Sunday June 30, 2013. Day 32

Portage La Prairie to Winnipeg

We met our French cycling colleague, Jasmin, at Tim Hortons, where he had spent the night sitting in front of his laptop. He is using or, but it seemed not to have worked out this time. He was in good spirits and we shared more stories over an espresso and a latte.

It was a hot, hazy day with the Garmin at one point measuring 33C. We consumed lots of water but there was no shade and the road was as flat as we have seen. On the outskirts of Winnipeg, we turned off Highway 1, crossed the Assiniboine and cycled along the River Parkway. It was gentle and meandering and we passed many other cyclists as well as picnickers. Eventually, we re-crossed the river by the Legislature and made our way to the hotel.

We will be staying here for two days. Paul has been here often, but not as a tourist, and Lois has only visited briefly on one occasion. We are looking forward to celebrating Canada Day at the Forks!

We remain on the traditional territory of the Treaty 1 First Nations. The Swan Lake, Ojibway, First Nation is by Highway 1 just west of the city. Winnipeg is situated at the junction (the forks) of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers. The rivers provided an extensive transportation network linking many First Nations peoples, including the Anishinaabe, Assiniboine, Ojibway, Sioux, and Cree.

Saturday June 29, 2013. Day 31

Brandon to Portage La Prairie

It was a perfect day for going to the lake, or …….for cycling along the Trans-Canada! It was hot and long and the wind was not always our friend. We have learned not to hope for an easy ride, as we have discovered that anything can happen and when it does, it is often at the end of the day, when we are tired and beginning to think of cold beer and hot showers. This is when we suddenly encounter a tough, steep hill, or a thundershower, or one of us nearly runs over a snake, dead racoon/skunk/fox, etc. or a smelly pig truck passes us yet again!

Today, after 115 kms, just after stopping at a gas station for a final pit stop, we cycled back on to the highway to find that the hard shoulder ended. For the final 6 kms, we had to struggle through loose gravel. We left it for a bit for an unpaved service road. At the end of that road, we were greeted by a fellow cyclist, who was actually cycling on the highway, as his tires were too narrow for the gravel. He is from France and had taken a bus from Montreal to Vancouver, where he bought gear and began his cross-country tour on June 5. He went the southern route and has followed the Trans-Canada all the way. He is averaging 150 kms/day (twice our average!). Hanging off his bike were licence plates from the 4 provinces he had come through, 3 of which he picked up on the side of the road, and one a gift. We agreed to look out for each other on Canada Day down at the Forks in Winnipeg.

We are on the traditional territory of the Treaty 1 First Nations. The Dakota Tipi First Nation is situated 5 kms SW of Portage La Prairie.

Friday June 28, 2013. Day 30

Shoal Lake to Brandon

Highway 21 South was a good choice. There was very little traffic and even a hard shoulder for a good part of it. With a tailwind, the cycling was easy and the skies were blue. At Hamiota,  we stopped and made espressos beside the cemetery. We passed through the Sioux Valley Dakota community and crossed the Assiniboine River, before turning on to Highway 1.

The last 40 kms were less pleasant. The traffic on #1 was heavy and an assault on the senses after the peace of the 21. While there was a hard shoulder all the way to Brandon, it was not in a condition one might expect from the national highway. But, it was the wind that got to us again. The north wind that had helped us speed along earlier, was now battering us from the side and, when the highway turned north-east, it was partially a headwind.

To end the day we discovered a great restaurant, Lady on the Lake, where we had Manitoba pickerel, Saskatoon berry pie and Saskatoon berry cheesecake, and listened to a live Rhythm & Blues band. Oh yes, and it was margarita night!  When we got back, we received a video from Jade and Rhys, sending kisses.  Who cares about wind?

Wildlife Notes: Pocket Gophers

We are now in the traditional territory of the Treaty 2 First Nations. The Dakota Nations of South Western Manitoba are not signatory to any of the numbered Treaties.

