Friendly places and familiar faces: Day 21- Cereal Alberta to Kindersley Saskatchewan and then the old family farm - And Then We Pedalled...... Cross Canada 2015 - CycleBlaze

June 23, 2015

Friendly places and familiar faces: Day 21- Cereal Alberta to Kindersley Saskatchewan and then the old family farm

Today started out like a David Lynch movie and ened up like the Waltons. 

In between we did some biking.

We stayed last night in Cereal out of necessity, not choice. This is going to happen on this type of trip.

When we came into town the previous evening it looked well kept but more than a little deserted. The only people we saw were the three younger women working and / or hanging around the Hotel (Bar and trailers). At the risk of sounding rude (or old), these three ladies were the most disengaged, or self absorbed, folks we've met on our trip so far. We got our room, we got our food, we got our beer, but we got no interaction or acknowledgement of our existense other than consumers of the room, food and beer. That's OK, but I somehow feel these ladies are missing out on a whole lot ...

David Lynch over with, the contrast with the rest of the day couldn't be greater.

We hit the road pretty early (no place to get coffee or breakfast and we didn't feel like sparking up the stove in the room. Check out consisted of leaving the key on the bedside table). Oyen, a larger town was 23 km down the road so we pedalled off in search of caffeine.

Another beautiful morning, a bit of a tailwind, rolling hills and not much traffic (yet). When we got to Oyen, the main town was about 2 km's off the Hwy but there was a gas station and convienence store, and a new Canalta hotel right by the Hwy. Kirsten suggested we check out if the hotel had a restaurant or cafe. She went inside, asked a few questions, and came out and said we could get coffee. Bike stowed I went in and met Lou, Michelle and the one hotel guest in the breakfast room. Their buffet breakfast is included with their rooms, but they invited us in, gave us tea, coffee, full run or the buffet, and fully engaged us in conversation. They were very interested in our trip, told us about others who had come through doing similar things and gave us recommendations on routes to take. We had escaped from Lynchville!

We got back on the road and continued east towards Alsask and the Alberta / Saskatchewan boarder (and you wondered where Alsask got it's unique name!).

The one thing that was (is) unique about Alsask is that is was home to a NORAD radar station. I've been on this road a lot (as per yesterday's blog) heading to "the farm" and we were always on the lookout for the tell-tale super sized golf balls on the horizon. These were the Radar domes at Alsask. There were three of them there, part of the North American wide air defence system, keeping watch to ensure thse pesky Ruskies didn't send bombers over the north pole.

The cold war is now over, the technology is obsolete, and two of the domes are gone. But one of the golf balls remains, more of a familiar boarder maker than anything else now. We were informed by a local at lunch that the station had been emptied, mothballed and sold to a private party many years ago, but I still like it that one ball reamins standing sentinel at the border.

Golf ball passed, border crossed, lunch consumed (at the gas station restaurant, the only place for miles and fortunately pretty good) we continued east to Kindersley.

Canada's is fairly balkanized when it come to provincial services and standards. Alberta has historicaly had better roads than Sask and I was wondering if this would look like the Switzerland / Italy transition I experienced 33 years ago .... 'Hey, who stole the pavement?....'

Fortunatey the folks in Sask have done a fine job on their highways and although the number changed from 9 to 7, the quality of the pavement, shoulder and relative lack of rumble strips contnued on through to Kindersley.

We arrived in Kindersley at 4:30, right on time to meet my cousins Ian and Deb McLeod. The bike was stored at Deb's brothers', and we were loaded into their van to we headed north to the family farm (about an hours drive). Ian is the fourth generation of McLeods to live here, and his grown kids (Jay and April) are the fifth. I've spent a lot of time out here when I was growing up and it's always good t get back. There's been a lot of change over the last few years. Farms are being consolidated, people are moving away or doing other things to make a living and most of the smaller towns and hamlets are literally ceasing to exist.

Anyway, it was good to be back visiting famliy, even if just for a short time. This is why the day ended on a much nicer Waltonesqe note.

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Song of the day:

Pulling on a Line by The Great Lake Swimmers ....... I'm just pulling on a line, on a line.... Sometimes the line pulls me

Although we ae a long way from the great lakes and this song has more of a nautical theme, when we set off this morning, I really felt like the road was pulling us eastward, and in the early morning light it  really was a line across the landscape.

Historical Monument of the Day:

Buffalo Rub outside of Flaxcomb. We really like this one as it is one of the few monuments acknowledging what things were like before European settlement.

River of asphalt pulling us eastward..... Leaving Cereal early in the morning
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Lou at the Oyen Canalta hotel. We pulled in here after biking 23 km from Cereal looking for a morning coffee and tea. Thanks to Lou and the other staff an patrons, we got that, plus breakfast, plus advice on routes and roads in Saskatchewan, plus genuine interest in our trip! Thanks Lou and all the staff at Canalta in Oyen
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Well kept Hutterite colony near Alsask
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Bill S .... You will have even more kickstand envy. Our tandem comes with this auto extending and retracting organic version. Keep it fed and watered and it works flawlessly
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Cold War golf ball. A now abandoned radar dome that was part of the NORAD radar system scattered across North America. There used to be three domes. Driving through here as a kid we were always on the lookout for them an the horizon as it meant we would be getting into Saskatchewan and closer to the farm where our aunts uncles and cousins lived.
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Province number two done!
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Hello Saskatchewan! Province number three
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Saskatchewan historic monument - Buffalo rub just east of Flaxcomb
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This is the Buffalo rub - the yellow thing is not a buffalo
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Friendly folks at the Flaxcomb store. The only problem is that it's at the bottom of a valley right where you hit max speed. But at 3 in the afternoon with the temp rising, we brake for cold drinks!
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Cousins Ian and Deb McLeod. They drove down to kinderesly to pick us up and drive us back to the McLeod farm ( we left the bike at Deb's brothers place in Kindersley). Great to get together again. I spent a lot of summers out here ( this is where my dad grew up). Ian is the fourth generation of McLeods on this land. It was homesteaded by our great-grandfather at the turn of the 19th century
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Kirsten modelling cycle tan. She needs to get either shorter bike shorts or longer off-bike shorts
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Today's ride: 125 km (78 miles)
Total: 1,874 km (1,164 miles)

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