Browsing "Saskatchewan"
Apr 15, 2012 -

Hey, There’s a Walmart in Weyburn!

This morning, I headed south of Swift Current to meet up with Saskatchewan highway 13. The day was spent traversing the wide open undulating amber hills of Saskatchewan. If you’re not into that sort of thing, don’t go that way, especially in the off season as there is barely anything but land and sky for the whole route. But if, like me, you are deeply in love with prairie landscapes, I recommend this route over taking the Transcanada, especially if you’re heading south to cross into North Dakota. For one thing, the road conditions are much better!

I had thought to stop well before highway 39 to spend a few days, but the options were lacking, short of parking behind a vacant building. My GPS told me the nearest Walmarts were in Moose Jaw, which is out of my way, or Estevan, right at the border. But I was able to get online in Assiniboia (cell service in Saskatchewan is spotty) and determined that there is a Walmart in Weyburn, right at the junction of highways 13 and 39. I have permission to stay for a few nights as I may have some more business to attend to before crossing the border.

It’s been frigid and overcast all day, so my batteries are really straining. I hit a full charge about an hour ago, but if tonight is anything like last night, I will have to ration my power usage tonight. One nice little luxury is sitting in the office with the electric blanket instead of running the heat all evening.

My inverter has officially gotten on my nerves. I don’t know what’s with it, but even if I’m registering 12.6V it won’t let me do anything more than charge the laptop before squealing that I have no battery juice left and turning itself off. I know I need to get a battery capacity monitor because voltage readings alone tell me nothing, but I find it suspicious that I can run heat, the water pump, and an LED light at the same time and barely have the voltage flicker on the solar controller while my inverter is asserting that the draw from my laptop is too taxing to my system. This summer, I am going to work out the math and do the pricing on getting a battery monitor and a couple of 12V deep cycle batteries.

Now, I’m off to research inverters. 🙂

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Batteries, Boondocking/Dry camping, Canada, Communications & Electronics, Computer, Electricity, Saskatchewan, Solar Panels, Technical, Travel    3 Comments
Apr 14, 2012 -

Wagons East!

I had just switched the last load of laundry to the dryer when Jody and Gary appeared, bearing muffins! Jody usually gives me four or five in a muffin container, but this time she had two dozen fresh baked ones in a huge plastic container. I was a bit at a loss as to where to put it until the muffins were cool enough to transfer to smaller containers. Then it hit me: the oven! 😀

We said our good-byes again and then I moved Miranda onto the street so I could hook up the car. All that went fine except for one not so minor detail: my car turn signals weren’t turning on when I put on the motorhome’s. A visual inspection of the wiring revealed nothing amiss, but I got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I looked closer and discovered that someone had, after several attempts, taken a serrated knife and cut the wire clean through, then carefully tucked in the pieces so that the sabotage wouldn’t be readily visible. I know who did this and he was a pain in my side all winter as he kept unplugging the motorhome when it was frigid out. I have no proof that it’s him, but he’s the only one with a grudge against me.

Anyway, I was relieved to find this type of vandalism, my first in three and a half years on the road, and not a broken window, slashed tires, graffiti, etc. I was out of electrical tape, so I ambled over to the home store a couple of blocks away and picked up a roll.

Back at the rig, I took my wire strippers and neatly snipped away the damaged portion of wire. Thankfully, I had a lot extra because he ruined over a foot of the stuff. Then, working one colour at a time, I stripped the two ends of the wire, twisted the copper together, then covered and wrapped the ends with lots of electrical tape. Once all four colours were done, I tested my repair. It worked! I then bundled all the wires together and wrapped the whole thing in a bunch more electrical tape.

The laundry finished just moments after this was done, so I did one last check and pulled away from the apartment complex. There were a number of turns to make to get out to a main road, with both sides of the street packed with cars, so it was a little bit like doing the moho slalom all over again. I needed to make a left hand turn at a T-intersection and had to wait for a car to make its on left turn onto my street. He wound up getting wedged between Miranda and a parked car and honked. I could only pull ahead so much and still be able to make my turn, but thankfully that was enough because I could tell that this person wasn’t backing up without a fight. I had just one more nasty left turn to make, and then I was on the eastbound Transcanada by 11:20 for an easy enough 400KM drive to Swift Current.

I’m glad I didn’t have to go any further today as the drive was windy and therefore exhausting. It doesn’t help that I was already sore from the last two day. I really don’t think I could have driven one more kilometre!

As I am on the road a few days earlier than planned, am finally self-sufficient for power, and am bone deep weary, I will find a place to hunker down tomorrow for a few nights before I make my border crossing attempt. This will give me a chance to see a little bit of rural southern Saskatchewan and to look a little more refreshed when I get to the border. 🙂

The rig hasn’t been plugged in since I took it out Thursday morning and I am sitting at a full charge. I love my solar panel!

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Alberta, Batteries, Boondocking/Dry camping, Canada, Electricity, Maintenance & Repair, Nice Folks, Personal, Saskatchewan, Scary Stuff, Social, Travel    1 Comment
May 25, 2011 -

A Saskatchewan Education, Or Not So Humble Humboldt

This past weekend, I joined Gary and Jody on a road trip to visit some members of Gary’s family who live near the small town of Humboldt, SK, which is a little under two hours north-eastish of Saskatoon.