"At the 100th Meridian where the Great Plains begin" (or end)
“At the 100th Meridian where the Great Plains begin” (or end)


Thursday June 27, 2013. Day 29

Russell to Shoal Lake

Suddenly, we have come into summer on this trip – warm, sunny days with a cooling breeze (from the right direction). But, just as we were beginning to sing “Sum-mer time and the (riding) is easy…”, the road conditions deteriorated and the hard shoulder disappeared! For  the last 50 kms, we had to cycle on the 2-lane Yellowhead, dropping down onto the soft shoulder for traffic, which included many large semis. The shoulder was covered in thick gravel, making it very difficult to ride on or maintain balance.  After we arrived in Shoal Lake, we learned that there is likely to be little hard shoulder on the Yellowhead from now on.  The only alternative is to take a route south to join the TransCanada a bit earlier than we would have done. After consulting with the proprietor of the motel and listening to advice offered by a local resident in the restaurant, we will be heading straight south tomorrow to join Highway 1 after about 80 kms and will head for Brandon. We are not confident that Highway 1 has continuous hard shoulders, as reports are inconsistent on the status of Manitoba’s efforts to upgrade its highways, but at least it will be a divided highway.

We remain on the traditional territory of the Treaty 2 First Nations.

Wednesday June 26, 2013. Day 28

Yorkton to Russell, Manitoba

Paul’s presentation to the meeting in Hong Kong last night was well received but the Skype audio started to break up at the end. Because of this there were questions that were unfortunately left unanswered, at least for now. Paul did get a chance to see and chat with colleagues from WHO and the Public Health Agency of Canada beforehand.

We were back at the Cup and Saucer again at 7:30 a.m.  As we left Yorkton, the skies began to clear and the temperature climbed, hitting 30C by early afternoon. The wind was behind us again and the cycling felt good.

We stopped at the small town of Saltcoats for a break. It was named after the Scottish town that was home to the Allan Shipping Line that brought many of those that immigrated to Canada and settled in the area. It was also the first village created in the Northwest Territories in 1894 and was governed by a system of direct democracy where ratepayers met regularly and made regulations related to sanitation, fire and animals and authorized public works.

We crossed the Saskatchewan/Manitoba boundary about 20 kms before Russell, after which the highway dropped steeply to the Assiniboine River valley and then ascended in a very long  climb. It was the first real hill since North Battleford and a bit of a shock!

Russell, Manitoba has the unfortunate distinction of being home to a Barnardo Industrial Farm,  to which more than 1,660  British children were sent between 1888 and 1907, to  be trained as agricultural workers.

Wildlife Notes: We were “dive-bombed” by nesting Black Terns. Lois even had to duck!

We are now in the traditional territory of the Treaty 2 First Nations. The Waywayseecappo First Nation community is the closest to Russell, but is affiliated with Treaty 4.

Tuesday June 25. Day off

We were glad to be in Yorkton when we awoke to thunder showers and strong easterly winds.   After breakfast and laundry and a quick look at the Globe and Mail,  we took a cab to the Fifth Ave Cup and Saucer for good lattes and carrot muffins.  It is a family-run business that is up for sale, with a conditional offer currently accepted.. The two young brothers are going back to school – one to do computer programming and the other, to barber school in St. John, NB. They say the business is doing well and they are confident it will continue under new ownership. We said we would be back for lunch and wandered off to the Godfrey Dean Art Gallery. The gallery is currently exhibiting local artists, so there was quite a range of subject matter, medium and ability. We noticed there were three photographs by Ed Stachyruk, the same person who had photographed the Ukranian churches, on display in the bakery in Wynyard (owned by the photographer and his wife, we now learned).  Mr. Stachyruk has been documenting the interiors of the tiny Ukranian Catholic and Orthodox churches, many of which are disappearing. The executive director of the gallery, Donald Stein (a Google search shows Mr. Stein has an impressive bio himself) told us that the icons from the churches cannot be destroyed, so are being gifted to congregations in parts of the world where there is a need. Mr. Stein needed to pop out to Staples for a computer problem and asked us if we would watch the gallery for him for a few minutes! He left us a pile of fascinating art journals and magazines to browse through. Fortunately, no other visitors came while he was out, so we didn’t have to pretend to know something about Saskatchewan art.

