The Long Haul

Now for one of our longest treks – from Regina, Saskatchewan to Fernie, BC (Sorry Alberta! We’ll catch you in a bit!).  We got up early and still, painstakingly, only left the house at 8:30 AM.  (Sigh!  Life with three kids!)  Still, we were on the road.

But long trips call for many bathroom breaks.  And while looking for one in an emergency, we were really lucky to stumble upon the Chaplin Nature Centre.


Literally in the middle of farmland and a small community in Saskatchewan, there is this awesome little centre focused on the surrounding salt-water lakes area and how it plays its role as a huge all-you-can-eat buffet for migrating birds.


Needless to say, the budding Earth Rangers loved it!




And Ethan picked up a very long stuffed snake while there.DSC_0277.JPG

More gorgeous Prairie views.


The newer style of grain elevators filling up trains that went on for miles.


This one is for Uncle A…


And this one…


In addition to bathroom breaks, there must be a lunch break as well.  The union here is pretty established, and we wouldn’t want to rock the boat…

…so we picked a random little town to stop at for a picnic lunch.  We happened to stop into the tiny village of Tompkins, SK.  This is one of those tiny towns that you are instantly curious about!

At first, it just seemed empty, with one small main street, some nicely kept homes, a post office, a cute small fenced in museum of sorts, and a lovely big playground. The awesome park met the union stewards’ approval (and it just so happened to be built on the centennial of Confederation, so it was nice to be here roughly 50 years later).


The kids amused themselves well.



For washroom breaks, we ran into the local restaurant.  Although the place did have a little eau de farm wafting in the air, it was authentic as this place was the real deal and served the ranch hand crowd every day.  According to the nice lady who owns it, the majority of that crowd prefers to come in for a home-cooked breakfast, so this restaurant does brisk business with 70 to 100 people passing through her doors before 10 AM.  We seem to have caught the town on a quiet day since there was a fair on in the next local town and all the regulars were there.  The owner was happy to catch her breath though and this partially explains the ghost-town-like feel we got upon driving into the town.  JB and G played Hallelujah as a duet on the piano available in the entrance.

The homemade pies we took to go from the restaurant were deeee-licious!  We mailed a few postcards and chatted up the post office lady, who (you guessed it!) was also lovely and friendly and loved living in the town.  Good ole googlemaphone helped fill in some blanks to let us know that the town’s claim to fame is that there was a man who could predict the weather based on examining pig spleens!  He was such a unique soul, that he made it onto late night American TV and a character on CBC’s Corner Gas was named after him.  All in all, it was a lovely stop and brief snapshot of this wonderful working cattle town.

But the day is getting on now and we’re kicking it through Alberta.  The views are still gorgeous and the highway goes through all these little bustling towns along the way.  So you have to keep an eye out for when the speed limits change.  Which C happened to miss one as she passed a shiny new RCMP car.  The very nice officer was very forgiving though (as he reduced her ticket substantially) and talkative (as he had plenty of suggestions for us on our trip to the Yukon).  So a bit of a bruise, but it could have been worse!  Off we go again!

And then, all of a sudden, there will hills sneaking into the horizon…


… And then there were foothills in the distance…


… And then, we were into the mountains!

And finally… with three sleeping kids in the back, we pulled into our destination in the dark with wonderful familiar faces to greet us and cold beer waiting for us!  And THAT was a long haul that we were certainly glad to be finished!  ZZzzzzzzzz…


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