Day 47 Ogema to Weyburn, Saskatchewan: Farewell Uncle Ed - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

June 16, 2011

Day 47 Ogema to Weyburn, Saskatchewan: Farewell Uncle Ed

Opening our email this morning brought both sad news and good news:

ED ZACKON , Dodie's beloved uncle, passed away in Ottawa at the age of 89. We had hoped to see him on this trip, but now it can never be. Ed was a veteran of WWII and came back to Canada with Beryl, his British bride. Ed and Beryl raised four children, Julia, Joe, David, and Janet and had numerous grand children and great grandchildren. We always knew Ed as a most warm and gentle man of strong principles. He developed a love of the Ottawa Valley, and we remember visiting him on the farm and at the lovely historic house in Spencerville. In his later years he developed Parkinson's Disease, but even as his physical state deteriorated there was never a complaint. He will be truly sadly missed.

Sad news is often balanced with happier news. We learned today of the first graduating class from Ocean Academy, the school our daughter Joni helped to found in Caye Caulker Belize.

In Belize, less than 40% of high-school-age students are in high school. Yet, the days of earning a living from fishing are quickly disappearing. The students of Belize need a broad, solid education to succeed in a country that depends on tourism. Across the country, students are required to pay school fees, buy their own school books, and buy uniforms. Less than half of the population can afford to pay these expenses. They are denied an education and many families remain in a cycle of poverty.

Joni and her colleagues are working to combat this. Check them out at http://www.cayecaulkerschool.com If you wish to make a donation to this worthy endeavor it will be much appreciated and will be put to good use.

As predicted, Ogema this morning more than made up for the fried perogies and unhelpful staff we experienced last night.

Ogema houses can be small
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and some need work
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Ogema main street
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The historic fire hall
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and the historic fire wall
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We pulled up to the Rolling Hills Restaurant in downtown (plenty of free parking!) and the new proprietor, Alice, greeted us at the door. She is recently from China, and is wonderfully pleasant and polite. Inside we found a clean, bright and cheerful room, and also Linda, who is presently the baker and cook having recently sold the restaurant to Alice. In Linda's hands was a tray of cinnamon buns just out of the oven.

Now good cinnamon buns are just as hard to find as good bagels, and the last REALLY good ones (other than Dodie's - just thought I would slip that in) were at Al's restaurant in Winnipeg, forty years ago. Since that time (despite having found Dodie) I have been looking for Linda, and her buns!

Linda also made us a sandwich to take for lunch (real -like,real - roast beef) and Linda and Alice sent us on our way in fine shape.

Linda and Alice of Rolling Hills Restaurant
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Linda and Alice and those Cinnamon Buns
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Rolling Hills inside
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Rolling Hills outside
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We quite quickly came to a "Point of Interest". This was the first one in Saskatchewan, so it figured to be really interesting. It was in fact a "grave" marker for the town of Amulet, which died sometime before 1975. We had to beat a path to the marker, indicating that this point of interest had not had too many customers lately. To be fair, only cyclists and the most alert of motorists would have spotted the site.

The Amulet marker
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Amulet
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Our next "point of interest" was a man walking. Why is this of interest? In this vast landscape, we had noticed that no one, ourselves included, goes out without the assistance of some sort of machine - car, truck, tractor, sprayer, bike. This man alone was Peter Sotropa. After an illness that made it impossible to walk, he now revels in a daily 3 km. Again, only the man alone and the people on bicycles could meet and talk. Motorists just whiz by.

Peter Sotropa talks to Dodie about parenting
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We learned that Peter is the proprietor of the Harvest Pie Co., which specializes in pie fillings of saskatoon berries and wild blueberries. Their products once put in pies can be found in the Market on Yates and Market on Millstream, near our home. Small world - again. Check out http://www.harvestpie.com/

As we passed by Pangman, yet another Saskatchewan small town, we debated turning in for a look at it. The answer, of course, was yes. If not, we could also have gone to Montreal by airplane. We had looked at the campground and the school, when a woman - Eileen Tunall - came from her house. After the UQs, she let us know that there was coffee being served at the community hall and that we should head over and help ourselves, plus potentially visit the washrooms. We went over and found not only coffee and muffins, but a friendly group who were preparing to paint the interior. Dodie was tempted to take a day off and help out, since she loves painting. I found the community newsletter on a table, and soon learned that we had missed the Mother's Day Tea, bad news since it featured angel food cake with strawberries and ice cream. I also learned that beginning August 12 the town will celebrate its 100 year anniversary. Eileen presented us with the celebration pin. This is one souvenir we will carry home.

You can read the community newsletter too, at pangman.ca

Pangman, though small, is vibrant
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Wall-E style combines at Pangman
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A Pangman street
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Pangman Chuckle of the Day - rang a bell after meeting Peter, the man who went outside in Saskatchewan without the aid of a car or tractor.
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Pangman community centre
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We also learned from Eileen that a family of cyclists had been through a few days earlier, headed home to Nova Scotia. This is the second time we have heard of them. A farmer we met yesterday told of them getting a flat near his house, and of their plan to find a tire repair in Weyburn. Maybe soon we will track these phantom folks down. Everybody seems to like them!

As we proceeded towards Weyburn, traffic in general and heavy trucks particularly increased. We no longer could wave to everyone, nor did we want to. It was a bit like Crocodile Dundee when he got to New York.

Prairie colours
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What is this bird?
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Rig pigs!
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So, is this road flat
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Finally, at Weyburn, we ran into the full disaster - Walmart, Canadian Tire, McDonalds, Superstore. Although there is supposedly a good park, we chose a motel since it was raining. I asked the counter lady about any "historic downtown" and/or good restaurants. Since the town is so much larger, it figured to me (anyway) that it should have a bigger and all that much more historic downtown (plus tons of first rate restaurants). The lady was a bit taken aback, but racked her brains and came up with a couple of suggested activities and restaurants. It turns out Weyburn is a miniaturized Calgary, and we should not expect too much. The lady warned us that all the "boys" from the oil crews who stay at the motel are up early and gobble down the free breakfast buffet. We said what the hell, tomorrow is another day (and besides we have to rest up to beat the "rig pigs" to the trough), went to McDonalds, and called it quits.

Unlovely approach to Weyburn
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Today's ride: 85 km (53 miles)
Total: 2,680 km (1,664 miles)

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