As we mentioned before, we visited Stuart and Mary Houston in Saskatoon. Stuart’s parents were both GPs in Yorkton and his mother, Dr Sigridur (Sigga) Christianson Houston, had a particularly interesting story.

Monday June 24, 2013. Day 27

Wynyard to Yorkton

After looking at the forecast,  we decided to go all the way to Yorkton today, rather than stopping at Foam Lake, as planned (and we did not want to get too used to 60 kms days!). The winds were from the west and south-west, with clear blue skies. Tomorrow, rain is expected, with strong winds from the east. Given the distance and the anticipated temperature of 30C, we set our alarm for 5:30 and were at the Wynyard Bakery and Cafe before 6:00. The bakery, which opens even earlier in hunting season, is decorated with a series of photographs of the interiors of Ukranian Orthodox churches in the area.

With a tailwind, the cycling was easy and enjoyable. We passed the towns of Mozart  and Leslie, among others. We were in Foam Lake by 10, where we stopped and had a lovely visit with Lois’ cousin Cecile, and her husband, Alec. We parted with goodies and refilled water bottles in hand.

At Sheho, we turned off the highway and found a shady spot under a tree to eat our sandwiches. We went into the  Hart to Hart tea shop in search of hot water to brew tea in our David’s tea mugs and  chatted with the owner, Joanna and her guests about farming and the demise of small towns in Saskatchewan.

We think we must be “hard core” as we are acknowledged, mostly, by motorcyclists and truck drivers!

We are taking a day off tomorrow. Paul will be giving a presentation tomorrow night by Skype to a meeting in Hong Kong.

Wildlife notes: White-tailed deer, Red Foxes, Chipmunk.

We are on the traditional territory of the First Nations of  the Yorkton Tribal Council. Sakimay is the closest community.

Sunday June 23, 2013. Day 26

Lanigan to Wynyard

We cycled back to the Golf Club for breakfast, as it was the only place open at 8:00 on a Sunday morning. We ate there last night on the advice of the proprietor of the motel, who said it was the best food in town (grilled cheese with Kraft singles?!) We overheard a conversation about a big hailstorm in Viscount yesterday, which had cars pulled over due to poor visibility. We had obviously just missed it!

Easterly winds again today, but lighter, so cycling was easier. We were riding towards rain, but managed to avoid it, again. We passed fields of wheat, barley and canola (and possibly other crops we couldn’t identify from our bikes). There is a lot of water around, so the bird life is plentiful (mosquitoes, too!),  particularly as we got closer to the Quill Lakes, where we saw many pelicans.

There is a whole book written about Saskatchewan place names. Today we passed Kandahar, which was named after a late 19th C British victory in Afganistan; strange, given today’s Canadian connection. We crossed the old Carelton Touchwood trail. At the south end of the trail is a village called Punnichy, which is on the so-called Alphabet Line of the CNR. Some of the communities have disappeared, but the sequences from A to Z are still obvious on a map! We also passed the signpost to Melfort and remembered our year there in 1985/86.

Wildlife Notes: American Goldfinch, Tree Swallows (at nesting boxes), Bonaparte’s Gulls, Double-breasted Cormorants, American White Pelicans (50+ circulating above), Castor canadensis – live and highway kill (Q: why did the beaver cross the road?).

We are now in the traditional territory of the Treaty 4 First Nations. The closest communities are the Kawacatoose and Day Star First Nations.

Saturday June 22, 2013. Day 25

Colonsay to Lanigan

We took advantage of our kitchenette in Kobi’s Hideaway Motel to make breakfast (and because Ben’s Place is closed on Saturday), and began the day with a decent espresso. Colonsay installed a reverse osmosis water treatment plant, which makes the prairie surface water much more palatable (We made sure all of our water bottles were refilled!)

The wind continues to challenge us. We have now crossed half of Saskatchewan against the wind. The effect is a bit like a continual climb, without the descent. To keep our spirits up, we have resorted to using our iPods. After a couple of attempts at sharing music from one bike with speakers, we decided that our cycling (like our running) musical interests are not compatible! (Different cadences?) Lois is listening to folk and country (and the occasional Sibelius symphony), while Paul has on his running rock mix.