Gary and Jody have done this trip many times and know the Saskatchewan road quality, or lack thereof, very well. So, they decided that the less bumpy way to get there would be going through Swift Current, Moose Jaw, and skirting Regina, and we would come home by way of Saskatoon and Moose Jaw.

Mid-afternoon Friday I loaded my stuff into my car and headed to Jody’s workplace. There, I moved my gear to her car and we took off for Gary’s workplace. There, we loaded up their rig, a 20′ travel trailer and truck, and headed east. We were on the road towards Medicine Hat by about 6PM.

The drive to the Saskatchwan border was pretty uneventful. I looked forward to doing the bit between Medicine Hat and Moose Jaw on the TransCanada since that was the only section of it I haven’t done, except for whatever’s in Newfoundland. I have to say that south-east Alberta looks a lot like southwest Saskatchewan. 🙂

Back to Saskatchewan!

Jody ran the deli Friday night and I was so hungry by that point that I didn’t think to photograph my dinner until I was halfway through:

the remains of my Friday dinner

It was coming onto 9PM when we hit Swift Current, and Gary was beat, so we pulled into the Walmart for the night.

Jody made up for the previous night’s late dinner with this breakfast:

breakfast Saturday!

Complemented by oranges, coffee, and yoghurt. I have been well fed since landing in Lethbridge! 😀

Gary and Jody's rig; much shorter than mine!

We pushed on eastward through Moose Jaw, the Qu’Appelle valley, and then we skirted around Regina before heading north. The roads were so bad I thought we would be launched into orbit!

I was put on deli duty and discovered that is not easy to make a sandwich in a moving vehicle. Notice how smooshed my lunch is:

lunch Saturday (made by me!)

We passed through the town of Engelfeld, which hosts an annual pig roast to raise money for charity.

the Englefeld pig

I really enjoyed this drive; there is just something about the Prairies that awes me.

We arrived in Humboldt in late afternoon where I was introduced to my hosts and was settled into a guest bedroom. We were served a very yummy dinner and then my hosts took us out to see the sights. I think that might actually have been more for my benefit. I’m very thankful!

The first thing we saw were pelicans! I had no idea you could find pelicans this far north! Unfortunately, they were super off in the distance and even my trusty zoom wasn’t able to get a good shot of one.

pelicans!

We then went to Waldsea Lake. Saskatchewan has been very wet the last few years and there has been a lot of problems with flooding and rising waters. So, this lake, which used to have a nice day use area and lots of cottages around it, was allowed to spill out from its berm. The cottages were all moved to a temporary holding area and will be relocated. The road to the lake just… ends.

Waldsea Lake

Waldsea Lake

cottages pulled from the shores of Waldsea Lake

We then drove around Humboldt a bit so I could get a feel for the layout, seeing some of the major stores, the schools, hospitals, etc. The town is almost full-service and has a population of 6,000.

Before heading back, our hosts pulled into the drive-thru at McDonalds to treat everyone to shakes. This drive-thru has to be unique since it has an alley cutting right through it!

We ended the evening with a dice game that was very quick to learn. Beginner’s luck was not with me!

I was the first one up Sunday morning and I took the time to get some work done. I had internet through my USB modem, but it was a very sloooow connection. It seems like Dawson City has better cell coverage than does rural Saskatchewan!

Once we were all up we had a HUGE brunch. I didn’t even want to think about food until early evening!

The afternoon was a bit lazy and I caught up on my reading.

Late afternoon, friends and family showed up for a bonfire and wiener roast. What a perfect day for that; we’d hit the mid 20’s, with sunshine!

Before dinner, I was taught how to play a gruesome Saskatchewanese game of Russian origin called Bunnock, or Bones. Originally played with horse hooves, this cross between bowling and curling is now often played with plastic bone replicas. I was quite good!

After that, a little boy wanted me to go with him to check out the barn cat’s hideout. There, he discovered tiny kittens no more than a couple of weeks old. They were so cute; no bigger than a mouse, with eyes still shut.

For dinner, I learned how to roast hot dogs over an open fire. Or, rather, how not to. The first one was a tad burnt. 😀 I also enjoyed some burnt marshmallows, but that was on purpose. Marshmallows just aren’t worth eating if they haven’t been set on fire first.

We ended the night chatting around a campfire. One person showed up with a mini marshmallow thrower and I got to learn how to use that. I was a natural, hitting my target (Gary) with my one and only attempt.

The evening wound up around 11. Everyone seemed intent on sleeping in Monday, so I stayed up late to finish a book. Of course, everyone else changed their mind and I was the last one up!

Our hosts live on remote lake-side acreage that is partially flooded right now. Access to the house is through a narrow causeway. When Gary awoke to rain, he was worried we’d get flooded out, so that propelled the early start to the day.

my hosts' causeway

We were fed another ginormous brunch and then it was time to hit the road, sometime in mid-morning. We drove straight through to Gary’s workplace, stopping only to get fuel and use the bathroom. We were all stuffed from breakfast and only lightly snacked all day.

This was an awesome weekend. Thank you!

LOTS more pictures below!

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