreal quality, but kept us going
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The giant Co=op grocery
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The bakery
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After doing 40 km to Assiniboia, the next 90 km seemed more than a little long. To boot, there was not a cup of coffee or even a source of shade to be found along the road. We are prepared for this, though, and had along eight water bottles, a pile of stuff from the bakery, and some pepperoni and cheese sticks.

When we did reach Ogema, though, we were quite seriously hungry. As we set up our tent in the (not so well marked) town campground, a young man came along bearing a take out Styrofoam. He regretfully informed me that the contents (fried pyrogies) were not for me, but also pointed out that neither this nor anything else available at this hour in the town was suitable for athletic cyclists. Only the bar was open (at 8:30 p.m.), and their only trick was deep fried stuff.

Ogema downtown
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Train station replica at Ogema. A plan is afoot to run an actual train around the southern Saskatchewan towns.
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Here is the track, but where are the trains?
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The young man turned out to be Jesse Friesen, who had come down from Saskatoon for the summer to work on framing pig barns. We learned later that this is a multimillion dollar pig initiative that has caused a minor employment boom. Jesse will use his savings to attend university, with an eye to Social Work. He of course asked us the UQs and was genuinely interested in our trip. He also liked the idea of the blog, so here he is, now a part of it!:

Jesse Friesen and Dodie
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We made our way to the bar as well, and discussed the food situation with the lady behind the counter. Yes, only fried items were available, except for those which were not. No, she could not give us the wifi password because only the boss knows it and he is in Winnipeg. There is a motel next door with wifi but she can not give us that password because it is not her business to give out their password. Breakfast might or might not be available here tomorrow, but in any event they only open at 9. There might or might not be breakfast elsewhere in the 1 block town, but she does not know about that. Dodie dubbed this lady the village idiot.

Our $5 order of 6 deep fried perogies was the least poisonous of the deep fried offerings. We split them 3 each, and washed the ting down with Pepsi (not Coke). To increase our indigestion, the Boston Bruins were prancing around the large screen TV after their Stanley Cup victory. We can not blame this on Ogema, or the idiot, but we would like to!

Oh, oh, the Bruins won.
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The lame bar
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A stroll up and down the block revealed one or maybe two nice looking restaurants and a grocery store. In the fresh light of day, the town will no doubt find favour. Right now, though, it is putting us to bed with indigestion and a sick regret about the Canucks.

Today's ride: 131 km (81 miles)
Total: 2,595 km (1,611 miles)

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