Close to Lanigan is a large mine. The Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan is the worlds largest producer. The immense piles of tailings are easily visible from the air. We haven’t seen much evidence of an impact of the economic boom on the infrastructure of the small communities through which we are passing.

Wildlife notes: Green-winged Teal, Ruddy Ducks, Avocets (protecting their nests).

We remain in the traditional territory of the Treaty 6 First Nations.

Friday June 21, 2013. Day 24

Saskatoon to Colonsay

We had breakfast with dear friends, Murray and Gerri Dickson, whom we hadn’t seen for too long. Murray and Gerri have spent many years working on a very successful U of S/CIDA health training project in Mozambique. We had much to talk about and were sad to have to leave. We  pedalled out across University Bridge towards the Yellowhead. The skies were grey, but cleared as we headed east, and the wind, though still easterly, was weaker, at least until later in the day when gusts grew stronger. We passed the 2000 kms mark today, the summer solstice.

We are now travelling through potash/farming country. Saskatchewan’s booming economy has become less dependant on agriculture and more diversified, with potash mining and the energy sectors leading the way.

In a rest area, we came across a plaque dedicated to Dr. Gordon Bicum, a family practitioner in the small community of Elstow for 43 years, until 1967. Colonsay prides itself  as the “isle of the prairies” and all of the streets in the village, apart from Railway Avenue,  are named after islands off the west coast of Scotland. Dinner was Chinese food at Ben’s Place, where Ben prepared a tofu dish for us, not on the menu.

Wildlife notes: Garter snake, Racoon (road kill).

We are still on the traditional territory of the Treaty 6 First Nations.

Thursday June 20, 2013. Day Off

We moved over to the Bessborough Hotel this morning – a bit of luxury, a Father’s Day gift from Maritia. The Bessborough, one of the great old CN hotels (now Delta) was where our family stayed when we first arrived in Saskatchewan from England in 1985 and where we said goodbye to our Saskatoon friends 5 years later, when we were moving to Ottawa. The day was rainy and cool, but it was lovely to be back in the city, the first time we were both back here together since 1990. Saskatoon,  a planned “garden city” with wide tree-lined streets and the riverbank reserved  for public use remains one of our favourite cities. We connected with old friends, including Stuart and Mary Houston, ate at Calories again, and walked by our old house. The pelicans are still on the river near the weir.

The winds and weather should be more favourable tomorrow for resuming our trip.

Wednesday June 19, 2013. Day 23

North Battleford to Ruddell (to Saskatoon)

Our shoes were still wet this morning, so we cranked up the fan heater in the hotel room and left them to dry while we went for breakfast.  The weather forecast was not good, wind from the east at 40kmph gusting to 60, but as the forecast was the same for tomorrow, we decided to give it a go, rather than spend a couple of days in North Battleford waiting for better conditions. Thirty four kms and 4 hours later,  the prevailing elements led to a major change of plans. We were barely moving and tiring with the effort. We were also concerned with what appeared to be a developing thunderstorm in the east. We decided to flag down a lift. Trying to gain the attention of pick-up trucks did not work and we had almost decided to carry on cycling, when a woman  who had driven by us, turned back on the divided highway to see if she could help. Her SUV was big enough for our bikes, and she offerred us a lift to Saskatoon. Our scheduled stop at Radisson was another 36 km and, given the forecast now for Thursday – wind from the east of 45 gusting to 66. – we accepted her generosity. Nathalie, a home care nurse, told us about changes to Saskatoon as we drove along the highway. While we were disappointed not to be entering the city on our bikes, we recognize we have to be flexible (and sensible!) on this journey.

After checking in to our hotel, we  went to David’s Tea where the server gave us our tea for free, noticing that we had come in from the rain. On learning about our exploit she also offered us two small insulated mugs with tea attachment, plus some of our favourite blend. We were very appreciative and impressed. We later went to Calories for dinner, an old haunt and favoured tea (and carrot muffin) hang-out of Lois during her articling year down the street at Gauley’s.

We are on Treaty 6 land and the traditional territory of the First Nations of the Saskatoon Tribal Council.

