I started to fully embrace a serendipitous approach to this trip yesterday morning. I pulled out of the Fort Garry Hotel, turned onto the Trans-Canada and cranked the classic rock (more on that shortly). About twenty-minutes later I realized that the sun was hitting the front right part of the windshield. This seemed odd to me because the sun normally rises in the east, or at least it does in Ontario, so it seemed to me that somehow I was headed towards home rather than Alberta. But it was a nice morning, and I decided not to stress. I figured I would eventually hit a major road going in a more appropriate direction. And that’s how it worked out after a bit of a tour of the northern part of Winnipeg.
It turns out that classic rock is very much alive on radio stations in small towns everywhere I’ve been on this trip. It’s been a steady stream of Foreigner, ELO, Loverboy, and AC/DC. Thanks to a recommendation from Sanne, I’ve also discovered the joy of podcasts. If you haven’t listened to NPR’s Serial podcastyet, you have to check it out. It is completely addictive! So far I’ve slowed through two seasons of that show, and now I’m nearly done CBC’s Someone Knows Something. If you enjoyed Netflix’s Making a Murderer, you will love these podcasts. But make sure you download whole seasons before you hit the road. I’ve discovered that internet connectivity is not equal at all Tim Hortons. In the smaller towns, it is torture waiting to download a couple more episodes before hitting the road.
I decided to follow the Yellowhead Highway on this trip. The Yellowhead splits off from Highway #1 just after Winnipeg and follows a north-westerly direction towards Edmonton. This route took me very near Riding Mountain National Park yesterday afternoon, and I couldn’t resist a visit to see the bison. We visited this park when I was a kid, but I don’t remember too much from that trip, apart from the bison. Here’s a heads-up – apparently this park is very busy, so you’ll need a reservation if you want a spot at the main campground. Fortunately they had several other self-register campgrounds that had space. I tried the Lake Audey campground first. I didn’t like the look of the campground – too exposed and too many horseflies – but I had to pass through the bison paddock to get to it. As luck would have it, the entire bison herd was just crossing the road, so I ended up with a good photo op. After that, I headed back and the east to get to the Whirlpool Lake campground. It’s a really nice location, but you have to carry everything from the parking lot to your spot. And there are a lot of mosquitos. I mean really a lot. The van still has mosquitos in it tonight that flew in when I was sorting my gear last night. I paid a price for the sunrise photos I took. There was a huge cloud of mosquitos that really didn’t seem to care no matter how much DEET I sprayed on myself. I’ve got bites on top of bites.
Another awesome thing about the Whirlpool Lake campground is that the local beavers are trying to augment the human-built dam right next to the campground, and they don’t seem to care too much if they have an audience. You can get really close and watch them work.
It looked like rain after I took those sunrise shots, so I packed up as quick as I could. Thankfully I drove out of the rain after a couple of hours and had another beautiful day of driving on the prairies. The yellow canola fields were stunningly brilliant against the blue skies. Tonight I’m in Saskatoon. I’ve never been here before, but I’ve always heard good things about the city. It looks like there may be some good thunderstorms passing through here tomorrow, so I may do a bit of storm chasing with the camera. I’m here for a couple of nights before heading to Edmonton on Monday.