Cycling Back to the Divide
Blog post #2
Things changed immediately when we crossed over the border from North Dakota into Saskatchewan. We left behind the depressed towns of the northern tier raped by the fracking industry and entered the brilliance of the rape fields, that crop grown for its canola oil. The yellow flowers naturally glow with a light that appears to be radioactive but on this evening, the lowering sun dripped honey-colored light over the entire landscape. A long freight train kept pace with our loaded Ford pick-up, running parallel on the tracks alongside our road. (Tracks ran along our route across North Dakota too but we never saw a moving train, just hundreds of parked gas tank cars.) It was a fun race to see who was faster. It was us. The words “Saskatchewan” and “Canada” were printed on the sides of the cars, as well as a line drawing of a lily, perhaps the providence’s flower. Along the base of the cars was graffiti, rounded letters spray-painted various colors.
Abandoned barns sat along the road, their rectangular window holes were vacant and black, like hollow dead eyes. The weathered grey barns have been replaced with small round galvanized silos, dotting the fields. On the horizon, there were
no tall office buildings or even church steeples announcing a town was ahead, but monolithic grain elevators, towering many stories above the plains into the sky. They are situated right alongside the railroad tracks for ease in loading and unloading.
As soon as we crossed the border, the American establishments and businesses gave way to unfamiliar Canadian companies. Dunkin Donuts was replaced with Tim Horton. No recognizable American songs filled the radio waves but songs by Canadian artists. It was good to see that this close to American soil, our foreign neighbors maintained their own identity. In a land enveloped with wheat and rape fields, we listened to an appropriate talk show on paranormal activity, particularly the phenomena of crop circles.
We drove through lake and pond country and when we saw a moose crossing warning highway sign, we searched the roadside bodies of water for the magnificent creatures but only saw ducks with their butts in the air. Through this area, a Canadian talk show host interviewed a cadaver search dog trainer and heard an appropriate story where the dogs searched for the remains of a 5-year-old, missing for 42 years on a family fishing trip. The dogs located the body in the lake underwater, as they sniffed the gases that the submerged bones gave off on the surface, in invisible bubbles.
In the tiny roadside village of Borden, we stopped for gas and at the cash register were small homemade packages of beet seeds for sale for $2.00. The words “Bathroom Fund” were written on them, the proceeds going to a much-needed potty in the local museum.
Along this rural Canadian highway, huge bales of hay sat alongside the road like after thoughts. Hay is cut and baled here on the medial strip sand on the road side banks. All the roads are straight as arrows in Saskatchewan, looking like they could all double as air strips. This is the heartland of Canada, where a slight hill or a change is elevation is noted and appreciated. There are towns with the names of Cut Knife, Moose Jaw, Eyebrow, Foam Lake and Fairy Glen. A sign in ne of the towns announced an entrepreneur’s business, Ice Skates Sharpened. Up in the cloud studded sky, long jet lines streaked the brilliant blue, paralleling our trans-Canadian route. They ran in the same direction that we were headed, on this fourth and final day`s drive from Pennsylvania…on an angle towards Edmonton, Alberta, the capital airport. Our son, Bryce is flying into this airport and will join us on our first leg of our bike ride down the Rocky Mountains.