Tuesday June 18, 2013. Day 22

Lloydminster to North Battleford

We knew this was going to be a long day and we knew the forecast was for winds from the east, gusting up to 30km/hr. As it turned out, it was one of  our most challenging days to date. It began well, with coffee across the meridian boundary, in Saskatchewan, at Ernie’s. The day was sunny and we soon removed our jackets and cycled in short-sleeves. For the first 50 kms, much of the farm land was dotted with oil wells.

We stopped in Maidstone for lunch, a town where Joni Mitchell spent part of her childhood, and which she sings about in “Song for Sharon”. We ate at a cafe called “Lou and Sue’s”. Lou’s brother was so impressed with our cycle trip that he asked if he could have a photo taken with him, and insisted on giving us a couple of cans of iced tea for the road!

The  wind made pedalling difficult and, after lunch, our progress seemed even slower. The air became muggy and the mosquitoes managed to bite even when we were moving. From Paynton, we followed the North Saskatchewan River, turning southeast after Delmas and coming down into the river valley. The sky became darker and we could see rain and lightning in the distance. When we finally crossed the river into North Battleford, the lightning was close by and we suddenly found ourselves in the midst of a torrential downpour. It was too late to put on our rain gear so we decided to try to get to our hotel as soon as possible.  However, it just rained harder and harder, and we were forced to walk our bikes up the hill and find shelter in a gas station. The rain continued unabated, water was streaming across the roads, visibility was very poor and it was dark. Even though we were not far from our destination we ended up getting help from a young man with a truck. We were very appeciative when he dropped us and our bikes at the hotel.

Wildlife notes: Richardson’s Ground Squirrel, fox, wolf (road kill).

We are on the traditional territory of the “Plains Cree” which included the Cree, Blackfoot, and Siouan Assiniboine Peoples.

Monday June 17, 2013. Day off

Lloydminster straddles the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan. Founded in 1903 by the Barr Colonists before either province had been carved out of the Northwest Territories, it was intended to be an exclusively British Utopian settlement, centred on the idea of sobriety. Unfortunately, the colonists had no idea that the Fourth Meridian  of the Dominion Land Survey was under consideration as a future provincial boundary. (The meridian was intended to coincide with 110 west longitude but imperfect surveying methods placed the meridian a few hundred metres west of the longitude.) As a result, Lloydminster was two separate towns, with separate municipal administrations until 1930, when the towns were amalgamated under shared jurisdiction and reincorporated as a city in 1958.

Arriving in Lloydminster on a Sunday was problematic as a number of restaurants are closed Sunday and Monday. We did have a good meal last night at the local Original Joe’s (thanks to Lorraine for the suggestion) and lunch there today. Coffee this morning was at Ernie’s Coffee House in the old brick post office building.  We were approached there by a young woman conducting a survey for the city  on public transportation (there isn’t any). She was intrigued with our bike trip and, when we inquired about her, discovered that she is a Queens U grad working for a year before attending law school at Georgetown University, with plans to pursue a career in international relations.

We later headed over to the Barr Colony Heritage Cultural Centre, which houses an impressive collection of the paintings of Berthold Von Imhoff, as well as other local artists, and the OTS Heavy Oil Science Centre, aimed at children but interesting for us too.

One of the four meridian posts, erected in 1994
One of the four 100-foot meridian survey markers, erected in 1994

Sunday June 16, 2013. Day 21

Vermilion to Lloydminster

We were glad of the short distance today as the wind was no longer behind us, the skies were completely overcast and the terrain much hillier. Paul was pleased to receive Father’s Day greetings from Vancouver and Geneva en route!

We are breaking up what would have been a 6-day stretch to Saskatoon with a day off tomorrow. We’re off to see what Lloydminster offers…

Wildlife notes: Killdeer, Northern Pintails, Shovelers, Blue-winged Teal

Treaty 6 stretched across central Alberta into Saskatchewan. The two Cree First Nations that make up the Onion Lake Band, live 50 kms north of Lloydminister.

Saturday June 15, 2013. Day 20

Vegreville to Vermilion

  Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.          (HG Wells)

Vegreville is home to the world’s largest pysanka (Ukranian Easter egg).  It symbolizes the harmony, vitality and culture of the community.

We arose and went to Innisfree, but only for lunch (apologies to Yeats), and wore our rain gear all day, needing  it at times. The wind was behind us and when, occasionally we headed NW we realised how strong it was. Our bikes were knocked over a couple of times, with gusts, when we had stopped. We noticed more and more large concrete grain elevators, which have unfortunately all but replaced the iconic ones made of wood which marked each community.

Today we had two flats in quick succession on the same wheel. It was only on the second occasion that we discovered a small piece of wire protruding from the inside of the tire. The picture does not really signify Lois’ lack of faith in Paul’s ability.

Vermilion is named after the mud of the river.  Over a million bricks were made here in the early 20th C.

Wildlife notes: Western Kingbird

We remain on the traditional territory of the First Nations of Treaty 6. We could find no reference to First Nations in the history of Vermilion.

Friday June 14, 2013. Day 19

Edmonton to Vegreville

Somewhat disconcerted by the tornado warning for Edmonton of the previous day (it did touch down at Pigeon Lake), we arrived back in the city yesterday and picked up our bikes from Velocity Cycle. We spent another enjoyable evening with Maureen and Bev, dining at the High Level Diner (thanks, Vanita, for the recommendation!), where the Thursday special was Ukranian cabbage rolls, perogis and borscht – delicious!

Our departure from the Alberta capital was no easier than our entry had been, as we tried to follow bike-friendly routes, complicated by the same numbering of streets and avenues, and avoid the numerous potholes on Edmonton streets. We eventually found ourselves back on the Yellowhead and it was mercifully FLAT, with the bonus of a strong tailwind. We virtually flew to Vegreville on our newly-serviced bikes! Despite the risk of thunderstorms and the presence of dark clouds in all directions, we had a dry and mostly sunny ride and it felt good to be back in the saddle. We passed through Elk Island National Park, but neither elk nor island were visible from the road.

Note: Given the intense relationship we are developing with our respective bicycles, we have decided to give them names. Lois’ bike is called Starfish, after a little silver starfish milagro from Isy (and because Jade would like the name!), or Stella Maris, so as to sound less  New Age.  Paul’s bike is named Roland Nathaniel Fitzwilliam (well, just because).

Wildlife notes: Swainson’s Hawks, Black Terns, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Franklin’s Gulls.

We remain on the traditional territory of the First Nations of Treaty 6. We could find no reference to First Nations on any website related to Vegreville.


Monday June 3, 2013. Day 18

Entwhistle to Edmonton

Ok, so today was not fun. While the oatmeal at the Riverside Diner was a welcome start, we were soon in the rain again. It cleared later and the temperature rose, but at the same time the wind shifted to the east, which became more tiring as the day wore on. Rather than the mostly flat road we had become used to from Jasper, the highway was undulating, refecting the rolling parkland terrain. Unfortunately, the “downs” did not compensate for all the “ups”. As we approached Edmonton, the traffic became heavier and, from Stony Plain in, now on the 16A, it was stressful. The shoulder was often covered in gravel and we had to continually cross exit and entrance ramps. A Dairy Queen stop, the first for decades for both of us, was some respite. With great relief, we left the highway and entered the North Saskatchewan River valley on bike paths. By this time, we were racing against the clock, despite already having cycled 100+ kms, as we had booked our bikes in for servicing at a bike shop south of the river, and had to get there before they closed at 6:00 pm. Lois located the trail under the LRT bridge across the river. On the south side, after a few wrong turns in the riverside park, we were confronted by a very steep hill on the path, which defeated even our lowest gears, and we were obliged to push our bikes to the top. We then battled traffic through Strathcona, arriving at Velocity Cycle just at closing time. We have left our trusty steeds in seemingly very capable hands, for a 1500 km service.

Feeling somewhat disoriented, we piled all of our panniers into a taxi and headed to the house of our friend, Maureen, where we collapsed with a welcomed drink on deck chairs in her sunny, well- planned back garden and remained there for the rest of a most enjoyable evening, which ended sitting around a brazier as the sun went down and the solar garden lights came on. We are taking a break now, flying back to Vancouver tomorrow so that Paul can attend Canadian Public Health Association meetings in Ottawa (and Lois can have some precious Nana time with Jade and Rhys). We fly back to Edmonton on June 13th and resume our tour on the 14th.

We would like to say that, while we may be too tired to respond to comments left on our site, we very much appreciate them, and  the moral support!

Wildlife notes: Frogs croaking, evidence of beavers and a raptor flying high in the sky (?Swainson’s Hawk)

It appears that we are on the traditional territory of the Papaschase First Nations.


Sunday June 2, 2013. Day 17

Edson to Entwhistle

Our coffee stop was Tim Horton’s this morning, which will amuse some who know we are espresso snobs. However, Timmy’s surprised us, as the espresso was not bad at all! The server was bemused, though, when we didn’t want any coffee with the shot of espresso!
The ride was fairly easy again, with few hills, and the same wide shoulder. The Yellowhead is divided from Hinton, so we only get half the traffic. We are still in boreal forest and muskeg country, but with more ranches, including one for bison. It rained on and off, but no thunder storms, thank goodness, though the threat of one led us to shorten our cycle today, meaning another 90+ kms into Edmonton tomorrow. (Thunder storms are forecast again for tomorrow.)
We checked into a (rather sketchy) motel in Entwhistle and went in search of milkshakes. We discovered that Sammy’s restaurant makes a very good one with fresh strawberries.
The name Entwhistle, like Edson, is connected to the railway. (Edson was first named Heatherwood, but was changed around 1911 in honour of the vp of Grand Trunk Pacific Railway – pity!).

Wildlife sightings: White-tailed Deer

We remain on the traditional territory of the First Nations of Treaty 6

Saturday June 1, 2013. Day 16


Hinton to Edson

Our day started at the Old Grind in downtown Hinton away from the strip along the Yellowhead. The coffee was good and we enjoyed their tuna sandwiches later, by Obed Lake. The young server said our bike trip was “awesome”. A man struck up a conversation on seeing Pauls’s epresso. Originally from Greece, he had lived in Hinton for 50 years but obviously still  had a love for his homeland and was keen to talk about the Greek islands we had visited.

The ride took us up over the Obed Summmit (1163 metres), the highest point on the Yellowhead (perhaps our reference to the prairies yesterday was a bit premature!). As we climbed, we could see in our mirrors the peaks of the snow-capped Rockies, which had been obscured in the rain of the previous days. At the top of the summit, we called Chris, who was in transit in Seattle airport, en route to Seoul to join Shinyoung for a week before the two of them move to Paris.

The stretch of road from Obed Lake to Edson was less interesting and we relieved the monotony by playing Jazz 94, on Paul’s iPhone.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is for rain, turning to thunderstorms by noon – not good!

Wildlife sightings: two loons calling on Obed Lake

We are now on the traditional territory of the First Nations of Treaty 6.


Friday May 31, 2013. Day 15

Jasper to Hinton

At breakfast, Lorraine informed the young Irish woman who was serving us that we were cycling across Canada. Her incredulous  response was “That’s insane!”.  As we were checking out of the hotel, a visitor from down-under  advised Paul that there was a new invention – i.e., the car!  Unfortunately, Paul was not ready with the response later suggested by Norm, ” those are for old people”.

We packed up and cycled to the Bear Paw Bakery for a final coffee with Lorraine and Norm, Lorraine snapping photos of us from their car as we cycled alongside – we felt like celebrities! Not only did Lorraine and Norm drive 4 hours to meet up with us in Jasper, they sent us off with two zip-lock bags full of Lorraine’s home-made chocolate, cranberry and nut biscotti! Classy lady and a great couple!

Our  ride through the park was easy. It was flat and we even had a tailwind for much of the first 50 kms.  It rained on and off for much of the day as we cycled beside the Athabasca River, stopping to picnic and for biscotti breaks! Just past the park exit, we climbed for about seven kilometres, finally leaving the mountains and entering the foothills. We have now crossed the Cascade, Columbia and Rocky Mountains. Next, the prairies!

Wildlife sightings: elk and one great horned sheep.

We remain on the traditional territory of the Aseniwuche Winewak Nation.